Ever wonder how your computer can handle some of today’s high-end games? Well, Shadow is here to change how you perceive gaming with a powerful service that delivers cutting-edge technology and some of the best gaming experiences possible. Here’s what it was like to use Shadow at QuakeCon 2019 in the BYOC.
For five years, I’ve been attending QuakeCon 2019 as a member of the press. For the past two years, I’ve been attending as both a BYOC attendee and a member of the press, which offers ways for me to come down from the daily hustle and bustle of interviewing developers, moving across the showroom floor, and ensuring I get to each of the panels in a timely manner.
During my downtime, I prefer to spend my time in the BYOC or with my pals, which, unfortunately, not many made it this year, which lead to quite a bit of time at QuakeCon’s BYOC, which isn’t somewhere you often see underpowered PCs running about. Rather, you see computers packing power and lots of it.
For my David (my dad and vice president of Blast Away the Game Review), that’s actually possible thanks to his custom-built PC, which is about to get a lot more power put under its hood with some significant hardware upgrades (RTX, here he comes). For me, however, that isn’t possible.
“My ability to play games such as DOOM, Wolfenstein: Youngblood and even Fortnite isn’t possible”
I’m still hanging onto my ASUS ROG G53SW-DH71, an almost ten-year-old laptop with below minimal specs for games that came out in the last generation. To give you an idea of how underpowered mine is, you can check out the specs below:
GPU: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 560M 2GB
CPU: Intel I7-2670Q (2.2GHz)
RAM: 12GB DDR3 (1333 MHz)
HDD: 750GB at 5600 RPM
Now, while these specs don’t give you everything you may be wanting to know, they give you enough to know that my ability to play games such as DOOM, Wolfenstein: Youngblood, and even Fortnite isn’t possible. I’m lucky to even run the latest versions of World of Warcraft if I even tried.
At the BYOC, I had one of the weakest, if not THE weakest computer attending the show, however, that changed with the use of Shadow. Before we get too far in, you might be wondering, what Shadow actually is, and let’s talk about that a second.
“It’s one of the best, if not the best, streaming service on the market for gamers and non-gamers alike”
For you to really understand Shadow, you need to know this: It’s nothing like Google Stadia, which I’ve become quite apprehensive about for many reasons (we’ll talk about these in the future in a follow-up piece). This service is actually quite different as it lets you rent out a high-end PC that’s built on a virtual machine, giving you – your very own PC, one that runs as you want, how you want, and lets you do anything you want (within legal reasons) when you want.
Everything you do on your virtual machine is yours. Your own Windows account, your own custom desktop, your own Steam account, Epic Games account, and whatever else applications that you install. For me, that’s a lot, even with only 250GBs at my disposal, their gigabit connections change that, making that handicap non-existent and changing how I perceive my content and programs being available to me.
This service, in short, isn’t a closed environment like what PlayStation Now, Xbox Game Pass or Google Stadia actually are. Rather, this is you and your very own virtual PC at your disposal thanks to the power of the Cloud. The experience I’ve had so far leaves me to state this: It’s one of the best, if not the best, streaming service on the market for gamers and non-gamers alike.
Here’s a bit about the machine I’m on through Shadow:
- HDD: 250GB SSD
- CPU: Intel Xeon CPU E-5-2678v2 (2.5GHz, 12 core)
- GPU: NVIDIA GeForce GTX P5000 (16 GB GDDR5)
- RAM: 12GB DDR4
Now, to put things into perspective, we have to draw comparisons between the performance of my dads PC, Scarlet, and the Shadow I am using.
“Scarlet and Shadow are almost twins; well sort of.”
When benchmarking Shadow, I had to take three instances into consideration when said and done. One, we had to take into consideration that Susie (my ASUS ROG) can’t run current-gen games what-so-ever. I’m lucky it can even run games such as Deus Ex: Human Revolution at 1080p on medium-high settings with lowered down shadow settings.
Second, we have to look at Scarlet, David’s custom-built PC, which when it came out, was a high-end PC, even now, it handles most of today’s games without a hitch of any kind. Before we can continue, you need to understand Scarlet’s specs.
Motherboard: MSI Z270 M7 Game Ready Plus
GPU: MSI Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 6GB Game Ready Plus
CPU: Intel I7-7700K 3.6GHz OCed to 4.2GHz
Cooling Unit: Cooler Master GTS V8
RAM: Corsair Vengeance 16GB
HDD/SDs: 525GB Crucial SSD | Seagate Barracuda 7200 RPM HDD
Case: Thermal V31 RGB Limited Edition Tempered Glass
As you can see, Scarlet is a powerhouse compared to my ASUS ROG. She, as we like to call it, can run almost all of today’s high-end games at 120-150fps steady, sometimes exceeding 190 fps under certain circumstances. For our time at the BYOC we decided to do one thing and one thing only outside of our scheduled streams: Work on our review for Wolfenstein: Youngblood together, as a father and son duo, just as we intended to do from the beginning.
With a copy provided to us by Bethesda’s PR team, we got things underway once both copies were downloaded and installed. First thing was first: Identical graphics settings for both the Shadow and Scarlet copies of the game. Second, we both needed to ensure we had the exact same settings underway before moving deeper into the game itself.
Once we got things going, bullets started flying, a few Nazi’s ate their knuckle sandwiches, and the Paris was once-again on fire, we knew things were going well. Neither of us were having graphical hitching issues, poor performance ratios, or even problems playing the game.
Truth-be-told, Scarlet and Shadow are almost twins; well sort of. Even with the same settings, there were minor differences here or there, giving us a bit to think about, but with my ASUS ROG G53SX-DH71, this wouldn’t be possible. I couldn’t have even mustered enough power out of the thing to even get Wolfenstein: Youngblood running even in the lowest of settings.
Heck, I’m lucky if I can even crank DOOM III: BFG Edition up to ultra-high in 1080p. There are moments it actually lags out, if not crashes altogether, due to a video card issue. That, however, was gone through Shadow.
“Shadow ran better, if not faster, than Scarlet in almost every situation.”
All it took was a three-minute install, a verification of my account through 2FA for security purposes, and on with the show we went. We took an almost ten-year-old computer and made it look as new as day, giving it enough power to keep up with the highest-end PCs on the show, and playing games just as they do on an every-day basis.
We were able to cooperatively play Wolfenstein: Youngblood together, sometimes myself, running ahead of David at every single turn possible depending on the map we were in. With Nightmare settings going, there was oftentimes my Shadow was hitting 130+ fps and standing solid on the highest of graphics settings possible and even peaking at 190 on the second of highest settings.
The reality here? David’s computer would do about the same, but sometimes hitting as low as 90 fps and as high as 140 fps depending on the situation and what type of animations were playing out on the screen before us. Truth be told: Shadow ran better, if not faster than Scarlet in almost every situation.
“It exists, however, one of the drawbacks I’d face would be the fact I couldn’t voice chat through Shadow itself.”
Except my dad did have a few utilities at his ready that I didn’t. One of the biggest being my inability to stream from Shadow itself. You see, Shadow is still in its early stages of development as far as connected USB devices go. The reason behind it is clear: This part of the application is still under development.
However, you can circumvent this issue through the use of Discord, which will work side-by-side Shadow without a hitch. Streaming was also a no-go as it struggled to recognize my camera, making it a bit tougher to get my face on stream and make Streamlabs OBS recognize the fact I was using a Cloud-based virtual machine.
That aside, Shadow is always upgrading, it’s always readily available. When I wasn’t at my PC in the BYOC, I was using my phone in our hotel room with an Xbox One S Bluetooth enabled controller, which made gaming all the easier. It exists, however, one of the drawbacks I’d face would be the fact I couldn’t voice chat through Shadow itself.
For what it’s worth, had it not been for Shadow, QuakeCon 2019’s BYOC wouldn’t have been possible for me, and thanks to Shadow, it actually was. You can check Shadow out today by visiting them at Shadow.Tech.
About the Writer(s):
Dustin is our native console gamer, PlayStation and Nintendo reviewer who has an appetite for anything that crosses the borders from across the big pond. His interest in JRPG’s, Anime, Handheld Gaming, and Pizza is insatiable. His elitist attitude gives him direction, want, and a need for the hardest difficulties in games, which is fun to watch, and hilarity at its finest. You can find him over on Twitter or Facebook.