The RPS Verdict: Steam In-Home Streaming Beta

By Alec Meer on January 30th, 2014 at 5:00 pm.

A computer and a stream, yesterday

The first raft of people have been allowed into the beta of Steam’s upcoming In-Home Streaming tech, which enables you to stream pretty much any Steam game (and even a few non-Steam games) from your main games PC to another PC elsewhere in the house. Among those people are Graham and Alec, who’ve been trying it out on assorted hardware, and who here sit down to have a good old chinwag about their respective experiences. It’s a great idea on paper, but does it really work? Yes, obviously it does or they wouldn’t have released it. But does it work well? Sir, you are being clickbaited.

(Yes ok it works quite well, sort of, depending on your setup and which games you try, but please read the article anyway).

Big fat proviso to all of the below is that this is a beta. Nothing in it can be considered finished or feature-complete, and everything in this article may be irrelevant a few months from now. With that out the way, here is our true and honest and maybe even occasionally accurate document of our experiences over the last week.

Alec: I was very disappointed that Home Streaming cannot stream my home to somewhere else, for instance the Caribbean. Other than that, I’ve been reasonably impressed with its initial beta. How are you feeling about it, broadly?

Graham: I caught a cold immediately after using it, and so am beginning to suspect “in-home streaming” was code for what it would do to my nose.

(boom boom)

My feelings are that it is very impressive. It doesn’t quite work well enough for me to use it, but it gets 95% of the way there, and I’m pretty sure the last 5% is my fault. What are you streaming to and from? Hardware-wise, I mean.

Alec: I’ve got Surface Pro 2 as client and a Core i7-920 PC as server, overclocked to 3.8ghz, which although about five years old seems totally happy with everything, including this, just about. Though I am now tempted to finally upgrade to see if it drops the lag, as I am really, really keen to do a lot of PC-Surface streaming, with the Surface plugged into my telly as an alternative Steam machine kinda thing.

The source PC’s processor appears to be a major factor, as apparently there’s no hardware encoding of the videostream yet – so basically it’s taxing your chip pretty hard, and if you’ve not got a relatively modern quad-core kinda thing that’s not going to work terribly well, unless you set the resolution pretty low.

My experience is that – presuming one does not have an ideal networking setup – it very much depends on the game. For instance, I pretty much exclusively played Might & Magic X streamed from my main PC to my Surface Pro thinger, as it’s turn-based nature meant lag wasn’t much of an issue. DayZ was… ill-advised, however. It looked as though it was running well, but the lag was untenable.

Graham: I have issues on the other end. I went straight for the lag-sensitive games, trying it with OutRun 2006: Coast 2 Coast and Nidhogg. I get a “Slow Decode” message, which means that the four-year-old netbook I’m streaming to isn’t up to the task.

Alec: ah, that’s interesting. It’s going to get better for lower-end laptops when they bring in hardware encode/decode, but I don’t know if a netbook’s integrated graphics is up to that or not. The Surface, painful price aside, is kinda the ideal device for this, as it has a decent chip and a lovely screen – just lacking graphics, which this in theory resolves.

Your first port of call should to try lower resolutions I think. You can set that in the Steam settings, rather than tweak the game whenever you switch machines.

Graham: To the software’s credit, it does its very best to compensate for whatever hardware and network you’re running it on. It automatically lowered the resolution of games, and watching the log, would try to target a stable fps.

Alec: What’s your networking setup for this?

Graham: I’m with BT Infinity, which means a modern, fast router. My main PC is connected to that router via a USB dongle however, which is less than ideal. The router is also at the other side of the house from the machines I’m streaming between. But I do a lot of streaming in my house without too much trouble, running Plex Media Server to bounce video around and streaming my PC desktop to an iPad for gaming in the past. So I know the network is up to the task. How about you?

Alec: Surface on wifi, which is sometimes hitting about 270mbps but more often than not is about 108 even when about two foot away from the router, due to something terrible in the walls. PC is in my weird tiny boxroom outside the flat, on powerline networking. So I’ve got two different kinds of lag and slow-down, basically, as nothing’s directly wired to the router. I’m going to buy some very long network cables to temporarily use, just to see what difference it makes.

Like I say, turn-based games are absolutely fine, and I can manage 1080p for that which looks lovely, but the beautiful dream is to plug the tablet into the telly for bigscreen meathead games. I think it’s viable, for singleplayer stuff at least, if I can persuade my partner to let me run cables all over the place.

Graham: With previous streaming attempts, I always stuck to turn-based stuff. I use the Splashtop app on iPad to play Football Manager from the couch. But I want Steam streaming mainly so I can stick action games on my TV and play with a pad on the couch.

It’s basically unusable for me right now, but I’m completely sold on it in theory, and already impressed by its early implementation. I’m getting a new mini-PC in a couple of weeks that it might work better with, and excited about that. I wasn’t quite expecting to be so quickly convinced.

Alec: All told Home Streaming’s an elegant solution – I love that it all happens within Steam, just by being signed in at two place at once, and obviously you’ve got all your saves available from wherever.

But yeah, I think PCs with decent processors are ultimately going to be more important than networking is. I’m really impressed by however they’re compressing the video – stuff like Splashtop always looked pretty… YouTube to me, but M&MX at 1080p looked near-indistinguishable from the real thing.

Basically, I’m impressed enough that I’m probably going to spend an unreasonable amount of time and money getting it running as well as possible

Graham: Yeah. Do you know if it’s doing any on-the-fly scaling of that compression? Splashtop will adapt to look like a low-res jpg if your network is struggling.

Alec: I’m not sure, nothing I’ve noticed first-hand

Graham: Steam seemed to decide that it should try to stream games at 15fps, but I didn’t see compression artefacts, just dropped frames.

Alec: Oh, one issue I hit was that my wireless mouse interfered with the stream, so it was incredibly jerky and unplayable. But I switched the Surface’s wifi to my router’s 5ghz network rather than the usual 2.4ghz and that got around that. Which is a good tip for anyone with a router/PC that supports 5Ghz wifi – dedicate that channel to the devices you’re using for home streaming, and leave poor old 2.4ghz for your phone and consoles and stuff. Less people use it so you’ll get less interference from neighbours’ networks.

Graham: Does this make something like the Surface suddenly more desirable? Would you strengthen your previous praise for it?

Alec: Yeah, while M&MX isn’t the prettiest game, seeing a full 3D thing running at 1080p with antialiasing and everything on what’s essentially a tablet was very much The Dream Realised. A vision of these things’ near future, I suppose – shortcutting to the time when they actually have decent onboard graphics.

I would imagine Valve are thinking hard about how to get this working on iPads and Nexuses and things. As, perhaps, are Sony.

Graham: Yeah, definitely. It’s exciting that in another year or two, this stuff will almost certainly be commonplace and trivially easy. In the meantime, I too am going to spend unreasonable time and money getting it to run as well as possible.

Alec: But the key to that is probably people like you – getting this viable on the older, weaker laptops and tablets people might have lying about. What it can’t be is the sole domain of people with two highish end devices (which I only have because they count as tax expenses. Rest assured I’m suitably impoverished otherwise).

Graham: Yes, definitely. I wonder how much more efficient they can make it. Video streaming works pretty well even with low-end parts, like say a Raspberry Pi. I wonder if there’s ever hope of Steam aiming that low.

Alec: Yeah, once they get the hardware decoding thing implemented, in theory that’s possible I think. And generally, Android stuff that people will find all sorts of weird and wonderful ways to connect controllers to is going to be appealing here.

I dunno, part of me thinks if this gets any better it’s shooting steam machines in the foot. Why have a thousand pound box under your telly if some tiny ARM box can stream whatever from a cheaper main PC?

Graham: Yeah, it’s strange. I wonder if the Steam Machines are there mainly for people who don’t have or want that main PC. They’re noisy and take up a lot of space. If you’ve offloaded a lot of general computing tasks to tablets, and you simply want something to game on, a Steam Machine might fit your life better.

Alec: I wonder if Steam Machines are more to do with making gaming PCs sexy and desirable rather than perceived as the ugly province of shut-ins. And also the whole taking down Windows thing – but that’s a discussion for another day.

Anyway, I think Home Streaming’s off to a good start, and perhaps in a few months we’ll do another one of these to see how it’s come on. Also how many holes we’ve drilled into our walls to run cables through.

Graham: And how much money we’ve spent on new computer bits.

Alec: Yeah. It’s fascinating that this, not some big game release, is the prompt for an upgrade. Anyway, I’m going to go have another fiddle now. AND THEN I’LL TRY SOME HOME STREAMING.

Graham: I’m going to go stream my nose some more. BYE.

Alec: BYE

If you want to try Steam In-Home Streaming, you’ll need to join this here Steam group and wait patiently until your name is drawn from whatever invisible hat Valve are using to pick beta participants. Graham and I were super-keenos and joined the group as soon as we heard of it, hence having access already, so more than likely Johnny Come Latelies will be waiting a little while yet.

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61 Comments »

Top comments

  1. pullthewires says:

    This wouldn’t necessarily compete with steam boxes if the idea is that you have one in your living room that acts as a computing powerhouse that can beam ‘content’ to the various devices around your home, TVs tablets, laptops etc., negating the need for a separate desktop or a particularly powerful laptop even.

  1. Runty McTall says:

    “My main PC is connected to that router via a USB dongle however”

    One word (and much exclaiming) – Why?!?!!!!

    • Keyrock says:

      One word, no punctuation – Rumplestiltskin

    • sandineyes says:

      My desktop is connected to a router using a USB antenna as well. It may never be as good as wired, but my router is on the first floor, my computer is on the second floor, and this is much more convenient than running a cable through the walls.

      It really is pretty good, considering how it was a few years ago. I’m using a Netgear Nighthawk 802.11ac router and a Linksys 802.11ac usb stick. The range and speed is more than enough to handle my Internet connection, and any additional lag is unnoticeable. I also live in a suburban environment, so interference is not nearly the issue it would be in a city.

      • Calculon says:

        Im not sure if this helps or not – but I had a similar issue and recently started using Ethernet Over Coaxil cable.

        I have loads of Coax cable running through my house, so I just hooked up the handy little units to my router and the destination room – and BOOM! – instant 80mb/s transfers.

        I’d post a link to them (you can find them on amazon) but Im not sure if that would prevent my post from being…posted.

      • Premium User Badge

        innokenti says:

        Have you tried ‘powerline’ networking? Unless your house’s power wiring is awful, it’s a pretty simple and effective solution. No gouging holes in walls needed!

        (And if you are concerned about sockets being taken up, there are powerline adapters that offer pass-through as well, so you don’t lose out on that front)

        • pullthewires says:

          I got a given a pair of these and they work so well I haven’t bothered putting a wireless card in my new desktop

        • sandineyes says:

          Yes, I actually have tried that in the past. Unfortunately, the speeds you can get vary greatly depending on how your house is wired. For me, it was much less effective than using wireless. I used to have this computer in a different room and had it wired, and I can’t tell any difference between having it wired and being wireless now. I’m also not really into twitch multiplayer gaming, but I’ve had no issues with some light CoD and Borderlands 2.

        • Wedge says:

          Yeah it really does depend on your house. Tried one years ago and it was utterly useless, was like running through a 56k modem. The coax thing they do now probably works a lot better, but I’ve long since just ran network cables along the ceiling of my place.

      • Runty McTall says:

        I think that the thing that I missed initially was the “dongle” bit – I thought he was using one of those really old school router/modems that allowed you to connect to them either by ethernet or direct USB connection. The USB connection method was always utterly horrible and basically precluded you from doing anything sophisticated at all (including troubleshooting).

        I rescind my exclamation marks :)

      • PotatoSexMachine says:

        200 foot ethernet cable =3
        At least that’s what I have, but my filthy pre-built only lets me have a max of 2mbs download per app (so the fastest I can download anything is at 2mb/s) which is absolute shit…

  2. grundus says:

    I’m no expert, but I think we’ll need dedicated hardware before we’ll have usefully fast streaming. The data rate isn’t the issue – I’ve been testing streaming from my PC to an Ouya running Kainy or Splashtop via 500mbps (even though in practice they’re a lot slower than that) powerline network adaptors and even though there’s only an 8ms round trip latency (according to pinging the Ouya from my PC then doubling it) the actual latency is significantly more than that (I doubt you’d notice 8ms), presumably because the software at either end has to encode and decode in real time and it just isn’t fast.

    I’m just guessing, but if it were possible to access the hardware-accelerated H.264 encoder built in to Nvidia Kepler GPUs to do the encoding and then have a hardware-accelerated decoder at the other end the latency would be massively reduced, probably. I assume that’s how the Nvidia Shield does it.

    • ThTa says:

      Part of it is encoding and decoding, sure, but it seems to me most of the delay in your case is coming from a combination of TCP (which both Kainy and Splashtop seem to rely entirely on) and those powerline adapters. Powerline adapters have been extremely unreliable in my experience, which is something that doesn’t mix well with TCP, since it would trigger constant retransmissions. (Causing delays and vastly reducing bandwidth; I really wouldn’t buy into those “500 Mbps” rates they claim.)

      But yeah, I still would appreciate some properly utilized hardware encode solutions for wireless streaming. (Which is indeed what Nvidia does for Shield.)

      • Immense Being says:

        I definitely agree with you on those powerline adapters not as fast as rated. I bought one that said it was capable of HD and 3D streaming but it was hardly capable of that. My bandwidth tests showed they only had maximum 30 Mbps but can often drop to 10 Mbps. No where close to the 500 Mbps advertised.

    • BarryK says:

      It is possible to use the hardware encoder in the newer nVidia cards. Look for a program called Limelight over at the xda forums, there’s an Android version a PC client and even a Raspberry Pi port. It essentially spoofs the shield connection so it’ll let you stream to pretty much anything. It works really well on the Ouya thanks to the hardware encoder on the graphics card and hardware decoder in the Tegra 3

      • grundus says:

        You. I want to hold you. I’m going to try that out as soon as I finish work today, thanks for the tip!

        Edit: It took a bit of wrangling to get it working, but my god, assuming Nvidia doesn’t block this (which is entirely possible) this is /the/ solution to home streaming right now. I haven’t tried pairing my Dualshock 4 with my Ouya yet so I don’t know if that’ll work, but if it does that’s a 1080p 30fps cloud streaming console for £100. And if the Raspberry Pi port can really keep up with the decoding – I seriously doubt it can, but who knows – that’s only £35 plus whatever an SD card costs.

        • BarryK says:

          It actually works pretty well on the Raspberry Pi, it has a hardware decoder for the video so it’s not much of a problem but the audio can cause problems for it. We’ll just have to wait and see how that version progresses, it’s still in heavy development.

          The Ouya version is great though, I use it all the time now with a dualshock 3 over bluetooth

  3. Premium User Badge

    Crimsoneer says:

    Works wonderfully for me – the netbook doesn’t quite have the graphical power, but my cheap laptop does the trick just fine. And that plugs into my £200 projector. Wonderful stuff.

    • serioussgtstu says:

      Does your cheap laptop have integrated graphics?

      • phelix says:

        Have you ever seen a cheap laptop with a dedicated graphics card (or a midrange one, for that matter)?

        • serioussgtstu says:

          Well if it didn’t work on a netbook which presumably has integrated graphics, then I’d expect that streaming wouldn’t work on a laptop either. That’s why I asked.

  4. Immense Being says:

    I highly recommend using JPerf or similar to test network speed between your two machines. Even though your Wi-Fi may say you’re connected at a high rate, the actual numbers are much lower. For example, my Wireless N connections says I’m connected at 150 Mbps, but actual tests show that I get at best 40-65 Mbps, but with interference can drop as low as 2 Mbps.

    I’m using the following below to test the network speed between my desktop (wired) and my laptop (Wireless N)
    http://code.google.com/p/xjperf/

    Edit:
    Also would like to mention, I’ve been trying In-Home Streaming and I can confidently say it works quite well at the lowest setting (720p 30fps) at about 20Mbps or higher.

    • ThTa says:

      It is getting the 150 Mbps number from “actual tests”, it’s the available bandwidth; it’s just that throughput couldn’t possibly match that.

  5. pancakes says:

    I was happy streaming Borderlands 2 to my Windows 8 tablet (Dell Venue Pro 8). It was on wifi and getting about 30fps. I was playing with a 360 controller, and lag was noticeably present with regards to input, but I find it more enjoyable on that 8 inch screen than on the 5 inch one in the Nvidia Shield.

  6. Premium User Badge

    melnificent says:

    Is it possible to use a VPN to stream across the net?

  7. Koozer says:

    Why on earth is your link to the Steam group sending me to the French version of Steam? Was I teleported when I wasn’t looking?

  8. Premium User Badge

    Smashbox says:

    I just don’t understand what this accomplishes that a super long HDMI and USB don’t.

    No lag, very cheap, no computerfans whirring away, no wireless mouse interference, simple to set up.

    • Spakkenkhrist says:

      For one thing a surface pro has no fans and It’s more likely the source machine will be noisier than the client anyway. I have a long HDMI set up but it’s not necessarily a solution for everyone, I suspect most folks will have their main PC in a study or bedroom.

      • soldant says:

        I assure you, the Surface Pro (and the second iteration) has fans, and they’re noticeable when they spin up.

    • Premium User Badge

      Crimsoneer says:

      Significantly less wiring? But yes, I could just stick a hdmi and usb hub through my floor to downstairs, but this is significantly cheaper.

    • SuicideKing says:

      Are you willing to snake a super long HDMI cable between rooms? I can understand using HDMI for the same room, but across the house this is perfect. Especially seeing that 802.11ac is becoming standard slowly (802.11n on 5 GHz should be ample, as noted in this article)…also helps if you have gigabit/100-megabit ethernet laid all over the house, though i recognise that relatively few people do.

    • Phasma Felis says:

      It doesn’t require you to buy expensive cables and then string them around your house like tripwires, guillotine them in close-fitting doors, and/or drill holes in the masonry.

      Yeah, it’s overkill if your PC and TV are in opposite corners of the living room, but if the PC is in an upstairs bedroom and your TV is in the basement den, the benefits are obvious.

    • Nate says:

      While long cords and wall-penetrating outlets suck, there’s talk in the article and comments about using wired ethernet– surely, if you’re considering that, you may as well just do the hdmi/usb extension thing. (Except I guess some people actually have homes wired for ethernet already, so they don’t have to dig out the masonry drill.)

    • Premium User Badge

      darkChozo says:

      One thing people haven’t mentioned: mobility. If you’re streaming to a laptop or tablet, you can move around, something that is a bit harder with a wired monitor, mouse and keyboard.

  9. SuicideKing says:

    I got an invite too last week, here’s how it went:

    Network:
    100BaseT router (max 100 Mbps), with 802.11g (2.4GHz, up to 54Mbps).

    Client:
    2007 Intel MacBook, Core 2 Duo (1.6 GHz), integrated graphics, 2GB DDR2-667, running Windows 7 HP from a 120GB Intel 330 Series SSD.

    Host:
    Desktop, Core 2 Quad Q8400 (2.77 GHz), GTX 560 (1GB, stock clocks), 8GB DDR3-1333 (@1392, 8-8-8-24), Windows 7 HP, games and steam running form a 256GB Samsung 840 series SSD.

    Results:
    Well, laggy. Very laggy.
    5 to 20 fps, Steam was aiming for 30 fps i think. Lots of jitter, pings varied between 3 to 5000, also got that slow decode message at times…the in-built profiler reported 65-75% of frames being dropped.

    Interpretation:
    The network was highly unsuitable for the intended purpose, using wired LAN should be a better idea. Even though i was streaming at the macbook’s native resolution (1280×800) instead of the desktop’s 1080p, the laptop didn’t seem to be capable enough.

    Follow up work intended:
    Test it over LAN next weekend.

    @Alec, Graham: Remember, an alternative “Steam Machine” use case was as a streaming client. Especially when hardware transcoding is enabled, any Bay Trail/Jaguar and above chip shouldn’t face too much pressure, a Core i3 or Kaveri processor should be sufficient.

    Such a client could be assembled for under $300, and if SteamOS also integrates multimedia streaming, it could prove to be a decent HTPC that can game, even with an Xbox 360 controller, thanks to Big Picture.

    EDIT: I tried, $412 is what i got for 4GB of DDR3-1600, a Pentium G3220, a mini-ITX H81 motherboard, a Lian-Li HTPC case+PSU combo, and a 128GB SSD.

    So while sub 400 is still possible for an HTPC (you’d sacrifice on size or quality/performance or both), sub 300 looks to be solely Bay Trail/Jaguar territory.

  10. pullthewires says:

    This wouldn’t necessarily compete with steam boxes if the idea is that you have one in your living room that acts as a computing powerhouse that can beam ‘content’ to the various devices around your home, TVs tablets, laptops etc., negating the need for a separate desktop or a particularly powerful laptop even.

  11. Frank says:

    “if you’ve not got a relatively modern quad-core kinda thing”

    Are there games that take advantage of multiple cores these days? I’m behind the cutting edge because of my low-range graphics card, but haven’t noticed anything using more than one of my comp’s four cores…

    • SuicideKing says:

      Yes, these days, a lot of them do. That number will only increase in future…that said, a combination of clock speed and IPC (i.e. very high single threaded performance) is still a larger factor.

    • Nate says:

      Last I read (maybe six months ago): a lot of stuff uses a second core (at low usage); one or two games use a third core (at extremely low usage). No game tested used four cores.

      Basically, there’s a little bit of second core support being built into API/drivers/popular engines, and one or two developers are trying to multithread their applications in addition, but no, two cores are basically as much as you need for gaming. Unless you want to run some other application at the same time, which is possible. (I keep thinking about how you could probably build and compile a procedurally generated Quake level in the time it takes to play one…)

      • SuicideKing says:

        Incorrect. And since the new consoles are dependent on good threading (weak CPU cores), games and modern engines will/do use 2-8 cores.

      • joa says:

        Using many cores is not difficult in my understanding – you can create many threads and send them off to do things like network communication, disk reading, whatever. I think the main problem is that the actual main CPU usage of games is not a problem which can be easily broken into things which can be done in parallel. Basically, to draw things on the screen, you need to know where those things are, which means that physics and collisions and things must be handled first. Before you can do that you need to know how things are moving, so you need to handle input and do AI first.

        So all of those activities must be done in sequence, one after another, which does not lend itself to multithreading.

  12. BarryK says:

    Using Ethernet for any connections for gaming streaming will help with the latency quite a bit. WiFi (be it G,N or even AC class) isn’t really ideal because of all the extra error detection they do (and there’s some fancy time division stuff going on too). It doesn’t matter for things like media streaming since they’re not latency sensitive, they just need bandwidth which is a fairly easy problem to solve in most homes in 2014

  13. Moraven says:

    Thread where we left our impressions:
    http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/forums/showthread.php?12801-Steam-In-Home-Streaming-Beta

    My tests:
    Source – i7 Ivy Bridge, AMD 7950, Win7
    Stream – Core 2 Duo Wolfdale, AMD 68650, Win8
    Network – Asus RT-AC68U, Both connected to by cat6
    TV – 48inch Samsung, about 5 years old

    Tested with wireless 360 controller.

    XCom EU – Stable at 720p capture, 60fps
    Serious Sam 3 – Stable at 720p capture, 30fps

    I noticed no delay with controller input. I had bad frame skipping when I was set at 1080p.

    I still need to test our laptop which has WiFi-N, i7, 765m. Be curious how well WiFi is since it seems hit and miss for everyone.

  14. Moraven says:

    ChromeCast devices have seem rather popular. $35 for a usb device that connects to your device to enable streaming from your WiFi device.

    I have tried remote desktop using a Nexus 7 and play Hearthstone. Many limitations unless you have a better client to translate touch commands.

    Now I have ran WoW over a 3G connection from my Android phone. With an keyboard emulator app it was playable, to an extent.

  15. 7rigger says:

    Been playing Arkham City and Euro truck on my Surface pro with the bandwidth set to unlimited, the res set to 720p and it streams brilliantly if you turn off the hardware decoding option in steam options. 20-30 fps and pretty much perfectly playable – can’t wait for upgrades to truly take advantage of this. Streaming from my i7 desktop, was a beast 3 years ago, showing it’s age now – 6gb triple channel ram and a Geforce 560.

    Although the worst game to stream by far has been Trials 2, barely 10fps and huge lags everywhere. I don’t know why and I want to blame uPlay, so I shall .

  16. Chris Evans says:

    I somehow managed to get into the beta and have already had a bit of a play with it and I have to say that I am impressed with the ideas. I was using my netbook which really struggled with anything other than Civ V, but trying it on my girlfriends laptop which is a bit more powerful yielded some perfectly decent results in The Bureau. I haven’t even played around with the settings yet apart from turning off hardware decoding.

    Definitely one to get people using things like the Surface with their TVs. I see bright things ahead for in-home streaming.

  17. Wedge says:

    Did anyone have a setup that was able to stream a game 1080p @ 60fps? I found this to be entirely impossible running a solid source rig (2500k @ 4ghz, AMD 7950) over a gigabit LAN connection. Though I only tried with games that normally hit just over 60fps on my base system, maybe you need to be running easily over that to make it possible. Should try L4D2 or something else like that installed that doesn’t even make the computer sweat.

  18. trjp says:

    Don’t underestimate the need for a decent client to make this work – I tried it with the following kit and there were some interesting results.

    ‘Server’ PC – i5-4440, 8GB RAM, GTX 650 Ti 2Gb – 1920×1080 native res
    Client1 – Lenovo X200, P8400 C2D with GMA4500 GPU – 1280×800 native res
    Client2 – HP NC2400, U2500 C2D with GMA950 GPU – 1280×800 native res

    I mainly tested it with RAGE (the game – not the state-of-mind!) because – well – just because…

    Client 1 – ran the game OK, about 100ms lag meant you’d not be having the greatest time but it looked and moved smoothly (with the odd hiccup) – you could have probably played it OK

    Client 2- lag is more like 250ms and the experience is quite miserable – not really playable at all

    Other issues were that enabling ‘stats’ (the graphs etc.) on Client1 caused everything to slow to about 2fps and then – eventually – crash. You could enable the stats on the Client2 fine tho – which is weird and clearly a glitch?

    After the 2nd or 3rd crash, Client1 “took a paddy” and refused to see the server. Both Client 2 and the Server could see Client1 but Client1 remained unable to connect even after a shutdown/restart and so I quit.

    Obviously my server has “enough” horsepower to run RAGE and stream it out but the older laptop isn’t remotely able to decode anything quickly enough and the newer one has some technical issues which need to be ironed out.

    All that was on regular household Wifi ‘G’.

    p.s. note to anyone looking for HD quality 60fps streaming – you’re having a laugh – no, seriously, schtopppp….

  19. neonordnance says:

    DAT SOUNDWAVE!!!

  20. Geebs says:

    Disappointing, but consistent with physics.

  21. RProxyOnly says:

    I’ve been doing this over wifi, with the Nvidia Shield (basically a portable Steambox, without native pc game support), which uses Steam’s streaming system, since last year and the service has improved to the point of 720 streaming being fine with little to no ‘noticable’ lag (I haven’t yet tried 1080p through the required wired ethernet connection).

    I do love my Shield.

  22. Premium User Badge

    amateurviking says:

    Didn’t realise that hardware encode/decode wasn’t implemented yet. I imagine that’ll make a big difference. Streaming over wireless g to a crusty old macbook showed potential though. I’m about to replace it with a surface pro 2 (thanks Alec. Thalec)and get the big pc wired into the router. Which I reckon will be perfect for this sorta thing.

  23. Lemming says:

    Well I’m sold. If it’s bearable when you stream it to some shitty netbook or equally inappropriate device during beta, it’s going to be excellent when streaming to a dedicated low-end Steam Machine on release, which is what I intend to use it for, and I’m sure is its primary purpose.

    Also with things like these available, wireless can bugger off too.

  24. LordDamien says:

    You sir are a snob!

    Robbing us that you have in your possession a copy of OutRun 2006: Coast 2 Coast when no other mortals can buy it any more..

  25. Screamer says:

    YAY! I can’t way for every single game in my Steam library wanting to download an update because of this!

  26. hurrakan says:

    I’m in the beta too but haven’t had much time to test yet – my initial tests worked very well. Tried Dishonored and Fallout New Vegas. Total latencies varied from 60ms – 110ms. Was perfectly playable and no crashes but I only played for about 10 minutes. I hope to do some more extensive testing today :)

    Host/Server:
    Windows 7 Home Premium x64
    Intel i7 2600K 3.9GHz
    16GB 1866Mhz DDR3
    MSI 680 OC TwinFrozr II 2GB
    Samsung 840 Pro 256GB SSD
    native res= 2048×1152
    Network = Wired ethernet cat6 -> Gigabit switch -> Billion powerline (AV200, this is the weakest link here) -> Billion gigabit router

    Client 1:
    Windows 7 Home Premium x64
    Intel Celeron G530 2.4GHz,
    4GB 1333MHz DDR3
    Intel HD 1000 iGPU
    Crucial M4 120GB SSD
    native res = 1440×900
    Network = wired ethernet direct to router

    Client 2:
    Linux Mint x64,
    Intel Q6600 @ 3GHz
    4GB 1333Mhz DDR3
    Sapphire 4870 1GB (ATI)
    Hitachi Deskstar 1TB HDD
    native res = 1680×1050
    Network = USB wi-fi (not draft n)

    It works better to set the game on the host to run at the native resolution of the client.

    I recently installed Lucidlogix Virtu MVP 2.0 and I want to see how that affects streaming. Virtu It increases responsiveness (reducing input lag) and streamlines the rendering process so I think it will help to reduce latency.

    The powerline bit works fine but I want to get the new Zyxel ones that are 600Mbps.

  27. Premium User Badge

    dahauns says:

    Regarding lag on the Surface:
    slouken mentioned in a forum post that there’s a bug with Intel GPUs where displaying the detailed overlay (the one with the pretty graphs) significantly increases lag. Definitely noticed that with my Sandy Bridge (HD 3000) notebook.

    Oh and my experience: Impressed. Tried Enslaved, Sine Mora and Rage and – at least after I found out the above and turned off the overlay – the lag wasn’t noticable in Enslaved and really ok in SM and Rage. Had a few crashes and/or glitches (mainly when starting a game, changing res or in Big Picture), but that’s to be expected in a beta.
    (Server: Win7Pro,i5-750, GF560Ti, GbE wired; Client: thinkpad x220,W7Pro, x5-2520, HD3000, WiFi ~250Mbps 5GHz, good quality).

    • Premium User Badge

      dahauns says:

      To clarify: I had the notebook and the monitor standing side-by-side. I don’t think I would have noticed lag without direct comparison in any of the games.

  28. KillahMate says:

    Did ANYONE try streaming this thing over a wire, as God intended?

    http://steamcommunity.com/groups/homestream#announcements/detail/1496614934736756460

    Depending on client/server hardware, a wired connection can decrease latency up to two orders of magnitude.

  29. Cantisque says:

    Tried it with Skullgirls on my kit.

    Host:
    i7 920 @ 4.2ghz, GTX 670

    Client:
    i3 2120, GTX 660

    Wired connection from host to Asus dualband wireless router and dualband USB dongle connected to the client.

    Gameplay was fine, I didn’t notice any latency (I made sure to choose a fighting game for this reason). Played at mostly 60FPS 1080p, but occasionally dropped down to 30FPS but remained steady. I would imagine if I had a wired connection between the two it would have worked even better.

    It seems clear that your results will vary depending on your hardware, where the weakest link is going to drag the rest of it down. I was impressed with 1080p60 streaming that was actually playable, I can’t wait to see it improve over time.

  30. acu says:

    I only clicked the article because of the silly picture.
    That said, this will be certainly interesting once we get some cheap steam boxes.