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In a perfect world Airplay mirroring would display identical results compared to an HDMI cable. In other words, the frames per second, resolution, and image quality would be unaffected by the use of Airplay compared to using traditional means.

What are the current limitations of Airplay?

Can I stream a 1080p movie through Airplay onto my television (through Apple TV)? Can I play a first person shooter through Airplay without lag?

Assume a powerful 2013 iMac.

I would appreciate any information related to frames per second, resolution, image quality, bandwidth, lag/delay, and what factors are associated with these limitations.

3

The Apple Developer documentation for AirPlay, specifically the HTTP Live Streaming section, has pretty detailed information about it. Depending on several factors, I summarize the following:

Resolution max. recommended high profile encoder settings, for a 16:9 aspect ratio over wifi:

  • Dimensions: 1920 x 1080
  • Total bitrate: 40000 kbps
  • Video bitrate: 39000 kbps
  • Keyframes: 90

Framerate A frame rate of 10 fps is recommended for video streams under 200 kbps. For video streams under 300 kbps, a frame rate of 12 to 15 fps is recommended. For all other streams, a frame rate of 29.97 is recommended.

There is tons of more info, but in short, the specs say: "Yes!" you can stream a 1080p movie through Airplay. And there are several examples of "Airplay-enabled-games", like first person shooters, that work just great.

However, the crucial factor will be your wifi network as this will determine your lag/delay and -probably- most limiting factors. So there will be a significant delay on any 802.11N based wifi network. And therefor, there will be lag with latency-sensitive audio/video interactive purposes, like games. For movies, it should be no problem though.

Summarizing: The limitations of wifi transfer speeds isn't near to your perfect world when connected through a cable.

  • 1
    Can you give me any examples of FPS games that run well on OS X and that can be streamed by Airplay> Also, I am a bit confused. Isn't 802.11n the second fastest type of wireless there is? Why would that be associated with significant delay? You make it sound as if its fine for games, and then that there will be delay. Can you elaborate? – Behacad Dec 31 '13 at 14:06
  • Primary factor for Airplay performance is indeed the speed of your wifi. 802.11AC is indeed currently the fastest standard (exceeds N standard). There will always be a delay; your setup will determine "how much" and what will be acceptable. – Moriarty Jan 2 '14 at 7:39

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