Trying Out Steam In-Home Streaming With Hamachi For Remote Play

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Giving Steam In-Home Streaming The Good Old Gamers Try

steam in-home streaming

Steam’s in-home streaming service just had its official launch, and with some configuration, it has the technical capability to be run as a users personal cloud gaming service. The premise is simple enough, rent a VPS (virtual private server), install Steam, create a VPN (virtual private network) connection with Hamachi, and stream games to a capable PC with reasonable bandwidth.

The server will provide a platform for hosting the games to be streamed. This makes it a good option for certain users for a few reasons. VPS providers typically offer several options for their machines with a range of prices with scalable hardware with little to no actual configuration from the user. Another upside is that VPS hosts often have higher network priority and bandwidth over standard consumer offerings.

The VPN through Hamachi will serve to connect the host machine to the remote client. To circumvent Steam’s restriction of both computers having to be connected to the same network, Hamachi creates a virtual LAN connection even going as far as installing a driver for its virtual NIC (it’s also quite handy for remote file sharing without having to set up a vulnerable externally-visible server).

InHome Streaming Diagram

Before getting into cloud streaming, let me first say that Steam’s in-home streaming is a miracle of modern technology. Setup and playability is far above any other streaming service I’ve used in the past. This is largely because both the host and client machines are on the same network and latency stays within single digit milliseconds for the most part, though obviously your mileage may vary depending on how up to date your networking is and whether you are on a wired or wireless network.

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  • InStars

    Guess I am gonna try this with my new internet connection ;)

    http://www.speedtest.net/my-result/3531847916

  • http://www.stogiereview.com Mike – KnightRid

    “With the rate that consumer level service is growing towards gigabit cable”

    Really? In the US? I would love to have something above my supposed 1.5mbps download and 768kbps upload but it is not available in the country. I guess there are enough people crammed into city living that they can make the money from them and not have to worry about us people who like to have some space between us and neighbors.

    WiFi has not been ready for heavy tasks since it was let loose to the public. Wireless is not reliable for heavy streaming of anything that needs a pretty constant bitrate. I do not understand peoples aversion to having a cable plugged in that will let you do things 100X better. Some places it may not be possible but most a way can be found. Stop thinking you have to walk around with that laptop while you are playing a game since you cant anyway ;)

    I will live in the peace and quiet of the country while dreaming about ever getting Playstation Now or any streaming service. Heck I cant even use my Amazon Prime out here except the free 2-day shipping.

    • Ben Young

      Agreed, I’ve seen quite a few faces twist up when I’ve recommended a wired solution for their home computers, as if they think it barbaric. As far as your availability of bandwidth though, I’ve been there as well. When the advent of broadband came about, it took years to get it in my unincorporated neighborhood while the rest of the county had access to it. Internet service kind of trickles down though, it’ll get out there eventually. Have you maybe considered satellite internet? It’s a bit on the expensive side, and from what I’ve heard, somewhat unreliable in certain weather, but maybe worth it for your situation?

      • http://www.stogiereview.com Mike – KnightRid

        We actually have a wireless internet now (little dish on the roof and all), only thing we can get to have any sort of speed. Problem with sat internet is it is data limited BIG TIME. We use DoubleDog Communications for our wireless and it is unlimited but slow compared to my DSL I had before we sold our house and moved in with my father-in-law to help him out. Companies see no profit when you live back a private road with 3 houses total on it ;)

      • http://www.stogiereview.com Mike – KnightRid

        Sorry just caught this. We have a wireless provider since sat service is limited data wise. Still 1.5mbps down and 768kbps up is not broadband. There are no lines run out here for cable and the phone company will not update equipment either. We are one of the households in a vacuum where the companies say it is not feasible (profit wise) to run lines back our road for only 3 houses.

  • SiberX

    The reason you were having issues with your Amazon EC2 instance is that Hamachi was updated a year or two ago to require that any system using it is currently “active”, meaning a user is logged in and using the system. When you disconnect from your EC2 instance via RDP, the server is left logged out and Hamachi blocks traffic from going over the tunnel.

    Probably the best way around this is to switch to a different tunneling scheme; OpenVPN is an excellent free choice that performs well and has no qualms about running as a service entirely in the background. Setup is more complicated than Hamachi (mostly server-side) but there are many guides available online.

    • Ben Young

      Oh, thanks for the tip! From what I’ve been able to find it looks like Hamachi used to run as a service from the get-go but it caused some issues and was later set to launch as an application.

  • Strider

    I am shocked you had such poor results on wireless, though you did test a few games that I did not, and I was not streaming to a Chromebook.

    I messed around with it for several hours over the holiday weekend, testing about 30 games, most of them just playing for a few minutes each, others longer. Just to try and get a feel for the playability doing a side by side.

    Streaming from an FX-8350 @ 4.5GHz, 16GB 1866, Sapphire R9 290 Tri-X OC, Sabertooth 990FX, Western Digital My Net N900. To a 7 year old Dell D650 with a 2GHz Core 2 Duo, 4GB, limited to 2.4GHz wireless or wired.

    In most all cases, streaming over 2.4GHz resulted in noticeable input lag, that would be a huge hindrance to any form of competitive gameplay. Or when very rapid and precise actions are required. However for most “casual” single player games it was easily playable. Setting the client to “fast” helped.

    As you move up the scale to more modern wireless standards, the results for much better of course, but since the laptop I was using did not support them, I had to base that conclusion on streaming to my HTPC.

    Wired connections were pretty much flawless, to both the laptop and HTPC. I did not run into many issues at all, with input lag or compression.

    I was got around to testing a couple non-Steam games, but not many, Minecraft (w/ HD textures) was one game I tested and it worked wonderfully, even on 2.4GHz with the input lag, was still easily playable. I have not had the time to really get into any more demanding non-Steam titles as of yet.

    As far as the Steam games I messed around with, they included Bioshock Infinite, Trine 2, Borderlands 2, Defiance, Metro Last Light, Serious Sam 3 BFE, and many others. In each case the experience was very good on wired, and you lose more as you go down the wireless spectrum.

    Overall, I think this is a fantastic start to Steams In-Home Streaming, though there is room for improvement over time. Overall I had a great experience testing it out, so much so that I have started to actually use it to play, not just test.

    Thanks for your great review, I greatly enjoy reading about the experience others are having with it. =]

    • Ben Young

      The biggest problem with the initial Wifi to Wifi setup was likely the distance between the machines and the router. For most households, having a host and client machine through a few walls and each 10-20 feet from the router, I felt like it was a realistic test. Once I moved the client closer to the router though, performance noticeably scaled up. It really just reaffirms what we were expecting: that whether it’s practical _really_ comes down to the individual user, their setup, and their habits.

      And thanks for reading!

      • Strider

        I totally agree. I live in a modern apartment, at most my Wifi signal never has pass through more than one wall, and when I did my messing around, I had the laptop sitting right next to my main system to do the side by side, and the router sits about 2 feet away on the shelf just below the laptop. So your testing was far more “realistic”.

        While I did stream to my HTPC via wireless in the living room, that’s maybe 15 feet through a single wall, no issue what so ever for this router. However my HTPC is also wired, so during any real gameplay, it’s all a moot point anyway in my specific situation.

        I read a lot here on LR, it’s one of my top news and reviews choices. So I can thank you as well for giving me content I enjoy reading. =]