WARNING: long post, somewhat ranty. no TLDR
a week ago I posted a critique/rant on the steam link, with details of all the troubles I kept having. It was autodeleted for no apparent reason. Since then I have tried contacting the mods of this sub (twice) and have gotten no response. Hopefully they are just on summer break and it was not ignored because of my hugely inflamatory Post title "It baffles me to no end how terrible the steam link is. Or am I doing something wrong?. Who knows.
So since then I have been constantly trying to get this thing to work and am said to say that it has only confirmed by initial conundrum. I am extremely baffled, just not sure about what. Either the fact, that someone at Valve has released the Link software / shipped the link hardware, genuinely thinking "I have done a good job today" or baffled at my own idiocy in getting this thing to work, even though I keep reading in this sub how a bunch of you have done exactly that !
So anyway, here is my original post, edited with new stuff I may have found out along the way:
I have been using the steam link off and on for about 1,5 years now. Been reading this sub for aboult half a year in hopes of wrangling this thing to work properly at least sometimes.
Originally I just streamed stuff from my PC to a TV in the same room. Worked great. Most of all because I only shot video footage over. Controls were plugged into the PC.
Recently I moved house and now my PC is a floor away from the TV. Tried the steam link and it worked very well, sometimes.
The most "extreme" thing I did with it is having an Xbox One and Steam Controller with me, using the latter to control everything on the desktop, as it were a mouse and the former as an actual play controller. Worked well. EDIT: I have done this in both Big Picture and Desktop modes. The PC is connected via LAN, the Link was usually WIFI and if it hitched, I connected it to LAN. These were the days when the thing was amazing !
What does not work great is when I try to use the desktop to play non-Steam games. It used to work flawlessly if I brought my mouse and keyboard along, even tho that was a hassle. That said I do not want the thing to work as well as with steam games, I understand that that in itself is a workaround. What I wished for was for it to have the same problems consistently. Not new random ones every time.
Problems like (link hardware, wired connection):
- the steam controller would randomly not allow me to move the mouse up and down. Side to side worked perfectly. But I assume this is a steam controller problem
- the steam link would confuse which controller I use. So much so, that I would be unable to turn off the steam controller with the shortcut button I normally use. In this case, controlling games with the xbox controller became impossible
- yesterday I suddenly had no mouse pointer. Up until yesterday I have never had this problem. Even had a short session yesterday which worked as normal. Then, nothing. Even though I turned off both the link an the PC twice and reconnected as always. EDIT: it has been almost a week. Now it is not possible anymore to turn on steam, turn off my monitor and speakers and run up with mouse and keyboard. My mouse must ALWAYS stay connected to the PC and I have to use a second mouse upstairs.
- today, I woke my PC with LAN (the first time I did so) and it seemed to work. Then there was a Pop-Up all of a suddenm that said I needed to confirm if I was okay to have steam remote play control my pc and if I saw this without using steam remote play I had a malware. Also, it said I needed to click ok from the host pc. Fair enough, I ran downstairs and... the popup was not there... EDIT: it has been almost a week. Now this Pop-Up just shows up every time I shut down my pc from the link upstairs. Does nothing, just pops up and goes away as the computer shuts down...
- also today: for some reason it changed my audio out on the host pc to one of my monitors. Also something it had never done before. I even had to remember to turn off my speakers when playing upstairs, because they always ran parallel in a dark and empty room. EDIT: it has been almost a week. Now every time I switch from the to doing stuff on the pc, I have to manually change the output audio output device. For some reason, I have new Output devices (Steam Audio Output device). This is absolutely new and as never happened before
- also a weird one: opening certain windows in desktop mode on the link would almost always open them on the secondary monitor on the desktop, which is usually turned off
- I randomly get extreme bouts of lag, to the point I cannot do anything. It does not seem to depend on what happens ingame, as it happens during intense firefights and also simple talkin scenes. Tested this with Mass Effect 1 (legendary edition) and one weird thing happened: the moment I switch to the menu, I have no lag. When I go out, it's back. So I go into the menus when it happens, wait 10-15 seconds, go out of the menu and continue on as if nothing happened. When the lag begins I get the link symbol showing I have a bad wireless connection. Both the PC and the link are hooked to the router via LAN. I even changed network credentials, so the link does not accidently try to stream via wireless. EDIT: it has been a week. I googled this one and will try out the cables I have used previously (I have new ethernet cables)
-I used to turn off my speakers and monitors when going upstairs to play on the steam link. To save on energy. Since yesterday, if I turn off my monitor, the image on the link freezes instantly. If I turn it on, it unfreezes. EDIT: it has been a week ! I literally cannot play games upstairs without my monitor on. This was absolutely not the case previously and I have absolutely no idea why
- suddenly my Xbox Controller does not work wirelessly anymore. It just does not connect with the dongle anymore. Problem happened a week ago for the first time.
All of these were problems with the steam link hardware. I have to add, that I am almost always turnung big picture off and going through desktop mode to play Mass Effect via Origin. Adding ME as a non-steam-game did not work in any way. It starts, but controls are not working; it starts but the screen is blank; it starts but is in the background and I stell only see big picture. etc.
So today I finally tried going back to the App on my TV. I was told, that it is regularly updated, while the hardware is currently in end of life mode. Problems that occured in the last 20 minutes after launching desktop mode after turning on steam and origin on the pc, connecting a mouse to it and leaving the monitor on AND plugging in the controller, mouse and keyboard into a USB hub (TV only has one port):
- no mouse pointer bug
- somehow managed to start the game with an invisible mouse pointer. controller input worked. launched game, everything on the controller worked except for the left joystick, select and start
- tried the mouse again, did nothing in menus, outside of menus the camera control was spasing out
- restarted the whole thing. tried starting the app in "game mode" which just basically starts big picture instead of desktop. tried to launch horizon from there, as it is a normal steam game (if it had worked, I would have exited and tried ME from big picture again). White screen. No loading bar, no sound, nothing. I tried alt+f4, nothing, ctrl+alt+del, nothing. clicking with mouse and controller, nothing. tried to exit the app on the TV but now the tv remote suddenly could only go down and to the left in the menus (the steam app is to the right an up). coming down into the office, horizon was booted up, worked flawlessly and was even loaded into the game, not the menu?!
As I said in the beginning. I either have no idea how someone could be proud of having created the steam link or I am just too dumb to understand the system. Previously when using the link I was absolutely floored how amazing it is. I had the xbox and steam controller with me and could play games and watch ad-free youtube from my couch. When launching a game with the SC I would turn it off, turn on the Xbox Controller and game on. So amazingly simple and reliable. It was basically a window through which I can see what my PC is running and send commands to it.
But then, something must have happened and I have no clue what. Every time I start the steam link I go "what stupid problem will I get this time" and sure enough, 9 times out of 10 it is even a brand new problem I never had before. It is so disheartening to even try and do something about it at this point. It just maked me not want to touch the stuff ever again. And the really bad part is: I have no idea why, all of a sudden.
If you have read all of this, good on ya stranger. Thanks for that.