Welcome to Unreal Aussies!

We are a community of like minded gamers in the Oceanic region.

We play a wide variety of games and provide a fun, social atmosphere for all our members!

Steam Link - Recommended??

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by DiggaDan, Nov 30, 2016.

  1. DiggaDan

    DiggaDan New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2016
    Unreal Credits:
    163
    Hi All,

    Considering buying a steam link but wanted some feedback from people who may already own it. Is it worth the buy? I have some games that are controller designed games (fighting games/rocket league etc.) I would prefer these as couch potato style on my bigger screen in the lounge room than in my computer chair. I find I park these games because I'm stuck in front of my monitor.

    My concern is obviously performance, I have NBN and although my computer is lower end it performs well enough for the games I have, does streaming it to the link cause any extra performance stress from my computer or is it dependent on my internet connection?

    Any criticism or praise for the link is welcome, steam has a mostly positive rating but as the comments are from all over the globe and I would prefer a more local opinion.

    Looking forward to hearing the feedback

    Cheers,
    Dan
     
  2. Agamemnus

    Agamemnus Administrator
    Unreal Officer

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2016
    Unreal Credits:
    12,237
    Hey mate, my cousin's housemate has one of these and they asked for some help with it recently.

    It kept lagging when they played some multiplayer games but was usually fine with single player games. It wasn't very predictable. But it had nothing to do with their internet connection (and they had ADSL 2, you have NBN you bastard), it's to do with the wifi available in the house from the modem/router. They had a laptop and a desktop using wifi as well as both their phones and iPads, then the Link was connected via wifi too.

    Their problems could all be solved if they plugged in ethernet cables, which I tested with some 20 metre ones I had. Sadly their only phone outlet was in the kitchen and it wasn't realistic to have cables running through the flat. So they got some of these:
    https://www.pccasegear.com/products/28868/tp-link-tl-pa4010p-kit-av500-powerline-adapter-kit

    You take one of those and plug in into the power socket where the modem is, and plug an ethernet cable in the ethernet sockets on the modem and the other end into the bottom of the unit linked above. The other unit, you place at your Steam Link power socket and run an ethernet cable from that into the Steam Link. This means that the network signal is travelling over the power lines instead of via microwaves through your house (wifi).

    In their case, they bought 2 of these kits (for a total of 4 units) and used one on the desktop, the laptop, one on the Steam Link and another at the modem/router. This made a massive difference. Since the wifi signal to the desktop running steam was already only like half strength.

    Also, it took all unpredictability out of the equation. Since now the Steam Link used the power lines for network data, when the iPads or phones or laptop decided to use the wifi, it didn't affect the Steam Link at all.

    I watched them play a couple of games and it was fine. They haven't said anything about it since.

    Here's what I believe I know about it:
    1. If your internet connection is good enough to use Steam on your PC, it is good enough to use with the Steam Link.
    2. If your connection between the PC-modem-SteamLink isn't good, it will suffer in frame rate or quality. Either have a fantastic WiFi with no walls between your stuff, or use ethernet cables, or devices like in the link above.
    3. If your PC isn't great, quality or frame rate will suffer.

    You said your PC isn't fantastic. What you need to be aware of is that the way the image of the game gets to the Steam Link, is your computer has to turn it into a video then send the video over your network. So your computer isn't just RUNNING the game, it's also encoding to video at the same time.

    The Steam Link software has a few ways of doing this.
    • If you have a fantastic CPU (i7-4930k or better / scoring 13000 or higher according to THIS LIST) then the best way to do it is to "disable hardware encoding". The chances are that no game these days will tax the CPU enough to prevent it from effectively encoding your video via software and that produces the best quality. This uses the smallest amount of network, so if your CPU is beast, then your WiFi doesn't really need to be.
    • If you have a good NVIDIA card. Maxwell or Pascal design, so GTX 750 (NOT 780 which is faster for games but has worse hardware encoding for video) or GTX 900 series or 1000 series. Then your computer can use the NVENC part of the graphics card to enocde your video. Provided your network connection is fast enough this will use it all up to deliver you great quality and frame rate.
    • A recent but not expensive CPU with QuickSync. Check your CPU model to see if it's BROADWELL, SKYLAKE or KABY LAKE and if it's one of these, you may be in luck. QuickSync hardware encoding is better than NVIDIA hardware encoding, although it is significantly less advertised and hyped, so most people on the internet are unaware of this fact. As a result, help available for setting this up is extremely hard to find. In fact, I'm not even sure if there's any instructions on how to set it up on Steam Link though I'm quite sure they will support it.
    Basically, if you have one of the above then your PC should be able to do it. If your home network is good, you're all set. Forget about your internet connection, you have NBN which is more than enough, it's about how your Steam Link is connected to your computer and if your computer is using WiFi, then you need to consider other options.

    Here's something I should have asked earlier. How is your computer connected to your modem? Can you connect your modem directly to the Steam Link with an ethernet cable?
     
  3. DiggaDan

    DiggaDan New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2016
    Unreal Credits:
    163
    Thanks Aga!

    First with regards to the powerline adapters I already have 4 running through the house and one that is barely used and I will allocate to the Steam Link if I purchase it, the PC is connected to a powerline adapter also.

    • CPU is going to be a problem - I only have an i5-3570 (6991 rating)
    • Graphics card is an AMD R9 270X
    • No idea how to check the CPU model??

    as you can see my computer is ageing, despite the specs as mentioned it still runs relatively well and I won't go out and upgrade my computer at this stage for the sake of the Link.

    Do you know if there is a way despite the specs that I could somehow stress test my computer to see how it would perform?

    PS. I love the passmark website! Haven't used it since building this puppy 4 years ago haha!
     
  4. Agamemnus

    Agamemnus Administrator
    Unreal Officer

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2016
    Unreal Credits:
    12,237
    Passmark is classic. I also like CPU boss to compare 2 models in detail, but passmark is in my opinion the ultimate resource for "generally speaking, how much can my CPU do compared to others in terms of raw power". It's too easy to obsess over details like differences in cache or instruction sets when really, 99% of the time that detail wont help you if the passmark number is lower than the the other model you're comparing it to.

    Good to hear you have powerline adapters already. Can you test their speed? Copy a multi-GB file to and from Claymore's computer and see how many Megabytes per second it gets you each way. That will give you a definitive answer as to the quality of the wiring. Chances are, it will be great.

    Your CPU model is what you wrote in the first bullet point. i5-3570 which is IVY BRIDGE design. It does have QuickSync, but an old version. It may help with hardware acceleration, but like I said above, help on the subject is hard to find. You will have to go into your BIOS and enable the INTERNAL graphics adapter. Then you will have to download the Intel graphics drivers for it. Once you have these, you can test it by taking out your HDMI from the graphics card and plugging it into the HDMI socket in the motherboard. If that works, you're good to go.

    Sadly, your AMD graphics card wont provide any real hardware acceleration.

    You're PC is getting on a bit, it's 4 year old technology.

    The bad news:
    You will struggle with solid games like Farcry over the Steam Link.

    The average news:
    You MIGHT be able to play some simpler games like Brawlhalla, Mortal Kombat and maybe even Rocket League. Rocket League is a tricky one, because the visuals will be extremely hard to encode into video, but the game itself requires little power. If you can get QuickSync to work, AND you network connection is solid, you may be in luck.

    The good news:
    Steam Link is a link to your PC. Some people buy steam boxes worth hundreds, even thousands of $. Problem is, when the games get better, the box eventually needs to be replaced with a better one. With Steam Link, it runs off your regular PC. So when you do eventually upgrade, your Steam Link will now work with the upgraded PC. If you tried it out now and couldn't get a decent frame rate on the games you really wanna play, then at least the money's not wasted, it will still be there when you do get a new PC.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  5. DiggaDan

    DiggaDan New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2016
    Unreal Credits:
    163
    Aga you have been awesome, thanks for the insight!

    I'll still consider the option but may wait till i get an upgrade to my PC. I feel if I get the Link now I may just being introducing a new frustration if I buy it and struggle with the performance. I feel money I could put towards the Link maybe better spent towards FFXV or DOW 3 for now ;)

    cheers for everything and the time you have taken to respond, really appreciate it!
     
    • Like Like x 1
  6. Nakid

    Nakid Intrepidus Dux
    Unreal Officer Streamer

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2016
    Unreal Credits:
    5,612
    Great explanation Aga, I can confirm that streaming is terrible over Wifi as I tried it with another computer hooked up to the TV in the other room. I have a $400 Billion router from @Jetleet and it is still rubbish - 2-3 second delay constantly and really choppy. You really need a wired connection for it.
     

Share This Page