Since Oculus introduced Air Link in mid-2021, getting your VR headset connected wirelessly via Wi-Fi has been a new trend.
This feature’s most significant implication is that it enables you to use the Oculus Quest 2 headset — or future ones — without being tethered to your computer via a USB cable. Instead, you’ll use the headset’s built-in Wi-Fi for the connection.
And that opens up a whole lot of possibilities. You can walk around freely in the real world while inside your virtual one. In return, picking the right Wi-Fi router for your VR headset is now an even more consequential task.
This post will help you figure this out and include a list of the best VR Wi-Fi routers on the market. The key here is bandwidth.
Dong’s note: I first published this piece on May 21, 2021, and last updated it on November 15, 2022, to add more relevant information.
Best VR Wi-Fi routers: Only one of these two Asus Wi-Fi machines makes the list.
Best VR Wi-Fi Routers (for Oculus Airlink): Understanding virtual reality’s bandwidth requirement
When it comes to VR and bandwidth, the quick take is the more, the better. VR is easily the most bandwidth-demanding application — there’s a lot of information going back and forth between the headset and your computer.
The bandwidth requirements depend on things that happen in real-time and how high the resolutions you want to appear in front of your eyes.
From my own experience and with the inputs of some vendors, here are my guesstimates on the bandwidth required for any 360-degree real-time immersive graphic rendering:
Again these are ballpark numbers, but the idea is you need a lot of bandwidth. However, don’t assume immediately that this is what you need from your Wi-Fi. That depends.
The Wi-Fi requirement for virtual reality
Indeed, despite the high bandwidth demand, VR apps’ need for Wi-Fi depends on how you use the headset.
Traditionally, the USB connection handles this bandwidth when the headset (and, therefore, you) links via cable to a computer.
And in this case, chances are you will use USB 3.0 or higher — so you’ll have around 5Gbps (5000Mbps) or more at your disposal — that’s plenty. But, you must stay close to the computer and risk tripping on the wire.
(And with specific headsets, you have no other option.)
In this case, the VR app doesn’t need more Wi-Fi than any other app. So, in terms of home networking, you only need an excellent router or a good gaming one if you play VR games.
So the gist is that using a wired headset makes VR similar to any regular application regarding networking needs. Your VR computer only uses Wi-Fi to connect to the Internet, so there’s no special bandwidth requirement other than a fast broadband connection and a good router.
Wireless VR: Oculus’s Air Link and Wi-Fi
Things change, though, with Oculus’s new Air Link feature. It opens up a new, more accessible way to be in the virtual world.
That’s because, in this case, the USB cord is no longer, and the headset uses Wi-Fi to link to VR the computer wirelessly.
And that dramatically puts more stress on the wireless connection since the VR-related bandwidth requirements remain the same.
As you can imagine, in this case, a couple of VR apps will virtually — pun intended — saturate a high-end router’s entire 5GHz band’s bandwidth. This band currently caps at 2400Mbps (on paper) with Wi-Fi 6 in the best-case scenario. If you use Wi-Fi 5, that number is much lower.
In my experience, conservatively, you should expect only more than 800Mbps of sustained speed out of a 5GHz Wi-Fi band. And that’s enough for just one wireless VR application to perform at its best, with the highest resolutions.
Currently, no VR headset supports the 6GHz band (available in Wi-Fi 6E and future standards,) but that likely will change. The Oculus Quest 2 has a 60GHz Wi-Fi module, not Wi-Fi 6E (which uses the 6GHz band). This module will probably never be helpful unless you use a 6GHz adapter card for your computer, as mentioned below.
Future VR headsets might also support the 5.9GHz portion of Wi-Fi 6, which works better than Wi-Fi 6E.
And that brings us to the best way to handle home networking for full wireless VR, applicable to the Quest 2 headset with Air Link or any other fully Wi-Fi headset.
Figuring out the best Wi-Fi solution for Oculus Quest 2 with Air Link, or any wireless VR set
Considering the above-mentioned required bandwidth, it’s best to dedicate as much Wi-Fi bandwidth to the headset as possible when using it.
The best way to achieve this bandwidth objective: get a top-notch Tri-band Wi-Fi 6 or Quad-band Wi-Fi 6E router.
A VR “cheat”: Turn your computer into a router
Turning a computer into a router is a sure thing. However, how this “router” performs, on the other hand, depends on a lot of factors.
That said, the level of success will vary if you go this route for your VR needs.
Here is a loose (laptop) Intel AX210 Wi-Fi 6E card and an Intel AX200 card already on a PCIe adapter, ready to be installed inside a desktop computer. You can use either as your dedicated VR Wi-Fi broadcaster — you’d want to use the 5GHz band anyway. (This photo is for illustration only, you can use an actual adapter, including a good Wi-Fi 5 one of your choice. If you use Windows 10, of the two shown here, it’s better to use the Intel AX200 chip.)
An affordable VR Wi-Fi trick: Turn your computer into a dedicated router
That’s right. You can turn your VR computer itself into a dedicated Wi-Fi broadcaster for the VR connection. In other words, the computer itself will host the VR headset via an exclusive Wi-Fi network.
Make sure you use the 5GHz band (or the fastest supported) for the VR-exclusive Wi-Fi network.
The gist is you add a Wi-Fi adapter to the computer and then turn the computer into a mini router. I detailed the steps in this post on how to turn your computer into a mobile spot.
Which adapter card to get, you might wonder. And that’s a good question. Most adapters are designed to receive signals, not broadcast them.
Technically, you can use any Wi-Fi adapter for this job — they all work to a degree. So if you want to try it out, one among the plenty of USB options — a high-end USB Wi-F5 adapter (3×3 1300Mbps on the 5GHz band) will get the job done.
But if you’re serious, I’d recommend a PCIe adapter — your VR machine must be a desktop. Here are my suggestions:
- Get a top-tier Wi-Fi 5 card. Like this Asus PCE-AC88.
- If you want Wi-Fi 6, the Intel AX200 or AX210 are the only options for now. Note that you should only use the AX210 with Windows 11 due to driver issues.
- If your VR set supports the 60GHz band, get a 60GHz adapter card — there are not many of them on the market.
After that, follow the detailed steps in this post to add the card to your computer.
By the way, if your computer doesn’t connect to your router using a network cable — it should! — and does not have an existing Wi-Fi card, you will need two such adapters. One for the Internet connection, the other for the dedicated Wi-Fi VR link.
Once you’ve installed the new adapter(s), look for a Mobile hotspot on Windows 10 (or 11)’s Start Menu, run it, and turn the newly available Wi-Fi adapter into a Wi-Fi network to use exclusively for the VR headset.
For the task, make sure you use the 5GHz band — or the fastest band supported by the (future) VR headset.
Turning an additional Wi-Fi adapter into a mobile hotspot will give you a dedicated Wi-Fi link for the VR headset.
Getting the right router or mesh setup
When it comes to getting the right router for your VR needs, keep the following in mind:
- Connect your VR computer to the router via a wired connection. Better yet, when applicable, use a Multi-Gig link — many gaming rigs comes with a built-in 2.5Gbps port, and you can always upgrade them to 10Gbps via a PCIe add-on card.
- The Wi-Fi broadcaster (router) should have a dedicated band for the VR application. Specifically, this band is used only for the headset (and the VR computer if the wired connection is not an option).
- Your VR headset (and there for you) should stay close to the VR computer and the broadcaster. You don’t want to get behind a wall or too far away from the router — the range is not the focus here.
Consequently, using a router with an additional 5GHz band — that’s a Tri-band W-Fi 6 or Quad-band Wi-Fi 6E router — and dedicate one of the two 5GHz bands — preferably the one with upper channels — to VR Wi-Fi with a separate SSID (network name).
If you live in a large home and need a mesh system, then:
- Wired backhaul is a must and still dedicates a fast Wi-Fi band for VR.
- If wired backhaul is unavailable, you should use VR only at the primary router’s location.
Depending on how crowded your home is, a high-end dual-band router might still work out, but a fully wireless mesh system, like the Netgear Orbi or ARRIS mAX, definitely won’t cut it.
Let’s check out the current list of the best routers you can get for the Oculus Quest 2 with Air Link.
Oculus Quest 2 with Air Link (or any fully wireless VR headset): The current top Five Wi-Fi 6 and 6E routers
This list uses the review order, with the latest on top. The numbers in front of their names are just numerical and not meant to be the ranking. You’ll note that these are all traditional tri-band routers.
All Wi-Fi routers (or access points) will work for wireless VR. It’s just a matter of degrees.
The key here is to give the connection between your computer and the VR set the most Wi-Fi bandwidth.
If you can do that, any good router will work well. But, generally, it’s easier to get a traditional Tri-band router and dedicate one of its 5GHz bands to the VR set.
5. TP-Link Archer AXE300: Quad-band router with the best port flexibility and support
(In case you didn’t read the intro: This is the latest member on this list — the number is only numerical, not necessarily the ranking.)
Best VR Wi-Fi Routers: One of the TP-Link Archer AXE300’s Multi-Gig ports is an RJ45/SFP+ combo port.
The TP-Link Archer AXE300 is the second Quad-band router with three Multi-Gig ports — two 10GbE and one 2.5GbE. You can use any as the WAN port, and uniquely one of the 10GbE ports is an RJ45/SFP+ combo port.
That, plus a robust web user interface and excellent performance, mean it’ll simultaneously deliver all bandwidth you’d need for any VR applications and other networking tasks.
Top-tier hardware with excellent performance; three flexible Multi-Gig ports and LAN Link Aggregation support
Robust web user interface; lots of network and Wi-Fi settings and a handful of valuable features for home users
Comparatively cheaper than competitors
Wall-mountable; useful optional mobile app; OneMesh-ready
No option for Gigabit WAN, Dual-WAN, or fast mesh with wired backhauling
HomeShield Pro requires a subscription, mobile app, and login account
Bulky design, the USB port’s performance could be better
4. Asus GT-AXE16000: The ultimate gaming router
Best VR Wi-Fi Routers: The Asus GT-AXE16000’s three Multi-Gig ports, two 10GbE, and one 2.5GbE.
I called the Asus GT-AXE16000 the “pinnacle of today’s home networking” for a good reason. This router has everything you’d need or want — except the SFP+ support of the TP-Link above.
As the first Quad-band gaming router on the market, this Wi-Fi machine allows for flexible port configurations, a ton of built-in features, and top performance. It’s an excellent standalone for any needs and it can also host a Multi-Gig mesh system when you use multiple units or other Multi-Gig AiMesh routers.
And all that makes the Asus GT-aXE16000 a great Wi-Fi machine for VR. That’s if you can afford it.
Powerful hardware, Quad-band with Wi-Fi 6E support, three Multi-Gig ports (one 2.5Gbps and two 10Gbps)
Stellar performance throughout
Excellent set of game-related, online protection and monitoring features, full AiMesh 2.0 support
Unmatched port flexibility, including interchangeable WAN, Dual-WAN, and LAN/WAN Link Aggregations
Beautiful ROG Aura lighting
Expensive, 10Gbps ports’ sustained rates and NAS performance (when hosting a storage device) could be better
Awkward backhaul band design in a wireless AiMesh setup, no UNII4 (5.9GHz) support, no SFP+
Bulky design, not wall-mountable
3. Synology RT6600ax: A highly customizable router with lots of potential
Best VR Wi-Fi Routers: The Synology RT6600ax is the first router from Synology in years.
The RT6600ax has lots to offer and is one of the best Wi-Fi 6 routers you can find on the market. It doesn’t have a 6GHz band (Wi-Fi 6E) but is the first that supports the 5.9GHz portion of the 5GHz spectrum, making it somewhat future-proof.
The router performed well in testing and has plenty of VR bandwidth when you dedicate one of its 5GHz bands for the task.
Fast and reliable Wi-Fi with support for 5.9GHz UNII-4 spectrum, mesh-ready
Robust, comprehensive yet user-friendly SRM 1.3 firmware with excellent web interface and DS Router app
Lots of useful built-in settings and networking features, helpful add-on packages with accompanying mobile apps
Can work as a full-featured NAS server
Practical design, wall-mountable
No Link Aggregation, awkward Multi-Gig WAN, rigid default WAN port
Only client-based QoS, 5.9GHz clients are scarce
2. TP-Link Archer GX90: Single 2.5Gbps Multi-Gig LAN/WAN port
Best VR Wi-Fi Routers: The TP-Link Archer GX90 is an excellent-looking AX6600 Wi-Fi 6 Tri-router.
The Archer GX90 is TP-Link’s latest “gaming” router. It replaces the company’s previous Archer AX11000.
The router has more polished firmware than its older cousin, and its lower price tag doesn’t hurt. (Alternatively, you can also consider the Archer AX90.)
Fast and reliable Wi-Fi performance
Excellent feature set and network settings
Robust full web user interface
Nice design and comparatively affordable
Single Multi-Gig port; no Dual-WAN or Link Aggregation
USB-based storage performance could be better
1. Ubiquiti AmpliFi Alien: The one-of-a-kind tri-band mesh-ready Wi-Fi 6 router
(In case you didn’t read the intro: This is the oldest member on this list — the number is only numerical, not necessarily the ranking.)
Best VR Wi-Fi Routers: The AmpliFi Alien has a sleek touch screen and a bright status light ring.
The AmpliFi Alien is a bit weird. In a good way. The design makes it somewhat of a router for VR since it’s a bit out of this world. It’s not a gaming router, so it’s best for those using virtual desktop apps.
This one is also a tri-band router, and you have the option to get two to form an Alien mesh system. Just make sure you use a wired backhaul.
Reliable and fast Wi-Fi with excellent coverage
Sleek design, sufficient web interface, and well-designed mobile app
Convenient and free Teleport VPN
Built-in ad-blocking feature
Limited in conventional settings and features
Unconventional tri-band setup with no dedicated backhaul when used in a mesh setup
VPN requires an app or an Android emulator to work on regular computers
No Multi-Gig port, not wall-mountable
When it comes to virtual reality, the connection between your VR computer and the headset is the key, and moving from the USB cord to Wi-Fi puts much stress on the latter.
So, understanding the concept and dedicating the possible Wi-Fi bandwidth to the VR set will help deliver satisfying results.
Things will get easier down the road when VR sets are more optimized for a wireless connection and the support for the 6GHz Wi-Fi band becomes more commonplace.
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Source by dongknows.com