Xbox-to-PC streaming has a secret “very high” quality mode

If you’re unhappy with the sharpness of streaming Xbox games to your Windows 10 PC, here’s how to improve it.

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One of the coolest features in Windows 10, at least for Xbox One owners, is the ability to stream console games to the PC over Wi-Fi.

But for some reason, Microsoft imposes some severe throttling on the quality of the stream, even when you set it to high quality. Fortunately, Reddit user “OomaThurman” discovered how to unlock a higher quality stream, one that almost matches the detail of native console play,

Here’s how to enable the “very high” quality mode for Xbox-to-PC streaming:

  1. Open File Explorer and head to C:\Users\YOURUSERNAME\AppData\Local\Packages
  2. Find the folder that begins with “Microsoft.Xbox.App” and open the “LocalState” folder.
  3. Open the “userconsoledata” file in Notepad. (Right click, choose “Open With,” and select NotePad from the list.)
  4. Look for the text that reads “<IsInternalPreview>false” and change the “false” to “true”
  5. Save and close the file.
  6. After start streaming, click the stream icon in the top-right corner, and a “very high” option should be there.

To see the difference in quality, Eurogamer has posted side-by-side comparisons for several games. The “very high” quality stream is a huge improvement, one that I noticed in my own experience just from looking at the main Xbox One menu.

Of course, you’ll need a pretty fast router and a solid connection on both ends to handle the higher quality stream. Tests by Eurogamer found that throughput consistently reached 18 Mbps on “very high” quality mode. But having tried this on a dual-band gigabit router with a wired PC connection, I didn’t notice any issues. Framerates seemed smooth enough to me while playing Rayman Legends, though Eurogamer noticed drops to around 40 fps at times.

Why this matters: Windows 10 just launched a couple weeks ago, so we’re guessing Microsoft wants to test and tweak Xbox streaming before it removes the brakes on streaming quality. Either that, or Microsoft doesn’t want to be responsible for tying up an entire home’s bandwidth. In any case, at least there’s a way for power users to dig in and make streaming console play even sharper.

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