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The NVIDIA Shield TV is the best thing that ever happened to PC gaming

Android dudes
Android dudes (Image credit: Jerry Hildenbrand / Android Central)

The NVIDIA Shield TV is one of our favorite Android devices of all time. At least it's one of my favorite Android devices of all time. It's the best Android TV box, is well supported by the company that makes it, and has the oomph to push out FHD HDR video to any TV that supports it.

Gamestream isn't new but it's a thing that didn't get the attention it deserved.

And it's a helluva way to play PC games on that big 50-inch+ screen in your living room.

NVIDIA Gamestream isn't anything new. And it's not just for the Shield TV so if you have a Shield tablet or a Shield portable you can get in on the same action at a smaller scale. What it does is let you play your games from your gaming PC, but have a remote screen and controller. Cool concept, right? The thing is that it's way cooler than you think it is once you try it.

How to set up GameStream on your NVIDIA Shield TV

I've always loved video games. I usually buy the next AAA title before I read any reviews just because I love playing games. I did just that with Mass Effect: Andromeda, and don't regret it. Anyhoo, I bought the PS4 version because I also like to kick back in a soft chair and play games in the living room. After I was 90% complete I decided I liked the game enough to give EA a few more dollars and bought the PC version only to be bummed out because your EA account doesn't sync between the console versions and the PC. Thanks, Sony, Microsoft, and Origin.

I didn't feel like starting over so I was going to dig out a monstrous long HDMI cable, but while I was digging for it I saw my Shield TV box and remembered Gamestream (opens in new tab). If you love to game and have a decent gaming rig (full system requirements here) this is the shit.

It was super easy to set up, the response between controllers or keyboard/mouse and the screen is at least 99% as good as playing local and I get to chill in my La-Z-boy with my feet up and shoot stuff. I was hooked the minute I tried it and made sure my favorite games were set up so I could play them the same way. Now I can play ME: Andromeda as well as Fallout 4, Far Cry, The Witcher 3 and even old favorites like Thief in style. And I have an underpowered Steambox to give to the neighbor's kid because this is just plain better.

Consoles are great but if you have a gaming PC, a Shield TV is better. Flame on.

I know I'm not the only gamer out there who isn't gung ho for one particular bit of hardware to play games on and plenty of people have a console or two and a gaming PC. For anyone reading who thinks the same way, you really need a Shield TV just so you can do the Gamestream thing.

In fact, NVIDIA could cash in on just how great this is if it wanted to. Gamers spend a lot of money and won't balk too much at the price of a set-top box that can run Android apps and games, will soon have Google Assistant and can remote play the games they love with Ultra settings instead of console jaggies and stutters. They should demo this stuff in every GameStop in every mall in America and drop a $20-off coupon for one in the box my $700 video cards came in.

This is what's cool about the way Android is distributed. Sure, the distribution model lends itself to fragmentation and devices being left behind, but that's the companies not being on their toes and doing the right thing. Letting a company that knows how to do hardware use Android in ways like the Shield TV does is how you get cool stuff. Everyone loves cool stuff.

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Jerry Hildenbrand
Jerry Hildenbrand

Jerry is an amateur woodworker and struggling shade tree mechanic. There's nothing he can't take apart, but many things he can't reassemble. You'll find him writing and speaking his loud opinion on Android Central and occasionally on Twitter.

  • Hmm, very, very intriguing. Thanks Jerry.
  • It's a wonderful device. My better half is addicted to asphalt 8 airborne. And I love the interface and access to media, esp. Amazon Video.
  • Best thing, really? I'll give it the nvidia shield does a lot more for but the average pc gamer a steam link is probably more worth their time.
    Significantly cheaper, great steam integration and works great regardless of gpu vendor.
  • And Steam link is actually a bit better at streaming in my experience
  • You seemed to miss the fairly important point (maybe you thought it too obvious?) That this only works with an nvidia GPU. If you've got something like an RX480 this is irrelevant, you're better off with a steam link. In fact, even if you do have an nvidia card, you might still be better off with a steam link.
  • Having used both, you're never better off with a steam link :)
  • That might be a fair point in it's own right lol, but the shield is still useless in this regard to anyone with an AMD card. Personally, I just plug the PC into the TV. It'll always be the best option if you can do it.
  • can steamlink stream non-steam games? (that is a mouthful). I.E. I don't think a steamlink could stream mass effect, via Origin
  • You seemed to miss(maybe he put it in there too obviously) the link to the full system requirements in the article
  • I didn't, I guarantee others won't bother clicking it though. I know, I know, "it's their own fault"... still, would a one line caveat within the article actually hurt?
  • Yes it very well could, because which Nvidia card do you need? Better to put a link that lists all of them than just mention it and have someone go out and get the wrong one.
  • Well, besides the fact that it says "decent gaming rig" right before that link, and that it will run on basically EVERY high, mid and low end nvidia card released in roughly the last 5 years, I didn't say that link should be removed... But it's irrelevant since I believe you're being deliberately obtuse for the sake of argument.
  • And I believe you don't know the meaning of the word obtuse because it doesn't describe my part of the conversation at all.
    Anyone who is just getting in to gaming and reads this article and thinks it would be cool to use a Shield to game on their tv would probably do some research on what card to get. Without the posted link they wouldn't be aware of what cards work with it. Reading reviews, and not looking to spend a ton of money could lead very many people to build a "decent gaming rig" with an older Nvidia card that doesn't work with Gamestream. You seem to forget, not everyone has been doing this for years. The best thing for Jerry to do is what he did, put a link to the necessary information. Anyone who is seriously interested in this subject will click on it and be able to get started. He didn't miss any points.
  • That'd be a good reason if AMD gave a damn about the high end market.
  • I'm hoping the Vega GPUs change that.
  • I don't think it's that they don't care so much as they know they haven't been able to compete... They've been focusing on the mid and mid-high segment while doing what is likely some serious R&D on what will hopefully be some serious competing to nvidia's stranglehold. Believe it or not though, it actually takes considerable time, money and effort to develop new high end silicon.
  • Yep.
    That's all I have to say about this article.
  • I might get one if my setup ever changes, but for now the solution for is to just have my workstation PC plugged into my TV. I remote into it from my Chromebook for homework and stuff, then move to the couch and fire up my Xbox One controller for games. Edit: my TV is a Sharp Android TV, so that already covers me movie and TV show wise. Also if anyone is thinking of getting a Sharp Android TV, don't.
  • Your last sentence made me lol.
  • Hey Jerry, I would love to see your thoughts on GeForce now for the shield TV. I don't have a gaming PC, so I'm very interested in a review of that service compared to gamestream.
  • I only started using GeForce Now recently, so my experience is pretty limited, but it's worked really well so far. I was just playing Deus Ex: Human Revolution earlier, and after taking about 15 or 20 seconds for the game to load, it played very smoothly and in high quality. I noticed only a little bit of stutter during panning shots, but that was the only complaint.
  • How good is your internet? Also, are you hardwired or going over wireless?
  • It's connected by ethernet. And I pay for 100Mbps cable, although it's Comcast, so I rarely see speeds higher than 60Mbps.
  • It's nice to see a fairly mainstream outlet singing the praises of Gamestream; it's way underrated. One caveat you might want to touch on is that for optimal results one needs a high speed wired internet connection going to the Shield. You can make it work with wireless AC, but I would only recommend that route if Ethernet just isn't viable for your setup. It definitely takes some initial setup but the end result is something I think both the PC and Console crowd will find very compelling.
  • My gaming pc has an ATI card so no gamestream for my shield tablet... though if I had the tablet first that would certainly have been a factor in my choice of video card. I do use the geforce now service though and it too is great. I have bought a number of premium games on it... (they tend to come with a steam or gog code as well so you can both stream and play on your computer. I do prefer on the computer most times as I use a 3440x1440 monitor which the tablet doesn't support (it works just with black columns on the sides). I use the tablet a fair amount as well though for the free games they offer on the service once you join... and sometimes when travelling if I have a good wifi connection (which often means bringing my own router). Even games like Witcher 3 work great on it...
  • I've had one since launch and I love it. Wouldn't trade it for anything, the update to support Plex was also a really dope bonus. If you have an Nvidia card it's definitely worth it but the Android TV functionality is a plus to almost anyone that doesn't have it.
  • I just wish they'd spend some additional time to optimize the game ports to work on resolution and consistent framerate.
  • I've got a 970.... Might have to try this. Another thing that was a game changer, if you'll pardon the pun, for me was to get a wireless adapter for my Xbox one controller. I've since sold my actual Xbox​ one but damn is it perfect for PC gaming.
  • I had burned through 3 android media devices and had varying degrees of disappointment with them all - either a crappy UI overlay, almost no attempt at all to tweak a standard android ROM, rare updates, bugs and hardware quality (last one would drop out of 1080p regularly due to crappy soldering!). I had grabbed a Shield tablet and was super happy with it, so decided yet one more kick at the can with Shield TV. I couldn't be happier. Not only is it incredible as a media device, but the gaming is awesome. I have a whack of games I stream from my gaming PC with zero lag (obviously have to be controller compatible), there's a strong Android catalog of games including special versions compiled for the hardware, plus they offer a subscription service so you can stream powerhouse PC games over the net (again, no lag). I got a first gen and their software updates are regular and aggressive. If you want a media device and love to game, just buy it!
  • Maybe I am wrong but once the 2017 nvidia shield.... Which I have and love it.... They showed on stage a steam app. Isn't that supposed to come to the shield this year along with the new Google home thing? Wouldn't the steam app make things even better?
  • Is this what you're talking about?
  • Just realize you really need the PC and shield both connected via Ethernet. WiFi introduces too much latency.
  • "I usually buy the next AAA title before I read any reviews just because I love playing games." In other words, take everything said with a grain of salt.
  • Eh, I'm happy with my steam link. Also, yes you can play non steam games, but you do have to add the game to steam first. It just needs to be played through the steam overlay.
  • Thanks