How to stream games from your gaming pc

How to stream games from your gaming pc

Cloud gaming is great, but did you know you can use your own PC to play games on your phone or tablet? Remote access lets you control your PC remotely, meaning you can stream desktop games to a TV in the living room without needing a long cable or paying for a cloud gaming service. If you already have a great gaming PC and a fast internet connection, consider setting it up for remote access so you can take your gaming with you on the go.

What is remote access?

A diagram showing how a client and host PC interact.

Credit: Valve

Remote access sends and receives media data and input to connect the client to the host.

Remote access works by sending the host PC’s audio and video to the client device and then receiving and responding to input data from the client device. For example, you plug a controller into a Chromebook, and your controller’s input is streamed to the desktop PC that you’re accessing remotely. That’s how cloud gaming services work – the difference is that these PCs are in a data center, not in your house.

What do I need to stream my desktop?

A TV, a monitor, a tablet and a phone all displaying the same game.

Credit: Google

With remote access, you can use your PC on your phone, tablet and even TV.

Because remote access requires sending and retrieving data, it is best used with a strong internet connection. Many remote desktop apps recommend speeds of 15 Mbps or more, but you need at least 5 Mbps.

There are a variety of ways to set up your desktop for remote access, but the easiest way is to use a remote access application designed specifically for gaming that prioritizes low latency, high frame rate and resolution, multiplayer options, and more Low/No- stutter streams. Many remote access apps are geared towards IT support, file sharing, or business use, making them not as easy to use for gaming.

Which remote access apps target gaming?

A tablet with a game library on display and a phone with a game on display.

Photo credit: Moonlight/Valve

The best remote access apps for gaming prioritize low latency and high refresh rates.

Some great free apps for streaming games remotely are Steam Remote Play, Moonlight, and Parsec. There are many other remote access applications out there, but they are either more expensive or best suited for various tasks in a remote desktop.

Of the three above, Parsec is the easiest and most powerful to set up as it supports 4K 60Hz resolution and has a simple user interface. Steam Remote Play and Moonlight are good options if you already have a Steam account and/or Nvidia graphics card, but they require a bit more legwork to set up on both the host and client sides.

Set up the host PC

A desktop PC and a display on a desk.

Credit: Verified / Betsey Goldwasser

To use your host PC as a server, it needs to stay powered on – don’t let it go to sleep!

Before you start streaming remotely, you need to make sure your PC is ready for it. First, use a wired ethernet connection whenever possible and make sure your internet speed is 15Mbps or faster. When you access your PC, it needs to stay on and always be signed in to your Windows account, otherwise you won’t be able to wake it up remotely. It would be wise to disable auto-hibernate (and auto-hibernate, if you’re comfortable with it) and you’ll need to disable auto-reboots until you’re done with remote access. Finally, make sure you are always logged into the remote access application of your choice.

Set up parsecs

A screenshot from the Parsec homepage.

Photo credit: Parsec

Parsec uses open source libraries to realize a multifunctional remote access app.

Parsec is very easy to use. Download it to your host PC first (it only works with Windows and macOS). Then check that in the settings menu host is activated and Stay awake is enabled and that the correct ad is recorded if you have more than one ad. Finally go to computers and press the Share button. You will be given an optional URL if you choose to access the PC through a browser.

On the client, you have two ways to access the host: through the Parsec app (available for Windows, macOS, Android, Ubuntu Linux, and Raspberry Pi) or through an online browser (your only option for iOS). In the app, all you have to do is log in and wait for the host PC to appear computers, and press the connect button. For web access, copy the generated URL from the host and open the link in the client’s web browser – no login required.

When you use Parsec, you access the entire PC desktop remotely. It will be as if you are using Windows on your client device. To play games, launch them on your desktop as usual.

If you play with mouse and keyboard, you don’t need to do anything else. However, if you’re using a touchscreen or game controller, you may need to configure your game to interpret input correctly. Touch capability is natively built into Parsec in its mobile apps, while you can download a game controller driver here.

Set up moonlight

Screenshot of Moonlight's home page.

Photo credit: Moonlight

Moonlight is an open source project that expands the capabilities of GeForce Experience.

Moonlight requires the most work of the three methods to get it working initially, and you can only host from PCs with an Nvidia GeForce graphics card. However, it supports most client devices compared to Parsec and Steam Remote Play.

Before downloading Moonlight, download GeForce Experience. In GeForce Experience, go to settings > Signand turn on game stream. (Gamestream is Nvidia’s first-party remote access software that streams from the host PC to Nvidia Shield devices). Now download and install Moonlight on the host PC and the client device. The easiest way to pair the two is for both to use your home network, where you can connect them via PIN verification.

To stream over an internet connection, you need to download the Moonlight Internet Hosting Tool on the host PC before pairing it with the client. Then run Moonlight Internet Streaming Tester to check if it works.

Moonlight runs on GeForce Experience, so many host-side configurations are done through Moonlight directly, rather than directly. GeForce Experience should automatically detect games installed on your PC, but if they don’t, you can manually add them to the games list. in the settings > Signclick Add toopen the folder with the desired program and click OK.

If you want to remotely stream the entire desktop, go to settings > Sign > Add toadd the path C:\windows\system32\mstsc.exe in which open file Crate.

Moonlight also lets you set up a VPN, stream HDR content, and forward ports, for example. The Github wiki is full of guides if you feel like tinkering.

Set up Steam Remote Play

A drawing of friends playing a game on a TV.

Credit: Valve

Steam Remote Play lets you seamlessly play your Steam games from a variety of devices.

The biggest advantage of Steam Remote Play is the multiplayer support. You can stream your PC while your friends play with you. You don’t need to download anything extra to your host PC either.

First, open Steam on your host PC. On your client PC, download the Steam Link app (available for Windows, macOS, iOS, iPadOS, Android, Android TV, Samsung Smart TVs and Raspberry Pi, but not Linux). Sign into Steam via Steam Link and from there launch the game you wish to play remotely. If the game you want to play isn’t available on Steam, you can exit the Big Picture mode overlay, minimize Steam, and then click your game’s launcher of choice. You also don’t have to add the non-Steam game to your library first for this to work!

To play with friends remotely, invite your friends via the game overlay when connecting to a multiplayer game using Steam Link. Keyboard, mouse and most common controllers are supported in Steam Remote Play without additional setup, but if your controller isn’t supported, you can download a driver or emulator that converts its input to XInput or DirectInput on the host PC.

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