Shadow Power: a cloud gaming offering that seeks to old PC gaming
Power Offers are the most advanced option in Shadow. This makes it possible to have a real PC on cloud, with Windows 10 and a component dedicated to video games. Shadow, however, has to make allowances because its components aren’t quite the same as those found in our home PCs. So, the processor is a server model, AMD Epic 7543P which has 32 hyperthreaded cores. Therefore, it is 4 processor cores assigned to each Power session virtual PC, with an additional 16 GB RAM, RTX A4500 (RTX 3070 professional model) and 256 GB SSD.
This configuration on paper is sufficient to play most games in Full HD, or even in 4K if you reduce the amount of detail when enabling DLSS. And that’s for €44.90/month. Prices are high at first glance, especially when we compare it to its direct competitor, GeForce Now, which offers the GeForce RTX 3080 (soon to become RTX 4080) for €19.99/month. However, Shadow’s offering stands out by providing a full PC where you can install all your software libraries while having access to gaming platforms (Epic, Ubisoft, Steam, GoG, etc.).
Half fig half grape show
To evaluate the performance of Shadow Power’s offerings, we used the same protocol as laptops games which we are testing. Therefore, we measure the performance of the processors and graphics cards delivered to our game panels.
The performance index of the Epic 7543P processor with 4 hyperthreaded cores in our session was 78. Therefore it is at the level of low power Intel processors and a far cry from the Core i7-12700H present in the Lenovo Legion 5 Pro (index 189).
Like it or not, with only 4 hyperthreaded cores, Power Shadow’s offerings cannot compete with PC processors, which are now equipped with far more cores. However, the power required to run video games properly must be put into perspective, since it’s the graphics card that does most of the work.
In terms of graphics performance, Shadow Power and RTX A4500 20 GB get an index of 225, which roughly matches the performance of the Lenovo Legion 5 Pro with the GeForce RTX 4070 Ti (150 W) which gets an index of 234.
Therefore, Shadow Power’s offering is slightly less efficient than the Lenovo Legion 5 Pro, which is a bit of a surprise since the RTX A4500 is a desktop format card with a 200-watt thermal shroud and should be as efficient as the desktop GeForce RTX 3070.
We’ll especially remember that in the end it wasn’t really helped by the processor seemingly being a little limited to expressing itself fully with just 4 hyperthreaded cores, whereas 6 hyperthreaded cores are currently the norm for gaming. Apart from that, the RTX A4500 is also responsible for encoding the video stream to send it through cloud to receive it at home via fiber.
To play in Full HD
In practice, Shadow Power’s offering lets you play all games with details set to max at over 60 fps. Only raytracing activation degrades frame rate below 60 fps on Metro Exodus and CyberPunk 2077. However, in Full HD, the Power supply is sufficient to play under optimal conditions.
Play in 4K with some concessions
Since Shadow’s Power offerings are also intended for use in televisions, we pushed the definition down to 4K, while maintaining the same display quality settings.
In 4K definition, it is quite possible to play in good conditions. However, we will avoid enabling effects in raytracing. For those looking to get closer to the 60 fps mark, the detail shown will also require compromising by lowering the requirements and enabling DLSS or FSR, depending on the game. Assassin’s Creed Valhalla went from 49 fps to 63 fps with the FSR in “Quality” mode and improved fluidity. For Cyberpunk 2077, we managed to reach 69 fps with the “SteamDeck” preset and DLSS enabled in “Quality” mode. So if you really want to play in 4K, you’ll have to make sacrifices on detail counts and ray tracing.
Interesting experience and some frustration
To access Shadow Power’s offerings, the client must be installed on the gaming device. An app is available for iOS and Android, as well as for macOS and Windows. Therefore, you can play on your MacBook Air and enjoy its silent operation, or on your Android tablet. Shadow covers most devices, from connected TVs to RaspBerry Pis and Chromebooks.
One of the requirements for using Shadow is of course to have a good internet connection, ideally fiber and with a solid local network (Ethernet or wifi 6). The client software does the first test to measure your throughput and adjust accordingly.
And here you are at your Shadow Power session desktop under Windows 10. If you’re used to using services like TeamViewer, you won’t run out of space. However, drag and drop doesn’t work and file transfers are painfully slow. Need to get used to using the storage service in cloud to transfer files between your device and a Shadow Power session — Shadow also offers Shadow Drive.
When used, very little latency is noticeable. This requires a bit of an adjustment period, especially on a nervous game. Care should also be taken not to add too many elements which can increase latency. So, when using a wifi-connected entry-level PC and connecting 4K on our TV with a Bluetooth controller, our car kicks in Forza 5 proved very difficult to control. Despite this particular case, Shadow Force’s offering proved convincing as long as we didn’t go for the FPS classification. It’s also a lot of fun to play with the MacBook Air M1 on battery power in silence letting you enjoy the soundtrack without suffering from the whirring of fans.
However, everything is not perfect. So we fell victim to a few blue screens due to graphics driver and the infrequent connection difficulties. It’s also important to take care that Shadow manages the graphics card drivers, at the risk of making the situation worse. It can also happen that the game crashes without causing a blue screen; in this case, you must restart the session via the client and wait for the restart, just like on a conventional PC.
Shadow Power vs. GeForce Now
Shadow Power’s offering offers a convincing experience with some minor flaws inherent in the technology. For that reason, we lament the low storage capacity that necessitated a juggling game install and some of the frustration associated with starting up or minor interruptions to sessions. Shadow especially will have a hard time dealing with Nvidia. The GeForce Now offering from green giant Santa Clara certainly doesn’t have the huge game catalog and versatile use of Power, but it’s much more attractive in terms of price.