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PC gaming on a big-screen TV is easier now than ever before thanks to the huge library of games that have been released for both Windows and various consoles. Many games will work exactly as they would on an Xbox 360 if you use a 360 controller.

The only problem is connecting your PC to your television. While hardcore gamers often buy a computer for their living room, most gamers can’t afford two gaming rigs. Here are a few ways you can stream games from your existing desktop or laptop PC to your television.

Nvidia Shield

The Shield is an Android-based portable gaming console from Nvidia NVIDIA Shield Review And Giveaway NVIDIA Shield Review And Giveaway Recently, we reviewed the Wikipad, which managed to make its way to market before NVIDIA's highly anticipated Shield. Ever since NVIDIA showcased the Shield at CES, I've found myself more and more fascinated by it. After... Read More . One of its most important features is GameStream, which can be used to play PC games on the device. The device can also output video over HDMI, making it possible to play a PC title on your living room television.

You can even use the Shield as a controller hub by connecting a Bluetooth keyboard How to Set up Bluetooth in Windows 7, Make PC Discoverable & Add Devices How to Set up Bluetooth in Windows 7, Make PC Discoverable & Add Devices Bluetooth is an alternative to wires – with Bluetooth, you can connect Bluetooth-enabled phones, mice, headsets, printers, keyboards, tablets, and many other devices with a Bluetooth-supporting computer. You can transfer files back and forth, use... Read More and mouse to it, thus making it possible to enjoy games that aren’t playable with a gamepad.

nvidia-shield-review-feat

There are a few limitations, however, the most obvious of which is the Shield itself. You’ll generally have to spend $199 to snag one. And the Shield’s streaming only works with Nvidia GTX 650 (or better) GPUs, so you may need a new video card as well. Finally, you’ll need a quick home wireless network and a mini-HDMI cable to route between the Shield and your television.

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Once you have all that, however, you’re good. The Shield is the only device on the market right now that can stream PC games at 1080p/60FPS with reasonable latency.

Wireless HDMI

This is a situation where the name says it all. Wireless HDMI is simply a way to connect two HDMI-capable devices without the use of wires. In this case, the devices are your PC and your television.

There’s a variety of wireless HDMI options on the market from companies like Nyrius, IOgear and Samsung. You will, of course, want to go with one that can handle 1080p, which means you’re generally looking at $150 or more. That should snag you a transmitter and a receiver capable of working with 30 feet (or more) between them. The best products, like the Nyrius Aires Pro, won’t introduce noticeable latency.

wirelesshdmi

While wireless HDMI can work well, it does have a major problem — it doesn’t help you solve the controller issue. A wireless gamepad usually won’t work with a desktop that’s more than two rooms away, and the same goes with most Bluetooth devices. That means your PC has to be relatively close to your television, which rather defeats the point of streaming a game from your PC to your TV.

Intel WiDi / AMD Wireless Display

Both AMD and Intel now have wireless video streaming technology built into some recent processors. Intel calls its version WiDi Three Wireless Display Technologies That You Probably Own But Don’t Use Three Wireless Display Technologies That You Probably Own But Don’t Use Want to relay your smartphone's or laptop's display onto a larger screen without wires? No, it's not science fiction. You can wirelessly output video from computers and smartphones today. Wireless display technologies use WiFi to... Read More , while AMD uses the term Wireless Display. Both work in a similar way and both require that you attach a compatible Miracast dongle to your television.

The good news is that using this technology is relatively cheap. Compatible, 1080p capable dongles can be had for about $50 to $80, depending on the features you want and where you shop. That’s less than half the cost of a Shield or a quality wireless HDMI solution.

intelwidi2

What’s the catch? Well, there’s two. The first is latency. Reviews of WiDi and Wireless Display have frequently commented that latency can be in the hundreds of milliseconds, which is enough to make action games unplayable. The other issue is hardware compatibility. You’ll need a compatible processor and wireless adapter; generally, only laptops ship with both, though Intel’s WiDi can be enabled on desktops that meet the minimum requirements by purchasing compatible WiFi hardware.

I’ve personally tried using WiDi and I found it disappointing. The latency issue was apparent even when streaming from a laptop just a few feet away from the receiving television. Also, as with wireless HDMI, this option doesn’t help you solve the controller issue.

Steam In-Home Streaming (Coming Soon)

Valve is currently testing an in-home streaming service for Steam. Assuming it passes beta and goes live, the feature will allow a user to log in to his or her Steam account on two local computers and then stream a game from one to the other. Current information suggests the service will be hardware agnostic and require only 2.5 megabits of local bandwidth to work.

steamstreaming

Technically, this won’t allow you to stream directly from your television to your PC. Instead you’ll be streaming from one PC to another. However, the receiving computer shouldn’t need to be powerful, which means you might be able to use something like the ASUS VivoPC as a receiver.

Steam In-Home Streaming hasn’t even left closed beta, so it’ll probably be some time before this option is available. Still, it’s something to look forward to.

Conclusion

Nvidia’s Shield is the best option available right now. The device can provide 1080p, 60 FPS gameplay with tolerable latency and it costs “only” $199. You can also use it as a mobile console, which is a nice bonus.

The other options are workable, but have their own significant problems. Wireless HDMI is expensive for what you receive and controlling the games will prove a problem. WiDi/Wireless Display can suffer from very poor latency and, in most cases, does nothing to help you control what you’re playing.

What do you think about streaming games from a PC to a television? Is it worth the effort, or is it better to just buy a console?

  1. Pedro Lucas
    December 16, 2015 at 12:17 am

    This article was written in 2014 or before. In 2015, NZXT launched DOKO.
    I own a DOKO, I play games (MMORPGs like Warcraft, SWTOR, LOTRO, etc) on my 55" TV using NZXT DOKO.
    DOKO streams my desktop computer (where the games run, 30 meters away) to my TV in my living room. It also handles the mouse/keyboard controllng via USB over IP.
    DOKO can also be used to listen to music, browse the Web, watch videos, everything you can do on your desktop PC.
    The only culprit... it's 30 FPS, and requires a stable wired connection of 100 Mbps or 1 Gbps, no Wifi crappy links, and a decent CPU (it uses about 25% CPU load of a Core i5 and about 50 Mbps to stream 1920x1080@30 fps)

  2. Sean B
    December 29, 2014 at 7:09 am

    Is there any way to stream from my PC to a media player in a remote destination? For example, my mother lives in South Carolina and I live in Ohio - If I have a home video I want to stream to her TV (and assuming she has a media player connected to her TV), is there any way to connect to her network remotely and steam straight to her TV (live or otherwise)?

    Obviously this could be done the 'hard' way - I could post to youtube and have her watch through youtube channel, or I could use remote login service - but is there a more elegant solution?

    • Anonymous
      January 8, 2015 at 5:19 pm

      Easiest way is to post to YouTube or dropbox and send her a link. That would require her clicking on one thing and any internet browser will work so long as your video is standard format.

      • Jakub Górzkowski
        October 23, 2015 at 12:51 pm

        I hate when someone replies like that. If he wants to stream it, you should give a solution that includes streaming. Don't give your "easiest way" when you just tell him what you would do. Goddamit guys, that so annoying. I'm preety sure someone will post something like "Get a long HDMI cable" under that post... Such a discrease in todays forums and comment section...

  3. Mark Davies
    April 16, 2014 at 3:20 pm

    Or if your using Windows 7/8 & have a DLNA TV you can stream directly from your PC.
    http://www.dlna.org/consumer-home/The-Possibilities/explore-by-device/television

    • joki
      May 18, 2014 at 5:10 pm

      Not gonna work for games though...

  4. bben
    April 16, 2014 at 12:16 pm

    Or, as an alternative to wireless, run a HDMI cable between your PC and TV. My cable runs under the floor and inside the walls making it completely invisible - except fro the short run between the back of the computer and the wall. My TV is treated as just another monitor by this and can show anything that can be seen on a computer monitor. Total cost - $12 US for a 25 foot in wall rated HDMI cable.

    • Matt S
      April 17, 2014 at 7:27 pm

      Lol, absolutely an option. Only really a problem for apartment living, but even then, you can usually took the HDMI cord beneath the edge of the carpet. Might be out of luck with hardwood floors, though.

    • Steven Garratt
      July 19, 2015 at 1:56 pm

      Problem for me with that is controls. As already mentioned about an xbox controller my living room is probably too far away.

      In terms of a mouse and keyboard it is possible to get USB calling that runs via electrical wiring like the home plug technology. I've also seen this for hdmi too :). Just check amazon or maybe eBay.

      Regarding an xbox controller I'm not sure what an answer would be.... Maybe some sort of Bluetooth repeater device? (I'm guessing the controller is Bluetooth?)

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