PS4 Remote Play Actually Works In Australia

Sony unleashed its latest major software update for the PS4 on the world last night, and with it came Remote Play on PC and Mac. The idea is pretty attractive, especially for those with families or large sharehouses where there's a high possibility of the TV being in use. I've toyed around with Remote Play for a number of hours across a variety of games. And so far it's pretty impressive -- with a few caveats.

What You'll Need

Before we get into specifics you will at some point need to download the Remote Play app from Sony. The full list of requirements and specifications for PC is:

Windows® 8.1 (32-bit or 64-bit) OR Windows® 10 (32-bit or 64-bit)
Intel Core i5-560M Processor 2.67 GHz or faster
100 MB or more of available storage
2 GB or more of RAM
1024 x 768 or higher display resolution
Sound card
USB port

And for those keen on getting Remote Play going on your Mac, you'll need at least this much grunt:

OS X Yosemite OR OS X El Capitan
Intel Core i5-520M Processor 2.40 GHz or faster
40 MB or more of available storage
2 GB or more of RAM
USB port

The specs are pretty damn low and the application itself isn't too large either. On PC the installer was just over 17mb; the Mac download weighs in at 5.6mb.

What's not listed in the specifications, but you should still consider absolutely necessary, is a wired connection for at least the PS4. Whether or not you do so for the client computer is another matter. I'll explain more on that later.

Regardless of whether you're playing on PC or Mac, you'll also need a DualShock 4 controller connected via USB to the computer. It doesn't matter whether or not your DS4 is already paired to the PC. Fortunately, Remote Play didn't have any issues with my PC that already had third-party DS4 drivers installed (in the form of the excellent DS4Windows).

How Does It Work?

When you first install Remote Play you're asked to hook up a controller via USB, although you can start the connection process without one. You can also modify the streamed resolution and frame rate at this stage, which you'll want to do since it's set to 540p and 30fps by default.

In case you're curious, the full list of resolutions and options are: 360p, 540p and 720p, along with Standard (30fps) and High (60fps). One small quirk: if you do choose to play at 60fps, you won't be able to use the PS4's in-built recording functions.

You can also change the PS4 you're remotely connected to, as well as the PSN account you're logged into. It might come in handy if you've got a housemate that keeps playing your console; the PS4 stores a history of all remote connections made.

Once you're happy with the settings, simply press start and wait. When a PC and console are paired together it'll only take a few seconds for the devices to find each other; it'll even turn on the PS4 if it's been left in rest mode. If it does have difficulty locating the console for whatever reason, you can manually force a connection by entering in an 8-digit code located within the PS4's settings menu.

What's The Performance Like?

The question that matters most. Fortunately, it holds up really well -- but as I mentioned before, the PS4 has to be running through a wired connection. But we'll get to that.

To get a thorough idea of how Remote Play performed, I used two systems: my 11" MacBook Air (a 2014 model, which doesn't have an ethernet port) and my main gaming/video editing PC. The latter has a couple of GTX 780s, 32GB RAM and an i7-4770K -- it wouldn't have any issues with the requirements. I thought it'd be a different story with the MacBook Air, but I managed to play through a story mission of Destiny with no perceptible input lag and no grievances beyond the degraded visual quality.

I started by making sure my main gaming PC and the PS4 were wired, and then proceeded to fire up some AAA games: namely The Division and Destiny, two games that would surely put Remote Play through their paces. Neither game runs at 60fps natively, but I figured it would be a good enough starting point for the game's performance.

Both games ran without a single hitch. Apart from the drop to 720p -- which, oddly, seemed to spoil Destiny's visuals far more than The Division -- both titles performed as admirably as they would have if I was playing directly on the console.

Interestingly, the Remote Play window remained at 60fps throughout. I kept DXTory running as a way to capture screenshots and monitor the frame rate, and the PS4 Remote Play window barely dropped below 60fps despite streaming games that run strictly at 30fps. I don't have the engineering background to confidently say why, but it's interesting to note nevertheless.

You can see the DXTory overlay and the current frame rate in the top left

But I wanted to see whether it was capable of handling higher frame rates, so I turned to two games I knew ran at 60fps -- Borderlands: The Handsome Collection, and NBA 2K16.

Again, the performance was largely flawless. Some initial stutters in NBA 2K16 were immediately rectified with a replacement Cat5e cable for the console, and I didn't experience any stuttering of note in Borderlands whatsoever. The responsiveness was just as sharp as Destiny and The Division had been, which was nice as it allowed me to post a healthy 20/8/2 line against the Celtics.

Boston's pretty good this year

Satisfied, I decided to see how Remote Play would hold up when the PS4 was streaming over Wi-Fi. News flash: it's pretty bad.

The artifacting was immediately noticeable this time, and the stuttering was so severe that Remote Play was lagging even in the PS4 menus. It settled down eventually, but the lag would always return -- with a vengeance. Destiny and Borderlands both dropped to 10fps at one stage, and the artifacting made Borderlands look like a game from the 80s.

Even older, less strenuous titles struggled. Star Wars: Racer Revenge was beset with regular jitters, although the frame rate would eventually kick back up to 60fps after a second or two. You'd get much more consistent performance at the lowest settings -- such as 360p/30fps -- but the drop in quality is so severe that it's hardly worth the effort.

Curiously, I didn't have any issues whatsoever streaming from the PS4 to a client that was connected via the Wi-Fi. As you can see in the screenshots above, I fired up Destiny on my laptop without changing any settings just to see how it'd handle matters. It coped admirably, blasting the sound of gunfire out the MacBook Air's tiny speakers while I went for a wander with my Titan.

Once again: no perceptible input lag, although I had to keep brushing the touchpad occasionally to stop the screensaver from appearing. Apparently the Remote Play app on OSX doesn't automatically prevent the machine from going into an idle state.

But in the spirit of thoroughness, I went through the process on my MacBook Air with the streaming set to 720p and 60fps. And apart from some late-night Steam updates causing a few Fallen to teleport, the game was just as playable as it would have been on my TV.

There Are Other Benefits Too

If you have a computer and console hooked up to the same screen or monitor, you'll be familiar with the annoyance of having to swap audio cables around or having two sets of headphones/speakers plugged in at all times.

Playing remotely through the PC eliminates that problem; the sound came through my regular speakers just fine, which was a blessing since it meant I didn't have to rely on my slightly-too-small headphones on a muggy Sydney evening.

And because Remote Play is an app just like anything else, you can feed the stream through your regular recording and streaming software. It certainly doesn't eliminate the need for capture cards; recent devices support full 1080p/60fps uncompressed streaming via USB 3.0, something which is a bit beyond Remote Play.

But for people who just want to stream once in a while, it's a handy alternative. It's also far more versatile than using the PS4's in-built streaming tools -- remote Play, after all, is just another window. So if you need to ALT-TAB out to ban a pesky troll or just respond to a few questions in Twitch chat, it's not a pain in the arse.

Put simply: Remote Play works. That in and of itself is not a surprise if you've been playing with it on the PS Vita for years. But it was never guaranteed that Sony would be able to support the PC -- and Mac! -- without a hitch, and the fact that they have is fantastic for PS4 owners.

Of course, things aren't perfect. Xbox One owners have had game streaming for almost a year now, with an update last August making 1080p/60fps streaming a possibility. In fact, it's a pretty poor effort to only enable 720p almost 12 months later. And the fact that only wired controllers are supported is weird, especially since Remote Play's in-built overlay has a battery indicator. Could wireless controllers be supported in future updates? Who knows.

But the Xbox One can't stream to your Mac, it doesn't support Windows 8.1 and people who only own a PS4 aren't going to care anyway. I can now sit in bed and grind through The Division or games as a backup point for the Cavs, provided I've got a USB cord and a controller lying around.

It works. Perfect? Hardly. But good enough to play through games without complaint? Absolutely.


Comments

    Is your wifi 5ghz? I can stream Steam to my Macbook at 1080p high quality with no issues, so it should be able to handle PS4 720p.

      ps4 doesn't do the 5Ghz, I think.

        Which is why it's highly recommended you disable direct wifi on the PS4 - it's horrible. With that option off it will do wifi via your router and perform a lot better.

      My brain's completely fried, but I've got a Billion 7800N at home. I think it might be 2.4ghz only, although I've been meaning to test a new router (which I know supports 5ghz).

      If you can handle Steam streaming, Remote Play will be an absolute doddle. You'll be fine.

        Upgrade that baby and I think you'll be pleasantly surprised! On a Windows laptop your mileage may vary, but Macbooks have amazing wifi!

        7800N should be fine as it is 802.11n, which is the fastest WiFi that the PS4 supports.

          It certainly does; all the tests above were conducted on my 7800N.

        Hey Alex just a heads up, in case you aren't aware. The PS4 only supports 802.11n on 2.4Ghz channels, even in the suburbs this is an extremely congested spectrum with huge amounts of channel overlap causing a lot of interference. Plus many other sources like wireless handsets and Bluetooth etc. Xbox One does support 5Ghz, which explains the better out of the box performance, as 5Ghz supports much higher speeds, with no channel overlap.

        I see there's some confusion amongst everyone here. To be clear when I'm talking about wifi, I mean on your home network (so the setup is PS4 -> ethernet -> router -> wifi -> Macbook). The PS4 has horrible wifi and it shouldn't even be part of this conversation.

      Yeah I've used Steam Link for 1080p gaming over wifi with near flawless results.

    Any luck over the net? Say to a work PC or similar?

      I was going to try that today but need the DS4 controller!

        Let me know how you go, If i can get home at Lunch ill grab one and try it out and post results here

          Sweet - im on the buses and im off tomorrow - At worst ill set up a wifi hotspot with my phone at home and see if i can connect to my home networked ps4 through that

            I cant get it to work over the net, home connection is about 10\10 and work 24\10 but PS4 is on wireless at home, will try wired and see if any better.
            Hope you had better luck

      I've done it before from ps4 to vita on work wifi, worked fine.

        I have never got this to work! I wish I could be playing Fallout 4 at lunch.

    I got 720p/60fps working pretty easily with a wired CAT5 connection to the PS4 and upping the Wi-Fi wireless settings on my Netgear to it's highest speed. After I did that, the 720p/60fps worked flawlessly - one thing I noticed, once I got the higher rez/fps working, the 540p/30fps default setting was pretty laggy. Strange.

      That is probably because receiving a 540P image on your PC/Mac would require all of the 720P or 1080P video frames to be scaled down by the PS4 to 540P before the frames are sent over your network. This would save on network bandwidth usage, but the extra time spent scaling would likely add further latency.

    I tested this last night with Destiny The Taken King on my 2012 MacBook Pro, and whilst I had a couple of "persistent movement issues" when playing wirelessly, as soon as I plugged the MBP into the switch with my PS4, it was awesome. For all of the grief I've had connecting to & playing my XB1 on the same machine bootcamped to Win10, this is a welcome change, even if it is only 720p.
    Thanks very much SONY! I am stoked with the results.
    (I am now also really happy that I never spent my Christmas money on a Vita!)

    Thanks

    was trying this out last night with the 540p stream with my laptop, both on wifi. Worked fairly well, could play the division fine, although every no and then would cop artifacts/lag.

    No DS4 via Bluetooth is criminal though

      I have a hunch they did it this way so the controller wouldn't unpair from the PS4 - it'd be a massive pain to keep pairing it as you changed from console to PC and back.

        Yeah it would be a small hassle, but a worthwhile one in my opinion. Sony already has the PS TV which would require re-syncing though. The Xbox One Windows wireless controller adapter suffers from this small hassle for the same reason.

        But why not give the option? I was going ot buy a controller specifically for it.

        Same way Microsoft releases an adaptor for Windows for both 360 and One. No difference. I can choose to wire, or I can choose to re-sync, or I can choose to buy another controller dedicated to remote play.

        Sony is really giving me the shits with making choices for me. Especially when I'm trying to give them MORE money.

    Have everything connected with CAT6. Going to try playing the FFXV demo tonight to see if it works. So far just from my brief demo this morning, it worked really well even though I had netflix, chrome, VLC and League running in the background! I hav a dual monitor set up, I'm going to see if it's possible to play Bloodborne and do well in league at the same time!!

    I found it lags on me a bit with high fps mode via a lan connection. xbone for me on the other hand is 1080p60 flawless. Time to go back and tweek ;)

    Last edited 07/04/16 12:42 pm

      Yeah xbox one was flawless over wifi this is somewhat not...
      The lag was very minimal but ruined the experience of trying to play anything fast paced like UFC 2 or Just cause 3

      Yeah I'm not sure why but it did this on the Vita/PSTV as well. Was kind of sad because its the whole reason I got a PSTV.

      Games like Shadow of Mordor destroyed it with all the snow effects and screen updates.
      Worked ok for FF14 and some other stuff though.

        This is most likely because the PS4 only supports 802.11n on 2.4Ghz channels, even in the suburbs this is an extremely congested spectrum with large amounts of channel overlap causing a lot of interference problems. Interference = Lost or late packets of data. Lost Packets = Missing, Corrupted/Incomplete frames that are unable to be displayed.
        There also many other sources of interference like wireless handsets and Bluetooth etc.
        The 5Ghz spectrum doesn't suffer from these problems, which is why i think it was stupid that Sony didn't include it in the PS4, along with USB 3.0 ports.

          Oh I had issues even on the LAN connected PS4 streaming to a LAN connected PS TV.

          Also when I was using the Vita on wireless I had to keep logging in to the PS4 first to turn off direct connect depending on which one I was using, which was frustrating.
          i.e PS TV would try use wireless and direct connect even though it had a LAN connection enabled.
          OR Vita would try direct connect when the Wireless AP was closer and signal was greater.
          /le sigh

      i think the difference is that xbox have access to the entire microsoft team to ensure it works. sony aren't an OS developer. does xbox work with mac tho? i'd assume not (although i didnt bother googling that)

        The entire Microsoft team?!! Wow, that's is one really big team! Haha

        Yeah I do agree that Microsoft has a more experienced and probably better resourced Xbox OS development team. That said, look at how terrible the Xbox One OS was at launch, they were clearly behind, likely because of the scope of the kinect voice control and TV/entertainment features they were targeting, also backpedaling on their game licensing plans probably didn't make things easier for their devs. They have done extremely well to catch up and release so many useful features and improve the usability of UI.

    Out of genuine curiosity, why would this not have worked in Australia? It's local network streaming so Australia's internet won't affect it unless you're streaming to a machine outside your network which subjects it to the same problems any streaming utility will have.

      That's what I would have thought, but it told me 'Your Internet connection is too slow for Remote Play'.

      WTF? I'm on the LAN what should the Internet have to do with anything?

        I think it uses the internet to identify which PS4 you are remotely connecting to via your PSNID, but yeah the streaming itself should be happening directly across your local network.

      yeah didn't understand the Oz angle - I've owned a Vita and PS Vita TV for years using Remote Play, and they both worked fine since day 1.

      Totally agree, i can see literally no reason they would choose to region lock this feature to only US, UK or Japan. I thought it was strange when i read it too. Lol

    so the coalitions ''nbn'' is due to be complete by 2020. all signs (like this) point to it being redundant before it's even rolled out.. Just wait til the VR revolution really kicks in..

    no joy for me from work to home.. "your internet is too slow" bah

    Has anyone tried a party chat over streaming yet? Specifically through a headset plugged into the headphone jack on the bottom of the DS4. I bought a PlaystationTV specifically for the PS4 remote play, and this was the one feature that didn't work, and setting up a bluetooth headset with P-TV never seemed to work.

    FO4 over wired local network was works fine. Neat feature, not too sure how often I'll need it, but heh!

    played rocket league last night streamed to a mac while the gf watched crappy tv shows. my Internet is super slow (mobile broadband) but it played perfectly at 60fps. Didn't look quite as pretty as 1080 but gameplay was spot on

    cool gimmick which i'll never use but still no letting me play my ps3 psn store purchase on my ps4.
    pathetic.

    You inspired me to try this out. I tried with Destiny at 720p. PS4 had wired connection and my laptop was wifi to router. Ran pretty good, but I did have some input lag. I was surprised at how decent it was though.

    I have a laptop that should handle It spec wise (my processor is i7 @ 1.8GHz but i boosted it to 2.6GHz (some reason says 2.9GHz when the highest is 2.6GHz))
    I got terrible FPS drops dont know if The computers fault or the PS4 local wifi. I tryied playing Rocket league when i was 1cm away from PS4 using wifi and it was stuttering like an Application stutter dont know why PC Has more Lag then PSvita Remoteplay at same specs (540p 30fps)

    Hopefully they patch it if they can

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