If you‘ve heard about Parsec and wondered – is it really free to use for cloud gaming? The answer is yes, absolutely. Parsec is a free app that provides impressive low latency cloud gaming by streaming from your own or your friends‘ gaming PCs.
In this guide, I‘ll give you a full overview of how Parsec works, its features and performance benchmarks, and how you can use it for cloud gaming or remote access. Read on to learn more about this free alternative for gaming on the go!
What Exactly is Parsec?
Parsec is a proprietary remote desktop application designed for cloud gaming and remote computer access. It allows you to stream video, audio and input from one PC to any other device.
This means you can run graphic-intensive games on a powerful home gaming PC, while playing remotely on a lower-powered laptop, phone, tablet or TV. Pretty cool, right?
Parsec is available as a free downloadable app for Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS and more. The company does offer paid licenses for commercial use, but for personal gaming it‘s completely free.
Since you‘re connecting directly to a host PC, Parsec eliminates the need for expensive cloud gaming hardware. Just install it on any PC or laptop with a decent GPU and you‘re good to go!
How Does Game Streaming Work on Parsec?
Unlike services like GeForce NOW that rely on centralized cloud servers, Parsec establishes direct peer-to-peer connections from your device to a host computer.
This host can be your own powerful gaming PC at home, allowing you to access your games remotely. Or, you can connect to a friend‘s PC to play together online.
Your inputs are directly streamed to the host PC, while the video and audio from the game are sent back to your device. This happens via a low latency encrypted connection between your devices.
Parsec proudly touts "pixel perfect accuracy and industry-topping latency" when it comes to cloud gaming performance. Let‘s take a closer look under the hood.
Optimized for Low Latency Game Streaming
Latency refers to the delay between your inputs registering on the host machine, and receiving the resulting audio/video feed on your device. Slow latency results in lag and choppy performance.
Parsec is optimized to provide the lowest possible latency. According to internal benchmarks, the total encode/decode latency is around 10 milliseconds.
For comparison, competing services like Steam Remote Play see 15-50ms latency, and game streaming over a VPN can be 150ms or higher!
This low latency results in a highly responsive, lag-free cloud gaming experience. User inputs are rapidly sent and applied on the host PC, while video frames are streamed back instantly.
Parsec achieves this by encoding and decoding the video stream directly on the GPU. This eliminates additional buffers and trips through the CPU that add latency.
The video frames stay in the GPU‘s memory and are encoded via the high performance NVENC or AMD VCE encoder built into modern graphics cards. The end result is a smooth gaming experience comparable to playing locally.
Consistent Quality and Reliability
In addition to low latency, Parsec also focuses on consistent performance and reliability in its technology. Choppy video, high packet loss, and intermittent crashes make for a frustrating user experience.
Internal tests show Parsec maintains high frame rates with much fewer dropped or duplicated frames compared to solutions like Steam Remote Play. Across different network conditions, Parsec delivered:
- 60% fewer duplicated frames than Steam
- 6% fewer dropped frames than Steam
This results in smoother, more consistent streams even on weaker networks. Reviewers and users widely report excellent visual quality streaming from Parsec clients to mobile devices.
Cloud Gaming Use Cases
Now that you understand the technology behind Parsec, let‘s explore some real-world use cases.
Play Your Home PC Games Anywhere
One of the most popular uses is streaming games from your powerful home gaming PC while on the go.
Say you spent $2000 building a top-notch desktop rig with bleeding edge graphics. Now you can access that horsepower to play games in full HD quality on your work laptop or tablet while traveling!
Gamers use Parsec to stream from their home PCs to play on all kinds of weaker client devices like:
- Phones and tablets
- Older PCs
- Media streamers like the Nvidia Shield TV
- Even the low-powered Raspberry Pi
It‘s an awesome way to untether your gaming experience from your desktop. The visual quality and performance truly impress according to user reviews.
Play Local Multiplayer Games Online with Friends
Here‘s another great use case – play local co-op or splitscreen games online by streaming a friend‘s PC.
For example, the iconic co-op shooter Halo only supports local splitscreen multiplayer out of the box. But with Parsec, your friend can host the game on their PC while you join the action remotely.
Parsec uniquely enables online play for any local multiplayer or shared-screen game. You can remotely join up to 4 controllers on a single PC.
Gamers love using Parsec for playing games like:
- Call of Duty Zombies
- Mario Kart 8
- Portal 2
- Rocket League
- Emulators like RetroArch
It‘s a fantastic option for casual gaming sessions with friends when you can‘t physically be together in the same room.
Host a DIY Cloud Gaming Rig for Your Friends
Have a beefy PC and great home internet? You can become a cloud gaming host and let your buddies access your library of high-end games.
Simply install Parsec on your host PC, and your friends can connect from lower-powered devices to play remotely. Support for up to 4 controllers means you can host multiplayer gaming sessions too!
According to Parsec, their app is now used to stream over 17 million gaming sessions per month worldwide. Many of these are powered by consumer PCs rather than commercial data centers.
So don‘t be surprised if your friends want you to host the next big co-op release with your sick gaming setup!
Remote Computer Access Capabilities
Parsec isn‘t limited to games – it‘s also a fully capable remote desktop app for accessing computers over the internet.
You can use Parsec to remotely control your home PC from a laptop to access any software or work files. Business travelers often use it to tap into resource-heavy programs like CAD suites or video editors that their work devices can‘t handle natively.
Gamers also take advantage of Parsec‘s remote control functionality to launch games and manage downloads even when away from their home PCs.
Additionally, Parsec supports multiple monitors for true remote multitasking. Other handy features include:
- File transfer between devices
- Text and voice chat
- Virtual webcam streaming
- Remote rebooting abilities
- Bandwidth capping
For remote gaming and access needs, Parsec delivers a ton of versatility in a free package.
How Does Parsec Compare to Other Cloud Gaming Services?
Parsec fills a unique niche as a free, low latency app for DIY cloud gaming. But how does it compare to dedicated commercial cloud services?
Here‘s a quick overview of how Parsec stacks up to rivals like Google Stadia, GeForce NOW, and Microsoft Xbox Cloud Gaming:
|Parsec||Free||Windows, Mac, Linux, mobile||~10ms|
|GeForce NOW||Free or paid subscription ($9.99/mo)||Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Shield TV||20-80ms|
|Google Stadia||Paid subscription ($9.99/mo)||Windows, Mac, mobile, Chromecast Ultra||10-30ms|
|Xbox Cloud Gaming||Part of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate ($14.99/mo)||Xbox, PC, mobile||45-60ms|
Parsec holds its own against these big players and even beats them in latency thanks to its P2P direct streaming. Of course, the commercial services offer more convenience and games on tap, if you‘re willing to pay.
For a completely free solution with better performance than paid options, Parsec is hard to beat!
Is a Powerful PC Required to Use Parsec?
To act as a cloud gaming host for your friends, Parsec recommends at least:
- Nvidia GTX 1060 or equivalent AMD GPU
- Intel i5 quad core CPU or similar
- 8GB of RAM
- Windows 8 or later
This provides enough power for smooth 1080p streams to multiple users. Your internet connection should have at least 10 Mbps upload too.
To simply connect as a client, you can use any PC, phone or tablet made in the last 5-10 years. Parsec will run on low-power laptops, older phones, the Raspberry Pi, and more.
The only requirement is installing the Parsec app – no special hardware needed!
Is Parsec Secure for Cloud Gaming?
Absolutely! Parsec uses enterprise-grade encryption to keep your data and gaming sessions safe.
Peer-to-peer connections are secured with TLS 1.2 encryption. Video streams are never routed through Parsec‘s servers – everything is handled directly between your devices.
This means your private gaming data stays completely secure. Many businesses and corporations use Parsec for its robust encryption when accessing remote computers.
Get Started with Parsec for Free Cloud Gaming
Parsec checks all the boxes: free usage, great performance, low latency, and strong security. It‘s the perfect way to bring your own gaming PC library anywhere and play multiplayer games online.
If you‘re ready to experience next-level cloud gaming performance at zero cost, head to Parsec‘s website to download the app for your devices.
Invite some friends over to your virtual living room and enjoy gaming together from the comfort of home. Parsec delivers silky smooth streams and innovative features to rival paid services – all available free.
Let me know if you have any other questions about using this awesome app! I‘m always happy to help fellow gamers and talk tech.