If you want to stream PC games to your NVIDIA Shield TV, NVIDIA recommends using Steam Link. And while it’s not the only option available, Steam Link can be a worthy replacement for the now-defunct GameStream service.
In this article, we explain everything you need to know about Steam Link and how to use it to stream games to an NVIDIA Shield TV.
What is Steam Link?
First, let’s clarify what we are talking about when we refer to the Steam Link. We’re not referring to the hardware variant of Steam Link, which was discontinued in 2018 and replaced with the Steam Link app.
When we refer to Steam Link in this guide, we mean the app, not the hardware. With that clarification out of the way, how does it all work?
Steam Link streams games from your gaming PC to the device you want to stream to (in our case, your Shield TV) by connecting a connection between the two. Setup is straightforward, though you may encounter warnings once you try to stream. But more on that later.
It’s a decent option when you want to stream PC games to your Shield TV, especially with NVIDIA discontinuing GameStream. Although you will be limited to the Steam ecosystem, you can still play games from other digital marketplaces by adding non-Steam games to your Steam library.
How to install and configure Steam Link on NVIDIA Shield TV
Open the Play Store app on your Shield TV, search for “Steam Link”. and then select Install > Open > Allow.
Now, Steam Link will search for PCs that are currently running Steam. In most cases, your PC will be found automatically. If not, you’ll have to manually add the PC (more on that in a bit).
Now, let’s connect the connection between your gaming PC and Shield TV. That’s how:
- Select the gaming PC you want to connect to.
- Choose Start to play.
- Take note of the four-digit PIN that appears.
- Go to the gaming PC you want to connect to and enter the code in the blank field.
- Select Confirm.
If you have more than one gaming PC running Steam on your home network and you want to connect another connection to your Shield TV, select settings and later Computer to see all PCs found by Steam Link. Select a computer you want to use Steam from, then select Start to play to join another connection.
That’s it! But what can you do if Steam Link can’t find your gaming PC on your home network? That’s an easy fix, so read below.
What to do if Steam Link can’t find your PC
If Steam Link can’t find the PC from which you want to stream games to your Shield TV, go to Settings > Computer > Rescan to see if it can be found a second time. But if the Steam Link app still can’t find your gaming PC, you’ll need to add it manually.
Fortunately, Steam Link also makes this process simple. So, follow these simple instructions:
- Go to Settings > Computer.
- Now select another computer in the background.
- Take note of the four-digit PIN.
Open the Steam client on the gaming PC you want to stream from. Now click on Steam > Settingsand go to remote playback in the left pane.
Enter the four-digit PIN and select Confirm as we did in the previous example. If successful, the Steam Link app will establish a connection between the PC and your Shield TV.
Connecting a controller to the Shield TV
Android and iOS users may already know that they don’t necessarily need to connect a controller if they want to stream their PC titles to their mobile devices. But since the goal is to stream PC games to the Shield TV, we don’t have that option. So, we’ll need to pair a Bluetooth controller with your Shield TV.
You can skip this step if you have done it in the past. For everyone else, you have two options:
- Pairing a Steam Controller with the Shield TV.
- Pairing with other controllers, such as DualSense and Xbox Series X/S controllers.
For the few who still have a Steam Controller and want to pair it with the Shield TV, please update the Steam Controller’s firmware first. To do this:
- Open Steam on your PC where the Steam Controller is paired.
- Click on View and choose big picture mode from the drop down menu.
- Now, follow the instructions on the screen to update the firmware if an update is available.
- Turn off the Steam Controller by holding down the Steam button.
To pair any Bluetooth controller with your Shield TV, including the Steam Controller, please follow the instructions below:
- Select settings and choose Remote controls and accessories.
- Press and hold the pairing button on your controller.
- Select Add Bluetooth accessories.
- Using your Shield TV remote, choose the controller you are pairing with.
- Select Pair.
To unpair a controller from Shield TV, go to Settings > Remotes and accessories and scroll to the bottom of the list to find your connected controller under the paired devices section. Select the controller, then choose unpair.
Steam Link Latency Troubleshooting
Although not everyone will experience latency issues with Steam Link, it is a common problem. Unfortunately, latency issues can occur for any number of reasons. If you are getting unwanted bandwidth speeds through Steam Link, please run a bandwidth test on the PC you want to stream to your Shield TV. You can do this within the Steam Link.
Select Settings > Streaming > Network test. Enter the four-digit PIN on the gaming PC you want to stream to the Shield TV, then select Confirm to perform a speed test.
If your connection is crawling at a crawl, consider connecting your gaming PC to an Ethernet port on your home network. Alternatively, switch your PC from 2.4GHz to 5GHz.
Additionally, you can enable hardware encoding to minimize latency issues by opening the Steam client on your PC and going to Steam > Settings > Remote Play > Advanced Host Options > Enable hardware encryption > OK.
While you are in the Steam client, this is a good time to adjust the streaming quality of your gaming PC. To return to settingsthen select remote playback. look for the section Client Options Streaming to This Computer at the end of the page. You will find three options: Fast, Balanced, and Beautiful.
By default, Steam sets this to Balancedbut if your connection is slow, make sure to choose Fast.
Steam Link is the next best option for GameStream
Steam Link isn’t perfect, and it might make you feel nostalgic for the days when you could stream from your gaming PC to your Shield TV via NVIDIA’s GameStream service.
Still, it’s arguably the easiest solution for streaming your PC games to the Shield TV. If you have a few minutes to spare, follow our guide and see if Steam Link streams optimally on your home network.