Blade’s Shadow PC streaming service has launched in the UK and so we have already started to pack up our testbench. Goodbye, PC building… OK, maybe that is a little melodramatic. PC hardware isn’t going anywhere just yet, but Blade’s Shadow service is now open for business, and they say it will be “the last computer you’ll ever need.”
Whether you are in the same room as your PC hardware or not, you’ll still benefit from one of the best gaming headsets around.
French tech startup Blade have partnered with all the big names in hardware to put together their Shadow streaming service: Nvidia’s top-end GPUs; Intel’s Xeon processors; and AMD’s APUs all have a part to play in their streaming service. It’s not just renting a gaming platform either as you get a whole PC with all these components at your disposal, Windows OS and all.
For between £27 - £40 a month (depending on your subscription), you get access to a GTX 1080 equivalent PC that Blade claim can deliver 1080p at 144fps, or 4K at 60fps over a connection as limited as 15mbps. Considering other streaming services struggle under connections below even 25mbps, this could expand Blade’s audience far beyond that of their competition. ADSL connections max out before the 25mbps mark so this could tap into anyone still struggling without fibre.
As said, AMD’s role in this is with their APU, which powers the Blade box, a small stream decoding box with all the necessary inputs and outputs required to run your cloud PC through a TV or otherwise. If you don’t fancy renting Blade’s box from them for £7.95 a month, then you can always just run the system through one of the dedicated Shadow apps.
We gave Blade’s Shadow service a go at Gamescom back in August last year, and came away impressed with the service on offer at the time, even across a busy show floor network connection. Blade are committed to keeping the GPUs available up-to-date, too. While around £360 a year may feel a little steep, a comparative gaming PC, kept as up-to-date as they are promising, would cost considerably more - especially in the current PC hardware economy.
Blade aren’t the only contenders entering the streaming gladiatorial arena, however. Parsec offer a service that allows you to stream your own gaming PC across the web for free - although without the benefit of the ridiculous download speeds offered by Blade’s servers.Nvidia’s GeForce Now recently opened up a beta version for Windows users, too.
Is Blade’s Shadow service ‘the last computer you’ll ever need’? I’m not yet convinced that local hardware is headed for the bin anytime soon - local infrastructure just doesn’t seem robust enough yet. However, we’ve heard a lot of buzz around streaming services as of late, and it seems the technology has matured enough to offer decent services - the money is there to be made from streaming, and what more impetus do humans need to start getting things done?