Is it possible to offload graphics processing onto another computer on the network

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I mostly play video games on my laptop as I can use it anywhere in the house but it doesn't have a graphics card in.

What I'm wondering is would I be able to offload the graphics processing from my laptop to a desktop computer on the same network. Would I need a graphics card in the desktop?

Best Answer

Yes this is possible and yes you will need a graphics card in the desktop.

This can be done using Steam In-home Streaming.

Basically the game is played on the desktop PC, recorded using the graphics card hardware video encoder, transmitted across the network and then played on your laptop.

This does put the desktop "out of bounds" while you are playing the game, as it is the machine where the game is really being played. No one else will be able to use that machine for the duration you are playing.

The latency is bearable but depends on your network. WiFi latency will be slightly worse than a wired Ethernet connection, but most games will still be playable. From experience latency on a wired connection was somewhere around 40 milliseconds. Not perfect for twitch or rapid action games, but playable for most games.

The low latency is only really possible because of the hardware video encoder, without it the latency would be much worse.

Nvidia Game Streaming is an alternative option. It works by the same principle. You play the game on the PC and stream the output to another device. It has an Android client called "moonlight".

The reason why it is handled the way it is above is because it requires less game developer support than any other method. You can simply set up your display output to be recorded and stream it to another machine.

To have just the "work" done on a remote machine would require a lot of special programming and network bandwidth to tranfert maps and textures to a "rendering computer. It is a lot of pain for very little gain compared to the easy method of "playing" the game and streaming it.

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