Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Day 4: The over-sized home IT (Part 1: Gaming rig)

This article is part of The 100 Days Offensive.

In the current crisis, I am lucky in several regards. First I am a technology hoarder. With unused stuff alone you could probably run a small company. On the second point I was just switching from one upstream technology (DSL) to the next (Cable). So when the crisis broke out, I postponed the cancellation of the first one. Counting the LTE backup, I now have three lifelines to the world. And last but not least, I enjoy tinkering with it.

One of the favourite things to tinker with is the gaming infrastructure.

For more than 40 years, computer games has been a very important part of my life. More specific: I am a playing on a PC. But I am not very good at building and customizing a PC (the technology has become too small and my eyes too weak). So last year, I decided to switch to a Shadow PC. My current Desktop PC is (by gaming standards) rather weak. All the heavy lifting is done in the cloud and streamed to me. I can use the Shadow PC from my Desktop, my iPad and on my TV set (thanks to a Nvidia Shield TV). As a positive side effect I also put all the noise into the cloud as well (not a small plus considering the noise level of a high end GPU).

Overall I am a happy customer of Shadow. With the current price change, the cloud based gaming PC is now also significantly cheaper than having a high powered PC at home, especially if you put the electricity costs into your calculation. On the downside, an excellent Internet connection is a must (which adds to the costs). With HD you will need about 20 mBit/s for a adequate quality, with 4K you can easily use twice that.

My biggest doubts beforehand were about the latency. As I am customer of a french company, my cloud PC is currently running in Paris. So I have about 30+ ms round trip time. It would probably be more critical if first person shooter were still a genre for me. But at my advanced age, those games no longer appeal to me. PvP also was never high on my list. With my restricted subset of games, the additional latency is not noticeable.

I prefer the Shadow PC compared to services like Google Stadia as I can still use my own game library. Thanks to the Humble Bundle, I have a huge stash of un-played games, enough to get through half a dozen virus quarantines. The Shadow PC is not tied to any gaming platform: I have Steam, GoG and Origin installed and they co-exist like on a normal PC. The game do not need to be ported or adapted to the platform, they run out of the box. For my purchases I have a multitude of independent stores available. This independence is a very big asset and should not be underestimated.

In case you want to try it for yourself, please use the friend code MARQFBQH. You and I, we both get a discount if you do.

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