The Power offer is the most advanced option at Shadow. It allows to have a real PC in the clouds, with Windows 10 and components dedicated to video games. Shadow, however, had to make concessions since the components are not exactly the same as those found in our home PCs. Thus, the processor is a server model, the AMD Epic 7543P having 32 hyperthreaded cores. These are therefore 4 processor cores which are assigned to each virtual PC of a Power session, with an additional 16 GB of RAM, an RTX A4500 (professional model of the RTX 3070) and a 256 GB SSD.
This configuration is on paper sufficient to play the majority of games in Full HD, or even in 4K if you reduce the amount of detail while activating DLSS. And that for €44.90/month. A high price at first glance, especially if we compare it with its direct competitor, GeForce Now, which offers a GeForce RTX 3080 (soon an RTX 4080) for €19.99/month. However, Shadow’s offer 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 the Shadow Power offer, we subjected it to the same protocol as that of laptops gaming that we are testing. We therefore 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 is 78. It is therefore at the level of a low-power Intel processor and very far from the Core i7-12700H present in the Lenovo Legion 5 Pro (index of 189).
Inevitably, with only 4 hyperthreaded cores, the Power Shadow offer cannot compete with PC processors which are now much more supplied with cores. However, the power needed to run video games properly must be put into perspective, since it is the graphics card that does most of the work.
In terms of graphics performance, the Shadow Power and its RTX A4500 20 GB get an index of 225, which roughly matches the performance of the Lenovo Legion 5 Pro with a GeForce RTX 4070 Ti (150 W) which gets an index of 234.
The Shadow Power offer is therefore 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 which is supposed to be as efficient as a desktop GeForce RTX 3070.
We will especially remember that it is ultimately not particularly helped by the processor which is apparently a little limited for it to express itself fully with only 4 hyperthreaded cores, whereas 6 hyperthreaded cores is today the norm for playing. In addition, the RTX A4500 is also responsible for encoding the video stream to send it through the clouds in order to receive it at home via fiber.
To play in Full HD
In practice, the Shadow Power offer allows you to play all the games with the details set to the maximum at more than 60 fps. Only the activation of raytracing lowers the frame rate below 60 fps on Metro Exodus and CyberPunk 2077. In any case, in Full HD, the Power offer is sufficient to play in optimal conditions.
Play in 4K with some concessions
Since Shadow’s Power offer is also intended to be used on a television, we pushed the definition to 4K, while keeping the same display quality settings.
In 4K definition, it is quite possible to play in good conditions. However, we will avoid activating the effects in raytracing. For those who want to approach the 60 fps mark, it will also be necessary to compromise on the details displayed 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 the FSR in “Quality” mode and improves fluidity. For Cyberpunk 2077, we managed to hit 69 fps with the “SteamDeck” preset and DLSS enabled in “Quality” mode. So, if you absolutely want to play in 4K, you will have to make some sacrifices on the amount of detail and on raytracing.
A compelling experience and some frustrations
To access the Shadow Power offer, a client must be installed on the gaming device. An application is available for iOS and Android, as well as for macOS and Windows. It is therefore possible to play on a MacBook Air and enjoy its silent operation, or on your Android tablet. Shadow covers a very large majority of devices, from connected TVs to RaspBerry Pis and Chromebooks.
One of the prerequisites 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 performs a first-time test to gauge your throughput and adjusts accordingly.
And here you are on the desktop of your Shadow Power session under Windows 10. If you are used to using services like TeamViewer, you will not be out of place. However, drag and drop does not work and file transfer is particularly slow. It will be necessary to get into the habit of using a storage service in the clouds to transfer files between your devices and the Shadow Power session — Shadow also offers a Shadow Drive.
In use, the latency is very slightly noticeable. It requires a slight adjustment period, especially on nervous games. Care should also be taken not to add too many elements that could add latency. Thus, when using an entry-level PC connected to wifi and plugged in 4K on our TV with a Bluetooth controller, our car in Forza 5 proved particularly difficult to control. Apart from this particular case, the Shadow Power offer proves convincing as long as we are not aiming for the classification of an FPS. It’s also particularly enjoyable to play with a MacBook Air M1 on battery power in a silence that lets you enjoy the soundtrack without having to suffer the roar of the fans.
All is not perfect, however. Thus we were victims of a few blue screens due to the graphics drivers and rare connection difficulties. It is also necessary to take care to let Shadow manage the drivers of the graphics card, at the risk of worsening the situation. It can also happen that a game crashes without causing a blue screen; in this case, you must restart the session via the client and wait for the restart, as with a conventional PC.
Shadow Power vs. GeForce Now
The Shadow Power offer offers a convincing experience with some small flaws inherent in the technology. We thus regret the low storage capacity which requires juggling the installations of the games and some frustrations linked to the start or to small crashes of the session. Shadow will especially have a hard time dealing with Nvidia. The Santa Clara green giant’s GeForce Now offer certainly does not have the large catalog of games and versatile uses of Power, but it is much more attractive in terms of price.