If you want a serious gaming PC, you’re still looking at the thick end of a four-figure investment. Why not just rent one instead? That’s the proposition being offered by Blade’s Shadow, which claims to be the “first ever high-end PC in the cloud”. And it’s coming to the UK next week.
Shadow is basically a high-end Windows PC instance that you can access via any computer, tablet or internet-connected device. If you’re a Mac user, for example, you can run Shadow in a window on your desktop, effectively providing a virtualised Windows PC without having to install anything locally or fiddle around with Boot Camp.
Alternatively, if your Windows PC is beginning to show its age, but you’ve still got a perfectly good screen and peripherals, you could rent a Shadow instance and effectively upgrade your PC without having to fork out hundreds or thousands of pounds.
You don’t even need your own client device. Blade sells a little desktop box (around £100) that you can plug into a monitor or TV to access your Shadow computer. You can even plug in peripherals such as game controllers, keyboards, cameras and printers as it offers USB over IP.
Shadow system spec
The spec of your Shadow system is pretty stonking. You get a dedicated Nvidia graphics card – it doesn’t specify which one, but promises to deliver an image in 1080p at 144 frames per second (fps) or 4K at 60fps. Certainly, the demos of Assassin’s Creed I saw on the CES showfloor looked impressively smooth.
You also get eight dedicated threads on an Intel Xeon server processor that Shadow claims is “equivalent to a Core i7”, plus 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage space.
Blade’s rep told me you’d need a solid 15Mbits/sec connection to make the experience smooth, so you’re basically talking about a fibre connection. The interesting thing is that the connection in Blade’s data centre is much faster, so if you’re installing games from Steam, for example, you’re likely to get speeds of 140Mbits/sec+ even if your own connection is much slower.
The price? It will cost around £30 per month if you’re prepared to sign up for a year at a time, with prices ramping up to around £45 per month for a no-contract deal. Full pricing and availability will be confirmed next week. We’re hoping to give a Shadow system a proper test ourselves when we’re back in the UK.
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