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Here’s 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 cloud gaming service. If you already have a great gaming PC and a fast internet connection, you should consider setting it up for remote access so you can play your games on the go.

What is Remote Access?

Credit: Valve

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

Remote access works by sending audio and visual data from the host PC to the client device, then receiving input data from the client device and acting on it. You connect a controller to a Chromebook, for example, and inputs from your controller are forwarded to the desktop PC you’re accessing remotely. This is how cloud gaming services work, the difference being that these PCs are in a data center, not in your home.

What do I need to broadcast my computer?

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

Credit: Google

Remote access lets you use your PC on your phone, tablet, and even your TV.

Since remote access requires sending and retrieving data, it is best used with a strong internet connection. Many remote desktop applications recommend speeds of 15 Mbps or higher, but you need a minimum of 5 Mbps.

There are different ways to set up your desktop for remote access, but the easiest way is to use a remote access app specifically designed for gaming, which prioritizes low latency, frame rate, and speed. high resolutions, multiplayer options and low/stutter-free streams. Many remote access apps are geared toward computer support, file sharing, or business use, so they won’t be as easy to use for gaming.

Which remote access apps are designed for gaming?

A tablet with an on-screen game library and a phone with an on-screen game.

Credit: Moonlight/Valve

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

Some great free apps for remote game streaming are Steam Remote Play, Moonlight, and Parsec. There are many other remote access applications, but they are either more expensive or better 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 bit more work to set up on both the host and client side.

Host PC Setup

A desktop computer and monitor on a desk.

Credit: Revised / Betsey Goldwasser

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

Before you start remote streaming, you need to make sure your PC is ready for it. First things first: Use a wired Ethernet connection if possible and make sure your internet speeds are 15 Mbps or higher. When you access your PC, it must remain on and always signed in to your Windows account, otherwise you won’t be able to wake it up remotely. It would be wise to disable automatic hibernation (and auto-sleep if you’re comfortable with that), and you should disable automatic restarts until you’re done accessing it remotely. Finally, make sure you are always connected to the remote access application of your choice.

Setting up Parsec

A screenshot of the Parsec home page.

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

Parsec is extremely simple to use. First, download it to your host PC (it only works with Windows and macOS). Then in the settings menu check that Accommodation is activated and To stay awake is enabled and the correct view is saved if you have more than one view. Finally, go to Computers and tap the share button. It will give you an optional URL if you want to access the PC from 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). On the app, you just need to log in, wait for the host PC to appear in Computers, and press the connect button. For web access, copy the generated URL from the host and open the link on the client’s internet browser. No login required.

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

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

Moonlight Setup

Screenshot of the Moonlight homepage.

Credit: moonlight

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

Moonlight requires the most work of the three methods to get it working at first, 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, navigate to Settings > Shieldand turn on game flow. (Gamestream is Nvidia’s remote access software that streams from the host PC to Nvidia Shield devices). Now download and install Moonlight on both host PC and client device. The easiest way to pair the two will be to have 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 to the client. Then run Moonlight Internet Streaming Tester to verify that it is working.

Moonlight runs on top of GeForce Experience, so a lot of host-side configuration will be done through it instead of Moonlight directly. GeForce Experience should automatically detect the games installed on your PC, but if not, you can manually add it to the games list. In Settings > ShieldClick on To addopen the folder containing the desired program and click on OKAY.

If you want to broadcast the entire desktop remotely, go to Settings > Shield > To addadd path C:windowssystem32mstsc.exe in the Open file box.

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

Configure Steam Remote Play

A cartoon of friends playing a game on a TV.

Credit: Valve

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

The biggest advantage of Steam Remote Play is its multiplayer support. You can broadcast your PC while your friends are playing with you. You also don’t need to download anything else to your host PC.

To get started, open Steam on your host PC. On your client PC, download the Steam Link app (it’s 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 launch the game you want 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 launcher of choice. You also don’t need to add the non-steam game to your library for this to work!

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

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