And enjoy the best graphics results? It’s possible, here’s how
We looooove computer games, but we have to face it, sometimes the couch call is really tempting. So why don’t we marry the best of both worlds? That’s possible and easier than you could expect. Get yourself a GTX-900 GeForce and a Nvidia Android Shield TV, and start warming up your favorite couch spot.
PC gaming is fantastic – we can’t deny that – but even the best computers can come with caveats.
There’s no denying that being hunched over a desk for hours at a time can be a little uncomfortable, and we can’t argue that sitting upstairs on the PC isn’t exactly sociable, especially if you’re not playing a multiplayer title.
Thankfully, there’s another option: the living room. Couches are more comfortable than computer chairs, and the march of technology means there’s no need to have a huge PC taking up space next to your TV – instead, the latest games can be streamed to your screen.
The Nvidia Shield TV is the perfect device for couch-based gaming. It’s a tiny, stylish Android box that takes up hardly any space in the living room – but, despite that, it can be used to stream top-end games from your GeForce GTX-powered PC to your TV.
Streaming on the Shield comes in two different flavours. The first, Nvidia GameStream, is a terrific option that streams games from your PC to the Shield box, and it’s what we’ll be explaining in this blog. The second, GeForce Now, allows you to pay a monthly fee to play games streamed directly from Nvidia’s servers.
— Let’s get you started —
Streaming games from your PC to a little box by the TV with Nvidia GameStream can sound daunting, but it’s not difficult.
Right now, more than 200 games are optimised for streaming from your PC to Nvidia’s Shield devices – including its Shield TV box and tablet – with more being added all the time. There’s a huge variety of games, too, with the gamut ranging from the latest top-tier titles to quirky indie efforts.
The Shield TV box includes the Nvidia Shield controller, and Shield-optimised games also work with keyboard and mouse – so you can use your favourite peripherals or get comfy with a smaller, wireless sofa set.
You’ll have to check system requirements before you start streaming. For starters, you’ll need one of PNY’s more powerful graphics cards: a GPU from the 900, 700 or 600-series will work as long as it’s a GTX-branded product. More affordable GT-branded cards won’t work with game streaming.
You’ll need a modern Intel or AMD processor and at least two gigabytes of memory in the host PC, and Nvidia says that your internet connection needs to have 10Mbps from the PC to the Shield box and 2Mbps going in the other direction – but faster connections will enable smoother, sharper streams.
Most people will be able to deliver sufficient bandwidth and processing power, so it really boils down to your GPU – all of PNY’s GTX-branded cards that are compatible with Nvidia GameStream can churn out 1080p playback, but only more recent cards will play the latest games without compromising on quality settings.
— Streaming with Nvidia Shield TV —
Once you’ve got your system ready, it’s time to set up GameStream – and, pleasingly, it’s surprisingly simple.
Open up Nvidia’s GeForce Experience on your host PC, then open GameStream on the Shield TV. Once you’ve logged into the same Nvidia account on both devices, the Shield box will scan for the host PC. As they’ll both be on the same wireless network, it’ll find it virtually instantly.
We connected the Shield TV to our host PC, and Steam immediately launched on both devices. Once that connection is made, numerous options are available: audio can be toggled and connectivity can be tested, and games can be optimised. Different quality options reflect the kind of connections used – there are settings for wifi, wired internet and roaming and toggles for resolutions, framerates and bit rates – with automatic adjustment available if your connection is inconsistent.
Cleverly, Valve’s app booted into Big Picture mode – the option designed for controllers rather than keyboards and mice – and the software recognised the Nvidia pad, displaying the correct buttons and names in Steam and during gameplay.
So far, so good – and playing games using Nvidia GameStream was just as impressive.
We loaded GTA V and Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor, and both made flawless starts. The games booted without delay, and both recognised the Nvidia controller – so we didn’t have to fiddle with input settings.
Gameplay was impressive, too. There was no noticeable delay in camera movement between our PNY-based test machine and our Nvidia Shield box, and mouse, keyboard and controller inputs were similarly slick – again, there was no obvious delay when playing games.
There isn’t much to choose between the test rig and Shield box when it comes to graphical output, either. Our Shield screen was a tiny bit blurrier than the host machine, but not enough to cause any disruption – or to stop us enjoying Grand Theft Auto V. We noticed the odd artefact on our streaming system during rapid movement, but nothing ruinous. It’s also worth bearing in mind that everything is subjective when using an internet connection: the better yours is, the smoother your gameplay will be.
That bodes well for the vast majority of games. The Shield’s responsiveness means that it’s possible to play single-player games, triple-A titles and casual games without problems – which, of course, accounts for the vast majority of games that will work on the Shield.
Only competitive eSports players may have issue with the Shield, but that’s understandable – they play at the margins of what’s possible, and where milliseconds decide matches and big-money prizes.
PC gaming has often been seen as a solitary pursuit, with players hunched over screens in their bedrooms, but that’s not the case anymore. Combine a PNY-powered gaming PC with the Nvidia Shield TV and you can bring the latest games downstairs and onto the couch – which makes playing your favourite titles a far more comfortable, relaxed and sociable affair.
It’s easy to get started with the Shield TV, and its performance is consistent and impressive – especially for a device that costs less than 200 €.
That’s half the price of a console, despite offering the best of both worlds: the wealth of Steam’s PC gaming library alongside the comfort and convenience of living-room gaming. If you want to use your PNY-powered gaming PC to play top games in the comfort of your living room, then look no further.
Mike Jennings, aka Fountain of Knowledge
Mike Jennings is a freelance technology journalist who has covered components, PCs, laptops and hardware for almost a decade – and he’s been a PC gamer for twenty years.