If you want to stream PC games to NVIDIA Shield TV, NVIDIA recommends using Steam Link. And while it’s not the only option available, Steam Link could 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’re talking about when we refer to 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’re referring to 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 bridging the two. Setup is easy, although you may encounter warnings when 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’ll 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 the PCs running Steam. In most cases, your PC will be found automatically. If not, you’ll need to add your PC manually (more on that in a moment).
Now let’s build a bridge between the gaming PC and the Shield TV. This is how:
- Select the gaming PC you want to connect.
- Select Start playing.
- Note the four-digit PIN that appears.
- Go to the gaming PC you want to connect 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 want to connect another connection to the Shield TV, choose Settings and then Computer to see every PC found by Steam Link. Select a computer you want to steam from and then select Start playing to bridge another connection.
That’s it! But what can you do if Steam Link can’t find your gaming PC on your home network? There is a simple solution, so read below.
What to do if Steam Link can’t find your PC
If Steam Link can’t find the PC you want to stream games from to your Shield TV, go to Settings > Computer > Rescan to see if it can be found again. However, 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 easy. Then follow these simple instructions:
- Go to Settings > Computer.
- Choose now Other computer at the bottom.
- Note the four-digit PIN code.
Open the Steam client on the gaming PC you want to stream from. Now, click on Steam > Settingsand go to Remote play on the left lane.
Enter the four-digit PIN code and select Confirm as we did in the previous example. If successful, the Steam Link app will bridge the gap between your PC and Shield TV.
Connect a controller to 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 Shield TV, we don’t have that option. So we need to connect a Bluetooth controller to your Shield TV.
You can skip this step if you have done this before. For everyone else, you have two options:
- Pair a Steam controller with Shield TV.
- Pair other controllers, such as DualSense and Xbox Series X/S controllers.
For the few who still own a Steam controller and want to pair it to the Shield TV, you’ll need to update your Steam controller’s firmware first. To do this:
- Open Steam on your PC where the Steam controller is paired.
- click on View and choose Large picture mode from the drop-down menu.
- Now follow the on-screen instructions to update the firmware if an update is available.
- Turn off the Steam controller by holding down Steam button.
To pair any Bluetooth controller to the Shield TV, including the Steam controller, follow the instructions below:
- Select Settings and choose Remote controls and accessories.
- Hold the pairing button on the controller.
- Select Add Bluetooth accessories.
- Use the Shield TV remote to select the controller you’re pairing.
- Select Couple.
To disconnect a controller from Shield TV, go to Settings > Remotes and accessories and scroll to the bottom of the list to find the connected controller below Connected devices section. Select the controller, then select Disconnect from each other.
Troubleshooting Steam Link Latency Issues
While not everyone will experience lag issues with Steam Link, it is a common problem. Unfortunately, lag issues can occur for a number of reasons. If you’re getting unwanted bandwidth speeds via Steam Link, run a bandwidth test on the PC you want to stream to your Shield TV. You can do this in the Steam Link itself.
Select Settings > Streaming > Network test. Enter the four-digit PIN on the gaming PC you want to stream to your Shield TV, then select Confirm to conduct a speed test.
If your connection crawls at a turtle’s pace, consider connecting your gaming PC to an Ethernet port on your home network. Alternatively, you can switch your PC from 2.4 GHz to 5 GHz.
Additionally, you can enable hardware encoding to minimize latency by opening the Steam client on your PC and going to Steam > Settings > Remote Play > Advanced Host Options > Enable hardware encoding > OK.
While you’re on the Steam client, it’s a good time to adjust the power quality on your gaming PC. Back to Settingsand then select Remote play. Look for the section Client options flow to this computer at the bottom of the page. You will find three choices: Fast, Balanced and Beautiful.
By default, Steam sets this to Balancedbut if your connection is slow, make sure you choose Fast.
Steam Link is the second best to 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 by far the easiest solution for streaming your PC games to Shield TV. If you have a few minutes to spare, follow our guide and see if Steam Link is streaming optimally on your home network.