How to set up Steam's Big Picture mode

Steam's Big Picture mode is launching in beta on PC today, with a Mac beta "coming soon," and Valve put up a setup guide alongside the announcement to help users understand the options available to them.

Steam's Big Picture mode is launching in beta on PC today, with a Mac beta "coming soon," and Valve put up a setup guide alongside the announcement to help users understand the options available to them.

Here are Big Picture's system requirements:

    • OS: Windows Vista, 7, or 8.
    • Memory: 1 GB RAM
    • Processor: 3.0 Ghz P4, Dual Core 2.0 (or higher) or AMD64X2 (or higher)
    • Video card
      • Required: at least 256MB memory and DirectX 9-compatible with support for Pixel Shader 2.0b
      • Recommended: 512MB+ memory and DirectX 10-compatible
    • Disk space: 1 GB recommended
    • Internet connection: Broadband recommended
    • Controller: Xbox 360 Wireless Controller for Windows, Xbox 360 Wired Controller, or Logitech Wireless Gamepad F710 recommended. Keyboard and mouse also supported.

    The simplest and best choice is to hook up your computer to your TV with a single HDMI cable, which will carry high-definition video and surround sound. Valve suggests taking the following factors into account when choosing a dedicated living-room computer: "low-noise, small size, good USB connectivity, on-board WiFi, and a decent case design."

    If your computer lacks an HDMI-out port, you can still use DVI or VGA to get Steam on your TV, although you'll have to use a separate cable for audio in those cases. Per Big Picture's system requirements, a PC or laptop with integrated video, as opposed to a discrete graphics card, probably won't be up to the task.

    Valve also points out a "really interesting" option: using your TV as a second monitor for your existing computer with wireless video technology powered by the WHDI standard. In testing, Valve "had good luck" with devices from Amimon, although only when the computer and second monitor were in the same room.

    In general, Valve is looking for your feedback on individual Big Picture setups, since "there is no one machine that suits the needs of all customers." For example, the WHDI consortium offers a few whole-house solutions for wireless delivery of video, and "if you have experience with one of those," says Valve, "we'd like to hear about it."

    Of course, you can also use Big Picture mode without a TV, if you want to play PC games and navigate Steam with a controller on your existing computer and its monitor.

    The beta of Big Picture mode will be available for download later today, according to Valve.

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