Just because you only have one high-powered gaming PC doesn’t mean that’s the only place you can play games at their highest settings.
Steam In-Home Streaming is a new feature of the Steam client that lets you play games from your library on another, less-powerful PC by streaming them over your local network.
The only data that gets transmitted between the two PCs is video and input information, which is why games appear to run so well even on much less powerful hardware – they’re not processing complex 3D graphics, they’re merely displaying a video of what the other machine is doing. That means you can play your favourite games on older computers and even laptops, as long as they’re connected to your home network.
Valve, the guys behind Steam, have built the functionality into the Steam client, and to make use of it all you have to do is install Steam on both PCs, log into them both at the same time. They will automatically “see” each other, and all games that are installed on your primary gaming PC will get a “Stream” icon instead of a “Play” icon on the secondary PC.
Before the 21st of May, using Steam Streaming required that you enrol in Valve’s “Steam Beta” programme, which basically gave people access to features that were not yet final. As of the 21st of May, however, Steam Streaming is out of beta and available to absolutely everyone that uses Steam, whether they’re participating in the beta programme or not.
Read on if you’d like to know the exact steps needed to set it all up. (Side note: This guide assumes you already have a Steam account. If you don’t, simply sign up for one once Steam has been installed.)
Install Steam on your secondary PC. In case you’ve forgotten how to get it, simply go to Steampowered.com and click the Install Steam icon.
Install Steam on your secondary PC, and log in with the same account you’re using on your primary PC for In-Home Streaming to work.
Open your Library, find the game you want to run and click Stream.
And that’s it, the game will load on your primary PC and stream video to your secondary machine. The only real downside is you can’t do anything but play the game on your primary PC while it’s streaming, as streaming doesn’t work if the game is minimised.
Something else to keep in mind is that the speed of your local network will have an impact on the performance of your streamed games. We highly recommend a wired Gigabit connection for the smoothest experience; our tests using a relatively simple 100mbps network produced fairly good results with only the occasional hiccup, so don’t be afraid to try it if your home network is wireless or running at Gigabit speeds.