Hardware decoding means that your client computer's hardware is using a chip in it made specifically for streaming video, which Parsec takes advantage of for a lower latency stream. If you don't have this chip in your GPU, Parsec will use automatically use software mode (software decoding), which is a slower method that uses the CPU instead.
Decoding is related to the client computer, in comparison to encoding, which is done on the host computer (the computer that is being connected to).
How do I know if my device is decoding using software?
To check, press the Parsec button and look at the top-right for whether 'Software' is being used to view the stream.
If this is set to Software, then your client computer is using software decoding. If not, then it is using hardware decoding and there is no issue.
If you instead see a red icon next to the Parsec icon with the message "The host is using software encoding. Expect degraded performance and quality", the issue is with the host you're connecting to. In that case, see the article dedicated to figuring out why software encoding is being used.
How can I check if my device has a hardware decoder?
Check if your computer's CPU and GPU are listed in the hardware requirements, in the recommended section.
What can I do if my hardware isn't supported?
Your stream may still work, but it may also be slow especially if the host's display is set to a high enough resolution or FPS. If things feel slow, lower the host's display resolution and FPS. You may need to go as low as 1280x720 at 60 or 30fps. If you're using a laptop, keep the power adapter plugged in as software decoding is very performance intensive.
What if my hardware has a decoder but is not using it?
Linux clients: Parsec is undergoing a transition from libva to FFmpeg. Hardware decoding is currently unavailable, but the intention is to bring it back eventually. At the moment you will be able to connect to streams with the slower software decode, using FFmpeg 4 (libavcodec58).
Try the following solutions:
- Consider updating your graphics drivers
- Make sure to restart your computer after updating the drivers, as Parsec may not be able to use its decoder until that is done
- Ensure that Hardware/NVIDIA/Intel/AMD is selected in the Decoder setting in your Parsec client settings
- You should also change the host's resolution (the computer you're connecting to) to 1280x720 in the case of older AMD hardware decoders, which are not able to process higher resolutions fast enough. Look at the latency in your Parsec overlay and ensure that it is low enough for the current resolution (such as less than 15ms in the case of a 60fps stream)