Using Steam In-Home Streaming with Windows 8

I recently acquired a new desktop and before I started loading Linux on it I decided to check out Windows 8 and retry Steam In-Home Streaming.  The machine has the following specs.  It idles around 70W at the Windows login screen.

  • Intel i7-3770
  • Asus Sabertooth Z77
  • Corsair Vengeance 8GB
  • EVGA GTX 770 SC
  • Corsair HX 850
  • Corsair Obsidian 650D
  • Western Digital Black 1TB 3.5″ HDD

Surprisingly, Windows recognized all of my hardware.  Unfortunately, it did take several hours to download and install all of the updates.  Once the updates were finished I was able to install Steam and quickly download several games.

The first game I tried was Poker Night 2, which had given my previous desktop trouble.  This time I was able to stream without any encoding issues.  The CPU utilization remained around 5% with the frequency dropping as low as 44%.  I believe this is because the i7-3770 supports Quick Sync and Steam is using that to handle the encoding.  Unfortunately, the game does not appear to like Steam In-Home Streaming.  It often crashes upon startup and even once it is running continued to lock up on me.  Changing to Prototype I was able to stream with no trouble.  How well it works does seem to be very game dependent, unfortunately.

Always make sure to install and run the game locally before using In-Home Streaming.  I attempted to install Poker Night 2 from my client and the installer crashed part way through the install.  I had to manually install the Visual C++ Redistributable package.  Having a keyboard and mouse connected to the client is also a good idea.  Despite Poker Night 2 being listed as having full controller comparability there is still a screen at the beginning of the game that requires a mouse click.  Conversely, Prototype is listed as not supporting a controller, yet works perfectly well with one.

For best results the host should be the same or better resolution than the client.  While Steam can stream from a lower resolution to a higher one the video ends up pillar and letter boxed.  For some reason my video is rather darker than using my old desktop as a host.  I am not sure why.  SteamOS also chooses to do it’s OS updates during shutdown.  This process can take some time.  Steam itself only updates on startup, however.

While SteamOS does have a sleep mode I did not have much luck with it.  I was able to set it to sleep from the controller, but then had to press the power button in order to wake the machine.  My BIOS was set to wake from USB so I am not sure why neither the keyboard nor controller worked.  Also, upon resume the icons were blocks of static and the machine was unresponsive.  After waiting for several minutes I had to press the power button to do a manual shutoff.

My impression of SteamOS remains the same.  I am still considering replacing SteamOS with a standard Linux desktop running Steam.  I am less sure about Steam In-Home Streaming.  When it works, it works well.  But it continues to be testy, requiring multiple trips between client and host to make sure the game launches correctly and functions without incident.

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