If you’re into virtual gaming — or virtual desktop, or any virtual apps for that matter — you might have heard the news that Oculus unlocked Air Link last month.
This is a new feature that allows you to use the Oculus Quest 2 headset 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 to a whole lot of possibilities. You can walk around somewhat freely in your real-world when being in your virtual one. In return, it makes picking up the right Wi-Fi router for your VR headset an even more consequential task.
This post will help you figure this all out and include a list of the best VR Wi-Fi routers currently on the market. The key here is the bandwidth.
Best VR Wi-Fi Routers: Understanding virtual reality’s bandwidth requirement
When it comes to VR and bandwidth, the quick take is the more, the better. In fact, VR is easily the most bandwidth-demand application — there’s a lot of information going between the headset and your computer.
The exact measurements and the need for speed 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:
- Low (sub-HD) resolutions: 25Mbps. (This is the bandwidth required for 4K video streaming, by the way.)
- Full HD (1080P): 80Mbps to 120Mbps.
- 4K: 800Mbps or more.
Again these are ballpark numbers, but the idea is you need a lot of bandwidth. However, don’t assume right away 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, when the headset (and therefore, you) is tethered via cable to a computer, it’s the USB connection that handles this bandwidth.
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. In return, you have to stay close to the computer and risk tripping on the wire. (And in most cases, you have no other options.)
In other words, using a wired headset makes VR similar to any normal application. Your computer uses Wi-Fi only to connect to the Internet. There’s not much to worry about.
Oculus’s Air Link and Wi-Fi
Things change, though, with Oculus’s new Air Link feature.
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 bandwidth requirements remain the same.
As you can imagine, in this case, a couple of VR apps will virtually — really, that is — saturate a high-end router’s entire 5GHz band’s bandwidth. Just a reminder, this band currently caps at 2.4Gbps (on paper) with Wi-Fi 6. If you use Wi-Fi 5, that number is even lower.
Note: Currently, no VR headset supports Wi-Fi 6E, but that might change soon. The Oculus Quest 2 has a 60GHz Wi-Fi ay module that is not Wi-Fi 6E (which uses the 6GHz band). This module will likely never be used.
And that brings us to the best way to handle home networking for full wireless VR.
Best Wi-Fi setup for Oculus Quest 2 with Air Link
This applies to the Quest 2 headset with Air Link or any other fully Wi-Fi headset. Generally, it would be best if you dedicated as much Wi-Fi bandwidth to the headset as possible. And that means:
- Your VR computer should connect to the network (router) via a network cable when possible.
- 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).
Consequently, using a tri-band router — one with an additional 5GHz band — is an easy choice. Dedicate one of the two 5GHz bands to work as a VR Wi-Fi with a separate SSID (network name).
(In the future, when a headset that supports the 6GHz and is available, you can also consider a Wi-Fi 6E router. But the idea is you use a single band for VR only.)
If you live in a large home and need a mesh system, then:
- Wired backhaul is a must. Still use tri-band and dedicated a 5GHz band for VR.
- If wired backhaul is not possible, you should use VR only at the main router’s location. Again, this router must be tri-band and has the ability o separate the two 5GHz bands.
With that, let check out the current list of the best routers you can get right now for the Oculus Quest 2 with Air Link.
Best Wi-Fi 6 Routers for Oculus Quest 2 with Air Link (or any fully wireless VR headset)
This list is sorted via 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.
6. TP-Link Archer AX90: A simple Tri-band Wi-Fi 6 router with lots of bandwidth
The TP-Link Archer AX90, for the most part, is a simple and well-performance router.
Thanks to the excellent performance and the tri-band setup, it’ll make an excellent standalone broadcaster for those who need one for virtual desktop applications.
TP-Link Archer AX90 AX6600 Wi-Fi 6 Router$329.99
- Reliable and fast Wi-Fi performance, excellent range.
- Tri-band, 160MHz, and a 2.5Gbps Multi-Gig port.
- Comparatively affordable.
- Standard web interface with optional mobile app.
- Slow 5GHz-1 band.
- Mobile app, login account, and a monthly subscription required for advanced features.
- Relatively slow NAS performance when hosting a portable drive.
5. Asus RT-AX92U: The litter Wi-Fi 6 tri-band router that could, as a single broadcaster or part of a mesh system
The Asus RT-AX92U is like the mini version of the GT-AX1100 below. It’s a mini tri-band gaming router.
If you live in a relatively small home, it’ll make an excellent single broadcaster. But those in a large home can use it as part of an AiMesh system, too. And when using wired backhaul, you can dedicate its 5GHz-2 band for VR.
ASUS RT-AX92U AX6100 Tri-Band WiFi 6 Router$219.98
- Compact design, tri-band specs
- Good performance, large coverage
- Excellent set of features, including online protection, WTFast VPN for gamers, and system-wide Guest network when working as a mesh
- Link Aggregation and Dual-WAN support, wall-mountable
- Comparatively affordable
- Wi-Fi 6 available only on one of the 5GHz bands
- No Multi-Gig port
4. TP-Link Archer AX11000: A hip chicken who thinks he’s a duck
The TP-Link Archer AX11000 gaming router is not what TP-Link wants you to believe it is since it’s not a gaming router.
But it looks great and has plenty of bandwidth via its two 5GHz bands. It’ll make an excellent router for wireless VR.
TP-Link Archer AX11000 Next-Gen Tri-Band Gaming Router
- Fast and reliable Wi-Fi performance
- 2.5 Gbps WAN port with eight Gigabit LAN ports
- 160 MHz channel bandwidth support
- Excellent, Antivirus, QoS and Parental Control features
- Robust full web user interface, helpful mobile app
- Eye-catching and convenient hardware design
- USB-C ready, wall-mountable
- Misleading gaming veneer, no actual gaming-specific features
- No multi-gig LAN port, bulky design
- Not mesh-ready
- Artificial "Game" items make the interface unnecessarily confusing
- Mobile app require a login account
3. Ubiquiti AmpliFi Alien: The one-of-a-kind tri-band mesh-ready Wi-Fi 6 router
The AmpliFi Alien is a bit weird. In a good way. The design itself 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 is also a tri-band router, and you have to option to get two to form an Alien mesh system. Just make sure you use wired backhaul.
AmpliFi Alien Wifi 6 Router by Ubiquiti Labs$688.00
- Fast, reliable Wi-Fi with excellent coverage
- Sleek design, useful mobile app
- Convenient Teleport VPN for mobile devices
- Effective ad-blocking feature
- Limited in conventional settings and features
- Unconventional tri-band setup with no dedicated backhaul when used in a mesh setup
- VPN doesn't support regular computers
- No 160MHz channel support, multi-gig port, not wall-mountable
2. Netgear RAX200: A sleek-looking tri-band router
The Netgear RAX200 is the rival of the Asus GT-AX11000 below. This is a powerful tri-band Wi-Fi 6 router with a ton of bandwidth.
However, it’s not a gaming router, so it’s more suitable for those needing a broadcaster for virtual desktop or alike.
Netgear Nighthawk AX12 12-Stream AX11000 Tri-Band WiFi 6 Router (RAX200)$499.99
- Reliable and fast performance
- Eye-catching design
- Helpful mobile app, robust web UI
- Multi-Gig support (2.5Gbps)
- Comparatively super-expensive with nothing extra
- Shallow Wi-Fi customization, spartan feature set
- Comparatively low CPU clock speed
- No 5Gbps or 10Gbps LAN port, not wall-mountable
1. Asus GT-AX11000: A powerful gamer-edition Wi-Fi 6 router with mesh capability
The Asus GT-AX11000 is a top-tier tri-band gaming router. You can easily dedicate one of its two 5GHz bands a VR Wi-Fi network, and the plenty of gaming features will help gamers, too.
The good thing about this router is that, like the RT-AX92U above, it’s also part of Asus’s AiMesh ecosystem. So, you can use it with other broadcasters to form a mesh. Just make sure you use wired backhaul.
ASUS ROG Rapture GT-AX11000 Gaming Router
- Fast and reliable Wi-Fi performance with excellent range
- Lots of useful features for home users
- Unique and effective settings for online gaming
- Multi-Gig network port, Dual-WAN, Link Aggregation
- Mesh ready
- Bulky design, loose antennas, non-wall-mountable
- Fewer LAN ports than previous model
- Long boot-up time, buggy (at launch), fluctuating Wi-Fi throughputs