Trying Out Steam Link

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My birthday is coming up in April, and as an early birthday present from a friend I got steam link along with a steam controller. I haven’t actually used the controller yet (that will be today) so for now I’m just going to focus on talking about steam link.

What it does isn’t anything we haven’t heard of before. It basically takes steam and streams it to your television. There are 3 USB ports for various accessories (mouse, keyboard, controller) and it runs wireless or wired. For my first set up I decided to go wireless because my ethernet cable doesn’t quite reach. I decided to use my wired xbox controller, and I also plugged in my PC keyboard and mouse since a lot of my games are not controller supported. The steam controller takes away the need to have these extra accessories, but again I haven’t used it yet, I wanted to get used to the basics first.

Setup is incredibly easy. Just plug in the power cord to the steam link box, and plug an HDMI cord from the TV to the box. That’s all that’s involved if you’re going wireless. If you’re playing wired (which many people suggest) then plug in an ethernet cable to your router. It was that simple.

There were a few updates for steam link before I could connect to the steam account on my home network, but it downloaded and installed quickly. The first game I tried was Stardew Valley, and I have to say, I absolutely love steam link already. I experienced no lag at all, and the games look beautiful on my TV. As a pregnant woman, I get uncomfortable if I sit at my desk for any length of time these days. Being able to game from the couch is a huge relief (and probably exactly what was in mind when this particular gift was given). It’s also perfect if your PC is in another room from the TV. Stardew Valley only has partial controller support so I soon swapped over to Telltale games, Minecraft. That game also ran perfectly, no lag. No issues at all as it has full controller support. I played for a few hours, loving every second of it. It also inspired me to start playing my other telltale games, I have so many of them and I’ve never loaded them up.

You do need to keep your PC on with steam running for this to work. I ended up just turning my monitors off since I wasn’t using them. You also get the regular steam overlay, with chat and pop ups and all the rest. One of my favourite things about steam link isn’t the fact that I can play steam games on the TV – but that I can add non-steam games to steam, and stream them to the TV as well. That means games like BDO, WoW, and EVE Online I can also play from the couch and not my desk. This is an enormous bonus. You can pick up a cheap bluetooth keyboard and mouse if you want, and those will both work with the steam link. The box for my steam link just happens to rest on the coffee table in front of the TV, so it’s very simple to go wired. I may think about purchasing a wireless keyboard / mouse in the future though, just to have less clutter around. Either way, having options is great.

Over all I’m incredibly pleased. I hear that steam link went through a bit of a rough time at its initial release, but I have had absolutely no problems with it. The one problem I may run into is lag, but again I can combat that by going wired vs. wireless. I suppose my biggest ‘issue’ is that the box came with lots of packaging and I prefer a more minimalist approach to trash, but at least it can be recycled.

Do you have a steam link? Like it? Thinking of getting one? Let me know in comments!

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2 Comments

  1. Derrick Whittet

    I’ve got such a setup with simply having steam running on my htpc (it’s basically steam link but with custom hardware and htpc functions too) and it’s been fantastic all along. Really love it.

    I’d heartily recommend the Steam Link box for someone without an htpc, as having easy PC gaming on your TV without needing the logistics of a PC-TV physical connection is magical.

    Fully, wholly and completely leaves consoles irrelevant.

  2. I have one but you know that already. I got it at launch and ran into a lot of issues, some of which were I think the hardware (as you say, it’s had its firmware updated quite a few times) and some of which just had to do with the In-Home Streaming service. I used to have to run back and forth between systems quite a few times because so many games had some kind of pop-up that I couldn’t access on the Steam Link.

    When I just recently set the thing up again (I had put it away in favor of devoting the HDMI port to a PS3) I was delighted to find that it all just seemed to work better.

    Although thinking about it, ‘back then’ I was just using the Steam Controller (which even after all this time I probably haven’t given a fair shake) and this time, like you, I hooked up a mouse and keyboard, which just makes everything kind of easier and more familiar.

    Glad you’re enjoying yours!

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