Shadow Power: the cloud gaming offering that wants to make PC gaming old-fashioned
The Power offer is the most advanced Shadow option. It allows having a real PC on clouds, with Windows 10 and components dedicated to video games. The Shadow, however, had to make concessions because the components weren’t exactly the same as those found in our home PCs. So, the processor is a server model, the AMD Epic 7543P which has 32 hyperthreaded cores. Therefore, these are 4 processor cores assigned to each virtual PC of a Power session, with an additional 16 GB of RAM, an RTX A4500 (professional RTX 3070 model) and a 256 GB SSD.
This configuration is on paper enough to play most games in Full HD, or even in 4K if you reduce the amount of detail while activating DLSS. And that’s for €44.90/month. A high price at first glance, especially if we compare it to its direct competitor, GeForce Now, which offers a GeForce RTX 3080 (soon an RTX 4080) for €19.99/month. However, Shadow’s offering stands out by providing a complete PC where you can install all of your software library while having access to gaming platforms (Epic, Ubisoft, Steam, GoG, etc.) .
Half-fig half-grape performances
To evaluate the performance of Shadow Power’s offering, we subjected it to the same protocol as the laptops playing which we test. Therefore, we measured the performance of the processor and the graphics card submitted to our gaming panel.
The performance index of the Epic 7543P processor with 4 hyperthreaded cores in our session was 78. It is therefore at the level of a low-power Intel processor and is very far from the Core i7-12700H in the Lenovo Legion 5 Pro (index of 189).
Inevitably, with only 4 hyperthreaded cores, Power Shadow’s offering cannot compete with today’s PC processors with more cores. However, the power required to run video games properly should be put into perspective, as it is the graphics card that does most of the work.
In terms of graphics performance, Shadow Power and its RTX A4500 20 GB get an index of 225, which almost matches the performance of the Lenovo Legion 5 Pro with GeForce RTX 4070 Ti (150 W) which gets an index of 234.
Therefore, the Shadow Power offer is slightly less efficient than the Lenovo Legion 5 Pro, which is a bit surprising since the RTX A4500 is a desktop format card with a thermal envelope of 200 watts and should be as efficient as a desktop GeForce RTX. 3070.
We will especially note that in the end it is not particularly helped by the processor that seems a bit limited for it to fully express itself with only 4 hyperthreaded cores, whereas 6 hyperthreaded cores are common in today’s gaming. In addition, the RTX A4500 is also responsible for encoding the video stream to send it through clouds to receive it at home via fiber.
To play in Full HD
In practice, the Shadow Power offer allows you to play all games with specifications set to a maximum of more than 60 fps. Only activating raytracing reduces the frame rate below 60 fps at Metro Exodus and CyberPunk 2077. In any case, in Full HD, the Power offer is enough to play in optimal conditions.
Play in 4K with some concessions
Since Shadow’s Power offer is also intended for use on a television, we pushed the definition to 4K, while keeping the same display quality settings.
In the sense of 4K, it is quite possible to play in good conditions. However, we can avoid activating raytracing effects. For those who want to approach the 60 fps mark, it will also be necessary to compromise the display details by lowering its requirements and activating either DLSS or FSR, depending on the game. For example, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla goes from 49 fps to 63 fps with FSR in “Quality” mode and improves fluidity. For Cyberpunk 2077, we achieved 69 fps with the “SteamDeck” preset and enabled DLSS in “Quality” mode. So, if you really want to play in 4K, you’ll have to sacrifice the amount of detail and the raytracing.
A compelling experience and some disappointments
To access the Shadow Power offer, a client needs to be installed on the gaming device. The application is available for iOS and Android, as well as for macOS and Windows. That’s why it’s possible to play on the MacBook Air and enjoy its silent operation, or on your Android tablet. Shadow covers the vast majority of devices, from connected TVs to RaspBerry Pis and Chromebooks.
One of the requirements for taking advantage of Shadow is of course having a good Internet connection, perfect fiber and with a solid local network (Ethernet or wifi 6). The client software performs an initial test to measure your throughput and adjust accordingly.
And here you are on the desktop of your Shadow Power session under Windows 10. If you’re used to using services like TeamViewer, you won’t be out of place. However, drag and drop doesn’t work and file transfer is particularly slow. It will be necessary to use a storage service in the habit of clouds to transfer files between your devices and the Shadow Power session — Shadow also offers Shadow Drive.
In use, the latency is quite noticeable. This requires a bit of an adjustment period, especially in nervous games. Care should also be taken not to add too many elements that can add latency. So, when using an entry-level PC connected to wifi and plugged into 4K on our TV using a Bluetooth controller, our car is in Forza 5 proved difficult to control. Apart from this particular case, Shadow Power’s offer proves convincing as long as we don’t aim to classify an FPS. It is also particularly enjoyable to play with a MacBook Air M1 on battery power in a silence that allows you to enjoy the soundtrack without having to suffer the roar of the fans.
Everything is not perfect, however. So we fell victim to a few blue screens due to graphics drivers and rare connection problems. It is also necessary to be careful to let Shadow manage the graphics card drivers, at the risk of making the situation worse. It can also happen that a game crashes without causing a blue screen; in this case, you must restart the session through the client and wait for the restart, as 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. So we apologize for the low storage capacity that requires juggling game installations and some failures related to the start or small session crashes. Shadow will have a particularly difficult time dealing with Nvidia. The GeForce Now offering from the green giant of Santa Clara certainly doesn’t have the large catalog of games and many uses of Power, but it is more attractive in terms of price.