Rackmount Steam Streaming Server

erwos

Diamond Member
Apr 7, 2005
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My gaming laptop is on its way out (Alienware 13R3), and my current life situation does not lend itself well to a big desktop PC. I do, however, have a fair amount of space in my home AV rack, and could probably install a 4U rackmount server running Windows. My home network is industrial strength and running WiFi 6E (multiple wired access points), and is probably as strong as you could ask (including multiple line of sight connections).

Here's the question: does Steam Link work well enough to make this paradigm worthwhile? Target platforms to stream to would be MS Surface Pro 7, maybe a future Surface Laptop, and a Steam Deck. Also planning on running Oculus Quest 2 PCVR via AirLink, as well as GPU crunching. (You may assume the server itself is running a suitably modern CPU and GPU with lots of RAM and reasonably fast storage.)

Alternative is to just buy another gaming laptop, but, man, I hated dealing with the weird proprietary stuff on them.
 
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erwos

Diamond Member
Apr 7, 2005
4,778
0
76
Wait the choice is either
Gaming laptop or rack mounted server.
Nothing in between?
Pretty much. I have no place for a desktop anymore. My kids are 100% on laptops, and all the desks in the house have been appropriated to their use.
 

Aikouka

Lifer
Nov 27, 2001
30,263
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Pretty much. I have no place for a desktop anymore. My kids are 100% on laptops, and all the desks in the house have been appropriated to their use.
Just to be clear, this means there's not even space for say... a monitor, keyboard, and mouse, correct? If there was, I was thinking maybe an in-between concept like what Linus does (Thunderbolt between rack-mounted PC and desk) might help.

All in all, I think Steam Link could work fine. If your laptop is still functioning at all, you might be able to try it out just to see if you run into wireless issues (latency, video quality, etc.).
 

Fallen Kell

Diamond Member
Oct 9, 1999
5,846
336
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Well, if you do go the server route, I would highly suggest looking at a Supermicro 846 chassis (assuming you have a real standard depth rack and not a 19/20" depth AV style rack). They are older, but you can sometimes find them up on ebay for $300-500 (sometimes with a barebones motherboard/CPU/RAM combo). The great thing about these is that the internal fanwall can be swapped out to use 3x120mm fans (I put noctua NF-F12iPPC-3000's in mine, as this system is also my NAS so I wanted to have enough airflow to pull through the hard drives, but you can get by with NF-F12iPPC-2000's if you don't plan on using a bunch of hard drives, although I would recommend that you should consider it if you go this direction).

I got a steal on mine (~$800), which was a used Penguin Computing IceBreaker 4924 (uses the supermicro chassis, and mine came with 2x E5-2650Lv3 12c/24t Xeon CPUs, and 192GB RAM). I did swap out the power supplies (the included ones were very loud, but if you get one with the 920SQ units, they are indeed quiet, but for GPU usage you will probably need to just swap them out entirely and make the couple mods needed to mount standard ATX PSU, so not really critical in your use case), and swapped out the fans, including removing wall that had mounts for 80mm fans behind the hard drives and replaced them with the 120mm fans, and put active heatsink/fans on the CPUs. This really quieted the system down. It is running VM's (one for my storage server (FreeNas/TrueNas), a general linux VM, and 2 other linux VMs that I play with). You could just as easily put in your own guts and run a GPU in it for streaming.

My main choice for it was storage first and everything else second, but it can be easily quieted down when putting in your own PSU/motherboard/CPUs and swapping some fans, and you won't easily find another server chassis for $300-400 that is nearly the same quality and support for getting replacement parts or custom 3D print models out there.
 

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