Quest 1 vs Quest 2: The Final Showdown

Now that I’ve had ample time to put the two Oculus VR products to a fact-based head to head comparison — it is time for me to disclose the pros and cons of each. Note: I’m leaving the Facebook issues out of this discussion because this is a pure discussion of hardware and VR features; not a “religious argument”. At this point, if you’re new to Oculus — Facebook is a required evil. So let’s not even bother with it and get down to the big duke-a-roo.

Those of you that follow my writings here and my posts on Reddit know that I’m not someone that will mince words or fight with kid gloves. Many of these are subjective evaluations between the two units; and in some cases, the features that favor one device or another may not matter to everyone.

In the end, you will have all the information I have and you will have to call a victor out based on your own personal set of needs and desires. This article is not a prize fight: it is an exhibition bout.

Why Quest 1?

Before the title card, let’s talk about why we’re even discussing the Quest “OG” at all — as it is no longer in production or available for purchase new — especially since the Quest 2 is $300 where the OG unit was $400 when it was being sold.

The best reason to be talking about it? People are practically giving them away — frantic to raise cash or offset the purchase of a Quest 2.

This means for less than half the price of a new Quest 2, you can get a Quest 1 64gb and maybe even score a bigger unit for pennies on the dollar.

That price makes Quest OG a contender in this fight. Let’s get it on!

Headset Comfort / Weight

Many people complained about the comfort of the Quest 1 (just Quest from now on) and modifications from cheap, DIY counterweights to hundreds of dollars in after-market add-ons were used to increase the comfort level.

Any shelter in the storm …

If you end up buying a used Quest, the chances are likely it will have comfort mods included.

The head strap on the Quest is made of far better quality material than the Quest 2. It uses a “behind the head” methodology which (if you have a little bump back there like most of us do) is pretty comfortable and makes the headset overall feel better. You’re going to want that counterweight though.

Chances are you’re going to want an extra battery, and you likely have one laying around anyway.

This comfort mod is so good, Oculus themselves used it for the Quest 2’s Elite/Battery replacement head strap.

The Elite head strap with Battery — An extra $130 purchase for Quest 2

The Quest 2’s head strap is literally the cheapest possible, usable strap Oculus could put together. Unlike the “behind the head” method, the Quest 2’s strap uses the “crown of the head” motif and the adjustment strap methodology makes it rather unpleasant to adjust for multiple users.

Is it as bad as the Vocal Minority(tm) on Reddit make it out to be?

Honestly? No. In fact, if you’re willing to dink around with it for about 30 minutes? Depending on your head shape? You might actually find it somewhat comfortable.

The downside of this “crown” methodology is that the headset never feels totally safe on your head. Whereas with the Quest, I felt I could play high action games — I do not feel the headset is nearly as secure on the crown as it did gripping behind my head. Putting a DIY counterweight on it might help though.

Crown vs Behind

While the Elite head strap is supposed to be more comfortable than the Quest’s own implementation, it is $50-$130 more on top of your purchase — so let’s count that out.

Along with comfort, the Quest 2 boasts being “lighter” but the truth is that it is only about 10% lighter and if you had one in each hand? You’re very unlikely to tell the difference. If you add the Elite strap on the Quest 2, it almost evens out the weight. Since you are probably going to counterweight both units anyway (for extra juice), Quest 2 may prove slightly lighter (depending on configuration) but it wasn’t a deciding factor in this bout.

The face gasket on the Quest 2 is again — cheapest possible solution available; a substandard foamy gasket. The Quest has a much more premium construction and feel which is undeniably more comfortable.

Pretty close here — pros and cons, but without making an additional purchase, the Quest is more comfortable out of the box, IMHO.

Winner By Judge’s Decision: QUEST

Head Set Controls and IPD

The outside of the Quest features a power button, volume rocker, IPD slider, a USB-C port and two stereo headphone jacks.

The Quest 2 drops one of the headphone jacks and the IPD slider — and instead adds a three-position “lens toggle” that supposedly passes as IPD adjustment (provided you’re one of those three IPDs)

The IPD situation is easily the worst thing about the Quest 2. They replaced the independently movable screens with a single screen and a three-position method of moving the lenses supporting 58mm, 63mm and 68mm positions.

If you are 68+, like me, the third position adds “clipping” to the sides of your field of view and it is annoying as hell. Your only choice is to deal with it, go down to 63mm (and potentially risk eye strain and headaches) or possibly use the glasses spacer which gets rid of the clipping but you lose a nice little bit of FOV.

It is easy to dismiss losing the extra headphone jack but if you’re looking to live stream and need two audio outputs (one for a headset so you can hear, and the other for a nice latency free bluetooth transmitter) this is a hit. Sure, sure, you could use a splitter and this is an esoteric use case so we won’t let it be a determining factor. Shame if you bought those nice Oculus single earbuds, though.

Winner by KO: QUEST

Controllers

The core technology of both Quest’s Touch controllers is by and large the same.

The Quest 2’s supposed strong haupatic feedback certainly doesn’t trump the Quest’s in any way. You’re not going to feel a huge difference unless you happen to have one in each hand. Let’s take the contestants out of the ring for this.

Quest 2 controllers are noticeably bigger in your hand and the weight is appreciably heavier. It would be easy to discard this in a similar manner to how I discarded 10% lighter headset above — but let’s be honest; you’re going to be holding, lifting, swinging and turning these things for hours on end. This will make a difference.

Having larger hands personally, the Quest 2 controllers are like holding an Xbox controller over a Playstation controller — better for me, but those with elf-like hands are not going to be as pleased. What’s more, if you’re like me and want add-on knuckle straps like the amazing Mamut DX? This makes the controller even bigger.

The battery covers on the the Quest have always been a problem as the magnetic design slips with your palm (admittedly fixed with covers/knucklestraps you’re probably going to add anyway). Along with that, battery compression on the spring could cause your saber to go flying away while playing intense Beat Saber. See my fix here.

The Quest 2’s battery covers are vastly improved and the spring is gone; in favor of a high-tension metal bar that assures that the battery isn’t moving.

Also touted as a “feature” is a place to rest your thumb. I find this simply a shallow bullet point as a feature; not that there is anything wrong with it — but it also doesn’t make the controller particularly better because of it. But the additional face area does have a neat side effect …

Something that goes non-discussed when comparing the controllers is a slight shift in construction surrounding the ring (something that loves to crack and split under duress). The bigger area of the face of the controller reduces the overall weakness of the ring — this is accomplished by removing the “area” of the ring that is without additional support. Take a look at these pics, illustrating the point.

`While this isn’t going to stop massive damage from punching a wall? I 100% believe based on the construction that these controllers can take more of a beating than the Quest.

Tracking. There has been data suggesting that Quest 2 tracking is somewhat diminished compared to the OG Quest. Regardless of what I’m doing, both Quest and Quest 2 controllers appear to track in an identical way with identical quality. This includes “Faster Song” mod on Expert in Beat Saber.

The Quest 2 controller does have a different “bearing”. What do I mean by that? If you hold each controller exactly the same, they don’t point the same. The Quest 2 bears more vertically “up”, meaning to “point straight” you have to actually bend your wrist and point down a little. This isn’t worse or better — but if you’re used to Quest? This will feel different and somewhat uncomfortable. The Quest controllers work as I would expect them to work. That is, if my wrist is straight, I am pointing straight. The Quest 2 doesn’t. If you have no preconceived notions then it probably won’t matter so let’s take this off the table.

Winner by TKO: QUEST 2

The Screen

The Quest 2 should be a slam dunk here — almost to the point that this section shouldn’t even exist, right? Quest screen res at 1440x1600 and the Quest 2 1832x1920; numbers don’t lie after all.

But numbers don’t always tell the whole truth.

Quest has a 72hz refresh rate and the Quest 2 boasts 90hz (90>72 = better, yes?) but that currently only exists in the Oculus menu with promises of coming to games “later”. What we really have is 72hz vs 72hz. Yes, using Sidequest you can force 90hz in many cases and even up the texture memory that would give Quest 2 a nudge but we’re going out of the box here. Funny thing about it is that I’m not sure most people could actually tell the difference. My 14 year old son couldn’t. But that is subjective.

So Quest 2 has more resolution which definitely reduces SDE (screen door effect) but doesn’t totally remove it. Is it better? God, yes. But there is a price to pay.

Quest 2’s screen uses LCD screen technology while the Quest uses OLED. This means muted colors and “grey blacks” on the Quest 2 (some people even report ghosting; I haven’t seen it myself).

But is this a big deal …? Or is this just a bunch of envious Quest owners trying to bring the Quest 2 down?

It is totally real. To what degree it will affect you will depend on your personal tastes and the games being played.

Where do we see this play out the most? Well, obviously — dark games; almost anything horror-based and this includes The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners. The Room VR. Affected. Oh and all movie players like Skybox and Pigasus. There is no “dark theater” anymore; it is a gray theater and it really takes away from the pleasure of watching movies. The higher resolution makes the movie look better; but the muted, gray “fog” that surrounds the experience is real … and a bummer.

This is a good video .. worth your time to compare.

If you look to Reddit, there are those that would happily trade resolution for proper darks and better color (you eventually stop seeing the SDE over time).

Oh the color thing? Yeah, it is legit too … and while it is easy to harp on it and dwell on it, it isn’t as serious as the darks issue.

It is easy to say “well, someone that never saw Quest wouldn’t complain about the grays and colors in Quest 2 because they have no basis for comparison” and there is some truth to that. But I’ve seen fully independent claims asking why the movie theater or Walking Dead never really looks dark.

So, the bottom line is — it matters. How much is up to you.

Since we’re taking this independent of IPD, the nod goes to Quest 2 for resolution — but I certainly won’t give it a TKO. Let’s just say I’m damn glad I have a choice which Quest to use when it comes to watching movies and playing scary games like Phasmophobia.

Winner By Judge’s Decision: QUEST 2

Overall Performance

Once again, we’re at a place where “numbers” are used to prove favor. The XR2 processor of the Quest 2 should blow the Quest’s Snapdragon 835 out of the water. Surely you’ve seen this chart.

Clear cut winner here, ya?

All of that power means nothing unless there is software taking advantage of it.

The Quest market is now “duo-SKUed” and developers aren’t about to piss off the 800,000'ish Quest owners by creating exclusive software for Quest 2.

Since the release of Quest 2, a few developers have added some enhancement to some of their titles. Check here for an early list.

Until the tide sways and Quest 2 gets dedicated software, getting “Games+” editions will be the limit of this “2x better” performance and “4x better” video.

The bottom line is — there is nothing on Quest 2 that you cannot play perfectly great on Quest 1 and that almost makes this a category a draw.

Yes, you can argue that Virtual Desktop is a damn sight better on Quest 2 (and it is) but people buy Quest devices (I’m told over and over on Reddit) because they don’t have or want gaming PCs. Let’s leave that out of it.

But, we have to be fair. There are some advantages to the Quest 2 in terms of performance; it does boot up a helluva lot faster. I bet compiling shaders in The Room VR is faster on Quest 2; and I know that BMBF operations are considerably faster.

I’m playing this a bit tongue-in-cheek; but the truth is there is nothing exclusive to Quest 2 and that most definitely keeps the playing field a bit level for Quest users. Will this change? Of course it will. But not today and not tomorrow. We shall see.

By the numbers, this is a clear winner for Quest 2. From a functional point of view? It is closer to a draw.

Winner By Judge’s Decision: QUEST 2

Battery Life

There are two battery considerations here; controllers and the headset itself.

The Quest 2 claims to have better controller battery life — but in reality? Both last so long that you’re simply not going to care. This will greatly vary depending on so many factors; on the type of batteries you use, types of games you play … and I’m not going to be putting a dozen battery types through both controllers to argue over another 15 minutes of usage. If I get some concrete data on “OMG — Q2 controller battery life rocks!!!1111”, I’ll reconsider this paragraph.

What about the headset? Again, this is going to widely vary based on the games you play and what settings you may use.

I have empirical data; based on my own playtime and by others online reporting their battery life.

The bottom line; the Quest 2’s battery doesn’t appear to last as long as the Quest. Both are rated from “2 to 3 hours”. The Quest appears to fall into that range. The Quest 2 appears to fall into the “1.5 to 2.5 hours”

Battery life sucks on both; just sucks a little more on Quest 2 apparently. Without having my own numbers-driven data on either controller or headset battery life, this is a split-decision.

Winner By Judge’s Decision: DRAW

The Final Verdict

If you started this article thinking it was a slam dunk in Quest 2’s favor, hopefully you’ve got some things to think about; especially if you already have an original Quest and are pining away at what you’re missing. Times are rough for a lot of people and while $300 is a great deal for what you get? Maybe you have two people to buy VR headsets for and being able to get two for the price of one makes sense.

Is it ludicrous to consider a used, likely-less-than-a-year-old Quest 1 for about $100 a good deal compared to “all you get” with a $300 Quest 2? Maybe not as crazy now as when you first considered it.

The winner? The ref is holding up the Quest 2’s hand right now as the crowd cheers but the Quest isn’t passed out on the mat; it is still standing — breathing hard, but still standing.

I write, blog, record and review anything that interests me — including humanity, parenting, gizmos & gadgets, video games and media.

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