After a gap of 3 years, Meta has once again released its digital VR headset – wait, no, this time it’s an MR headset – the Meta Quest 3.
As a die-hard Meta fan, I naturally pre-ordered it as soon as it was available. However, the logistics delivery from the Japanese reseller turned out to be a disaster, and I didn’t receive it until this Thursday.
The price for the Q3 has increased significantly: the base 128GB version is priced at $499, and it comes with a free copy of “Asgard’s Wrath 2,” set to be released in December.
The 512GB model is priced at $649 (Meta, is your storage made of gold?), and it comes with Asgard’s Wrath 2 and a 6-month Meta+ subscription, which includes access to 2 selected games per month during the subscription period, making it not particularly valuable.
Regarding hardware specifications, you can find information all over the internet, so I won’t go into detail here. What everyone is interested in is the actual improvements of the Q3 and whether it’s worth upgrading if you already have a Quest 2 or Pico 4. So let’s dive into the practical comparisons and experiences.
The headsets compared in this review are Quest 2, Pico 4, Quest Pro, and Quest 3:
The Q3 still comes with a fabric strap, and while comfort has improved compared to the Q2, it’s still subpar, especially compared to the Pico 4. The fabric strap’s only advantage is that you can use it while lying down, but I still recommend immediately switching to a third-party strap. The width of the faceplate has significantly increased compared to the Q2, and unless your glasses are too wide (over 14.5 cm), they should fit comfortably. However, the faceplate material is quite rigid and causes strong pressure on the face. Replacing the faceplate is still a must.
Display Quality: Excellent
The Q3 features two independent panels with a resolution of 2064×2208, resulting in nearly 30% more total pixels than the Q2 and QPro. According to Meta’s official statement, the pixels per degree (PPD) is 25 – this is because the screen rotates at a certain angle, giving it a higher PPD compared to directly using horizontal resolution/FOV angle.
In terms of clarity, the Q3’s picture quality is undoubtedly the highest among these four headsets. The XR2 Gen2 chip in the Q3 provides a significant leap in performance, resulting in a qualitative improvement in the graphics quality of some standalone VR games. For example, in “Red Matter 2,” texture quality has been increased to 4K with dynamic lighting and a dynamic rendering resolution of an astonishing 3322×3519. The rendering resolution of Skybox video player has also increased to 3023×3168, leading to a much-improved viewing experience.
Brightness and color quality are as follows in my personal opinion: QPro > Q3 > Q2 > Pico 4. The QPro’s MiniLED screen still holds a certain advantage.
There is a certain gap between the screen shot and the actual look and feel, for reference only:
Reading Test (HMDTest)
Skybox video (EVA final)
All-in-one game (Breachers)
Streaming VR Games (The 7th Guest VR)
FOV (Field of View): Satisfactory
The Q3 has a horizontal FOV of 110° and a vertical FOV of 100°, with a binocular vision (stereoscopic imaging) overlap range of about 69%. In simple terms, due to the Q3 and QPro using the same panel rotation and optical lens module, the FOV performance and binocular vision overlap range of the two headsets are almost the same. They are both significantly better than the Q2, but compared to the Pico 4, the Q3’s field of view is slightly less natural due to its smaller binocular vision overlap range.
Tracking: On Par
The Q3 has removed the controller tracking rings, but it continues Meta’s consistent level of excellence. Tracking accuracy and stability are not a concern.
The non-ring controllers have an enhanced haptic feedback, similar to the level of PS5 controllers. In applications like Meta’s First Touch, you can feel delicate vibrations. As for Meta’s advertised two-stage triggers, I haven’t found any games that use this feature yet; it may require developers to support it in future updates.
Audio: Significant Upgrade
This is the biggest upgrade and surprise in the Q3. The built-in speakers offer a wide soundstage, precise positioning, and improved bass performance. Unless you’re in a situation where it’s not convenient to use speakers due to others around you, I don’t think there’s a need to purchase additional headphones.
Battery Life: Terrible
Around 2 hours in standalone mode. Streaming mode drains the battery even faster, lasting only about 1 hour and 40 minutes. The battery drain rate, like 1% per minute, is quite alarming. This makes an external battery pack almost a necessary accessory again.
Streaming Performance: Stable Improvement
The Q3’s Snapdragon XR2 Gen2 chip not only improves graphics quality for standalone games but also reduces and stabilizes latency in streaming mode. Q3’s Virtual Desktop supports a 200Mbps bitrate under HEVC/HEVC 10-bit and exclusively supports AV1/AV1 10-bit encoding.
My router is Wi-Fi 6 with 2401Mbps, and the testing showed:
Latency for H.264 400Mbps streaming was about 42-46ms.
For HEVC (H.265) 200Mbps, the latency was 41-45ms.
For AV1 200Mbps, the latency ranged from 37-45ms.
However, due to a bug in Virtual Desktop 1.29, the encoding latency for AV1 at high bitrates is significantly affected by the PC’s performance and can sometimes exceed 100ms. Until this is fixed, HEVC 10-bit remains the best choice.
MR (Mixed Reality): Still Mediocre
Although this was a major selling point for the Q3, the actual experience is less than impressive. The main problems are related to the clarity of the pass-through view (VST), noise, and latency. The pass-through content and virtual content don’t have the correct occlusion relationship, and there are not many applications available at this stage. Yes, compared to the QPro from a year ago, the Q3’s improvements in MR are more about quantity than a qualitative transformation. Of course, the pass-through mode is basically clear enough to read screens on phones and computers, making it usable for quick tasks like checking a verification code or replying to a message. For VR gamers, it’s still a significant improvement in the overall experience.
Delay between hand positioning and perspective display
There is no proper blocking between the perspective screen and virtual objects
As a Virtual Display: Usable Level
The Q3’s display precision is finally high enough to make applications like Immersed and Horizon Workroom, which allow multiple virtual displays, usable. In fact, this review was not written in VR!
Different from the numerous content creators on platforms like Bilibili and YouTube who hype up “VR office” and “spatial computing,” I’ve always considered VR office to be a pseudo-demand. This is not because the display quality and spatial positioning are not yet up to standard. In fact, the QPro’s sharpness and overall clarity already make it easy to read text on virtual displays. It’s not because VR office applications aren’t good enough. Immersed, for example, supports up to 5 customizable virtual screens with adjustable positions, gesture tracking, keyboard tracking, and multi-user collaboration and meetings, with over a dozen different scenes.
Rather, it’s because of the current form and comfort of headsets, which can be a discomforting addition to what is already a somewhat painful work environment. It’s also because the current concept of VR office applications is more about “simulating reality” rather than “surpassing reality.” If something can already be done in the real world, why would you wear an uncomfortable headset, even with a discount, to do it in VR? This is a perspective I find hard to understand.
The Q3 is the best VR headset in the under $500 price range right now, no question about it. If you have the budget for a headset in this price range, just go for it.
For Q2 and Pico 4 users, the Q3 brings significant and comprehensive upgrades, making it worthwhile once the price stabilizes.
For QPro users, the graphics quality improvement for streaming PCVR is somewhat noticeable but not significant. The MR feature hasn’t seen a qualitative improvement, and you’ll lose the QPro’s better brightness, color, zone backlighting, and eye-tracking face tracking functionality. Unless the QPro is incredibly uncomfortable to wear and you can’t stand it, it’s not particularly worth the replacement.