Should I use a fourth sensor with my Oculus Rift?

Oculus has said that they are adding official support for using a fourth sensor with your Rift, something that many people have already been testing successfully on their own. Currently, you can officially use a single sensor for a standard Rift setup, two sensors for a Rift and Touch setup, and three sensors for a room-scale Rift experience.

So why are some people using four sensors with their Rift when room-scale is already handled with three? Here are three big reasons why you might need to complete the quartet.

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You need a fourth sensor if you have a huge VR space

If you've already tried out a room-scale Rift setup with three sensors, you might have run into the classic issue of touchy placement. There needs to be two sensors between three and six feet apart at the front of your room — usually placed around your monitor — and another sensor at the back of the room, off to the side. The back sensor is best used about 10 feet away from the front sensors.

Optimal sensor placement from Oculus.

Although you can bypass the warning during room-scale setup, you might notice tracking isn't as good as it could be when the sensors are too far apart. If you have a large VR space, something we all dream about, you've likely already imagined a fourth sensor picking up the slack near the back of the room.

You need a fourth sensor if you primarily play room-scale games

The three-sensor setup — two at the front and one at the back, off to the side — leaves one corner of the room that suffers from a distinct lack of tracking. When playing room-scale games, I usually know when I've become turned around and I'm facing the corner without a sensor.

Room-scale rules!

If you usually play standing or sitting games, you should be able to get by just fine with three sensors. However, if you're someone who primarily plays games best enjoyed with a room-scale setup, a fourth sensor can definitely make a difference while you're moving around the room, and will no doubt be worth the money.

You need a fourth sensor if you play VR games competitively

With the release of Echo Arena, we were shown a brand new type of competitive gaming. If you haven't already tried it out, do yourself a favor and grab this free game. Matches are fast and tense, and you need a perfect setup so that you don't miss out on a key play in the last seconds of a game.

Echo Arena

Part of a perfect setup for competitive gaming is indeed a fourth sensor. You'll experience fewer problems with tracking, and you might be able to take your game to the next level, no matter what you're playing.

Plugging in four sensors and a Rift

With the addition of a fourth sensor, you're going to need five USB-A ports on your PC. That's a lot of ports, especially if you're using a laptop. There is also the classic problem of USB controllers not being able to handle what the Rift throws at it.

If you're wondering exactly how you're going to connect four sensors and a Rift to your PC, the official answer from Oculus is to grab this $25 Inateck USB 3.0 expansion card.

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More room-scale Rift resources

For more information and some helpful hints when starting out with a room-scale Rift setup, check out these other resources.