I'm a massive fan of what Nintendo has done with the creation of the switch. They initially pointed to the world that life is better when you have more flexible game options and I love it.
There are some problems with the switch, but mostly I do not own one. Most games are also quite expensive, and although there are some really amazing exclusive titles, I'm not looking forward to buying another game library …
I already own 287 games in Steam, with additional sixties on my wish list! It represents many years of careful assembly and a lot of invested capital that can not be ignored or simply replaced with a new system. The disadvantage of this is that it's locked to my PC, which lives in my house, and even though it's (currently) a laptop, it's not what I would call "portable." I have a Steam Link, which gives me a slight degree of flexibility – but nothing I can easily porridge on the couch while my better half uses the TV to see all the great shows I have very little interest in. I need another screen …
There have been a number of possible solutions to this problem over the years. Someone remembers Smach Z? This was alleged to be a scam, but looks like it actually comes to market, and that may be the answer to my prayers – apart from the price!
What about GPD Win 2? Well, I can tell you that this looks like a very tempting little device, but also quite expensive – at $ 649 under the campaign and $ 899 afterwards! Either way, I already own the hardware I need to play my games; I just want to get to that machine from an alternative device, as I do with Steam Link.
But wait! What is this in my pocket? Why is it a cell phone! It has a screen and I can use it to play games, so can I use it to get onto Steam?
OK, most people in this situation only use Moonlight and use Nvidia Gamestream to achieve what I want to achieve. Wrong, you need a fairly updated Nvidia graphics card and I have an AMD Radeon. So I guess I'm stuffed, yes? Well no. As it turns out, there is another way … I can use Parsec.
What is Parsec?
Parsec connects two devices that let you play PC games from anywhere on any device. Play your games from the sofa, work or friend's cellar.
So is this? Is this the answer to my prayers? It seems to be … According to their website it should be possible to cross all the boxes on my wish list and some more besides. Being able to play only local multiplayer games with friends online would be a fantastic bonus and it simply seems to set up and use …
… and I I'm sure it would probably be if I used any kind of conventional setup. For example, my friend Parsec installed at his game tower at home (with an AMD card in it) and managed to connect and play games immediately on his phone … kind of. He did not have any recording equipment at hand so he could only look at his desk – but he could click on things and it opened Goat Simulator !
But I struck a lot of problems for me. The first was that my graphics drivers were outdated – easily resolved if Windows should recognize the updated ones and let them exist for more than two minutes before they were overwritten with older ones. My next problem was that my notebook has both discreet and integrated graphics, and Parsec they used the integrated, which causes an error. After disabling the embedded drivers, I was then hit by another error and told me that Parsec could not change the resolution. Then there was an additional inexplicable error with the phone app (Android-APK is "experimental", so I suppose it may be forgiven). Then the app logged me out and refused to let me back. Then I told me that an update was needed. Then I returned to the resolution error …
It was enough to say that it was not a simple process to make it work in my apparent niche position. I finally concluded that Parsec would not just play ball with my playable laptop …
Patience, young grasshoppers …
It's now two weeks later and I'm the proud owner of a five year old & # 39; gaming & PC; It's not bad, with an i7 CPU, 16GB RAM and a 240GB SSD, but the graphics card is surely beyond its best. Will Parsec play ball? Short answer: Yes … kind. I can burn Parsec on my phone and connect to my new PC – it seems my phone works, my controls will control your PC through Parsec via my rather DIY setup and there is very little audio or input delay. However, the display runs at about 1 fps. Completely useless.
Thus my dream died. I was unwilling to sink a little more time in Parsec and for three months I was denied a (more) game flexibility … to one day, designated the Valve Steam Link App.
This amazing little application basically reflects the functionality of Steam Link, but runs on the phone. Of course, you still need a controller to play your games (although it supports basic touchscreen features) so that Valve updated the firmware on its steam controller to turn on Bluetooth.
Now I can connect my steam controls to my phone and phone to my PC via Steam itself and everything just works! With the phone on the same network as my PC, the games are smooth and unavailable.
After using the Link App steam for a couple of weeks, I was quick to pick up and pick up some issues. First, it turns out that it's physically impossible to keep your phone at a good angle while trying to use a controller at the same time. What I needed was a fitting I could use to connect the phone to the controller …
After many Googling, I bought a "Front Rider" from UtorCase. This delicate and fragile look is actually incredibly strong and robust. It fits perfectly with the Steam Controller and keeps me OnePlus 6 (the more note that you want to mark the phone upgrade from my original test rig) firmly in place. I am very impressed with the building quality and attention to detail that the creator has put into this mountain and would highly recommend them.
My other "discovery" was the lack of ability to play games from an external location, which is to say "not on my local network". This was not really part of my original requirements, but sometimes you just want to throw out your phone and have a quick game when you're out and about. The switch can do this (of course), so why can not I? Fortunately, it turns out that I can do with some basic tinkering with the settings on my router. I have written a guide on how to configure the Steam Link App to work over the Internet, if you want to do the same.
After almost directly on this comes my third problem: The Steam Controller is a bit bulky to fly around with you wherever you go. My solution? Buy another check! 8BitDo Zero is the perfect companion for most of my gaming needs when you're away from home and can be bought quite cheaply. It's not very small enough to take care of my key chain (although you can do this if you want), but it's small enough to fit easily in your pocket or bag. The battery lasts a long time and it costs over USB.
So here it is – my attempt to create a Switch-like PC experience:
The question is, does it work? Well, yes and no.
My original requirement was to play PC games on another screen in the lounge while the woman is using the TV. This works perfectly – but with the proviso that some games with small UI elements can be a bit challenging to operate. Steering support on some games is either non-existent or inadequate, but using Steam and Steam Controller is quite a good one, and a decent experience can easily be achieved with a small remapping of buttons from the built-in Controller Settings Menu in the Large Picture Mode. Basically, if you're happy to play a particular game with your controls at the moment, this solution will work well.
My secondary requirements have been achieved just as well, but also with a few warnings. The party is perfect and I love it. The smaller 8BitDo Zero controller works well, but can cause hand cramps if you play for a long time. There are also a couple of shoulder buttons that you may need for some games.
Using the Steam Link App has externally some problems, though. You need a decent internet connection and if you use your mobile schedule, you may want to check your billing data. If you have a less than stellar connection, you'll find problems with layers and lost frames. It's still usable, but you might want to play games that do not require precise controls, such as puzzles or strategy games.
What did it cost?
Ignore the basics of a PC in the first place – and phone upgrade that was not strictly necessary – Your handbook should look like this:
- UtorCase Phone Mount – Prices vary, but my costs £ 17 .
- Steam Controller – You can use any Bluetooth controls, of course, but I love mine and it allows me to play more games than a regular – £ 40.
- 8BitDo Zero – more of a peculiarity than necessary, the prices vary according to design – £ 6.
Total cost price of setup: £ 63
Of course I already had the Steam Controller so my cost was only £ 23. Unlike the Nintendo switch that costs £ 280, I've saved a lot of £ 257!
Yes, it's not a Switch, it's not as elegant a solution as something specially designed to be a portable and flexible system, but it lets me play everything from my massive game library anywhere at home and most of my games when they are out and about. When you factor in cost savings, I think this search has reached a successful end.