Playing your PC in the living room with Steam Link

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Playing PC games in your living hasn’t been easy until now.

Back in the day…

The NES was my first console but what followed that wasn’t a Super Nintendo or a Genesis or even a Game Boy. Instead, it was a PC…and from there my video game world expanded like never before.

Nintendo

Not me but my living room wasn’t far off.

The first PC game I remember playing was SimCity…or maybe it was Tank Wars…one of the two, either way, I was taken in my computer games and it took over my life and my wallet. Okay, well, maybe not my wallet. I didn’t exactly follow the suggestion of “don’t copy that floppy” and thus most of my games were “free,” nonetheless, my lowly DOS PC was my new video game console and I always felt it was vastly superior to any console…and it was for a while.

While I never gave up on PC gaming, the first Playstation brought me back to console gaming full time thanks mostly to Metal Gear Solid, Tekken and Gran Turismo. As you might expect, my Playstation was hooked up to the TV like my Nintendo before it. My computer, on the other hand, had its own monitor, a mere 13″ if I remember correctly.

To play one thing I had to go over here…to play the other thing, I had to go over there.

Back then, that really didn’t bother me but as the size of my television grew, I wanted to play the games I had on my PC on there from my couch rather than stuck in my office in front of my monitor.

The only solution for quite some time was hooking your PC up to your television. This meant you needed a laptop capable of playing games or a separate desktop that would live in your living room. I didn’t have a powerful laptop and I couldn’t afford to build another rig just for playing games in the living room. I felt stuck and the only way I could play PC games on my television was if they were ported to Xbox or Playstation. That didn’t always happen but when it did that meant I buy the game again.

However, over the holidays I was talking to my friends about this dilemma and how I had purchased more games on Steam during my vacation than I can ever remember buying before. I started talking about my plans to finally bite the bullet and built a box for the living room when he said, “you should just get a Steam Link.”

A what?

Steam Link

The Steam Link is a device made by Valve with the specific purpose of streaming Steam games to your television. It was exactly what I needed and as it would happen, Steam Links were on sale for $20 (down from $50) and thus without hesitation I got one.

Steam Link

Steam Link

Reviews for the Steam Link were somewhat mixed but more positive than straight up negative. Some folks complained about games running slow with some lag. That worried me some but as I read more, the people complaining about lag were the same people playing FPS and fighting games on their PC, neither of which I was playing on my PC.

Most of the Steam games I buy are smaller, quasi-indie arcade games. If I wanted to play Call of Duty or Street Fighter, I’d just buy it for my Playstation. My PC isn’t beefy enough to play those games anyway. So it sounded like the Steam Link would work perfectly.

And it did.

The Steam Link was super easy to setup. Just hook it up to your network, pair it with the Steam client on your desktop and you’re done. When you fire your Steam Link up, it really just turns on the Steam client on your desktop and streams it to your television. The device itself allows you to hook up a controller, keyboard and/or mouse so it’s all in your lap.

On my Steam Link’s maiden voyage, it played every game in my library wonderfully without any issue whatsoever. Controller lag was pretty much non-existent and the only thing I noticed was a little hiccup here and there when action got super thick on screen but it didn’t impact gameplay.

I was really impressed with the Steam Link. It has one job to do and it does it really well. I’m now living the dream of not having to be in front of my computer to play computer games. Better late than never, I guess.

I was expecting to spend $50 on the Steam Link and just happened to get it during sale, and I can tell you it’s worth it either way. If you’ve been looking for a way to transplant your PC games to your living room without building new machines and running cables, Steam Link is it.

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About Author

Brian is a staff writer at TMA. He races Hot Wheels at RedlineDerby.com while watching cartoons with his kid. You can follow @morningtoast on Twitter.

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