Quest 2 vs Quest 3: Which is the best option for you?

Meta Quest 3 released in October 2023 starting at $500 for the base model. Meta Quest 2, as of this article, remains on the market with a price reduction to $300 for the base model. It’s great to have options as consumers, but if you are trying to decide between Meta’s two consumer headsets, there are a few things to consider.

If you are buying a Quest 2 or Quest 3, consider using our Amazon affiliate links to help support our development efforts.

Quest 2 specs (L) vs Quest 3 specs (R) - courtesy of Meta

1 – Your Budget

On paper, the differences are clear here. Quest 2 retails for $300 and during the holiday season it’s been marked down to $250 for the 128 model. That makes it half the price of the 128GB model Quest 3 ($500). In addition to the cost of the headset itself, there are accessories to consider.

Out of the box, both models come with an elastic head strap and Quest owners who use their headset frequently usually opt to upgrade to a better strap for more comfort. (We recommend Zyber VR’s Elite Strap). If you wear glasses, you may want to consider getting prescription lenses. The facial interface for both headsets is removable and there are multiple options available. Both Quest 2 and Quest 3 have larger storage models available (256GB & 512GB respectively). Controller grips, charging docks, the list goes on and on.

It’s an easy rabbit hole to fall into. If you’re new to the world of XR and are not sure if this will be right for you, then the lower priced Quest 2 is an excellent choice to start your XR journey, with a clear path to upgrade later.

Image from Grokit ( ), our Meta Quest mixed reality party game

2 – Passthrough and Mixed Reality

Meta is marketing the Quest 3 as the world’s first true mixed reality headset. The headset contains two full color cameras, and there are already several dozen applications available for Quest headsets that utilize passthrough and mixed reality in some form. This trend started gaining momentum in early 2022 with some developers experimenting with passthrough experiences. Even using Quest 2’s black and white passthrough, these applications were interesting and opened up new use cases and opportunities for consumers and developers alike.

Color passthrough is the way of the future, first coming to the main consumer market with Pico 4 and Quest Pro in October of 2022. A quick search on social media will show Quest 3 owners using their headsets to watch Youtube videos while cooking, playing Minecraft outside in parks, and dozens of other examples. These are all usable in Quest 2’s black and white, but it’s a considerably less enjoyable user experience.

If anything mixed reality related is of interest to you, Quest 3 is easily the better recommendation.

3 – Storage & File Size

Games and apps are getting bigger. This is true for all digital media, particularly in gaming, and the XR world is no different. There were a few outliers in years past, like the PCVR version of Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond at a whopping 170+ gigabytes, but in mobile VR, file sizes are trending larger.

There are a few reasons for this. When Quest 3 released, many developers with existing applications on the Meta Quest store released enhanced builds optimized for Quest 3. Taking advantage of Quest 3’s increased power and resolution to improve visuals, adding new mixed reality modes, and boosting performance all come with a larger file size. Both headset storage models start at 128GB, but if you are primarily using the headset for mobile XR applications, as opposed to tethering it to your PC for PCVR, you may want to consider a larger file size.

The Quest 2 maxes out at 256GB and Quest 3 goes up to 512GB. Bank on somewhere between 10-15GB for the operating system, and the rest is what you have left for apps. 128GB can fill up very quickly, leaving you the inconvenience of uninstalling and reinstalling apps frequently to balance space. Anyone who bought the original 64GB Quest 2 before it was discontinued understands this annoyance.

It’s also important to point out there is no support for external storage devices (external hard drives, SD cards, etc.) on any current Quest headset, so whatever storage model you buy is what you have to work with.

Image: (L-R) Meta Quest 1 (discontinued), Meta Quest 2, Meta Quest 3

4 – Future Proofing

Like any technology, including the Quest 1 before it, the Quest 2 will lose official Meta support eventually as the company and developers focus their energy on the current market model. This means that while you’ll still be able to purchase existing apps and accessories for Quest 2, there will come a day (likely in about a year) that the bulk of development will only be for Quest 3. At 3lb Games, we still continue to build our applications to work on Quest 2, but the best version of them, particularly with mixed reality (see above), are on Quest 3.

Quest 2 is currently the best selling XR device ever made and the size of that user base will incentivize teams to continue developing and optimizing for that headset, but that will not continue forever. XR technology is rapidly evolving and the Quest 2 was already showing its age and limitations in 2022 when the Pico 4 and Quest Pro hit the market. Pancake lenses, such as utilized in Quest 3, almost feel like the new industry standard. Quest 2, by comparison, uses Fresnel lenses, which aren’t as sharp visually and have a smaller sweet spot (the place where your view is the clearest). Quest 2 is currently the second lowest resolution headset currently on the market (only Valve’s Index is lower).

In short, you will get more mileage and a longer cycle of support from Quest 3 than Quest 2. All cell phones, tablets, PC operating systems, and other tech eventually lose support as newer models succeed them. Quest 2 (and Quest 3 years from now) is no exception.

5 – Your Use Case

What do you plan to use your headset for? Is it a gift for someone else? Do you want to use it for work/productivity purposes?

Every XR user has different needs and expectations from their headset. It’s easy to use Quest 3’s improved specs as a basis to recommend it over Quest 2. The resolution is better, the visual quality, the smaller form factor, color vs B/W passthrough, and a more powerful chip are all compelling reasons. Having said that, how much of that matters to you specifically? As an example, I bought a Quest 2 for my young daughter on her birthday. She has used my Quest 3 and really enjoys it, but she is spending 90% of her time in full virtual reality apps like Rec Room, Job Simulator, and Gorilla Tag, none of Quest 3’s advantages matter in her use case.

If you’re only planning to use your headset less than a few hours a week and you don’t necessarily need color passthrough, is that worth double the price of Quest 2? On the other hand, if you are a heavy sim user, playing games like Microsoft Flight Simulator, lower resolution headsets have a detrimental effect on your experience.

In general, Quest 3 is an all around better headset than Quest 2, for reasons already detailed in this article. Does that mean it’s the better option for you? Only you can answer that question for yourself. We hope this article was helpful in making that decision.

If you are buying a Quest 2 or Quest 3, consider using our Amazon affiliate links to help support our development efforts.

Written by 3lb Games Staff

Categories Blog