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How to Use Your PC From Another Room: 5 Tools You’ll Need
A powerful desktop PC or laptop often has to trade high performance for noisy cooling and bulky size. If you can’t stand how loud your computer is, don’t have room for it in your office, or want to switch to the living room TV without moving it, these tools will let you use your PC from any room.
Remote Desktop Software
Remote desktop software allows you to remotely access and control a computer from another device over the internet. It works by installing a client program on the device you want to control the computer from (called the “local” device) and a server program on the computer you want to control (called the “remote” device).
Once both programs are installed and configured, you can connect to the remote device from the local device and control it as if you were sitting in front of it.
If you’re moving your PC because of noise, you could use a quiet device such as a tablet computer or fanless laptop connected to a screen, speakers, mouse, and keyboard, remoting to your loud and powerful computer. Some smart TVs support remote desktop apps, and you can use a wireless or wired mouse and keyboard with them, so a living room setup is possible too.
2022 Apple MacBook Air Laptop with M2 chip
Apple’s second-generation Apple Silicon MacBook Air has no fans and makes no noise, but comes with all-day battery life and oodles of CPU and GPU performance for every day users.
There are many different remote desktop software options available, each with its own set of features and pricing. Some popular options include Remote Desktop (for Windows), TeamViewer (for both Windows and Mac), and Splashtop (for multiple platforms).
Assuming your home network is up to the task, you shouldn’t notice any difference in lag or how good the image looks. However, some applications, such as video games, may need network tweaking or even a home network upgrade to get near-flawless results.
RELATED: Remote Desktop Roundup: TeamViewer vs. Splashtop vs. Windows RDP
In-Home Streaming for Games
While most remote desktop applications aren’t specifically designed for streaming games on your home network, Valve’s Steam gaming client has a built-in feature that lets you stream your games to any Steam client on your home network using a feature known as
Using Steam in-home streaming is relatively easy, and in fact should work automatically when you’re signed in to Steam on both devices with the same account. This is generally a better solution than remote desktop software, since Steam in-home streaming is designed for gaming in particular, minimizing latency while maximizing image quality. Several smart TV models have access to the Steam Remote Play app, along with numerous mobile devices and, of course, personal computers that can run Steam.
RELATED: Can You Build a Fanless Desktop PC?
HDMI and USB (With Extenders)
Given that few computer users still use physical media such as DVDs, there’s little reason to have physical access to the computer other than to turn it on and off, which is another thing fewer people actually do. You can also configure your computer to turn on over the network.
In other words, as long as you have access to your peripherals. it doesn’t really matter where the actual computer is. Running the system remotely over the network is a viable option, but nothing beats directly plugging your monitor, speakers, mouse, and keyboard into the computer itself.
HDMI cables generally support lengths of up to about 25 feet (7.62 meters) without signal degradation. However, longer lengths may be possible with lower resolutions or lower refresh rates, or with the use of signal repeaters or active HDMI cables. The maximum passive length should be more than enough for a cable passed through an adjacent wall, but if you really want to push it, active extenders will let you chain cables to the required length.
Cable Matters Active HDMI to HDMI Repeater
This affordable active HDMI repeater lets you increase the maximum HDMI length at 4K 60Hz to 60 ft.
You can use an HDMI audio extractor, or the headphone jack on your monitor to get audio out of the HDMI signal. If your display has good built-in speakers, you don’t have to do anything further in terms of audio setup at all.
J-Tech Digital 4K 60HZ HDMI Audio Extractor
Extract audio from an HDMI feed and send it to a analog stereo device or SPDIF-compatible multi-channel receiver.
Having solved your audiovisual needs, the next piece of the puzzle is input. The maximum length of a USB (Universal Serial Bus) cable is determined by the version of USB being used and the data transfer rate.
For USB 2.0, the maximum length of a cable is 16.4 feet (5 meters). For USB 3.0 and 3.1, the maximum length is longer, at 9.84 feet (3 meters). It’s worth noting that these are the maximum lengths for standard cables; using a longer cable or a cable with active repeaters can allow you to extend the distance further, but may result in reduced performance or reliability.
MutecPower 16 Feet Active USB 3.0 Extension Cable 3.0
This active USB 3.0 cable starts at 16 feet and is available in lengths up to 100 feet. Combine it with a good USB hub and you can be as far from your computer as you’d like.
You can then connect a USB hub or docking station to the cable and connect your peripherals there. If you like, you can use this as a solution for audio and video as well. For example, you can use DisplayPort or HDMI over USB, and most USB docking stations will have HDMI and audio ports.
HDMI and USB Over Ethernet
HDMI over Ethernet (HDMI-over-IP) is a technology that allows you to transmit HDMI video signals over an Ethernet network. It works by converting the HDMI signal into a digital format that can be transmitted over an Ethernet cable, and then converting it back into an HDMI signal at the receiving end.
OREI HDMI over Ethernet Extender
Use affordable Ethernet cabling to extend an HDMI signal to anywhere in your home. The Orei extender kit can provide up to 165 feet of extension for a 1080p signal. It even includes an IR emitter and receiver.
To use HDMI-over-IP, you will need a device at each end of the connection that is capable of converting the HDMI signal into a digital format and vice versa. These devices are often referred to as encoders and decoders, or HDMI-over-IP transmitters and receivers.
Cable Matters USB Over Ethernet Extender with Power Adapter
Use this affordable kit to extend US up to 150 feet. Since it’s USB 2.0, it’s only practical for peripherals such as a mouse and keyboards, but if you have video extension already this is a great solution.
USB-over-IP technology works in the same way, letting you extend your USB connection length by a massive margin. Assuming that you can achieve high enough bandwidth, you could run your display and audio over this USB connection as well.
Thunderbolt is a high-speed, high-bandwidth interface that allows you to connect a wide range of devices to your computer, including external hard drives, displays, and other peripherals.
Optical Thunderbolt cables are made of fiber optic material and use lasers to transmit data. They are typically thin and flexible, and can support longer lengths than copper Thunderbolt cables. Optical Thunderbolt cables are also immune to electromagnetic interference (EMI), which can make them a good choice for use in environments where EMI is a concern.
Cable Matters Active 40Gbps Fiber Optic Thunderbolt 3 Cable 32.8 Feet
The longest Thunderbolt cable we could find offering the full 40Gbps bandwidth necessary to run video, audio, and your peripherals. This only works with Thunderbolt 3, not USB!
It’s worth noting that optical Thunderbolt cables are generally much more expensive than copper Thunderbolt cables, and may not be supported by all devices. You will need to check the specifications of your devices to determine if they are compatible with optical Thunderbolt cables.
Also, bear in mind that optical Thunderbolt cables don’t carry power, only data. So you’ll need a powered Thunderbolt dock to connect your peripherals. Many modern laptops come with Thunderbolt, but you can purchase a PCIe Thunderbolt add-on card if your desktop system does not have a compatible Thunderbolt port.
With all of these different solutions on the table you don’t have to sit right next to your computer anymore. If it sounds like a jet engine, you don’t have to spend a fortune building a silent PC. You don’t have to hurt your back lugging it around your home when you want to use it in another room, either, and you can easily free up desk space by keeping it in another room full-time.
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