Do you enjoy playing on PC but would rather play your games somewhere that isn't in front of your monitor? Do you want to play party games with your friends but they all live far away?
Well, Valve has tried to solve these issues by releasing two apps, Steam Remote Play and Steam Link Anywhere. The former lets you play local party games over the internet with your buddies by streaming your game to their machine. The latter also streams your games, but to other devices, like a smart TV or your phone.
Both these options are a great way to improve your PC gaming experience, with one small issue. They require quite a potent internet connection and use a lot of data. Streaming games is no easy feat, after all.
What speed does your internet need to have to use Remote Play or Steam Link effectively?
The connection you need depends on the game that you are trying to stream, more complex games with advanced graphics will need more than simple, pixelated ones. Both for Remote Play Anywhere and Steam Link, the bare minimum is a connection of 3 Mbps, but modern games usually require around 10 Mbps, while the more demanding titles can reach up to 25 to 30 Mbps.
This has to be your upload speed as well as your download speed. Some internet providers have different download and upload speeds in their plans, so while you might be paying for a 10 Mbps connection, the fine print might say that your upload speed is only 1 Mpbs.
Most people don't need to upload that much data, so it´s not an issue most of the time. However, you will be streaming a game when you use either of these apps, so your connection must be able to transmit all the game data to the other machines.
Remember that for Remote Play to work, both you and your buddy must have the aforementioned speed to handle the game. This is not so much the case with Steam Link Anywhere.
Speaking of, these speed recommendations are only relevant when you use Steam Link Anywhere over the internet and not your home network. If you are using your home network, then your internet connection shouldn't matter at all, because you are transmitting directly between your computer and your TV/phone/tablet.
In that case, your router is the one that has to be able to handle transmitting up to 50 Mbps, if you are using wifi. If on the other hand, you are using the app to stream to somewhere far away or not connected to a home network, then you will use your internet data.
This is why Valve recommends using a wired network and not wi-fi, it can be quite demanding to be both uploading and downloading 10 Mbps a second over the cloud. And if you are using a 4K streaming device like the Nvidia Shield to play on your TV, then you also need an extra robust connection.
Now, if you are just barely in the speed limit in either case, lowering the graphical quality of the game will help. More complex graphics equals more information to send, so if the game looks like a 16-bit potato, your internet should have no trouble streaming it.
How much data do Steam Link and Remote Play use?
If your internet plan isn´t unlimited, then this is a pretty important question. Can you even stream a game without running out of Gigabytes?
Well, let´s do the math. Mbps stands for megabits per second, it represents the number of bits that are transferred from/to the internet each second. While that is good to know, computers don´t measure storage capacity in bits, but rather in bytes (yes, this can get confusing). Eight bits are equal to one byte.
To make matters more confusing, most internet plans express their caps in Gigabytes, which in turn have a thousand megabytes each. So, in other words, 1 Mbps is equal to using 0.125 Megabytes each second.
With this conversion rate, we can calculate how much data your internet uses. If you are playing a game that requires a 10 Mbps connection, you will end up using 1.25 Megabytes each second or 4.5 Gigabytes per hour.
For high-end games that require 25 Mbps to stream across Steam Link or Remote Play, you will need 3.12 MB per second or 11 GB per hour. Low-end games that only need 3 Mbps will only use 0.37 MB/s or 1.3 GB per hour.
As you can see, this is quite the data use, and you will cap out most internet plans in just a few days of streaming through these apps.
If you want to make the calculations yourself, just divide your Mbps speed by 8 and then multiply by 3600 (60 seconds per 60 minutes) to know how many GB you will use each hour.
And that´s it, hopefully, this article has been helpful to you. If you are interested in other tricks of using the Steam Link app, check out how to turn your smartphone into a controller for Steam or just use one of the Steam Link compatible gamepads. And if you want a more detailed guide on how to actually connect Steam to your phone, we have one here.