Testing out my Steam Link + Steam Controller

This past weekend I found myself in possession of a Steam Link and Steam Controller.  I had pre-ordered them right when they were announced, so mine got shipped out with the very first batches.

I have to say, I'm super impressed with the Steam Link.  It's a streaming device for those of us who already have a good gaming PC.  There's no need to drop hundreds or thousands of dollars for one of the Steam Machines that are being made.  If you're like me, you already have all the computing power you need in your desktop PC.  That's why I grabbed this little guy for $50 instead.

I plugged it in and it just works.  It's fantastic.  As long as I have my gaming PC turned on all I have to do is boot this up and Steam will stream to my living room TV.  It boots into Steam Big Picture mode which is ideal for controlling it with a gamepad of some kind.  But, it has a bunch of USB ports so you can easily hook up a wireless keyboard/mouse or any other kind of controller you want.

The coolest part is something I found while jumping back and forth between this and my computer.  It's not actually streaming Steam in the way I thought.  It's streaming everything from my PC.  So, a quick alt-tab gives me access to my entire PC in my living room.  I played some Blizzard games, browsed the web, and played some videos just to check it and and it works fantastically.  It's the coolest thing I found.

The Steam Link isn't just streaming Steam.  It streams your entire PC!

The Steam Controller on the other hand... well.  Let's just say I'm not as impressed.  I tried to use it in a ton of different games and none of them felt good.  I was quickly back to using either a wireless 360 controller or the wireless keyboard and mouse I hooked up.  Those seem to be ideal.

The Steam Controller fights my muscle memory.  The face buttons aren't where I want them to be, the D-Pad doesn't actually behave like a D-Pad, it's begging for a second joystick, the triggers feel strange (especially the ones on the very back of the controller), the whole thing is plasticky and clicky in an unpleasant way.  Worst of the, the right thumb touchpad is just horrible.  It's not accurate, it jumps around, it's imprecise, and it also rumbles at you for some reason.  I thought it would be like a track pad but it's like the offspring of the worse trackpad ever mixed with a vibrator.

I'm hoping that they may improve the Steam controller with software updates as time goes on but the way it is right now is simply unusable for me.

Overall, I would buy the Steam Link again in a heartbeat.  It paired with a wireless mouse/keyboard and a wireless 360 controller is amazing.  I love it already.  If I could take back my order of the Steam controller I would.  But, altogether I'm counting the purchase as a win because the Steam Link is just so good!


  1. And see, I'm the other way around. I hooked up the Steam Link, but the Steam Link is just a streaming box, and although it does it well, there are a thousand ways to stream from my PC to my TV. It's interface lag isn't noticable at all, though, which is nice, and it allows for a hardwired connection, which is mostly better than other solutions.

    But it's the controller that I like. Those touchpads? I've configured them 100 times over already. The touchpad can act like a touchpad, like a trackball (the more clicky mouse), 4 more buttons, a directional pad, a single large button, etc. It isn't as sharp, but it's customizability make them useful.

    Those dual-stage triggers, though, have upped my Rocket League game 200%. I set the right trigger to jump on a light pull, and then boost on a full pull, which means doing the more complex aerials with a single button. I've found for games that are not controller-friendly, setting it up is complex as even the controller with a bunch more buttons, it still doesn't have enough buttons to truly make up for a keyboard/mouse. It does need a little work on that end to become even more useful, but right, hooking up a wireless keyboard/mouse to your PC/Link is still an alternative.

    1. It's interesting hearing another perspective on the controller. I experienced nothing but frustration with it. I hope it gets better over time, or the support for it built into games gets better or something.

    2. I think what will happen is as people use it, either users or developers will make the custom settings for each game that make the controller easiest to use. I put out my own Rocket League settings, for example, and so now others can select the loadout I'm using. It takes a lot of experimentation... and sometimes the last thing we want to do is experiment. Sometimes we just want to play. :P

    3. I'm definitely guilty of this. My gaming time is limited these days and I don't want to spend it tweaking controller settings. I just want it to work so I can play.


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