How to stream games from your gaming PC

Sky gaming is great, but did you know that you can use your own PC to play games on your phone or tablet? Remote access allows you to control your PC remotely, which means 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 inputs to connect the client to the host.

Remote access works by sending the host PC’s audio and visual data to the client device, then receiving input from the client device and shopping on it. For example, you connect a controller to a Chromebook, and the controllers’ inputs are transferred to the remote PC you have remote access to. This is how cloud services work – the difference is that the PCs are in a data center, not in your house.

What do I need to stream my desktop?

A TV, monitor, tablet and phone that all show the same game.

Credit: Google

Remote access lets you use your PC on your phone, tablet and even your 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 better, but you need a minimum of 5 Mbps.

There are a number of ways to set up your desktop for remote access, but the easiest way would be to use a remote access application specifically built for games, one that prioritizes low latency, high frame rate and resolution, multiplayer options and low / no stuttering streams . Many remote access apps are aimed at IT help, file sharing or business use, so they will not be as easy to use for gaming.

Which remote access apps are targeted to games?

A tablet with a game library on the screen, and a phone with a game on the screen.

Credit: Moonlight / Valve

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

Some great free apps for external streaming of games 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 different tasks on 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 an Nvidia graphics card, but they require a little more legwork to set up on both the host and client side.

Setting up the host PC

A desktop computer and a monitor on a desktop.

Credit: Reviewed / Betsey Goldwasser

To use the host PC as a server, it must remain on – do not let it fall asleep!

Before starting remote streaming, make sure your PC is ready for it. First: use a wired Ethernet connection if possible, and make sure your internet speeds are 15 Mbps or higher. Once you have access to your PC, it must remain on and always logged in to your Windows account, otherwise you will not be able to wake it remotely. It would be wise to turn off auto-sleep (and auto-sleep if you are comfortable with it), and you will need to disable auto-restart before you can remotely access it. Finally, make sure you are always logged in to the remote access application of your choice.

Sets up Parsec

A screenshot from the Parsec website.

Credit: Parsec

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

Parsec is quite easy to use. First, download it to your host PC (it only works with Windows and macOS). Check it in the settings menu Hosting is activated and Stay awake is activated and that the correct screen is registered if you have more than one screen. Finally, go to Computers and press the share button. It will give you an optional URL if you want to access the PC from a web 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 a web browser (the only option for iOS). On the app, all you have to do is log in, 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 browser – no login required.

When you use Parsec, you get full remote access to your PC desktop. It will be as if you were using Windows on the client device. To play games, launch them as you normally would on your desktop.

If you play with a mouse and keyboard, there is nothing else you need to do. However, if you use a touch screen or game controller, you may need to configure the game to interpret the inputs correctly. Touch capability is built into Parsec on mobile apps, while you can download a game controller driver here.

Set up Moonlight

Screenshot of Moonlight's website.

Credit: Moonlight

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

Moonlight requires the most work of the three methods to get it running in the beginning, 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 the GeForce Experience. In the GeForce Experience, go to Settings > Shieldand turn on Game power. (Gamestream is Nvidia’s 1st party remote access software that streams from the host PC to Nvidia Shield devices). Download and install Moonlight on your host PC and client device. The easiest way to pair the two is to let them both 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 with the client. Then ran Moonlight Internet Streaming Tester to confirm that it works.

Moonlight runs on top of GeForce Experience, so a lot of configuration on the host side will happen through it instead of Moonlight directly. GeForce Experience will automatically detect games installed on your PC, but in case it does not, you can manually add it to the playlist. IN Settings > Shieldclick Addopen the folder that contains the desired program and click OK.

To remotely stream your entire desktop, go to Settings > Shield > Addadd the path C: \ windows \ system32 \ mstsc.exe in Open file box.

For example, Moonlight lets you set up a VPN, stream HDR content, and forward ports. The Github wiki is full of guides if you want to fix it.

Set up Steam Remote Play

A drawing of friends playing a game on a TV.

Credit: Valve

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

Steam Remote Play’s biggest advantage is the multiplayer support. You can stream your PC while your friends play with you. You also do not need to download anything extra to the host PC.

To get started, open Steam on your host PC. Download the Steam Link app on your client PC (it is available on Windows, macOS, iOS, iPadOS, Android, Android TV, Samsung Smart TV and Raspberry Pi, but not Linux). Log in to Steam on Steam Link, and from there start the game you want to play remotely. If the game you want to play is not available on Steam, you can exit the Big Picture Mode overlay, minimize Steam, and then click the game launcher. You also do not need to add the non-steam game to your library for this to work!

To play remotely with friends, when you connect to a multiplayer game with Steam Link, invite your friends using the game overlay. Keyboards, mice, and the most popular controllers are supported in Steam Remote Play without additional setup, but if your controller is not supported, you can download a driver or emulator that converts the inputs to XInput or DirectInput on the host PC.

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