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What is Steam In-Home Streaming?

Steam in-home streaming will allow you to play a game on one computer when the game process is actually running on another computer elsewhere in your home. Through Steam, game audio and video is captured on the remote computer and sent to the player’s computer. The game input (keyboard, mouse or gamepad) is sent from the player’s computer to the game process on the remote computer.

Any two computers in a home can be used to stream a gameplay session and this can enable playing games on systems that would not traditionally be able to run those games. For example, a Windows only game could be streamed from a Windows PC to a Steam Machine running Linux in the living room. A graphically intensive game could be streamed from a beefy gaming rig in the office to your low powered laptop that you are using in bed. You could even start a game on one computer and move to a more comfortable location and continue playing it there.

Overview of streaming from a PC to a Steam Machine

 

How do I use it?

The Steam In-Home Streaming feature is currently in limited beta, so you must have received a beta invitation via e-mail before you can use the feature.

Once you have received your invitation, you can start streaming in 3 easy steps:

  1. Opt into the Steam client beta on two computers.
  2. Login to the Steam beta client on both computers with the same account.
  3. Go to the computer where you want to play and start playing your game.

How do I improve my streaming experience?

Hardware:
We are collecting data during the beta to find out recommended system requirements for streaming. Please report your experience in the discussion group!

Network:
We are collecting data during the beta to find out recommended network requirements for streaming. Please report your experience in the discussion group!

Game Settings:
To improve your streaming experience, you can go into your game settings and lower your resolution and turn off vertical sync.

Steam Settings:
In the In-Home Streaming settings you can change a number of things that can affect your experience. You can change the bandwidth, limit the framerate, and adjust the maximum resolution that will be captured.

Bandwidth Settings
You usually want to leave the bandwidth set to Automatic, which will adapt to network conditions, with a minimum bandwidth of 2.5 Mbit/s and a maximum bandwidth of 15 Mbit/s. The higher the bandwidth, the better the picture quality, but it also affects network latency, congests wireless networks, and takes more time to encode and decode. You almost never want set bandwidth to Unlimited, as this will cause very slow encode and decode times.

Framerate Settings
You usually want to leave the framerate set to Automatic, which will pick the best framerate that your setup can consistently maintain. If you find that the game feels very choppy at 60 FPS then your local hardware decoder may not be able to handle that many frames and you should try limiting the framerate. You might also want to limit the framerate if your network has limited bandwidth and you want to improve the picture quality at the expense of latency.

Resolution Settings
You usually want to leave the resolution set to Automatic, which will make sure that the game isn't captured at a higher resolution than your desktop resolution. If you're running into resolution related performance problems the best solution is to lower the resolution in the game.
Having a resolution limit will not affect the aspect ratio of the game, and the game will be shown with black bars if the aspect ratio doesn't match the local computer.

Is there a community group?

Yes, you can join the Steam In-Home Streaming community group and discuss the feature with thousands of other players.

Known issues

General:

  • There is currently no indication of whether Steam is able to bind the discovery port 27036, but if that fails no other computers will show up in the remote computer list in the In-Home Streaming settings.
  • If a game takes a long time to launch, it will time out on the client but will start anyway. Retrying the launch will connect to the running game. If this happens consistently for any particular game, please report it on the bug discussion group.
  • If your game loses focus, Steam will start streaming the desktop so that you can get back to it. This is a feature of Steam In-Home Streaming.
  • Streaming non-Steam games in the Steam library may work but is not officially supported.
  • Games which do not support the Steam overlay generally can't be streamed. This includes older games that use DirectDraw for graphics. If this is a game we know about, you will get a dialog telling you the game doesn't support streaming, otherwise you will hear audio but there will be no video in the stream.
  • When you switch networks, both Steam clients may need to be restarted to re-establish the connection between them.
  • Surround sound is not currently supported and is converted to stereo.
  • Voice recording over streaming is not currently supported.
  • Streaming may not perform well when streaming to older systems with single or dual core CPUs and no hardware accelerated H264 decoding.

Windows:

  • The stats display shows as a smeared texture on old Radeon GPUs
  • Audio capture doesn't currently work on Windows XP.
  • Games which use DirectInput for joystick support will not see streaming controllers.
  • UAC dialogs prevent streaming. If you're a game developer, please avoid requiring elevated permissions to run your game.

Mac OS X:

  • Streaming from a Mac OS X host is a work in progress and may not work well yet.
  • Game launcher streaming from Mac OS X is not currently supported.
  • Audio capture doesn't work on Mac OS X. This is not yet implemented.

SteamOS / Linux:

  • Streaming from a Linux host is a work in progress and may not work well yet.
  • Game launcher streaming from Linux is not currently supported.
  • In order to support streaming game controllers on a Linux host computer, /dev/uinput or /dev/input/uinput needs to be readable and writable by Steam.

The computers don't see each other

Make sure they are on the same subnet and no other program is using port 27036, which is used for the initial discovery protocol. If another program has bound this port, please report which program it is on the bug discussion group.

I see "Logged in as different user"

Check the account settings to make sure both computers are participating in the Steam Beta Update, and then go back and check for Steam client updates. Help -> About Steam should show a client dated January 10th or newer. Then try logging in with the same Steam account on both computers.

I haven't updated video drivers

A number of bugs have been fixed in the latest video driver releases that may affect streaming. If you are getting poor performance, graphical glitches or black screens please make sure you have the latest drivers installed from your video card vendor's website.

I get "The streaming client exited unexpectedly (2)"

If you are running on Athlon XP system, this is a known issue and will be fixed.

You can look in the streaming client log to get more details about what happened. On Windows this file is on the local computer in streaming_client.exe.log. On Linux this file is on the local computer in /tmp/streaming_client.log.

I see a black screen when streaming a game.

Please try updating your video drivers. If this doesn't fix it, please report which program it is on the bug discussion group.

I don't hear any audio when streaming a game.

If you are streaming from Windows XP, this is a known issue and will be fixed in a future update.
Otherwise, here are some troubleshooting steps:

  • See if there is an audio error listed in logs\streaming_log.txt on the remote computer
  • See if audio or the Steam application is muted on the remote computer
  • See if audio is muted on the local computer

 

How do I diagnose streaming performance problems?

You can look in logs\streaming_log.txt on the remote computer after you play a game to get a detailed breakdown of how much time was spent in each component of the streaming system.

While the game is running, you can hit F6 or the Guide button combined with the Y button on your game controller to turn on live statistics for the session. While the statistics are visible the game collects more detailed information which is saved in logs\SteamVideoTrace.txt and logs\SteamAudioTrace.txt at the end of the session.

While the statistics are visible, you can hit F8 or the Guide button combined with the X button on your game controller to save a screenshot and 10 seconds worth of stats to a zip file in the streaming directory in the Steam folder on the remote computer.

There is a good article on how to interpret the log information here: http://steamcommunity.com/groups/homestream/discussions/0/540733523404402134/

Problem with Steam?

Contact Steam Support