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

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Testing Steam In-House Streaming Limits With Hamachi


Now that we know in-house streaming generally works pretty well, it’s time to stretch its limits. Using LogMeIn’s VPN software Hamachi, it’s possible to bridge the connection between two machines that aren’t on a single local network. Hamachi has an official release for Windows and OSX as well as a command line beta client for Linux. Hamachi setup is pretty straight forward: make a network, create a password, join network with desired machines. So what kind of requirements are necessary for streaming a game from your host to a remote client?

Steam Stream Data

Transistor’s Stream Data

Note the Incoming bitrate above. In order to push out 60fps @ 720p remotely, the host machine going to need ~13Mbps in available upload bandwidth. Or you have the option to do a significant level of network configuration to try and pass the stream at a higher priority or at one of Steam’s built in bandwidth limitations, ranging from 3-30Mbps.

Sidenote: The image above also shows that Steam prioritizes input latency over display latency, and even with a fair amount of button-mashing, the Outgoing bitrate is staying below 100kbps. Hence, for this experience on a remote machine, the remote client will require at least a 13Mbps download speed and should be fine with even a 1Mbps upload speed.

With Hamachi setup and installed on the host and client machine, the client machine was moved to another network approx. 10 miles (or 16km) from the host. The first immediate issue was with the Linux Hamachi client, though it connected to the VPN, the Steam Linux client (that had previously recognized the host machine while testing on the same network) was not connecting to the host through Hamachi. However, upon switching to a Windows-based client machine, the host was recognized through Steam. Unfortunately, it looks like Hamachi’s Linux Beta is a Beta for a reason.

Windows Client Stream

Windows Client Stream

Transistor was started on the new Windows client machine once the Hamachi/Steam connections were made. Unfortunately, thanks to Comcast, our host machine’s upload speed is a paltry 5Mbps. As such, Transistor launched, but only to a black screen. Although unplayable, this means that the Hamachi method does work, and the latency is actually not far above the in-home streaming latency (again, largely dependent on the end users current network situation).

To circumvent my bandwidth limitations, I turned to cloud hosting.

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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.

  • 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 😉

  • “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. =]