I grew up playing games starting with a NES (Nintendo Entertainment System for those of you who are started with something that had 64bits) and I was hooked. I have had just about every console that has come out since then. In 2005 I began my journey into my IT career and built my first computer from scratch.
Well, not completely. I actually Frankensteined it together using a case from an old PC that had died and put some upgraded parts in it… but it worked. I then took that one and rebuilt it into a much better gaming rig/lab machine to run virtual machines and games so I could get IT certifications and play some game.
Fast forward to today… I still have this old windows PC. It runs those same games on them but can’t keep up with the modern games and is even taxed by some of the older games that are played on the ultra settings. I am not a hardcore gamer. I am not playing seriously intense First Person Shooters all day long. I am playing strategy games such as Cities Skylines, or Planet Coaster. Things that require a bit of horsepower but not a ton. Though Planet Coaster is a pretty taxing game for what it is.
I looked at a gaming laptop. I wanted to be able to play a game on a system and not be stuck at my desktop at the house. I have several laptops already but I was looking at the MSI GS65 with 16GB of RAM and at least 256 GB of SSD storage preferably 512GB of storage. That machine would have costed me around $1800 at a minimum. I found a few places that I could get it at about $1600, but I wasn’t in a position to spend that kind of money on a gaming machine (remember I am a dad and don’t have a ton of time for this hobby).
I kept seeing ads for Shadow on Facebook. Cloud gaming, which I thought was an interesting idea. Until I looked into it and saw the price points. At $30+ a month that became quite expensive to do. $300 a year to play on a machine, though if you price it out, it would take a little over 4 years to pay for that gaming rig, the difference is you get hardware upgrades etc for that cost. and you can play anywhere you have a solid 15 Mbps connection. Not too bad. But there has to be something better. I don’t play all the time, so there should be a pay as you go model out there some where. I found it, and I am not the first one either. So here is what you need to do.
I don’t have hours upon hours to spend sitting in front of a monitor staring at pixels lighting up when I push a button like I would like to, but I occasionally get to indulge in such extreme adventures. I wanted something that I could pay for when I turned on the machine similar to spinning up an AWS or any other cloud instance. That is the purpose of the cloud is to save you money after all.
I stumbled onto PaperSpace after some research and found that they were a cloud provider that provided VDI (Virtual Desktops), Coding, Cloud Gaming Services, and other Cloud GPU service such as AI. Looking deeper they offer exactly what I was looking for.
What was I looking for?
- Cloud GPU services that were similar specs to a GTX 1080
- Low Cost Persistent storage to install games with cheap fast storage
- Hourly costs that didn’t break the bank since I don’t play all the time.
- Automation to spin down the machines in case I forget to power them off
- Easy to access and reliable
How to set it up?
First, head over to PaperSpace.com and sign up for an account. You automatically get enrolled in a free account. This allows you to spin up a free Virtual machine and you can begin your journey into the cloud.
On the left hand side of your console under CORE select Compute and that will bring up the virtual machine window.
The easiest way to deploy a gaming machine would be to deploy one from a template. There is a public template available for free that configures your machine for you installing Steam, Origin, and a few others. It also configures your storage, settings for you but allows you to configure the GPU and RAM and CPU. You can adjust the storage if you’d like.
This hourly cost is certainly the way to go with this one, as the monthly cost is quite out of the park. The whole reason we are doing this is because we don’t have many hours to play games but rather short periods of time maybe 2–4 hours a week if that to play a game that we would like to play.
I recommend disabling snapshots as they are an additional fee, and for a gaming rig utilizing Steam, you don’t need them. Use steam cloud to sync your games. Finally, create your PaperSpace. The machine will initialize and load windows. Steam will be installed from the template and you can login.
Here is how the pricing works. You pay for storage. Because you are installing windows you need over 50GB on your hard drive. Sorry, Windows is a space hog, but being familiar with games you knew that already. 100GB a month runs you $7 each month. That’s a little pricey but not bad considering its SSD’s and the performance has been great so far.
Additionally if you choose hourly rate you will pay by the hour that your machine is turned on. The configuration I chose was the P4000 GPU which charges $0.51/hr. + Storage. So, in addition to my $7 a month I also pay my 51 cents per hour of run time. So if I am only playing 2 hours per week, my monthly charge will be approximately, $13.
There is a setting on the configuration page to automatically turn off the machine after an hour of idle. I enabled this to make sure that my machine does not sit there charging me until the next time I log in. If I don’t log in for 48 hours. That’s $24 just for run time.
The Trade Off
So, if you are a Father who actually has time to sit down and spend multiple hours gaming and enjoy it. You may benefit from a monthly fee plan… Just not this one. $300 a month is too damn high to spend on a cloud gaming system. That’s when you go back to something like Shadow.tech which is $300 for the year. It really depends on how much time you have to play and what you are going to play.
I was a little skeptical about a cloud system and the latency of the system for gaming but I have to say I am pleasantly surprised. I was able to play all of my games from Hitman to Cities Skylines on the highest settings with the least bit of lag. Now I was not doing multiplayer gaming so I cannot attest to how that would be but I would assume pretty good as long as you are fairly close to your datacenter of choice. The best part about all of this is you no longer require a high end gaming machine. Any ordinary computer will work. Most people have access to a regular computer for school or work that they could use and this would allow them access to the games that they purchased without the need to download them onto the hardware provided by the business or school. Of course abide by the policies of the lending organization.
Not ready just yet?
If you just aren’t ready to make the leap just yet to a cloud gaming rig and have the money to drop into a prebuilt gaming rig but are looking for the right one. We have done a little research and have a few that you may be interested in.
The Budget Conscience
The Acer Predator is a good gaming machine that comes in right around $1200. You can find a few variations under a grand and they may be worth looking into. But some of our cloud options laid out above it would take you 4 years to pay for that so is it worth it if you have a laptop that runs well already? This runs with 144hz display and a GTX 1660 Ti, so not the greatest GPU on the market but its also not the slowest. It can handle most games out there and will for a while with 6GB of DDR5 dedicated graphics memory and 16GB of RAM this machine is definitely a contender.
The MSI GS65 offers an extremely thin design that is lightweight and easy to transport. This system looks nothing like a gaming machine and seems to be more professional than for the gamer. However, it is is packed with a RTX2070, 32GB of RAM, a 512 NVMe and 8th-generation i7 for maximum performance, this small frame will handle any game you throw at it. There are only a few issues with it and they are noise and heat, both of which are easily address by under volting the CPU which is a relatively easy process which has had very good results. The cost for this machine is currently at $2599 on Amazon which is over 8 years of the shadow cloud model. And 16 years of the PaperSpace model if you are only playing 2–4 hours a week. If you are in need a laptop, take into consideration a Virtual machine to do the heavy lifting!
Overall, we only see the cloud gaming systems to be enhanced over time especially with google and other players jumping into the ring. We will likely see Sony, Microsoft and many other vendors move into the field as the Cloud continues to expand. This will continue to drive prices down. The expanse of 5G networking may also play a role in Cloud Gaming giving the ability to game anywhere. If you are in the market for a new computer and need to spend the money on a gaming laptop, then by all means, drop the $1000-$3000 on a rig, but if you have a laptop, Macbook, or other computer and a fast internet connection consider running a cloud gaming computer either at $25–30 a month or for $10–20 a month depending on how you configure it and use it.
If you are interested in using PaperSpace, try my code and get a $10 credit on your account! If you don’t like it, turn off your system and terminate your account, no hard feelings. We decided to give it a try for a bit and may keep using it for a while, but are also intrigued by shadow.tech.
What will you run?