Valve’s Index virtual reality headset is the first that can be plugged into VirtualLink, the USB-C port you’ll find on most Nvidia RTX 2070 and greater Nvidia RTX 20-series graphics cards. But it only partially earns this distinction, as Valve’s support for VirtualLink only goes as far as your willingness to buy a $40 dongle.
The promise of VirtualLink is to reduce the amount of cables and connections between the headset and your computer. This dongle can help you tidy things up, since it reduces the Index’s cable count and port requirement from three to one, all down to a single USB-C input that goes into your GPU.
But turning VirtualLink into a dongle is a hilariously backwards interpretation of what was designed to be an elegant solution — because since the VirtualLink part is only at the GPU end, you’ll actually wind up with a slightly heavier cable that’s just as thick tethering you to your computer!
I’d have much preferred if Valve would have released a version of the Index that outputs straight into VirtualLink — no dongle required — so you could have a single slim USB-C cable as the only thing tying you to a PC. Or Valve could have started with VirtualLink on the headset end, and included a dongle to break out the more traditional ports. But if Valve’s going to insist on a dongle to take advantage of VirtualLink with its $1,000 headset kit, it’d be nice if it included one in the box.