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Valve has released In-Home Streaming to all Steam users. This new feature allows gamers with multiple computers in their home to easily access their Steam library.
Steam already let users download their games to several computer. They could also start their game on one computer and continue it on another thanks to cloud saves. In-Home Streaming makes this process even simpler, though.
"When you login to Steam on two computers on the same network, they automatically connect, allowing you to remotely install, launch, and play games as though you were sitting at the remote PC," Valve explains on the In-Home Streaming website. "Steam In-Home Streaming allows you to play your PC games on a lower-end computer, such as a laptop or home theater PC, or a computer running another operating system, such as Mac OS X, SteamOS, or Linux."
In other words, your main PC does all the heavy lifting. It processes the game and then transmits the audio and video to your other computer so you can play it there. The crappier computer then sends back input information from your keyboard, mouse or gamepad. The game doesn't need to be downloaded or installed on the second computer at all.
This opens up a lot of interesting possibilities. You could play Dark Souls 2 on your laptop and sneak in a few more deaths before bed. Or you could steam the game to a home theater PC and play it on your living room TV.
The performance of the streaming will depend on the specs of your hardware. They recommend at least a quad-core CPU for the PC running the computer. The computer accepting the stream should have a GPU that supports hardware accelerated H264 decoding. You can improve the performance of the stream by lowering the game's resolution or turning off v-sync.
Your network can also affect the quality of In-Home Streaming. While beta users have used the streaming over powerline and wireless networks, Valve recommends a wired network.
"In the In-Home Streaming settings you can change a number of things that can affect your experience," reads the official guide to In-Home Streaming. "You can change your preference for speed vs quality, limit the network bandwidth, and adjust the maximum capture resolution."
Valve notes that you can also stream non-Steam games that you have in your library. It's not officially supported so that can't guarantee it will work, though.