Blade’s tiny Shadow box could be your next gaming PC

Blade Shadow

Earlier this week, Nvidia’s GeForce Now PC beta left me pleasantly surprised. This was cloud gaming done right, I thought. I can play my own games on my own ancient hardware at the highest possible graphics settings and give a cheeky middle finger to all those soaring GPU prices in one fell swoop. It’s almost like the PC-equivalent of the Nintendo Switch, as I can use my tiny laptop to play all the latest games from any room in my house. Having seen French start-up Blade’s new Shadow box, however, I’m starting to think I don’t even need a PC full stop anymore.

Whereas GeForce Now is all about letting you game in the cloud, Shadow wants to move your entire PC there. You don’t even technically need that box up there in the header. That’s essentially just a 4K decoder for those who want to sit down at a desk and use a mouse, keyboard and monitor. You could, in fact, access your Intel Xeon and Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080-powered cloud PC from your phone, tablet, Android TV or even a Mac, all with a single tap of its multi-platform app. The real clincher, though? You can seamlessly switch between all those devices simply by launching the Shadow app on another device. Based on an hour-long demo session, this looks like it could be the real PC Switch.

Note that I haven’t been able to try out Shadow for myself just yet – a full review will be coming shortly – but after seeing it in action, I have to say it looks pretty damn impressive.

Unlike Nvidia’s GeForce Now beta, Shadow isn’t just another cloud gaming service. It’s a replacement for your entire PC. Once you’ve logged in, you’re immediately presented with that familiar Windows 10 desktop and from there you can pretty much do everything that you’d normally do on your current PC – install Steam, Office, Photoshop, GOG Galaxy, send emails, access Windows system settings, you name it. More importantly, you can play any game you currently own. Just like a normal PC. Suddenly, Nvidia’s offering of 150-odd GeForce Now-supported games doesn’t look quite so generous anymore.

Blade Shadow ports

That cloud-based PC is properly powerful, too. You get eight dedicated threads of an Intel Xeon server CPU, which Blade says is equivalent to a Core i7 processor, 12GB of RAM, Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080-level graphics performance and 256GB of storage.

To get that kind of power in a regular PC, Blade estimates you’re probably looking at spending £1500. Shadow, on the other hand, works via subscription, so the cost is spread over several months and years. A one-year subscription, for instance, will cost £26.95/month in the UK, which works out at £323.40/year. Keep doing that for four and a half years, and you come to £1455.30 – which, let’s be honest, is much better than paying all that upfront in one go.

But what about when you want to upgrade your hardware, I hear you cry? Blade say that they will take care of all that behind the scenes at no extra cost. When Nvidia launches their next generation of Volta GPUs (the GTX 10-series is currently called Pascal), for instance, your Shadow PC will be upgraded automatically free of charge, which will no doubt come as a sweet sigh of relief given the current state of GPU prices.

Other subscriptions will be available as well, including a three-month commitment for £32.95/month, and a Netflix-style £39.95/month one-month option for when you really want to blitz that thing you’ve really been looking forward to for the last five years over the holidays, for instance, but won’t have to time to play again quite so regularly once you go back to work.

Blade co-founder and CEO Emmanuel Freund also hinted to me that there may be other GPU tiers available in the future, too, potentially giving you the option of choosing exactly what kind of components you want to use so you can tailor a subscription to suit your budget. You won’t even necessarily have to go for the whole hog gaming package either, as Freund also talked about a light web browsing/office type package for when you just want basic access to your files (videos, pictures, music etc) when you’re away from home.

Blade Shadow box LED

For now, though, Blade’s main focus is providing that high-end gaming experience, which is where Shadow’s teeny tiny box comes in. Again, you don’t technically need the box if you’re using Shadow on your phone, tablet, TV or Mac (I was shown Rise of the Tomb Raider running on all of these devices using a paired Xbox One controller over Bluetooth), but for those that want the full Shadow experience with a proper monitor, mouse and keyboard, the box is an absolute must.

Powered by an AMD APU, the box allows for 1080p gaming at up to 144Hz (or 144fps) for those with high-refresh rate monitors, or 4K gaming at 60Hz – that’s something that no other cloud gaming service currently offers. Measuring 190x184x110mm and weighing just 680g, the box also comes with a number of ports for all your various peripherals, including two USB3 ports, two USB2 ports, an Ethernet port, two DisplayPorts, separate headphone and microphone jacks and a power port for plugging it into the mains. You also get a bundled HDMI adapter just in case your monitor doesn’t have a DisplayPort input.

In the flesh, it’s a pretty smart and sleek bit of equipment. Perhaps a smidge space-age looking for my tastes, but I’d much rather have this on my desk and never have to worry about cleaning another fan filter ever again than have to constantly worry about my cats chewing all the cables snaking around the floor and accidentally electrocuting themselves.

You have to pay a bit extra for the box, all told, but a one-time fee of £109.95 to buy it outright is hardly going to break the bank in the grand scheme of things. You can also rent one for £7.95/month, which comes to roughly £95.40/year, if you prefer. Alternatively, if you’re one of the first 500 people to pre-order a Shadow in the UK, Blade will lend you one for free (although you should note this is only a loan and will need to be returned should you end your subscription). UK pre-orders open today, if you’re interested.

The best part is you don’t even need a particularly fast internet connection in order to use it. Blade recommends you have at least a 15Mbps download speed, but Freund told me you can still get a decent 60fps gaming experience at 1920×1080 with just 5Mbps. You’ll need a faster internet connection if you want to play at 4K, of course, but that’s still a heck of a lot more friendly and accessible than Nvidia’s recommended 50Mbps connection for just 1080p gaming on GeForce Now.

Yep, that's Plunkbat on a phone.

Yep, that’s Plunkbat on a phone.

Indeed, Freund conducted my entire demo over a rather shoddy public Wi-Fi network in a shared office space, which was also being used by dozens of other people outside the showroom. This made it all the more impressive when I was able to play something as demanding as the opening scene from Rise of the Tomb Raider through Shadow’s decoder box with no signs of any lag whatsoever. Admittedly, I wasn’t able to see what kind of graphics settings he’d chosen, but it still looked like a decent level of quality. Things got a bit hairier when he switched to Shadow’s phone and tablet app – here, latency was such an issue that I’d call it practically unplayable – but I’ll be giving all this a proper test once I’ve got one in for review.

Still, provided Shadow’s mobile apps end up being just as stable as using the box, it’s a pretty tempting setup. If I’m playing something on the TV through the app and my partner suddenly comes in and wants to watch something, I could just carry on with a tablet or my phone in the same room, or go upstairs and turn on the box and pick up where I left off. The time it takes to transition between each device is Nintendo Switch levels of instant, too, and watching Rise of the Tomb Raider bounce from a 5in phone screen to a 55in TV in about two seconds flat is immensely satisfying. If Nintendo hadn’t done it first, I’d have given Freund a round of applause.

It’s worth noting that Blade’s Shadow app is only available on Android TVs at the moment (that is, Sony and Philips TVs), but Freund said that developing apps for LG’s webOS-based TVs and Samsung’s Tizen-based TVs wouldn’t be out of the question further down the line. There also isn’t an iOS app right now, but this is currently in the works and will be available soon, along with a new mobile UI called Shadow Beyond that aims to make using Windows on smaller screens a bit easier, such as giving you better, more intuitive access to your videos, music and photos without having to go through the ordeal of using Windows 10’s touch interface.

The subscription prices sound like a lot compared to what we’re used to paying for things like Netflix and Amazon Prime, but given the breadth of what you can with access to a powerful PC, a better comparison might be how much you pay for your phone contract. Think of it that way, and it starts to sound a lot more palatable – and a valid option when the alternative is forking out £1500 all in one go.

If Shadow gets it right, it could even be a viable long-term solution to the current crypto-induced madness surrounding today’s ludicrous GPU prices. I know I’d rather pay £30/month for a GTX 1080-powered PC than stump up £650 to upgrade my current card, especially when the rest of my PC is starting to look a bit long in the tooth as well. As I said, I’ll need to test Shadow properly before I can give my final verdict, but for now, count me very much intrigued.

82 Comments

Top comments

  1. Stevostin says:

    I have it. My take on it:

    - all in all, it works and to me at least it's a bit jaw dropping.

    - you have a subtle loss in color rendering. My old 1080p/27' is where it's at the worse. On my 1440p, I can't tell at first glance if I am running natively or on the Shadow Blade app. I am not sure I would be able to do it at second glance either.

    - VDSL /w 80Mb.s but it uses 50 at most. They tell me it may increase in the future. What's sure is that it's enough for 60fps at 1440p, maybe more. Note than below 30Mbs you'll start to have really noticeable artefacts, at least on big pixel screens. Still, it's substantially better than what I have when I use Steam stream on my LAN. Pretty amazing.

    - Latency is more or less like activating vsync. ie 1 frame. You'll feel it in a CS game but even there it probably won't drastically affect your performances. On most game, it's a non issue oO

    - their support has been pretty fast and personalized with me

    - while it is High End gaming, it's not Top End gaming. If you're a 60 fps no vsync nazi you won't play on "ultra" on recent games.

    - using it on a cheap Surface 3 is pretty stunning.

    - I wouldn't use it for professionnal work though. The compression is made for gaming, not still screens, color matching isn't good enough for pro works, you can use low latency audio on it etc. It's optimized for gaming. And that it does well.

    All in all I am now convinced that in the 5G era we're going massively cloud computing. It's mindblowing.
  1. dethtoll says:

    okay but why does the case have to look like a broken transformer

    • pookie101 says:

      Because it is one.. Didn’t you see the invasion on the news?

  2. Premium User Badge

    ooshp says:

    Why would the latency suddenly become an issue switching to the tablet and phone if they’re all on the same congested public wi-fi? Sounds like the PC was rigged for the demo.

    • Asurmen says:

      Decoding chops not as good as with the box? It didn’t specifically say wi fi.

      • MajorLag says:

        Unlikely, since pretty much all decoding is done in hardware these days.

        • Asurmen says:

          That was actually my point, as in the phone/tablet hardware not being as good as the Shadow box. I mean, I have no idea if it’s possible, but my immediate thought is they’re no where near as powerful, and it involves decoding.

          Pure speculation on my part.

  3. Premium User Badge

    buenaventura says:

    Next level unfree computing, talk about total lack of control over your software/hardware! Next computer I buy is not this crap but one certified by the fsf ( link to fsf.org ).

  4. Squirrelfanatic says:

    “To get that kind of power in a regular PC, Blade estimates you’re probably looking at spending £1500. Shadow, on the other hand, works via subscription, so the cost is spread over several months and years. A one-year subscription, for instance, will cost £26.95/month in the UK, which works out at £323.40/year. Keep doing that for four and a half years, and you come to £1455.30 – which, let’s be honest, is much better than paying all that upfront in one go.”

    What a convenient time to make statements like that, with RAM and GPU prices hovering at their inflated price points.

    Other than that, this almost reads like an advert for the product covered in the post, link to preorder site and all. Do drawbacks even exist?

    • ColonelFlanders says:

      Yeah they could have at least said that they need to test it before they pass a verdict; how unprofessional.

      *actually reads article*

      Oh wait

      • Squirrelfanatic says:

        Not sure if you edited your post regarding the last two lines and/or that was aimed at me. I did *actually read the article* and I didn’t claim they tested it. A few wary words on expected performance or ususal shortcomings of such services would be nice though. There’s just a lot of “still” and “but” whenever a hint of scepticism might arise.

        • Masked Dave says:

          It’s a preview, those are traditionally positive and optimistic.

          And actual review would give a real analysis which is why they tell us one will be coming.

          • Squirrelfanatic says:

            That’s fair, though let’s see how critical the actual review will turn out to be.

  5. HoboDragon says:

    I would also like to hear a bit more about lag & networkspeeds. I can barely do it on cable Lan at home from one PC to the next (at least not for action games, roundbased games are ok).
    Also, as already asked, why would I run photoshop or word basically on another PC (that isn’t mine)? Sounds like the old days at the University with terminals for the students and one server (mainframe) at the IT-department….
    On the other hand, GoogleDocs or MS Online are basically the same thing, so maybe no difference in terms of handling ones data.

    • Asurmen says:

      How is your LAN slow and laggy?

      Why would you want to do stuff on another pc? Cos you want to work on another pc.

  6. Slazia says:

    I guess things like this would be okay for work and strategy games, but anything requiring real time interaction is going to be a joke.

    • MajorLag says:

      Depends on your internet connection and a few other factors. The time between frames at 60hz is ~16ms. It’s quite possible to have an internet connection with a round-trip latency well under that if the server is close enough. Of course there are other factors, some of which are only a problem when added to the network latency, but it is possible you could have a smooth experience.

    • Sollymurasaki says:

      Not really. I run Shadow through the app on my laptop and play CS:GO, Overwatch and Dead By Daylight with no problem whatsoever.

  7. AbyssUK says:

    Nobody heard of interest free credit ?? You’d be much better off getting your own equipment, and then reselling.

    • JennyGW says:

      How so? A 1080 rig equals about 2 years of saving up Shadow’s monthly price. So, after 2 years, you buy this 1080 rig. Cool. Few months later as Nvidia comes out with a new 2080 or whatever, your GPU is now worth about 40% of what it was worth. Uhm..cool?

      Look, indeed there is a difference.
      – Local PC will always have less delay. There is just no way of tricking physics.
      – You can work on your local PC if your internet goes down. (that said I cannot really do any work if I have no internet, so meh.) but Shadow can still go offline, have an outage, etc.

  8. biggergun says:

    Always wanted to surrender all control of my entire digital Life to some random for-profit corporation. This kind of thing seriously turns me on.

  9. George Earlslight says:

    I’m gonna give a serious doubt as to the required bandwidth and quality Mr. Freund advertises for 1080p60fps. I’m guessing there’s some serious compression/decompression happening there, where the result would be quite different from a “raw” GPU generated signal.

    • JennyGW says:

      The 15mbps requirement is more suitable if you choose to use the h265 encoding which is available in the Beta client. It adds a negligible amount of delay, but if you live in France or UK, so basically, at the officially supported areas, you can’t feel a difference.
      And yes, a 1080p fits into that space. It’s a pretty sweet technological feat. I do say a 50mbps solid stream will look better, of course it will. But you would be surprised.

  10. escooler says:

    I have been interested in these services for quite some time now, watching them. While not for everyone, Id find this quite convenient, has the actual service launched?

    • Katharine Byrne says:

      It’s already launched in France – now it’s expanding to the UK, Germany and the US.

      • Vilos Cohaagen says:

        Very interesting. Could be good for my wife as she likes to game, has a decent lappy but doesn’t want a gaming desktop.

        • JennyGW says:

          Also using Shadow to replace my aging gaming laptop. In fact my next laptop will be just some used ThinkPad with fullHD graphics. I mean my laptop has basically become a thin client with Shadow (and other cloud services.) Best thing about Shadow – for me – is the 1080 and the forced bandwidth. Other services usually tried to save on bandwidth costs so they forced lower encode profiles (meaning I only had like 20mbps stream). On Shadow, I can do 50mbps or 70mbps (with the box) solid, and it’s maxed out.

          Wish there was a real photo or something comparing a real game and the stream, as I literally cannot tell the difference between a 1080p gameplay on my PC and a 50mbps Shadow stream. In case anyone doubts me, try it, ask a friend who has an account, etc. Prove me wrong.

  11. d3vilsadvocate says:

    These are dangerous waters my friends. Seeing how willingly PC gamers accept pretty much anything these days (draconian DRM, launchers, lootboxes, endless DLC), this might just be another “nail in the coffin”.

    If this gets too popular, we might just lose control over pretty much anything as far as owning games, modding them, tweaking them etc. are concerned.

    • escooler says:

      I welcome options, no one says you have to use this service. I don’t always play games through the year. And at the moment, shelling out the cash on a fancy PC that I don’t have the room/wont always use for is a poor option for my circumstances. But I do like to play PC games like stellaris and Civ, so a console does not work for me either.

      The idea of being able to play for a few months, then unsubscribe would suit me. But not everyone has the same life as me, so I think more options is a good thing. Itch and GOG still offer DRM free products.

      • Asurmen says:

        This. Talk of this replacing desktops, or people giving up control is just hyperbole/fear mongering.

        It’s merely an option. Use it or don’t.

        • Stevostin says:

          He said

          “If this gets too popular”

          You guys are missing his point. I admire Shadow Blade but this is a valid point. A few years from now, 5G everywhere, it’s easy to picture physical PCs (or Consoles) as an oddity. Then what happens if we loose 5G ? Yeah I know same things as power loss. But that’s another layer of massive fail risk.

          • Asurmen says:

            I got their point. I think mine still stands. It’s speculation on something that might not even happen, and even if it did happen won’t necessarily lead to the consequences they think it will.

            Somehow that speculation makes this ‘dangerous waters’ for what is actually a neat useful concept that finally might work.

          • Asurmen says:

            Has the edit function suddenly been removed?

            Anyway, also as the article points out you can still play games you own, and other people in this thread have said you can still mod.

          • Stevostin says:

            Well, speculation is always on something that might not even happen. That being said I would be surprise if cloud hosted gaming doesn’t become the new standard once 5G is mature.

        • hungrycookpot says:

          Introducing [gamename], releasing only on Amazon/Google/EA distributed-gaming platforms!

        • sosolidshoe says:

          Uhuh, sure, yup, just an option, not being forced at all.

          Just like DRM would never intrusively snoop into your PC, or damage your hardware, or demand you be online all the time to play single player games(a level of connectivity the companies evidently don’t require of their own verification servers).

          Just like early DLC and microtransactions wouldn’t lead to getting less content for the same money – both in terms of the core game purchase and as time went on the supplementary payments as well – or to predatory business models designed to exploit compulsive behaviours, and would definitely never ever affect the way games are developed mechanically in terms of their pacing or matchmaking systems to “encourage” purchases.

          And it’s not as if tech corporations are harvesting ever more data from us to the point there are some genuinely sinister implications both socially and politically, nor have any such companies ever had massive data breaches resulting in all that information landing in the hands of criminals or others with nefarious intent.

          See, bub, “slippery slope” arguments only work when you’re still at the top of the slope, rather than careering down the slope at full-tilt, and while the logic of the argument is still implausible based on the available evidence. But we *know* tech companies are lax with info security, and we *know* they will take a mile if you give them a millimetre, and we *know* that most normal folk will happily let these companies boil them like metaphorical frogs until they don’t have any rights or ownership left.

          In that context, fears that this kind of service becoming mainstream could lead to hardware and “offline” data ownership going the same way as online data ownership are entirely rational and justifiable, since eventually they would reach a level of cost efficiency sufficient to either A; make hardware manufacturers move on to other products due to lack of profits, or B; make hardware manufacturers jack up their prices so high to target the “whales” exclusively that “mid-range” hardware ownership ceases to exist. In either case, a whole lot of people who don’t want any part of all this “cloud” nonsense wouldn’t have much choice at all.

          • Nauallis says:

            I especially like the part where you attack the above commenter for using a slippery-slope argument, by using a slippery-slope and a strawman argument. Fallacies FTW.

          • Asurmen says:

            Funny thing is, is that I never used a slippery slope argument.

  12. apa says:

    I can’t wait to offload my home computing to cloud like this! This is home version of what is happening/has happened already to private servers in business world: cloud. Unless there’s a very special reason no one would invest 500k€ to server infrastructure when one can get better for monthly fee.

    We just need fiber-to-the-curb connections (I don’t believe in 4G/5G) and lag free home computing with unlimited power is here.

  13. poliovaccine says:

    I remember having that idea about cloud computing when the topic was first new to me, sharing hardware capability that is, and being laughed at for it being obviously impossible. I feel validated in seeing that it was actually a decent idea, even if I was never gonna be the guy to make it real, haha.

  14. GernauMorat says:

    I mean that’s fine unless you want to, say, mod a game

    • Solidstate89 says:

      The way this service is set-up that actually wouldn’t be a problem. You’re basically signing into a VM of a full Windows install.

    • Sollymurasaki says:

      I’ve actually been using Shadow for the last 3 months, and use a lot of mods on my games, there is no problem with it. You just rent a distant computer, you are free to do what you want on it. It’s kinda like cloud storage, but with the hardware.

  15. Solidstate89 says:

    I mean technically speaking it could. But it won’t.

  16. BlueTemplar says:

    daz it ran bitcon ?

    • BlueTemplar says:

      No, seriously, what are they are going to do with the people that are going to interpret their offer literally :

      “I’ve paid money to rent this ‘equivalent to a Core i7 processor, 12GB of RAM, Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080-level graphics performance and 256GB of storage’ server for a month, and I’ll bloody well going to run it at 100% 24h/24 7d/7 !”

      Especially when there’s an easy financial incentive these days to run computing projects (between gaming sessions), which for this kind of hardware, according to RPS, should translate to more than £80 per month :
      link to rockpapershotgun.com
      And this service costs at most £40/month. Oops!
      (Another reason for them to propose an hourly rate… except maybe for the data storage.)

      It’s naive to think that this kind of service, that has the same requirements than other computing services (though much more required bandwidth than most), is not going to be affected by the same hardware (and energy, etc.) prices!

      (at least in the long term – a big company can cover these kinds of fluctuating infrastructure costs in the short term – and the gamers that are angry that they cannot afford a good graphic card right now, should think instead how cheap they are going to be when the cryptocurrency bubble pops (again) – and maybe try these cloud gaming services if the polygon craving gets too high…)

      • HiroTheProtagonist says:

        Several reasons:

        1. BitCoin, specifically, can’t be efficiently mined with GPUs anymore. You’d need an ASIC, and those are expensive even compared to the recent inflation of prices
        2. You’re getting a VM with a single GPU, which would barely be capable of mining anything besides some of the really small-time cryptocoins, which would probably cost the user more in terms of hardware usage than they could recover by mining
        3. Odds are very high that certain precautions will be taken by Blade to prevent users from installing mining software specifically because some users will think to try mining with VMs.

        • BlueTemplar says:

          1. I’m well aware of that, it was a joke.
          2. Not if RPS’s information is correct. See also my link.
          3. That would require them to spy on the user, which would be BAD.
          But even if they DO it, this is only likely to create a game of whack-a-mole, with collateral damage. See YouTube’s recent issues as an example. And it’s not only about mining – where do they draw the line?

  17. mont3core says:

    Or you could just spend $30 on a Raspberry Pi and use Parsec to stream a cloud machine for cents on the hour.

    • Stevostin says:

      I understand one of their key asset are the proprietary tech to optimise the process and indeed it works way better than steam stream on my LAN. It’s worth giving it a try and compare IMO.

    • JennyGW says:

      The only thing that comes close is a Volta machine from Paperspace or Amazon. Both costs well over 2.5$ per hour. Great gaming experience – as long as you can finish your game under ~10 hours. Oh, and you also have to pay for the bandwidth. And the storage.

      Honestly, the only alternative is to build your own gaming PC, have a very fast (50+mbps) upload speed at home, and then use Parsec. But then, we are back to square one. Why invest so much money into one system, when you can just ‘lease’ from a company like Shadow?

  18. steve says:

    This appears to make sense in the same way that rental in general makes sense. i.e. perhaps if it’s a short term thing but otherwise, it doesn’t make sense unless you cannot purchase outright.

    For example, I own a house with a mortgage primarily because renting a similar property would cost about the same over 25 years but at the end of my tenancy I’d have nothing whereas at the end of my mortgage I have a house..

    Same goes for renting cars, phones, etc. I believe that renting & subscriptions are a financial plague on our society. Otherwise intelligence people seem entirely unable to properly grasp the true cost of anything with a per month price or find reasonable alternatives to compare it with.

    Companies know this and exploit this vulnerability in people’s financial awareness to line their pockets.

    None of which is to saw that this looks like a bad product or service, in fact it looks very solid. Just be careful in your cost/benefit comparisons as the one in the article (£27/month vs £1,500/5 years) makes it seem straight forward but is misleading in several ways.

    • BlueTemplar says:

      Indeed.
      Give me a reasonable hourly rate, and I might see myself using it in a pinch, as an Internet café of sorts.
      (Just not for latency-limited applications like action games, as I’m unlikely to have a good enough Internet connection in these situations.)
      But a monthly subscribtion ? No way !

      Another potential application would be very high-resolution Virtual Reality, where an individual might have the fiber for the required bandwidth, but would be unable to afford the supercomputer one would need to run it… but the required minimum latency is probably much lower than for even (non-VR) action games !

    • Stevostin says:

      Actually I thought the same but I am not sure about that. A yearly sub is a bit less than 30€ a month, 360€ a year. That’s roughly 4 years for the matching hardware – and by that time, they’re supposed to have updated your cfg once or twice. If so there are no points where your own rig is a competition in term of cost.

      How do they do it ? Easy: they have one GPU per user but there have less than that for CPU, RAM, etc. ie it’s like a bus vs a car. There are structural reasons why it will always be cheaper. Their making better economical use of the HW than you can by having it running around the clock.

      Of course there are some cons with a cloud based rig but there also are some pros. It follows you were you go. It updates its hardware without you worrying about anything. Games install silly fast bc that doesn’t depend on your network but on their, which is silly fast. If you’re in for gaming those are big plus.

      • BlueTemplar says:

        I’m not certain that their prices will be worth it for long (see my comment before my previous one)…

        For cloud (action-)gaming to be interesting you need all 3 of :
        1.) a crappy computer
        2.) a stable, low latency Internet connection with cheap bandwidth
        3.) servers close to you

        2.) and 3.) have a good synergy, but their intersection with 1.) seems to be quite unlikely !

        I could see it becoming popular with poor students in (new) student housing in some universities :
        – the university is close to the servers
        – the _new_ student housing has great Internet connection (old won’t)
        – not enough space in the room for a gaming desktop
        – cannot afford a gaming laptop, but still need a laptop for studying, because :
        (- the university computer rooms are to be underfunded, so that the students cannot rely on them for studying – much less gaming)
        (- since they need a laptop anyway, a tv+console in the room would seem like an extra luxury – and the student housing wouldn’t have enough break room tvs to accommodate everyone)

        Yeah, that makes for pretty specific conditions !
        Not to mention that these kinds of students wouldn’t be able to afford the £30-40/month prices that Blade is asking!

        • Stevostin says:

          I think EULA forbid you to farm bc and the likes. I am not even sure it would be money efficient.

          “2.) and 3.) have a good synergy, but their intersection with 1.) seems to be quite unlikely !”

          Considering 95% of people have crappy computers, that’s not an educated guess. Go check Steam Hardware Survey.

          Yes, the fraction of gamers who go to RPS and know what “Ti” means after ‘GTX 1080’ will be the last one to ditch the knowledge and passion they’ve put in this. And even them, if they’re like me, will be happy to get a family PC ready to play multiplayer with the kids for a fraction of the cost.

          My bet is that cloud gaming makes profit this year, and becomes the go to standard for gamers within less than 10 years. Actually I’d say 6 if I had to put a number.

      • BlueTemplar says:

        (People that aren’t interested in the hardware, and don’t like tinkering, tend to game on consoles…)

      • steve says:

        There are a couple of problems with the cost comparison though:

        1. What if you don’t want a GTX 1080? I’ve been running a Radeon 7870 for the past 4 years or so with no problems. Can play Doom @ 60 fps 1080p on decent settings. I don’t need GTX 1080 and wouldn’t buy one. At most I’d go for a 1070 so that tips the scales significantly.
        2. What about the other parts of your system? I generally upgrade the GPU twice for each CPU/mobo/ram upgrade so the true cost of ownership over 10 years with their specs is not £3000 but more like £2000.
        3. If I really want a ‘simple’ gaming experience then why wouldn’t I can get a console rather than this service? About £500 every 5 years or so is waaay cheaper (alright games are more expensive but I could go for a steam machine.)
        4. What are the disadvantages compared to buying the kit yourself?
        What if your internet goes down? What about VR? Gsync? What if the company goes bust?

        There are other’s I’m sure.

        • Stevostin says:

          Those are issues for the tiny amount of gamers (by Steam Hardware survey info) who cares and pay for that kind of nuance. You and I (I am there with you) are already a rare breed. I can see now that we’ll be rarer in the future.

    • wackazoa says:

      This is kind of a bad example, since it only takes into account your situation. Owning v. renting is not a black and white issue. To keep this example, say your on a temporary appointment or are unsure of whether this area or another is better for you. Or what if you like change and don’t want to settle down. Renting in these cases, whether home or PC in this case, are often the better option for some.

      Again renting has its value in lots of cases. If your are one of the many people who like “new” things, i.e the next iPhone or fancy GPU or even car, you rent/lease until the next one comes out and you can exchange it for the newer model. The costs can sometime even be cheaper this way, but like I said it is all dependent on the specific situation.

      I personally would probably not use this. But the idea behind I find extremely interesting and could see uses for it for people I know. Technology is heading in some very cool directions. (Also very scary…. :()

      • wackazoa says:

        I need to learn how to internets apparently….

        “For example, I own a house with a mortgage primarily because renting a similar property would cost about the same over 25 years but at the end of my tenancy I’d have nothing whereas at the end of my mortgage I have a house..”

        1st paragraph references this.

        “Same goes for renting cars, phones, etc. I believe that renting & subscriptions are a financial plague on our society. Otherwise intelligence people seem entirely unable to properly grasp the true cost of anything with a per month price or find reasonable alternatives to compare it with.”

        2nd paragraph references this.

    • JennyGW says:

      Renting can make sense, when it makes sense. A company renting a fleet of cars is actually more sane, than buying them. Same here.

      Your example is legit, buying a house that you have insurance on, then later can put up for rent or sell, is indeed a business opportunity in itself. But electronics lose value real fast. They don’t go up in value, but plummet real fast.

  19. tekknik says:

    So am I reading this right? If I need say 64GB RAM and 1-2TB of SSD space they will accommodate for free? or do they mean they’ll upgrade the components over time to keep your PC up to date? Also what about bandwidth? Can I use whatever amount I want or is there some limit?

    • Stevostin says:

      You don’t customize anything. They do, when they decide. Right now you’ll find the SSD a bit small. That being said downloading a fresh games is a matter of minutes so reinstalling / uninstalling not a big issue.

  20. KingFunk says:

    A decent 1080p60 experience with 5 meg internet? I want to know more about this as based on previous experience I imagine we’d be in swimming in Vaseline compression with only 5 meg…

    • Stevostin says:

      Define decent. You’ll have probably your 60 fps but massive compression. In my test it’s rather 30Mbps for solid experience. 20 will look like stream on steam on LAN. Don’t look at the grass !

      • KingFunk says:

        Hmmm… I technically live on an island (in a dock area) so we can’t get fibre yet. Broadband is about 17 meg max. I would still be very interested in a free trial for a desktop client version. I think I have a high tolerance for lag, especially as I don’t play multiplayer games. Just don’t want heavy artefacting if my wife wants to use iPlayer!

      • KingFunk says:

        Also, Steam Link is more than acceptable via LAN for me, as it’s my couch gaming option so I can’t see any artefacts!

      • Someoldguy says:

        This is where the comparison falls down, imo. If anyone has to start paying for a considerably faster internet connection to get satisfactory performance then that £1500/5 yr starts to look more like £2500/5 yr. That’s not an expense I can justify, even if the high speed internet service was available in my area.

        In terms of storage, 256GB is probably enough to fit my archive of save games if I don’t install mroe than one game at a time.

        How do you install games that you possess on CD/DvD?

  21. Stevostin says:

    I have it. My take on it:

    – all in all, it works and to me at least it’s a bit jaw dropping.

    – you have a subtle loss in color rendering. My old 1080p/27′ is where it’s at the worse. On my 1440p, I can’t tell at first glance if I am running natively or on the Shadow Blade app. I am not sure I would be able to do it at second glance either.

    – VDSL /w 80Mb.s but it uses 50 at most. They tell me it may increase in the future. What’s sure is that it’s enough for 60fps at 1440p, maybe more. Note than below 30Mbs you’ll start to have really noticeable artefacts, at least on big pixel screens. Still, it’s substantially better than what I have when I use Steam stream on my LAN. Pretty amazing.

    – Latency is more or less like activating vsync. ie 1 frame. You’ll feel it in a CS game but even there it probably won’t drastically affect your performances. On most game, it’s a non issue oO

    – their support has been pretty fast and personalized with me

    – while it is High End gaming, it’s not Top End gaming. If you’re a 60 fps no vsync nazi you won’t play on “ultra” on recent games.

    – using it on a cheap Surface 3 is pretty stunning.

    – I wouldn’t use it for professionnal work though. The compression is made for gaming, not still screens, color matching isn’t good enough for pro works, you can use low latency audio on it etc. It’s optimized for gaming. And that it does well.

    All in all I am now convinced that in the 5G era we’re going massively cloud computing. It’s mindblowing.

    • haldolium says:

      Thanks for the first impression. Especially since I just set up another PC in my home and was midly annoyed by Steams inhome streaming performance (tried only AssCreed @ultra at 900p) the comparison is of interest to me.

      Although ~50Mbit is sadly still something I *especially* don’t have when I would want to stream something, since broadband still can be sparse in country areas.

      • Stevostin says:

        I am in the middle of french country but close to center of my (500 inhabitant) village, which means strong VDSL (we have a good broadband program for the area). But there are other alternatives. There are now some unlimited 4G subs and if you have that in a country side, you don’t share it with a lot of ppl like in the city so you can have more than enough for this. I know some ppl says it works well although I have no idea about the latency in such cases.

        Also, 5G coming.

  22. April March says:

    This is interesting to me. I have a high-end PC because I like to play big, AAA games and I don’t like wondering if they’ll run on my rig or not. But most of my gaming diet nowadays consists of tiny indies. If cloud gaming was cheap and effective I could keep my current machine until it exploded, use it to play the games I play the most, and use the cloud like a console to play stuff I like but don’t play as much. And if there was a game I liked that didn’t run on my shitty machine (like friggin’ Tropico 5) I could turn to the cloud to it.

    The only problem is that it doesn’t fit my habits; I’ll play AAA games a few hours a month for years on end, until I finish the game, then I’ll switch to another one. It doesn’t seem a great deal to pay thirty bucks for that, every month. What was that thing another commenter was saying about using Parsec to stream to a Raspberry?

    • Stevostin says:

      Not if you’ve already invested in a rig. If you hadn’t, though, it would be the exact opposite. I know it’s unlikely for me to buy a new fully fledged rig any time soon.

  23. jayda says:

    I don’t want to watch porn on a distant computer.

  24. JimDiGritz says:

    Had a look at their website – am utterly astonished that there is no trial. Madness!

    This kind of disruptive technology needs to be experienced – do they really expect people to just fork over £40 or even worse sign up for a £300 contract without trying it?? They *say* 15mbps is all that’s required – why not let me see for myself??

    Surely this BEGS for a 30 second free taster session – maybe drop me straight into a free or open source game – if it blew my mind I’d sign up. As it is this is gym membership money (which by the way offers a trial session).

    I umm’d and ahh’d over £9 per month for Netflix and was only eventually tempted because I could try it out….

    • KingFunk says:

      Wholeheartedly agree. If the tech is as good as they claim, there should be a free trial desktop client that doesn’t require specialised kit. Having seen the EG coverage, those guys seemed fairly convinced by the people from the company so if they’re sensible, presumably such a thing is on the cards.

      I suppose they may also be relying on ‘whales’ of a sort to get the ball rolling and effectively beta test it before they go full Netflix…

    • Stevostin says:

      Right now they take a few days to setup your rig. I assume they’re on a tight bandwith regarding HW investment.

      Also once you start it, it’s a Windows 10 first boot. You have stuff to do yourself. It’s a fully fledged computer. You’ll need some time to test it.

      I rationalized it was worth spending the 45€ to test and indeed for me it was but that’s clearly an issue ATM. I assume that it’s the kind of stuff they’re working upon to improve.

  25. toshiro says:

    Its interesting of course, but just like driving your car fueled by a bacteria tank that only requires that sun exists is interesting as well, let’s wait and see shall we.