My Frankensteinian PC gaming setup is complete (for now)

First a recap, very briefly. I needed a new laptop at the same time I was suffering from FOMO around my friends playing PC games together. So after a few sidetracks that didn’t pan out, I decided to blow the budget and bought a gaming laptop.

Zowie XL2411P

My last update was when I ran a wired Ethernet connection (since it is in a corner of the apartment with poor WiFi reception) to the laptop and confirmed that Parsec worked great. Since then I decided that a 1080P 15″ screen is just a little too small for me for gaming (keep in mind I’m nearly 60 and my eyes are getting worse all the time) so I added a 24″ 144hz 1080P monitor. I capped at 1080P because the GPU in the laptop (a GTX 1070 Max-Q) can only do so much. I’d rather higher settings at 1080P than mid-settings at 1440. I think 4K is out of the question for this GPU.

As I started using it more, it became a bit of an issue having to use headphones all the time. It’s hard to chat with Angela wearing headphones. So I bought a little USB-powered soundbar to go with the monitor since the monitor has no speakers

GoGroove Mini SoundBar

Of course with no headphones I started to really notice the sound of the fans, so I bought a USB-powered cooling pad to see if I could quiet it a little (it worked, somewhat).

Then I bought a powerstrip with USB charging ports so I could power soundbar and cooling pad without drawing more power from the laptop. And a non-powered USB hub just to try to neaten things up.

It was about this point that I realized I should’ve bought a desktop gaming PC AND a modest laptop because right now this laptop sits in a nest of cables and cords that just seems kind of silly. I mean, it works great but to take it somewhere I have to disconnect the external drive, the USB hub, the displayport cable, the Ethernet cable and the power cable.

Just a few cables to detach before I go mobile.
Also how does the camera always pick up so much dust that my old eyes can’t see?
I can sure see it in the photo!

When I have some ‘play money’ built up again I’m going to look at one of those Thunderbolt docking stations, but they’re like $300 so that might be awhile. In theory with one of those I’d just have the power cable and the docking station attached to the laptop. Much easier to grab and go that way.

And then danged Nvidia put the Nvidia Shield TV on sale and I made an impulse buy. And y’know what? That has pulled everything together perfectly. The Shield TV is mostly a media streaming box like the Fire TV or Apple TV, but it has a few gaming features. One of them is GameStream which offers in-home streaming. Alternatively you can run the Parsec Android client on it.

Nvidia Shield Gaming Edition

So far GameStream has been working well. I can now stream from the laptop to the 60″ TV in the living room. So far I’m only using it for games I play with a controller since if I have to drag out keyboard and mouse I may as well go sit at the desk.

This weekend I was playing Anthem like this. It was running on the laptop in a corner of the kitchen but I was in the living room on the couch with a warm puppy laying beside me and it ran perfectly. GameStream has a virtual mouse feature if you need to just click one or two buttons. In fact it has a virtual keyboard too but I wouldn’t want to do much typing with it. The only thing I haven’t sorted is a way to voice chat while doing GameStream but if I’m going to be doing MP I’d probably sit at the laptop in order to be at my best anyway. Streaming is for more casual gaming. I’ve been playing a lot of My Time At Portia by streaming this way.

Nvidia Shield also supports GeForce Now, which is a cloud-streaming game service. I tested it a bit and it seems to work fine, but for right now I have enough ‘local’ stuff to play.

I’m really content with how I have things set up now. It’s a good thing I do since I’ve really blown through my ‘mad money’ for the time being. Thankfully tax refund season is upon us so can build the piggy bank back up!