Do you want to play your favorite PC games on your main TV? With that huge library of games, using a Windows, macOS, or Linux computer like a quasi-games console makes sense. Especially given that the controllers for your favorite games consoles are compatible with desktop operating systems.
But there’s often a problem: your PC is in one room, and your TV is in another. Running a long HDMI cable between the rooms is impractical. The answer is to stream games from your computer to your TV across your home network.
Use these methods to stream PC games to TV.
Stream from PC to a TV in Any Room
You currently have five options to stream video games from a desktop or laptop computer to TV:
- A Miracast and wireless HDMI
- Cast games to a TV with Chromecast
- Stream games to TV with Nvidia GameStream
- Build a DIY Raspberry Pi Steam Link box to stream games from PC to TV
- Stream your PC game to a Smart TV or set-top box
We’ve listed these in ascending order of effectiveness. So, while using a Miracast dongle will let you stream a PC game to your TV, it won’t be as responsive as Nvidia GameStream or Steam remote play.
1. Stream Games to TV With Miracast and Wireless HDMI
You’ll find several wireless HDMI systems available that are compatible with desktop operating systems. Wireless HDMI enables the transmission of audio and video signals between two devices, making other technologies in this list possible.
Early wireless HDMI devices (such as those using Intel’s WiDi and AMD Wireless Display) have been superseded by Miracast. Miracast is the standard for wireless connections. With support for Windows, you can stream games from your PC or laptop to your TV via a compatible dongle.
Several smart TV manufacturers also include Miracast support. As such, you might even be able to stream games to your TV without spending money on a Miracast dongle. If you need a dongle, they’re generally available for under $100.
2. Cast a PC Game to TV via Chromecast
If your PC and Google Chromecast are connected to the same network, you can cast your desktop to your TV. Whatever is running on your computer – including games – can be cast to the TV.
For this to work you need to be using the Google Chrome browser on the computer in question. This should be signed into using the same account attached to the Chromecast device. To do this:
- Switch on your TV
- Select the HDMI input the Chromecast is connected to
- On your PC, load the Chrome browser and check you’re signed in
- Now minimize the browser window
- Launch the game you wish to cast to TV
- Switch back to the Chrome browser and open the menu
- Select Cast
- In the pop-up box click the Sources dropdown and select Desktop
- Click the Chromecast device name to start casting
- To finish, click the Cast button in the browser to disconnect
The benefit of this method is that it works on any system that runs Google Chrome. However, it is not without its flaws.
As effortless as this method is for casting games from a computer to your TV, the lag is terrible. Even casting a mouse driven strategy game on a 5GHz wireless network to a Chromecast Ultra connected to Ethernet results in a notable lag.
In short, Chromecast is fine for spectators, but less effective for gamers.
3. How to Stream PC Games to TV With Nvidia GameStream
For a more playable way to stream games from PC to your TV, consider the Nvidia Shield TV.
Utilizing Nvidia GameStream, this is effective, but does rely on your PC having a suitable Nvidia GTX series GPU. But with your Nvidia Shield TV connected to the same network as your PC, game streaming can commence.
This solution lets you play games you have in Steam on TV via the Nvidia Shield TV, as well as those installed independently on your PC.
4. Use Steam Link to Stream PC Games to a TV
A feature of the gaming distribution service Steam, Steam Link can be used to stream games to a compatible device.
Every game in the Steam library can be streamed using Steam Link, creating your own virtual games console.
- Start by opening Steam on your PC.
- Open Steam > Settings
- Select Remote Play then check Enable Remote Play
At this stage you’ll be ready to pair a Steam Link-compatible device – but what will you use? Some Smart TVs and set-top boxes are compatible with Steam’s remote play feature (see below) but if you don’t have these, you can use an affordable Raspberry Pi computer. For under $50 you can buy a computer that can be connected to your TV as a dedicated Steam Link box.
The alternative is a Steam Link box. However, as discontinued devices, these are rare and incredibly expensive.
Whatever you use, when it’s set up and ready you’ll need to pair the Steam Link device to your PC. To do this:
- In Steam > Settings > Remote Play click Pair Steam Link
- On the remote device, go to Settings > Computer
- Here, select your gaming PC (use Rescan if it doesn’t appear)
- Return to the Steam Link screen and tap Start Playing
- The remote device will display a PIN so enter this in Steam on your PC when prompted
- The connection will then be established and you’ll be able to play Steam games on your TV
Make sure you have a game controller connected to your Steam Link. For the best results, ensure your Steam Link box is connected to your network router with an Ethernet cable.
5. Use Steam Remote Play on Your TV
Want to know how to play Steam games on a TV without additional hardware?
With a PC running Steam, you can cast PC games to a Smart TV or any device using Apple TV or Android TV.
Big name Smart TV manufacturers like Sony and Samsung offer Steam Link among the apps. If yours doesn’t, then you can use Apple TV or Android TV boxes instead.
Whichever method you use, start by following the steps above to configure Steam for streaming. Once this is done, install Steam Link on your Smart TV or on your Apple TV or Android TV box.
Download: Steam Link for AppleTV (tvOS) | Android TV (Free)
You now know how to cast steam games and play them on a TV. With a game controller paired to your PC over Bluetooth, it’s time to enjoy yourself.
What Is the Best Way to Stream PC Games to TV?
With so many options to stream or cast PC games to your TV, Steam is the most usable. If you’re on a budget and own a Smart TV, Apple TV, or Android TV box, this method seems most suitable.
If you prefer to be in complete control of your hardware, meanwhile, building a Steam Link box with Raspberry Pi would be more appropriate.
While Miracast and Chromecast dongles are good for spectating, they’re not great for actual gaming. You can’t, for example, reliably cast Steam games to TV. Meanwhile, if you’re already using Nvidia Shield TV, you have a ready-made solution.
Here’s everything you need to know about playing PC and console games on almost any device in your home.
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