Is it possible to run games on a hosted server smoothly via RDP?

I have a dedicated server running Windows Server 2012 R2. It has 144 GB of RAM, an Intel Xeon E5 and GeForce GTX 750 Ti GPU. It's a dedicated, hosted server so I have to connect to it via RDP. I use the standard Windows Remote Desktop software to connect.

I've tried playing browser games like agar.io but that's just a lag of death. I compared the performance of FreeRDP and it was much faster, but still there was some lag that disturbed the game play.

It would be awesome if this were possible, because I have a low-end PC and not much money to buy an great gaming PC.

  • Is this server located in your own network, or do you connect to it over the internet? – LPChip Jun 11 '15 at 20:41
  • over the internet. – Aarivex Jun 11 '15 at 20:47
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    How is this primarily opinion based? – cgage1 Dec 20 '16 at 3:01

You're experiencing problems due to more than just latency. In the default configuration Remote Desktop does a poor job of handling graphics, making even the fastest server or Internet connection seem slow.

But if you're running games based on Flash, Silverlight or DirectX, you can make these graphics-intense games playable over RDP with RemoteFX.

Microsoft RemoteFX is a Microsoft brand name that covers a set of technologies that enhance visual experience of the Microsoft-developed remote display protocol Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) (Source: Wikipedia)

TechNet describes some features and types of applications that can be used with RemoteFX:

  • Silverlight and Flash applications

  • 3D applications built on DirectX

  • Media player applications

  • Applications that are hosted on the Internet

This blogger at withinwindows.com describes some of his experiences using RemoteFX to play DirectX-enabled games:

...DirectX [is] one of the most compelling features of RemoteFX. To be able to play an accelerated game, like Unreal Tournament 3, over RDP on a laptop with unusable Intel graphics is just amazing.

Now, I've said this can be done. But to be fair, RemoteFX has serious requirements. After all, it's a server-class technology. You'll want to review these requirements, consider whether you can meet them, and decide if the effort (and possible extra cost) is worthwhile to you. Here are some resources to get you started:

  • I was just about to suggest this, however, doesn't RemoteFX integrate with your local DirectX, i.e. the server sends instructions to DirectX on your machine? If that's the case, wouldn't it only render as well as the inferior client rather than the superior server? – jimbobmcgee Jun 11 '15 at 21:31
  • Nope. The rendering is done on the server (that's why RemoteFX requires server-side GPUs) and then the resulting frames are compressed and sent to the client. You can use some pretty crappy client hardware and get impressive results. – I say Reinstate Monica Jun 11 '15 at 21:33
  • Do i only need RemoteFX on my server computer or would i need it on both? – cgage1 Dec 20 '16 at 3:14
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    @cgage RemoteFX is installed on the server. – I say Reinstate Monica Dec 20 '16 at 12:13

Given that the server is not located near your computer, the answer is always going to be no.

When you connect to the server over the internet, it will take time for a package to go from your pc, to your ISP, to the ISP of the server to the server, and then back again to your pc following that same route.

This can mean that for each packet, it can take somewhere between 15ms and 50ms of time to communicate.

In internet, this is a huge delay, because that means that every movement you make in the game, somewhere between 0,1 and 0,5 seconds (in good conditions I may add) will happen before your keypress and a response is noticable.

Gaming requires quick responses so "streaming" a game is almost always going to be laggy if the host is not located in the same network as the pc. Not to mention that RDP does not offer proper hardware accelleration support causing the most advanced graphical games to not even run.

Now, there are games that are not dependend of quick moves, where this lag is tolerable, but these games will likely run fine on your computer too and for that reason excluded from this answer.

  • This is the reason Onlive is a failure. – Keltari Jun 11 '15 at 21:11
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    20-50ms latency is barely noticeable in most games. It's only problematic in fast-paced games such as FPS, but many MMOs for example have 500-1000ms+ latency built into the game anyway. Plus most monitors have anywhere between 20-80ms input latency as well, and again, you only get complaints from competitive FPS players. – qasdfdsaq Jun 11 '15 at 21:43
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    Of course we have no indication of what the OP's latency to his server is like, so it's impossible to say if WAN latency is the problem. Some internet connections have as little as 4ms latency to major datacentres, yet others have over 150ms. – qasdfdsaq Jun 11 '15 at 21:46

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