Have You Played… (with a) Steam Link?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

Despite not having previously felt as thought I needed one, I picked a Steam Link dirt-cheap in the sales, more out of curiosity than anything else. It’s pretty good – unless you try to use it over WiFi.

I can only presume you know what a Steam Link is already, but just in case: it’s a small (about 6×4″) box that plugs into your telly and can stream games from your PC to said telly – i.e. for those situations where a really long HDMI cable just isn’t viable. Some PC games require a keyboard, mouse and hunched posture. Some PC games are better suited to sitting back on a sofa and looking at a big screen.

I guess this is going to be more a piece of advice than a set of opinions. If you’re at all interested in a Steam Link, or Steam Home Streaming in general, be aware that you will almost certainly experience poor results if you try and play it over a wireless connection. What’s happening is that your PC is turning the game into a video stream on the fly, and as such it transmitting vast amounts of data constantly. You need a super-fast connection for that, and right now only a hard-wired ethernet cable can achieve that.

Use a cable and the experience is so much better – a infinitely crisper picture, less lag, almost no sudden spikes or collapse into a mess of smeary shapes. And the Steam Link provides a mostly elegant Steam Big Picture UI for it too. When it works, it feels as though in-home streaming is a solved problem. When it doesn’t work, which is usually over wifi, it feels as though we’re light-years away from getting it right.

These things are ace, but use a cable. Even if it means drilling. Trust me.

From this site

69 Comments

  1. dahools says:

    Haven’t tried it with the link bit streaming MGS V from PC to laptop was a fine experience over WiFi. Yes it was not as good as sat at my desk but was completely acceptable. I didn’t suffer any major lag or real slow down that was game breaking, however you could see the picture quality changing slightly every now and again. I guess its up to the individual what they find as acceptable. I would imagine twitch shooters would suffer being played like this but slower paced games have less of a problem such as strategies, stealth, puzzle etc.

    • Heliocentric says:

      This post feels a little FUDy. Streaming over WiFi is fine, great even, as mentioned above MGSV through my laptop (into my TV) the Witness, anything where you can get away without a mouse powered freelook is brilliant.

      If the steamlink isn’t up to it then that’s the steamlink’s problem, not an inherent flaw of WiFi. It might help that my router is hardwired to my gaming pc, meaning the WiFi is only used for half of the trip the streaming data takes, i guess that could double the effective performance of the WiFi.

      • TechnicalBen says:

        Actually, Wi-fi is not suited for the low latency high bandwidth of (high quality) 1080p games capture transmission.

        For “reasons” I guess… (quick googlefoo gives me: link to avsforum.com )

        But they did push this stuff down ISP pipes for some streaming services… so I guess it depends on what type of experience you want. I did for a while use Splashtop to play KSP remotely on a tablet with a bluetooth mouse/keyboard. The lag of half a second or so was noticeable, but it was playable.

      • iainl says:

        I don’t have a Steamlink, but I’ve used streaming from the more powerful PC in the computer room to the old one under the telly, and that was unbearable over wifi but quite amazing once I bought a pair of homeplugs.

        • Onlylearning says:

          So I’m not sure if other people have mentioned it before, but the steam link is incredibly limited. Compare it to the Wavi box which just entirely streams your screen and audio to a second TV. You can still use big picture, all games work and it has USB over the connection too.
          Steamlink just never made sense to me with it’s refusal to work for any other games, films etc.

          • Skandranon says:

            Funnily enough, it says it doesn’t on the Q&A, but ever since I got it on release you can just Alt+Tab out of Steam and use you computer like normal for any and everything.

    • dahools says:

      Yeah looking as others are pointing out, I was on about one machine over WiFi, not source and destination. PC wireless upstairs, laptop wired into router downstairs.

    • Optimaximal says:

      Your laptop likely has 2-3 aerials to send and receive wireless signals simultaneously with the cables for them traipsing around the screen & chassis to provide multi-angle good coverage.

      By comparison, the Steam Link is likely either a single-aerial device or it’s all set up so compact it gets barely any reception. You’ve also like got it sat in a cupboard or TV unit.

  2. Kodiak343 says:

    I have not bought the bespoke device, but I’m using a $200-ish noname microPC box (Atom, 4GB RAM, 32GB MMC) in the living room, and have enjoyed it tremendously. I can browse the net, play games and watch TV on it. Have experienced occasional glitches via WiFi but has been 98% a great experience. not sure if its WiFi is superior to the Steam Link’s hardware device…

  3. Jeremy Laird says:

    Would add that powerline networking is a good way to achieve the all-important wired connection. Latest kit works really well. Oodles of bandwidth. Doesn’t work well over really long distances eg, top floor of a three storey house to the basement. But within reason, will work really well for most.

    • Premium User Badge

      particlese says:

      Powerline network is the only way I’ve used a Steam Box, and it was great! We had some good 4-player fun in Flat Heroes with it, and I never noticed any latency or sudden compression issues. I should note, though, that the Link’s possession of only 2 or 3 USB ports meant we had to run a controller or two off the daddy computer in the other room.

      I’ve had mixed but telling results with general Steam-based in-home streaming, similar to those above: intolerable latency and compression issues when the two computers were connected via an 802.11n router (in n-only mode, I think), rare bitrate drops with only one computer on wifi (g/n mixed mode with n on the used computer), and essentially flawless streaming with both hardwired. In all cases, I was streaming from Windows to Linux, but the apartments and routers differed. And again: yeah, powerline worked great.

  4. PancakeWizard says:

    I’ve had one since they came out, used via powerline adaptors. Handy bit of kit!

  5. kayjoon says:

    I’ve got one, it’s wired to my router and the PC is upstairs over WiFi. Works really well and I can pretty much count on 1080p 60fps. Even better now the new XB1 controller is supported via built-in bluetooth.

  6. Subject 706 says:

    I use one regularly, especially when playing games with my children.

    It is connected to an EA AC87 media bridge, which provides the wireless connection to my router.

    With the help of said media bridge, streaming wirelessly is completely flawless.

  7. Pkloop says:

    I only use mine over WiFi and I don’t have any issues with quality. If 1 side of the equation is hardwired you’re good to go ie: PC is hardwired, Link is on the WiFi…or vice versa. I have found having the PC wired rather than the link results in better performance. Also keep in mind you need a good router for this thing to work. I’m using a Nighthawk..

    If both ends are wireless you can get lag..

    • nearly says:

      I’m on a much older router (WNDR3400) and can confirm that it works great over wi-fi if the host is wired. I use 5ghz since my apartment is small enough, and have been happy enough that I’ve never bothered to test 2.5 or wired performance.

      The big questions I had before buying and didn’t find answered beforehand: would it be better than my 2009 Macbook Air or another cheap (but slightly newer) laptop that streams okay-ish? If wired would be significantly better, would there be any worthwhile improvement on wireless if I’m already okay-ish with wi-fi performance on a laptop? Is my performance always going to be stunted by not having a CPU that supports Quicksync, newer encoding standards, etc?

      The answers ended up being that the Steam Link made all the difference to get it to an enjoyable state (rather than just subpar but playable). Much better performance than the cheap laptop (though I’ve noted that Mac tends to handle streaming better than Windows on the same hardware). I never bothered to test wired performance because my experience on 5ghz wi-fi was exactly what I wanted, and I’ve yet to upgrade from my 2700k to see if newer hardware is better at streaming. No real drops to speak of, though it can be a bit finnicky at times with launching things. Usually turning it off and on or restarting Steam on the host does the trick.

      It may be worth mentioning, though, that I also find it a little suspicious how good the Link is at streaming compared to a laptop in basically the same set-up. PS4 Remote Play on all of the laptops I’ve played is significantly smoother than Steam In-Home, and I’ve not ever even had that particular host wired rather than solely over wi-fi. If the Playstation can get Steam Link performance on a cheap laptop with both ends relying on wireless even though the Steam Link has one end wired to the router, there’s probably a fair amount of optimization to be done on Valve’s end and what’s already been done is probably optimized for their hardware specifically.

    • DePingus says:

      I agree with Pkloop. I love my TWO SteamLinks. My gaming PC is wired to my gigabit router and the SteamLinks are on the 5GHz network of an N900 wireless router (not even AC). I get occasional compression artifacts, but I also have 2 FireTVs on the same 5GHz network. Gameplay is great on non-competition games like The Witcher 3, Doom, Shadow Warrior 2, Stardew Valley, Grim Dawn.

      I would imagine if both the host PC and SteamLinks are wireless you would have issues. But the general consensus seems to be that if the host PC is wired and you have a decent wireless router you should be good running the SteamLink on wifi.

  8. Xocrates says:

    Got one some time ago. I quite like it and it’s usually my option when playing games with a controller.

    It’s gathering a bit of dust right now though, as I got a playbox 4 for christmas and so most of my recent controller play is on that.

    And yes, use cable, not wifi.

  9. nickclarkson says:

    Like others here, Powerline adapters work very well. Didn’t even try wifi given everywhere basically says the same and use cable. I am extremely pleased with the performance. Useful for when I can’t be bothered dragging myself off the sofa :) Also very handy for streaming Kodi via Steam from my Windows PC upstairs. Well worth the £16-ish in the sale; although I think the postage was about £7 on top of that, but still a bargain.

    My only gripe is that I have to leave my PC unlocked (I don’t yet have a keyboard set up on my Link) and that’s a risk for cat surfing; 8 cats, so one of them *will* walk over the keyboard at some stage. “Honest, it wasn’t me visiting that site…it must have been the cat” :)

  10. sleepisthebrotherofdeath says:

    I would but my OLED telly is far to laggy for gaming

  11. Premium User Badge

    RaveTurned says:

    I did some experiments with streaming over wifi using my laptop when Home Streaming first came out. Having cables to both machines was undoubtedly best, but I also had decent experiences if either the desktop or the laptop was on wifi. However if both machines tried to use wifi, the quality of the stream went south. Too much traffic over the wireless, I guess.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if newer high bandwdith wireless tech made this less of an issue. Experiences on wifi will probably also vary depending on how many other wireless devices are on your network, and how many other networks are nearby that could interfere with your router’s signal.

  12. left1000 says:

    my 5ghz router is actually not that bad for steam link, the new kind with two antenna.

    It might not give me 1080p 60fps in state of the art games but in games that are older or less demanding it handles input lag fairly well.

  13. Premium User Badge

    Lars Westergren says:

    Yes, once I went to cable it turned from a big disappointment to something quite useful. The only remaining problem is that Rocksmith 2014 doesn’t work, likely because there are no USB drivers for the true-sound cable on anything but Windows.

  14. Hyena Grin says:

    I have a steam link set up with an Eero Mesh network, and there isn’t any noticeable lag. Setup is Modem > Wired Eero > Kitchen Eero > Living Room Eero > Wired Steam Link. So it’s at the opposite end of the house. Works beautifully.

    That said, I can’t say I use mine a lot. I’m not super comfortable with controllers so I’ve never invested in games that benefit from them, so I’m low on options. Plus I just like my computer setup a lot.

    Still, nice to have the option, and we got it on sale, so no biggee if we don’t use it much.

  15. FurryLippedSquid says:

    I bought one at Christmas. It is wired but it’s absolute rubbish! Most Steam games work, but not all. Wireless 360 controller works properly in very few games. Don’t even try playing non-Steam games, it says you can but you can’t. Minimize Steam Big Picture to use your desktop, but don’t try watching video with ANY player as you will be presented with a black screen or stuttering playback if you get playback at all.

    I spent more time marching between my PC and the front room than I did playing anything. Absolute pile of shit which would now seem to have been abandoned by Valve.

    • Xocrates says:

      I’ve played several non-steam games with it. The only trick is that you need to add a shortcut to them on steam and then launch then through steam.

    • JayTee says:

      Both my wireless 360 and wireless xbone controllers work fine (The 360 ‘dongle’ is plugged into the Link, the xbone one is on the PC and has enough oomph to reach the sofa in the next room) on anything I’ve thrown at them via the Link, so really not sure what problems you’re having there :\

    • Caml says:

      I just tried the video thing recently and was surprised it blacked out, I had streamed a lot of sports over it in the past and it worked, but I think in-browser works where dedicated players like PowerDVD and VLC don’t.

      However, I’m also sending in an RMA for mine right now because it refused to connect to Ethernet and would only work via wireless, which is indeed unplayable. As such, I’ve had a 35-dollar paperweight behind my TV since last summer until I could finally get to contacting support a few weeks ago.

      On the few occasions my wireless picked up enough to play something, the Steam Controller did work pretty well.

    • mpk says:

      I haven’t played any non-Steam games over my Steam link, but I have watched a lot of video – usually Media Player Classic, but I’ve had to recently resort to the Win10 Films & TV app because I’m too lazy to do something about those mkv files I have.

      I’ve had absolutely no problem with either of those apps being in the foreground of Steam Big Picture.

    • TrentTech says:

      All the non-steam games I’ve tried have worked perfectly with my steam link and steam controller, that goes for individual games, games through other launchers such as Overwatch or even emulators.

      I also had no trouble using VLC through it. Though I did add them to my library as a non-steam games instead of dropping out of BPM and launching from the desktop. In fact I’ve had more trouble with launching some steam games (specifically Street Fighter V) than any non-steam games I’ve tried.

      On tip I would highly suggest would be, if you have a phone or tablet, get something like Splashtop or Team Viewer so if something does go wrong and you need to do something at the computer you don’t have to move, you can do it from your mobile device.

    • KingFunk says:

      I use Steam Link almost every day and when I’m not in Big Picture mode it’s indistinguishable from using my PC in the other room, with the only exception being that ctrl+alt+delete doesn’t work. One thing that made a difference for me was running Steam as admin which solved a lot of issues. Steam will gripe when you first do it but I’ve had no related issues. I regularly stream via Chrome, I can play non-Steam games and media players seem fine. As others have said, try adding non-Steam games as a shortcut within Steam if they don’t work otherwise. DS4 works nicely via Bluetooth with official support and config, which is very handy. Honestly, my experience couldn’t be more different to what you describe – Steam Link has changed how I use my PC. Also, power line adapters are essentially magic.

    • ezelkow1 says:

      For the video streaming, try adding kodi as a non-steam game. Before I turned my old gaming box in to a steamOS box I used a steamlink for movie streaming and it worked perfectly. The one main difference is that it cant do bitstream audio so for any 5.1+ videos you have to have a 5.1 enabled audio device on your streaming pc which then converts it to 5.1PCM which the link will send to a receiver. So your receiver also has to support 5.1 PCM output.

      Other than that it worked perfectly for me for movie streaming, as well as game streaming

      One thing I would suggest, first make sure your on the beta version of the steam client as that usually has some streaming fixes. Second if you have an nvidia card roll back to 376.33, this is almost a requirement. Nvidia broke streaming in subsequent releases and has yet to fix it

    • Tmac718 says:

      Love my steamlink well recently more then in the past.my issues are with Shoddy controller support. Some games work fine, some you will spend more time setting the controller layout up then playing, Putting Steam in and out of running as administrator (don’t know why this works but it does). Only game I cant get to run is Doom (2016), but plenty of games don’t work properly on start up with DS4 or steam controller. Had lots of issues with the right analog not working correctly. I like the link most days but controller issues are unacceptable in 2017.

  16. kode says:

    I picked one up in a sale and had some problems setting it up at first. It definitely does what it says on the tin after that, though. Did try some rocket league and whatever, but it’s not really cut out for games where reaction time and low latency are factors, I suppose.

  17. Premium User Badge

    Nauallis says:

    I’ve had one for two years. Can confirm the need to play over a wired ethernet or powerline network; too much packet loss and control latency with wifi.

    I definitely wouldn’t use it for anything really PvP competitive or requiring twitch reflexes, but it’s good for just about every other type of game & gameplay. I’ve played Fallout 4, Helldivers, Civ 6, Starpoint Gemini, Stardew Valley, Sins of a Solar Empire, XCOM2, and Fallout New Vegas with mine.

    My caveat is that I think the Steam Controller is hot garbage. The control pads are just too weird for me, especially the way that they vibrate and buzz . I’d much rather play with either a keyboard and mouse, which really is not ideal for couch gaming, or with an xbox one/360 controller, which as other commenters have noted, your mileage may vary based on the controller support for each game.

    • nearly says:

      You can turn off touchpad haptics with the Steam Controller, or at least set the intensity. I think it was added in a recent update. Low can be a little too little to actually feel so I tend to like medium, but high, where it’s actually buzzing, is definitely way too much.

      I haven’t been fully converted to the “use left touchpad instead of analog stick” lifestyle, but I’m quite happy with the right touchpad as primary input. I’m happy with it in the games you’ve listed and others. One of my big pieces of attraction was the customizability, though, so it’d be interesting to try a 360/DS4 in Big Picture and see if I still prefer it (I think I would).

      Works nicely in something like Warframe, though I haven’t really tried it in other shooters and wouldn’t bother with anything competitive (let alone over Steam Link).

  18. Baf says:

    So basically what you’re saying is: the purpose of a Steam Link is to act as a substitute for a long cable, but the best way to use it is with a long cable.

    • salattu says:

      In my setup, it actually replaces a very long and expensive cable and a very long and not very expensive cable with a rather short and cheap cable and very long and cheap cable.

      I have Steam Link in the livingroom, plugged into the receiver, from which video and audio go to a projector. Games run on my office computer. Without SL, I’d need a long RCA for sound and another long HDMI for video. Steam Link makes the setup viable.

  19. Hyena Grin says:

    Ugh, the more I think about this article the more it’s kind of rubbing me the wrong way.

    Alec, I love you, but is this an anecdote? How many network setups did you try? What kind of setting are you in? Did you try different hardware?

    I have no doubt that it is absolutely possible for certain setups to result in packet loss, but with decent hardware and an appropriate network setup, there’s no reason why a wifi network shouldn’t be able to handle streaming a game. The ping on a network should be minuscule and packet loss should be non-existent. I know this because the Steam Link works totally fine for me and I use the thing on wifi from the other side of the house.

    If it were a minor point in the article it’d be easier to shrug it off, but the entire thrust of this seems to be ‘Wifi didn’t work for me, thus it doesn’t work at all ever. It requires a cord.’

    A better conclusion to derive might be:

    ‘Using the Steamlink via wifi, your mileage may vary. The usual problems with wifi can result in poor connectivity with the device, so if you cannot wire your device directly to your network from where you want to use it, it would be wise before buying to make sure devices operate with good connectivity wherever you plan to use the Steam Link. Because the Steam Link can’t magically make a bad network perform well. Be aware that you may have to upgrade your network hardware or adjust your setup if you want great performance from the Steam Link.’

  20. Stepout says:

    I use my Steam Link all the time. I use Wireless N over 5GHz and it works great. The only problem I’ve ever had was the final boss of Axiom Verge. The screen just locked up on me, but I could tell that I still had control of my character so I just went crazy with the button mashing. Eventually the smoke cleared and I had somehow beat the game, lol!

  21. Hoot says:

    I’ve got a TP-Link T6E AC1300 router (I really, really needed an upgrade from the dross one I had for 5 years from Plusnet and man, going from 2mb/s to 7mb/s on Steam downloads with this new router was worth it) and my Steam Link works flawlessly with zero input/frame lag entirely over the wireless.

    PC to Router on the 2.4ghz band and Steam Link to Router on the 5ghz band.

    Zero latency (well, 1-1.5 ms if you run a network test) and zero input lag. I can play MKXL and SF5 (high twitch/input dependent games) and have also tried some system hogs like Endless Legend. Flawless.

    My PC is upstairs about 25 feet away from the router, Steam Link downstairs in the living room about 12 feet from the router.

    EDIT :- I should say I tried it on the old router before I bought the new one and the connection tanked to 100% packet loss after being connected wirelessly for about 10 seconds. Completely unplayable. So unless you have a modern router I wouldn’t recommend wireless. If you do though, wireless is so much less of a chew on.

  22. SirDeimos says:

    Alec (and anyone else with bad wifi experiences on the Link), can I ask what sort of router and client hardware you are using for your wireless network? I’m curious because I believe the binary conclusion in the article needs to be clarified. Using the Link over wifi is completely doable and enjoyable, but it all depends on your wifi network. There isn’t an intrinsic problem with the Link’s hardware, or with the properties of wifi that dictate that it only works well in a wired setting. In fact, the Link has 802.11ac (and 802.11n) 2×2 (MIMO) networking abilities. That means it’s capable of two ac streams for a maximum link rate of 866Mbps, with an actual throughput bandwidth of 433Mbps. Granted, those are only theoreticals and those figures drop considerably over distance and through walls. However, keep in mind that the LAN port on the Steam Link is only a 100Mbit port. So, even if your link is only connected with a moderate signal strength to the router, and the bandwidth drops to 90Mbps, you’re still going to be close to maxing out what you could get on the LAN port if wired, and thus very similar to wired speeds.

    These aren’t just hypotheticals either. I’ve been using Steam’s In-Home Streaming over wifi with ac based hardware since the service launched, and I’ve had a great experience with it. You can look in the wifi specific sections of the community hub for Steam In-Home Streaming and see that plenty of people use the Link, laptops, and HTPCs over wifi.

    Now, if you have an 802.11n based router, it’s still doable, but you’ll want to make sure you use the 5GHz band and a 40MHz channel width for the best experience. If your router is 802.11n 2×2 capable, that means you could get a maximum bandwidth of around 150Mbps to the Steam Link. But 802.11n 5GHz signal tends to lose it’s potency quickly over distance, and you need about 30Mbps for 1080p streaming, so you may need to adjust hardware placement to improve the signal, or try dropping to ye olde 1600×900 resolution.

    The problem I’ve witnessed in a lot of discussions around the Link is just an (understandable) lack of wireless networking knowledge. People power it up and connect it to the household 2.4GHz 802.11n band, don’t have enough bandwidth to stream properly, and say the Link only works on wired connections.

    I’m not trying to champion the Link or Valve, I just hope this helps more people give In-Home Streaming a try if they were curious but feared it wasn’t worth it without a house wired for ethernet in every room.

    • Hoot says:

      I am with you on this and tbh, I think I DO champion the wi-fi capabilities of the Steam Link.

      Granted, you need a dual band router/modem for it to be lag free, and you need to not be like 400 yards away from your PC but to be fair once I upgraded my hardware from the default crap you get free from your ISP, everything about my online connectivity just got better :)

  23. Sandor Clegane says:

    Never used one, never will. Tell me, do your neighbours, pets or children have any say on the cancer-causing WiFi you lazily lift your leftist buttock and fart out in their general direction? By all means, please carry on and destroy your own health. When your actions adversely affect those around you though…

  24. mpk says:

    I have mine hard wired via powerline, after swearing off of Home Streaming via wifi. Works like a charm with everything I’ve tried (haven’t tried non-Steam gaming though).

  25. Bofojanglez says:

    PC is hard wired and link is on wireless but I do have a decent router, tplink ac2600 works flawlessly have never experienced any hick ups even when torrenting and 4k netflixing.

  26. rodan32 says:

    Yep, I love it. I use it all the time. It’s not always perfect; I have to run back to my PC once in a while to tweak things. I also have issues with xinput devices on some games, but I’ve been able to work around that (have to unplug my Logitech G13).

    I use it over wifi; I’ve been too lazy to wire it up. I stick with 5ghz, and I haven’t had any bandwidth issues. I don’t play a lot of intense games; mostly stuff like Duck Game, Gang Beasts, Castle Crashers etc. with my kids.

    I love the thing. Some of the best money I’ve spent on gaming. The Steam controller, on the other hand, I have mixed feelings about. . .

  27. mechavolt says:

    I’ve got it set up over wifi, and it works just fine for low latency games and TV. I’m not gonna play, say Overwatch, on it, but it works just great for anything that doesn’t require split second timing. And streaming downloaded shows and movies from my PC to my living room is a godsend.

  28. Riaktion says:

    Yes I have! Works perfectly, played most of XCOM:EU through it, some Rocket League, UT3, Dirt 3, XCOM 2 and The Old Republic. I wasn’t expecting it to work as well as it does to be honest, but.. yeah genuinely impressed and works great.

  29. Veles says:

    Shame the Xbox One controller dongle isn’t properly compatible with it. Number of USB ports on it is also a bit lacking.

    Over Wi-Fi is also a definite no as well. It might be ok if you have decent hardware but if, like most people, you have your ISP’s router/modem it will be pretty bad.

    • ezelkow1 says:

      Blame MS on that one. They went completely locked down/proprietary on the xbone dongles. I do wish I could use my xbone controllers on my steambox but I refuse to re-buy them just for the ‘S’ version that has bluetooth which will work

  30. Greg says:

    I don’t think this technology is going to really take off until PC game developers start to take streaming more seriously. My number one complaint has to do with fonts. Most developers design their games to be readable from LCD computer screens. Most people play video games much further away from their TVs. Having to sit closer to the TV or using a lower resolution somewhat fixes the problem but they take away from the whole point of streaming.

    • tomxp411 says:

      It depends on the game, but yes – the fonts.

      One game I like is Elder Scrolls Online. It actually has a “controller mode” that switches the UI out to look like the console port. So when I play in the living room on the Steam Link, I get a console UI. When I play in the bedroom with KBM, I turn off controller mode and get a UI designed for close up use.

      I wish all games had that kind of option.

  31. Collieuk says:

    I use mine over WiFi ok. Main PC is connected to Ethernet and I use the link upstairs on my bedroom TV so I can play whilst kids use main TV. I have to turn quality down and if others are watching YouTube etc it is hopeless but I’ve no doubt with a decent connection and kit you would have good results. If you are in a busy WiFi area eg flats etc you might experience a bit of problem if too many people are on the same WiFi channel etc. Modern routers with strong 5ghz WiFi will alleviate that but my 5ghz connection seems a bit too inconsistent for my Link. I’ve connected a wireless keyboard to it also so I’m not restricted to just gamepad. The Steam Link is a nice bit of kit all in all.

  32. aircool says:

    I have an nVidia Shield TV which can do the same job for any game, or even just your desktop.

    The Shield TV is an interesting bit of kit and is a good way to play games downstairs on the TV without having to buy a proper console.

  33. Cropduster says:

    Your mileage may vary, but I use mine over wifi, across two stories, and it works great with only very occassional fps drops.

    It was pretty much unusable at first, but I just had to buy a £30 PCI network adaptor (eg, the ones you plug into your motherboard), and hassle VirginMedia for their latest 5G router, and now it works perfectly.

  34. Spuzzell says:

    It works great over my WiFi (BT Homehub 5), I happily play Rocket League on the big TV on ground floor with my PC on the second floor two levels above.

    I’d upgrade my router if I were you Alec!

    (You obviously have Game mode turned on on your TV?)

  35. JoeD2nd says:

    Yeah, if you’re running a 1200 baud modem it might not run so well. Upgrade to a modern WiFi system and the thing runs great. Get off your wireless G and go N or AC, at least 300mbps.

  36. Premium User Badge

    Ericusson says:

    It’s kinda dumb to just say wifi on the subject when what wifi standard you use and the quality of your router is a central factor …

    Anything below 802.11.AC is a bit of a joke for any network usage that would involve large files or low latency needs anyway.

    • damnsalvation says:

      Steam compresses the video enough for even .11n to work fine. Modern video cards have separate hardware that can compress and send the frame buffer without noticeable lag. I have the bandwidth capped at 20Mps and never hit it.
      “So why do you have a cap if you never approach it, dick” you say? Because it’s a hell of a lot smoother than with no limit and don’t call me that.

  37. fiah says:

    I don’t use the steam Link but I have used steam in-home streaming a lot, and what many people forget is that besides network connection quality, the host PC is important too. If steam can’t get hardware encoding to work on your host PC, then you’ll have bad performance in demanding games. Steam Link takes care of the decoding end, which is good, but the old adage of “garbage in, garbage out” is very true with in-home streaming. Luckily, most people with Ivy Bridge or newer Intel processors or a Kepler based or newer Nvidia GPU are well supported in steam. AMD support was pretty bad for a long time (and both parties blamed each other) and sandy bridge works fine as long as you have the iGPU enabled somehow.

    A properly configured HTPC as a client running Steam will beat the Steam Link on performance as long as it supports hardware decoding, but the convenience factor of having it Just Work(tm) is hard to beat.

  38. cstooch says:

    I use a Steam Link with a wired connection and will say that’s the way to go. I’ve never tried Wi-Fi, however, with wired I’ve never experienced a lick of lag or dropouts or any graphical anomalies.. it is as though I’m playing the game on my desktop.

  39. Roobarb says:

    Great bit of kit. I use mine daily. I’ve only found two downsides to it:
    1. The UAC (as in Admin elevation) cannot be controlled via the Link. You literally have to go to the PC and click Yes.

    2. Some games, namely the cheaper indie titles really don’t like fullscreen mode (borderless windowed works much better).

    That said, both are rather small issues, and don’t detract from just how amazingly useful this little box is. I highly recommend it.

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