Steam Link – Trials and Tribulations of owning one

For those who are not too sure what Steam Link is let me explain. The Steam Link is a small box which is designed to sit under your tv, connect to your router and enable you to play all your games bought on the steam platform on your big tv. In a nutshell its just a streaming device. The quality of the picture will depend on your setup. Games will most likely be capped at 60fps if you are using the device on a standard HD TV.

Now this device interested me as i am a happy console gamer who enjoys the comfort of my sofa. If you are a hardcore multiplayer PC gamer this device wouldn’t be much use. You will experience a slight delay as the system is just streaming data from your pc or mac. My pc is upstairs and my main tv is downstairs, so this device was useful to me. I also enjoy certain pc games with the xbox 360 controller. This little device lets you plug in either a wired or wireless control pad.

When i first purchased the device it was about two weeks after launch. It cost about £40 so was an attractive price to me. shipping was a little frustrating as it came from the states as at the time there were no european manufacturers of the device. Game in the UK had them in stock but would only sell you the link and controller together, making it an expensive purchase.

Once it was all setup i started trying out some games. First was Skyrim. On my pc i can run it all maxed out with some hd enhancement mods. I’m running an MSI GTX 970 and an first gen i7 processor ¬†with 8gb of ram but it still kicks arse. On the steam link however it was a jittery mess and unplayable. I then messed about with the link and managed to get it to come out of big picture mode and let me use my pc desktop. GTA V was my next test. This game i don’t have running through steam. After a few mins of trying to work out what left click was using the controller i fired up the game. It worked perfect. Now this didn’t make sense to me.

I left the steam link for a few days and then came back to a patch update. Since it was a new device i just put down my issues to me being unlucky and needing a patch. I tried gta v again and it now didnt’ work very well. Skyrim however did. So then my constant battle with steam links updates and patches began. Every time i tried to do something and update would just arse it up.

My biggest beef with the device is that you can’t opt out of updates. It just automatically kicks in. You can however opt out of beta updates. Also there is no on off button on the unit. So if i’m sat watching tv or on my ps4 and lean on my xbox 360 controller by accident the flipping steam link boots up. I had to pull the power cable out just to stop it from doing this. I’m sure a small push button wouldn’t have bankrupted them.

Well months went by and many updates later and i have to say it is now working as it should have at launch. I managed to play Rise of the Tomb Raider all the way through using my steam link with no problems. Skyrim now runs like a dream and GTA V works fine. Hopefully over time they will patch in better features and the ability to turn off updates. I found myself using the steam link in desktop mode and just messing about on my pc by plugging in a keyboard and mouse to the device. I’m not sure many people will get much use out of the device as a lot of people tend to either have a dedicated pc hooked up to their tv or the tv is only a long hdmi cable away from the unit. In my case it was useful and i think valve just used this run as an experiment. I will continue to use the device if i fancy lazy gaming single player sofa days.

Overall its an ok device but only for a niche market

Moogs

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