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on May 31, 2016
Before anyone considers this product, I think it is more important to know what is ISN'T before you talk about what it is. There are tons of reviews online that go over exactly what the Steam Link is and what it can and cannot do. I'll try not to repeat too much of what is already widely described out there, but the single most important thing that you must know about the Steam Link is:

The Steam Link is not a gaming console!

The Steam Link is also not an all-in-one solution to gaming on Windows. Many people do not like playing games on a Windows PC because the experience is not as streamlined as a console. You need to install apps, load updates, sometimes hardware doesn't always work correctly, sometimes Windows gets in the way and pops you out of your game. All of these scenarios can still happen with the Steam Link which can be annoying if the gaming PC is in another room to where you are using the Steam Link. You may need to get up, walk over to the PC and press ENTER for something to go away.

The Steam Link is an accessory to a gaming PC which allows you to stream your screen to a display device like a HDTV somewhere else on your network. There are a couple of prerequisites that you must already have before this device will be useful for you. They are:

A Gaming PC - You must already have a gaming PC that can play games at an acceptable frame rate. If your PC has an under powered CPU or GPU, the Steam Link will not improve upon it.

An Ethernet Network - Although some reviews say that this device will work with a wireless adapter, this is a very bad idea IMO. Anytime you stream anything, whether its a game, movie, or anything, you should never do it over wireless. The speeds simply can't support it properly. Yes, it will work, and it might even work "acceptably", but for the serious gamer who wants high frame rates and instant response, this is a no-go. If you cannot get wired ethernet to both where your gaming PC is and where you plan on using the Steam Link, I would not buy this product.

Console Gaming Pads - The Steam Link is often pictured with the Steam controller because Valve makes both products and of course they want to sell them to you. While the Steam controller has it's merits, I personally do not like it. There is a large list of controllers that the Steam Link is fully compatible with including the Xbox 360 wired and wireless controllers, Xbox One controller, and PS4 controllers. There are more, but if you want to see the whole list, you can find it online. For me, I used my 6 year old Xbox 360 controllers with a Microsoft USB wireless adapter and they work FLAWLESSLY.

Steam Games - It should probably go without staying that a product called the Steam Link, requires Steam. You must have Steam loaded and running on your Gaming PC before you can use this device as it needs to connect to your Steam library on the gaming PC. If you hate Steam and their DRM, then stay away from this product. If you have non-Steam games installed on the same PC, you must first manually add them to your Steam library first. Not every non-Steam game works smoothly when added into Steam, so be sure the game works properly on the PC itself before trying it with the Steam Link.

So, assuming you have an adequately powerful gaming PC, a wired ethernet network, one or more compatible gaming controllers, a Steam library, and a need to play your PC games on a television or display device that is far away from your PC, then this is the product for you!

What the Steam link does is actually quite simple. When launched, it puts your PC in "Big Picture" mode, which in essence changes the display on the PC so that things are larger and easier to use on a television in a living room. Everything the Steam Link shows is actually happening on the PC itself. The Steam Link basically "mirrors" whats on your PC screen onto your HDTV. It is important to understand that everything you "see" is actually happening on the PC which means that someone else cannot be working on the PC browsing the web while you are playing a game. When the Steam Link is working, the PC cannot be used for other tasks (background apps still work fine though).

Windows has come along way in terms of being game friendly, but the occasional Windows system update, or a random application notification can pull you out of the game which means you have to walk back to the PC to acknowledge whatever came up and go back to the game. Depending on your level of PC knowledge, you may want to disable Windows Updates or certain apps while playing. The Steam Link does an EXCELLENT job of mimicking a console in on a HDTV, but it still is not a console.

The device itself is very small. Its about the size of a USB external hard drive. It has absolutely no lights on it whatsoever. Valve was clearly going for a minimalist design, but I would have appreciated at least a tiny LED to let you know it's on.

There are 3 USB ports on the device for various controllers. I believe you can even connect a mouse and keyboard to the Steam Link, but I haven't actually tried it. Other than the USB ports, there is a HDMI port, an Ethernet port, and the power cord port and that's all. The device tucks in nicely behind your TV, so it can be completely out of sight.

The UI is pretty simple and straightforward. When powered on, it immediately searches your network for a PC running Steam. On mine, it found my gaming PC immediately. The first time it connected, it automatically updated it's firmware on it's own. It also detected the proper resolution of my Sony HDTV and my Xbox 360 controllers. There was literally no setup other than turning the device on and waiting for it to update.

Once everything was updated, I connected to my Steam library and was able to browse my library. The UI is designed to be readable from "couch distance". Everything is large and bright and easy to see. Valve did a great job with the UI as everything was intuitive and unobtrusive.

In terms of performance, I did not do any actual benchmarks, but I played a variety of racing and FPS shooters and I noticed no perceptible screen lag. My gaming experience was just as good as if I was sitting in front of the PC itself. Some reviews note a 10% loss in framerate, which may be true, but my PC is powerful enough that I couldn't see it.

I did notice some occasional artifacting in fast motion sequences, but it was no worse than the type of artifacting you see in some low bitrate fast motion video. It was barely noticeable and by no means compromised the gaming experience for me.

Simply, the experience was good enough that if you were to invite your friends over and just start playing a game and not told them what kind of device you were using, they would have no idea that you didn't have an actual console somewhere behind the TV.

Overall, I am extremely happy with the Steam Link. The fact that this thing costs only $50 is amazing to me. It would cost that much to get a very long HDMI cable and run it from a PC in another room to your TV. The fact that its a nicely designed piece of hardware with a great UI and it integrates seamlessly into your Steam library and is compatible with almost any modern gaming controller is one heck of a value!

As I said earlier in this review, it is very important to know what this device is not before you buy it. Assuming you meet all of the prerequisites to make it work, this is hands down, one of the best piece of consumer electronics I have ever used.
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on November 16, 2015
The Steam Link is a decent product that does more than people realize. On the surface it allows you to connect your PC to your TV over a wireless connection. It then connects to your TV via HDMI. Honestly there are other items that can do this and some of them go far beyond steam.

Valve recommends that you use one of their controllers or connect some hardware via the USB ports on this unit. That is where some people walk away from this product. First - there are people who really don't like the Steam controller. Second - why would I want to connect a wired product to this? The whole point is to connect your PC without wires.

Here is what Steam does not tell you:

1 - Most wireless keyboard / mouse units work just fine with the Link.
2 - Most bluetooth hardware works with the Link.

What does that mean?

Most of your wireless hardware will work with the Link, including...the PS4 controller.

Yes if you want to use a great controller that does not need dongle, you can get the PS4 controller up and running. To do it, use another wired or dongle item to navigate the Link menus to the Bluetooth options. Kick on the pairing. Hold the "Share" button on your PS4 controller until it shows up on your Link. Pick it on the Link. Done!

It works great. The only real functionality loss is the rumble feature. If that's a big deal then you might want to try a different solution.

Overall the Link does more than Valve lets on. You can use far more than Steam hardware or wired hardware with it.
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on March 11, 2017
I'm impressed. I picked this up on sale for $20. I've had my eye on one for about a year now, but never could bring myself to spend the $60 I saw it advertised as. Main reason being I've read countless reviews expressing lag concerns. I cannot put up with that. So, when I saw $20, I figured why not try it out. I got everything setup, linked my Steam account, bought a Razer Turret to use with it, and sat down ready to play. I'm not saying I have to play Counter-Strike, but maybe some good single player stuff. I get everything going, and there is a good half second delay. Just enough to aggravate the hell out of me. I was upset. I hardwired everything! PC, Steam Link, I got an awesome ASUS router... I performed a ping test and found 2ms. I began blaming the keyboard I picked up. I was ready to return everything. Then I figured I'd check one more setting. My TV. It wasn't in game mode... I switched it over and tried it again. No lag at all! I actually can play Counter-Strike competitively! AND I can set my graphics to beautiful! I couldn't believe it! I should have bought one of these sooner! If you have lag issues, PLEASE check your TV setting. It made a huge difference!!!

TL;DR: Had lag at first, adjusted TV setting to game mode, can play Steam Link with 0 lag.

As an additional recommendation, check out the Razer Turret. I see a lot of negative reviews, but it works great for me. And the beauty of Amazon, if it doesn't work for you, just return it!
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on February 21, 2017
Streams games in 1080P from PC to livingroom TV. Need to spend a LOT more to get Nvidia Shield to attempt to stream games in 4k. Not worth it, as my TV (Samsung KS8000) upconverts 1080P well. Long story short: $20 gets me livingroom gaming without an ugly wire dangling across the floor like a snake.
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on July 5, 2016
A lot of the other reviews went super in depth about what this thing does and I got it based on those reviews but i wanted to offer a little insight as to how i used this and what I ended up doing.

I wanted something i could stream or cast from my work PC to a regular tv i had set up a little ways away. I initially was trying to "screen cast" with windows 10 but could never get it to work. I found the steam link which does exactly what it says: it basically streams a mirror of whatever PC it's connected to, to another TV.

I used it for a few months and it surely did what it said, I did have some issues of games not going the width of the tv, My resolution on my monitor that the PC is connected to is different than my television so some games would not span the entire width of my TV. Also, this thing is virtually useless unless it's hard wired, which can be a bit of a pain to run an ethernet wire and almost defeats the purpose of it. Basically this gives you the steam interface in Big Picture mode when you boot it up.

What I ended up doing was just getting some extra parts and building an actual portable gaming PC to just connect directly to my TV. For me it works out better than the steam link. I honestly wondered if just connecting an extra long HDMI cable to the TV would be just as good as using the steam link.
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on March 27, 2017
I'm using it wirelessly, there is noticeable lag when using it wirelessly paired with a R7000. Occasionally the streaming video will pause and everything runs again. Not good for playing FPS/Fighting games where responsive input matters. It works great for more casual / adventure games where you don't care about lag as much. Its also good for mirroring your computer desktop to a big screen tv. You can minimize big picture mode and see your desktop. It will display whatever your pc sees onto the tv. You can play other non steam games, watch video, youtube, or whatever.

You can plug in a usb mouse, keyboard, or steam controller dongle. All can work fine. Unfortunately you can't plug in a ps4 bluetooth dongle. I couldn't get the ps4 controller to pair to it when it was plugged into the link. The ps4 bluetooth dongle has to be plugged into the pc. I could however mirror the ps4 remote play app on the windows desktop to the tv using the steam link. although this introduces more latency, but it is possible.
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on March 19, 2017
I'm not going to bother with an in-depth review at the moment, but I've been loving my Steam Link. I've found myself playing games I haven't played in a long time now that I can enjoy them on the couch, without the hassle of connecting cables or hauling out keyboards (I have the controller as well).

I hard-wired mine, so I can't speak to the quality over wireless, but I have no noticeable input, audio or visual lag. I have the same gaming experience as I would have sitting at my machine. They don't make it hard to exit the Steam interface, either - you won't have any problems going to the desktop and running whatever you want. This really is a great piece of hardware, I highly recommend it.
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on May 16, 2017
Works exactly like it should. I love being able to play my PC games on my TV. I think only those with a good eye will notice any sort of visual loss. None of my friends can see any quality drop and I only see it when I actually am looking for a decrease in quality. However, because I'm lost in the game, I typically wouldn't ever notice as the decrease is very small. It's basically the difference between running a game yourself or watching it on YouTube (basically just from the bitrate speed).

Gameplay doesn't seem to have any input lag when using a wired 360 controller even when playing action intensive games like Nier: Automata.

However, ABSOLUTELY make sure you use an ethernet cable. No matter what I did there was always lots of lag when trying to stream over Wifi.
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on June 26, 2017
When the Link went on sale, it was all I could do not to buy it. Apparently, that wasn't enough. Now I am the proud owner of a Steam Link, because let's be real - if I can get this to stream my desktop, I'll have absolutely no reason to purchase any other type of streaming device.

Here's what I found inside the package:
Steam Link
Power adapter - maybe 2 meters?
HDMI cable - maybe 2 meters?
Ethernet cable - I used my own, so I can't say how long it is
Three different power adapters, which is pretty sweet since I can use these when I travel (not the Link though, that's silly)

Setting it up was obnoxiously easy. I wired it into the same network that my desktop is on. On connecting it to the TV and booting it up, it updated itself quickly and insisted I connect a controller. After connecting my PS4 controller, it immediately found my desktop and connected to it, pulling up Big Picture Mode. I tweaked some settings (unlimited bandwidth, beautiful quality, Nvidia NVENC recording) and was good to go. Fortunately, with a wired connection, the latency was very low. I had an average network latency of 2-4 ms, and with a controller, the latency was noticeable, but not particularly significant. I would honestly argue that the majority of the latency actually came from the TV, rather than the Link and the network connection.

In terms of gaming, the Link was successful. The latency was high enough that I wouldn't play a twitch shooter or a technical fighter, but again I believe this is more the result of the TV than the system. Picture quality was very high with the wired connection: before increasing bandwidth, the images looked slightly compressed, but with unlimited bandwidth and "beautiful" settings, it looked almost as if I had connected the desktop directly to the screen. Unfortunately, there was some slight compression which was noticeable, but overall if you want to play on the TV from your desktop, and can't be bothered to purchase a massive HDMI cable, the Link does a fantastic job.
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I bought this so I can occasionally play Steam PC games on my TV.

— CONNECTING —
Connecting things together is relatively easy. Plug it in for power, and attach the HDMI cable from the Steam Link to your TV. However, once it powers on, there are two things you need to control the Steam Link: a compatible Steam controller, or a keyboard/mouse. I had to find a spare mouse just for this machine. I have an Xbox One wireless controller, but, I couldn't use it to navigate the interface until *after* I connected a mouse/or keyboard and told it to start streaming from my computer. This is why I have reduced it one star, because I can't control the box immediately.

However, you can wake up and control the Link if you use a Steam controller or a Steam wireless receiver (with a compatible controller). Because of course they want you to use their ecosystem; it's just good business.

UPDATE: After some further research, there is an app you can buy, "VirtualHere For Steam Link," for twelve dollars, which allows you to use your Xbox One Wireless Controller (PS3 controllers, bluetooth adapters, etc) directly on your Steam Link. Honestly, I don't know why this isn't built in; it's one more add-on to buy.

— STREAMING —
You can choose three options for streaming quality: quick, balanced, or beautiful. Quick will ensure you get a clear image without stutter. Beautiful will give you a high-quality image, but if your connection isn't fast enough it may stutter. Balanced tries to give you a pretty picture without stutter. I chose balanced since I was on a wireless connection. The picture quality is perfectly fine.

— SUMMARY —
I happened to get a great deal for this so it was worth it. Given some of the bumps in using it, I am debating whether I should just run a long HDMI cable from my computer to the TV, but in the meantime this Steam Link is my wireless streaming solution for PC gaming. Recommended.
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