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

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Steam In-Home Streaming Testing

This is the setup that I used to try out Steam In-Home Streaming:

Streaming Desktop Computer:

  • Custom built gaming PC running Windows 7
  • Intel Core i7 2600k Processor
  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 670 SLI
  • Dual-band Wireless N
  • Gigabit LAN

Client Computer:

  • HP Chromebook 14 running Kubuntu 14.04
  • Intel Celeron 2955U
  • Intel HD Graphics
  • Dual-band Wireless N
Steam Stream Setup

Steam Stream Setup

Both machines were updated to Steam’s latest beta client and the client machine instantly recognized the host machine. All settings were left at default with the exception of enabling the hardware decoding to take advantage of Kepler’s GPU encoding.

With the host and client machines set up, let’s see how in-house streaming performs in practical application.

FarCry 3

FarCry 3 with wireless Host and Client

FarCry 3 with wireless Host and Client (click to enlarge)

 

FarCry 3 with wired Host and wireless Client

FarCry 3 with wired Host and wireless Client (click to enlarge)

In Steam’s streaming settings, users can enable an option to show streaming performance. In the top image, there’s quite a bit of compression artifacts, screen tearing and latency made the game unplayable, and the game was maxing out at around 25fps at the Chromebook’s native resolution of 1366×768. However, once switching the host machine to a wired connection, image quality was near perfect and latency was low enough for Steam to throttle the framerate up into the 50-60 range. Aside from the actual performance, there was a slight issue with Ubisoft’s Uplay DRM. The login screen was up on the host machine without showing on the streaming computer, once returning to the host machine and logging in, the game picked up on the streaming machine as it should.

Transistor

Supergiant's Transistor

Supergiant’s Transistor ran almost flawlessly

Transistor - details

Transistor ran particularly well with only the occasional lag spike due to the use of a wireless connection and would most likely function perfectly with a wired host and client machine.

Testing then went in an interesting direction. Steam allows users to add other applications to their library. After adding Battlefield 4, launching through Steam on the host machine loads the Battlelog page for finding a match, but on the client machine, nothing happens. The client just launches Battlelog pages in the host machine’s default web browser. Starcraft 2 similarly had issues launching. Blizzards game launchers are typically a patch window that starts the game. On the client machine the entire Windows 7 desktop of the host machine was visible, Starcraft 2 started on the host machine but only a black screen and a cursor was visible on the client. A few other more simple games and applications launched properly though, the original release of Cave Story, a few emulators, and even Notepad++(so even desktop applications are fair game for streaming).

Sidenote: There’s supposed to be controller support for in-home streaming, but I had no response from mine. Perhaps using a Linux client is the cause of this, though my operating system was definitely showing that it recognized the controllers. Several games were tested with both an Xbox 360 controller and a generic USB controller, with neither being recognized by the host machine. Though it’s likely to be added soon as the difference between transmitting keystrokes on a keyboard and button presses on a controller is not too drastically different.

Ultimately, in-home streaming is great if you have a network backbone that can support a reliable 10-20Mbit/s stream. Wired is absolutely preferable, but with the dual-band 802.11n wireless cards in our test systems the gaming experience was near-unplayable. Steam recommends using a wired network for the best gaming experience and we’d have to agree with that. If you wnated to try this on a wireless network we highly suggest using an 802.11 AC router that has a strong signal. (our recommended router)

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  • Олег Крылов

    For a long time I wanted to play with my friend together, just doing basic custom games, but we never could because it would not work right. Then I discovered this program Radmin VPN and we were finally able to, and it made for many fun hours and more fun in the future. http://www.radmin-vpn.com/

  • Brendan

    Wouldn’t Hamachi work on its own? Why would I need a vps?

  • tauseef

    yes vpn software can increse the speed of streaming as millions of internet users use vpn tools to change their current IP address and connect with any other fast IP so it can increase the speed overall.Vpnranks the source of vpn providers where every internet user can find out the best vpn provider details.

  • Haze

    Hi all, I’ve been experiencing weird artifacts when I turn on hardware encoding in steam’s in-home streaming. I am using a sapphire R9 290 on the host and and old laptop with HD 2600. I have tried with and without steam beta but experiences the same thing. It works perfectly without hardware encoding. Do I need to install anything for VCE to work on the host?

  • InStars

    Guess I am gonna try this with my new internet connection 😉

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

  • “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?

      • 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 😉

      • 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.

    • TimmyP

      I have played over 40 hours of witcher 3 on my netbook. I have never seen it lag except for a tiny hiccup every one in a while.

    • Léon Lamothe

      they are talking about gigabit home network, not your ISP…

  • 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. =]