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What is Steam In-Home Streaming?

Steam in-home streaming allows 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?

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

How do I improve my streaming experience?

Hardware:
We recommend a minimum of a quad-core CPU for the computer running the game. The client has more modest requirements, but should have a GPU that supports hardware accelerated H264 decoding. Any recent laptop or PC should meet the client requirements.

Network:
We recommend using a wired network for the best streaming experience. People have had some success with powerline networks and wireless N and AC networks with good signal, though your experience may vary.

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 your preference for speed vs quality, limit the network bandwidth, and adjust the maximum capture resolution.

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.
  • 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 a single or dual core CPU and no hardware accelerated H264 decoding.
  • DirectInput controllers other than gamepad style controllers (wheels, flight controllers, etc.) are not currently supported. Other controllers using XInput are fully supported.
  • Certain games like "Rome: Total War" use older DirectX technology which is not currently supported.

Windows:

  • Streaming from a Windows XP host is not supported.
  • 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 not yet supported.

SteamOS / Linux:

  • Streaming from a Linux host is not yet 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.

What network ports does streaming use?

Streaming uses UDP ports 27031 and 27036 and TCP ports 27036 and 27037. Please make sure Steam can listen on these ports in your firewall software.

The computers don't see each other

Make sure they are on the same subnet and no other program is using UDP 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.

If you're running a Mac client, try rebooting after Steam is updated.

Some people have also reported that custom firewalls or software like Hamachi interferes with the discovery process.

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.

Steam looks really small on the host after streaming

Exit Steam, right click Steam.exe and bring up the compatibility properties, uncheck "Disable display scaling on high DPI settings", save the changes and restart Steam.

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

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.

Steam crashes or black screen when hosting from an NVIDIA laptop

There is a bug in the NVIDIA driver which causes a crash or black screen if you're streaming from a laptop with Windows 8.1. Try opening the NVIDIA control panel and under 3D settings, set Steam to use integrated graphics, and then restart Steam.

I see a black screen when streaming a game.

If it's a specific game that is having the issue, please report which game is having the issue on the bug discussion group.

If all games are having the issue, please try the following:

  • Update your video drivers on both computers, if you haven't already
  • Try disabling hardware encoding in the advanced host settings on the remote computer. If this works, please report your host video card and driver version to the bug discussion group
  • Try disabling hardware decoding in the advanced client settings. If this works, please report your client video card and driver version to the bug discussion group

If none of those steps fix the issue, the problem may be the network packet size. To see the largest packet size that can be sent on your network, look up your ip address on the client computer, and then from your hosting computer run this from a command prompt:
ping IPADDRESS -f -l 1472
If that number is too big, it'll show "Packet needs to be fragmented but DF set.", and reduce it by 10 until the ping goes through. Then once it goes through, increase it by 1 until it stops going through. Then you can report the last number that works on the bug discussion group.

If the number you get above is less than 1464, try increasing the MTU on your network interfaces and router to 1500.

How do I enable Intel hardware encoding?

If you have an Ivy Bridge or newer system with an integrated GPU, you may be able to take advantage of Intel QuickSync hardware acceleration. To enable this, go to the Steam In-Home Streaming settings on the remote computer, open the advanced host options and check "Enable hardware encoding"

You can check to see what encoder and decoder is being used by turning on "Display performance information" in the advanced client options on the client computer and then pressing F6 during the streaming session. If you see the word "QuickSync" in the encoder description, you are using Intel hardware accelerated encoding.

How do I enable NVIDIA hardware encoding?

If you have a GTX 650 or newer and the latest NVIDIA drivers, you may be able to take advantage of NVIDIA hardware acceleration. To enable this, go to the Steam In-Home Streaming settings on the remote computer, open the advanced host options and check "Enable hardware encoding"

You can check to see what encoder and decoder is being used by turning on "Display performance information" in the advanced client options on the client computer and then pressing F6 during the streaming session. If you see the words "NVFBC" or "NVIFR" in the encoder description, you are using NVIDIA hardware accelerated encoding.

I see persistent smearing on the screen with NVIDIA hardware encoding

This is a known incompatibility between NVIDIA hardware encoding and the software decoder. Try enabling hardware decoding on the client or disabling hardware encoding in the advanced host options on the remote computer.

I see big blocky color areas with NVIDIA hardware encoding

This is a known incompatibility between NVIDIA hardware encoding and the hardware decoder on Mac OS X. Try disabling hardware encoding in the advanced host options on the remote computer.

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

  • 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

My game controller input doesn't affect the game

If your game controller isn't recognized by any game, check to see if Steam Big Picture recognizes it in the controller settings on the client computer. You may need to configure your controller there in order to use it for streaming.

Some games use raw input instead of XInput or DirectInput and are not yet supported.

If you are using an XBox 360 controller on a Mac, there is a publicly available driver that may work for you.

My mouse and keyboard input don't affect the game

Some games run with elevated permissions and Windows prevents remote input from affecting them, as a security measure.
The following is a list of known games with this limitation:

  • Age of Empires 3
  • The Bard's Tale
  • Nether

If you have a mouse and keyboard input problem with games not listed here, please report it on the bug discussion group.

 

My mouse cursor is invisible on Windows 8

Try plugging a mouse in on the remote 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