The Meta Quest 3 is more powerful than we originally thought

Smiling while wearing a Meta Quest 3 headset with a BoboVR M3 Pro head strap
(Image credit: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)

What you need to know

  • Meta revealed that the Quest 3's GPU is on par with a GeForce GTX 960 or Radeon R9 290, the minimum spec card for an Oculus Rift headset.
  • That makes the Quest 3 powerful enough to run complex modern games at reasonable framerates.
  • The Quest 3 is also capable of running games at 120 FPS when developers enable it.

GDC 2024 is firmly in the rearview mirror now, but we're still getting new announcements and updates that we didn't get to hear at the show. A new Meta Quest blog post wraps everything the company showed off at GDC into one neatly organized package, and one revelation stuck out to us the most: the Meta Quest 3's GPU "rivals a Rift min-spec machine."

To put that into context, the Oculus Rift and Rift S — Meta's PC-only VR headsets — require users to have a PC outfitted with at least an Nvidia GeForce GTX 960 or an AMD Radeon R9 290. As tests show, these graphics cards are still capable of running games like Cyberpunk 2077, Red Dead Redemption 2, and Metro Exodus at around 60FPS on low detail levels.

When comparing the Meta Quest 2 vs Meta Quest 3, Meta says the Quest 3's GPU is twice as powerful as the one in the Quest 2. However, the comparison to a PC graphics card is new and enables us to better understand the true power behind the headset. In console terms, this means the Quest 3 has a GPU faster than the one in the PS4.

But it's no secret that most of the best Meta Quest games are built for the Quest 2 because of its huge userbase which numbers in the millions every month. Meta points out that Quest 3 games can run at 120 FPS but only a handful of titles have been updated with support for this high of a frame rate.

The busy streets of Venice in Assassin's Creed Nexus

(Image credit: Ubisoft)

Meta outlines in its blog post that it has created new tools to help developers optimize games for its latest headset, but the live situation reflects what we saw with the launch of the PS5 over three years ago. The first two years of the PS5's life saw most major titles launch simultaneously on the PS4 and PS5, including heavy-hitters like Spider-Man: Miles Morales and Horizon: Forbidden West.

Likewise, Meta's heavy hitters after the Quest 3 launched included Assassin's Creed Nexus and Asgard's Wrath 2, two games that have been critically acclaimed but were built to run on the Quest 2. As a result, even the graphically enhanced versions on Quest 3 don't look substantially better than their Quest 2 counterparts.

However, a handful of games with Quest 3 updates help showcase the truly massive gulf in performance between these two headsets. Red Matter 2 and the original Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners feature unbelievable Quest 3 graphics updates that'll blow your mind.

No doubt, we'll start to see more games feature these kinds of huge visual quality updates in the future as more VR gamers upgrade to the Quest 3. Meta's rumored upcoming release of the Meta Quest 3 Lite will help accelerate this fact as the headset is said to feature the same powerful processor as the Quest 3 with some other hardware concessions to deliver it at a low price.

Nicholas Sutrich
Senior Content Producer — Smartphones & VR
Nick started with DOS and NES and uses those fond memories of floppy disks and cartridges to fuel his opinions on modern tech. Whether it's VR, smart home gadgets, or something else that beeps and boops, he's been writing about it since 2011. Reach him on Twitter or Instagram @Gwanatu