Shadow – Virtual Gaming PC Review
Have you ever used a remote desktop program, be it the one built into Windows or something like Team Viewer? Well imagine that, on steroids, and that is was Shadow is. Shadow is a virtual, cloud based, high-end gaming pc, that you can access and use, at the highest of settings, for a flat rate of £26.95 a month (contract free). How, what, when? Let’s answer those questions now.
Developed by French start up, Blade, Shadow is a virtual gaming machine, that is housed within a very large data centre somewhere in Europe, that allows you to play the games you want, via your low-end device, anywhere in the world. It’s currently available on Windows 10, Mac OS, Smart TV, Android and soon IOS. There are just two requirements, your device needs to run a Shadow compatible operating system, and have an internet connection of at least 15mb/s. Also, if you want to play at a 4K resolution, your device must support that.
How much of a high-end gaming set up is it? Very much so! Your virtual machine includes:
- An Intel Xeon E5-2667 v3 @ 3.2GHz CPU
- 12gb DDR4 Ram
- (Equivalant to) Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 w/ 8gb dedicated ram
- Resolution up to 4k @ 30fps
- 256gb storage
- 1Gb/s internet connection at server end
- Windows 10 64bit (if using the windows version)
- As for sound, this is played through your existing device
We got a trial subscription, so we could check out the set-up process and try out some PUBG at ultra-settings, we hope! Once you have purchased a subscription via their website, you will be able to log into the website and download the Shadow software, on the platform of your choice. For this example, I installed the windows version, onto an 18-month-old Lenovo laptop (i3, 4gb ram, on board graphics), to see how it would run. Once installed, you will need to log in, with the same credentials and hit ‘SHADOW’. There is then a 3-stage loading page, which once loaded, will display your virtual machine. I was not expecting what was to come next…
It’s as if I had just built a new pc and was setting it up for the first time. You are initially prompted to a Windows install screen, asking for you location, time, date, etc etc. Once you’ve finished setting up Windows, you will arrive at the desktop. From here, you can begin to download the games you want. For me, I got straight onto steam and installed PUBG. You need to purchase your own games, access them using your own log in details etc. You need to treat this as your home pc. That being said, I didn’t install discord, as I already had that on my laptop and can run that through my laptop, while im in Shadow.
For this review, I used my 1-year old Lenovo laptop, with an Intel i3 processor, 4gb RAM & on board graphics, plus my fibre internet line peaking at 89mb/s. At best, I can play the odd game of Hero’s Of The Storm at low settings, anything more and it just cries out in pain. However, via the power of Shadow, I was able to play games such as PUBG, on ultra-settings, hitting 75+ FPS, in near on perfectly smooth, lag free experience. It is just like having your own gaming PC at your fingertips.
Two things came to mind when using Shadow, the monitor you’re playing on and your internet connection. The better your device screen, the better your experience will be, and remember, Shadow can go up to 4k resolution, IF you’ve got the internet speed to handle it. I also had a resolution issue if I logged with one device, then another, without resetting Shadow, it would look fuzzy & pixelated. I did try Shadow on an Android tablet, it worked, but the screen was too small and trying to set up a controller was hassle. Ideally you want a non-gaming laptop or PC, for a true gaming experience.
That leads onto the required internet speed. A wired connection is recommended, though the WiFi worked fine on my laptop, BUT I did notice a drop-in performance when someone else was heavily using the internet i.e. Netflix. The internet speed at the data centre end is exceptional, you will be able to download large games within minutes. Don’t forget, this is to be treated as your normal PC and with that, comes the Windows updates, that will appear and annoy you at the beginning, middle or end of your gaming session.
Price, is it cheaper to buy a gaming PC and upgrade it every few years, or pay the monthly fee? After a quick browse on the web, you can pick up a gaming PC with an Intel i7 processor, 16gb RAM, 8gb GTX 1080 & a 256gb SSD for around £1600 off the shelf (cheaper if built yourself). Assuming you’ve got a laptop or desktop PC suitable to run Shadow already, it will be cheaper to use Shadow than buy a gaming PC (£26.95 x 60 months = £1617), as there is little to no chance, that you won’t upgrade your pc within 5 years. Shadow state they will continually upgrade their virtual PC, so in theory, you will always be able to play games on Ultra settings for 5 years. Dont have a device to use Shadow with? Fear not, you can purchase the Shadow Box direct from Shadow, for £109.99, which allows you to use Shadow, install a mouse, keyboard & headset.
I was very impressed with Shadow and if you’re looking into upgrading or getting a new PC, I recommend you trial Shadow for a month and see if it could work for you. For more info, visit the official Shadow website.