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Steam Link app transforms humble MacBooks into hardcore gaming machines

Playing your favorite games on a Mac just got a little bit easier. That’s because Valve has just released its Steam Link app, which lets you stream games from a Windows PC straight to your Mac, on the App Store.

To use Steam Link, you must have a computer running Steam — this can be a PC, Mac, or a Linux computer — and a target device running the Steam Link app. That means you can stream from a Mac to an iPad, for instance, giving you a way to play games that are not available on tablet devices while still getting to enjoy the iPad’s lightweight portability.

It also means that you can now stream from a beefy gaming PC to a Mac (providing you own both), unlocking high frame rates and detailed resolutions that were previously out of reach for most Macs. For example, you might use an Apple TV or compact Mac Mini as a home theater device in your living room. With Steam Link, you can now play games at a higher performance level than these devices can manage on their own by streaming from a souped-up Windows PC.

While M1 Macs have incredible CPU performance, their gaming chops cannot keep up. Take the M1 Mac Mini. Some of its processor benchmarks were among the highest we have ever seen, yet hitting 60 frames per second was a struggle in many games due to its lack of a discrete graphics card. The Steam Link app might be a good way to rectify that problem.

Before the latest update, the Steam Link app was available on iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV, leaving Mac users out in the cold. Since Steam stopped selling physical Steam Link boxes in 2018, the app has been the only way to use the service.

However, it was also possible to stream games using the regular Steam app. That is a bulky app with many other features, though, while Steam Link is far more streamlined and focused, letting you get down to business without worrying about extra cruft. Now that it is sitting pretty in the Mac App Store, there are a few more options for the humble Mac gamer.

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Alex Blake
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