You bought a tablet and you’re fiddling around with apps and learning how to use it. One idea that popped into your head is whether or not you can play Steam games on a tablet.
As it turns out, there are a few options available to you. Playing Steam games on your tablet will allow you to play games from anywhere, instead of only at your desk.
You can only natively play some Steam games on Windows tablets. Android tablets and iPads are limited to Steam Link and a cloud streaming service like GeForce Now.
Let’s take a closer look at your options.
1. Install the Steam Client
Requirements: Windows Tablet.
On Windows tablets, you can download the Steam client and install some Steam games. Since Windows tablets are essentially mini-PCs, you can use them the same as regular PCs. Head to the Steam and download the Windows client.
Bear in mind, that most Windows tablets don’t have powerful GPUs, and will be unable to run graphically intensive games. Stardew Valley and other lightweight games should run without any issues.
Microsoft’s most famous tablet is the Surface Pro. The latest one, Surface Pro 9 runs i7 with Intel IRIS XE graphics. Just keep in mind, that Windows tablets have very limited storage, so be mindful of what you download.
2. Use Steam Link
Requirements: Separate PC running Steam. Local area network only.
Steam Link is an app that is available on Google Play and IOS stores. It allows you to stream games from another device on your home network to a tablet or other mobile device. For example, if you have a gaming PC running Steam, Steam Link will allow you to remotely connect to and stream the games on that PC to another device.
The performance of Steam Link over your network greatly depends on your network’s capabilities, 5GHz Wi-Fi is highly recommended. If you want to give it a shot, download Steam Link and give it a go.
P.S. You can also use Steam Link to play Steam games on Chromebooks.
3. Cloud Game with GeForce Now
Requirements: Tablet with a Web browser.
GeForce Now is a cloud game streaming service. You can use it to stream games from a cloud server to any device with no installation required. For example, GeForce Now can work on mobile phones, tablets, and Chromebooks. Just head open a browser on your tablet and head to that website.
The downside to GeForce Now is it’s not available in every region and there can be significant input delay. The free version is also limited to one hour of game time and low priority queue. However, GeForce Now is currently the only way to play Steam games on a tablet without a separate PC.
Configure Tablet Controls for Steam Games
There aren’t many Steam games that support touch controls. So, if you manage to link your tablet to a Steam game, the best way to play is with a controller. Most tablets are compatible with Xbox and PlayStation controllers.
If your controller supports Bluetooth, then you can likely use it with your tablet. In fact, Steam Link requires a controller before it connects to your PC.
The Bottom Line
So, unless you own a Windows tablet, you won’t be able to natively run Steam games. The only other options to play Steam games on a tablet are Steam Link and GeForce Now. Steam Link only works on your local area network, while GeForce Now is accessible anywhere.
Remember, GeForce now will use a lot of your mobile data, and it might not run well over 4G or slower mobile networks. 5G should offer a relatively smooth experience.
Why can’t I run Steam games on a tablet?
The only tablet you can run Steam games on is a Windows tablet. Steam games are not designed for Android or IOS environments.
What’s the best way to stream a game to a tablet?
Steam Link is the best option to stream games to a tablet. The second-best is GeForce now but the latency may be higher than Steam Link.
Can I play Steam games on a tablet without a PC?
You can stream Steam games to a tablet without a PC by using GeForce Now.