I had already known Shadow for a few years due to the numerous Hands-Ons I did remotely during the pandemic period. Although the circumstances with which I got to know the French service weren't the most rosy, I was undoubtedly surprised by the excellent stability of the service, as well as the practicality with which I could dedicate myself to the shift preview in a few seconds. What I only found out later was that Shadow was not a service designed exclusively for private/professional use but, similarly to other competitors such as Nvidia GeForce NOW, it could be used by anyone, net of paying the "canonical" monthly subscription.
The difference compared to other services, however, is that Shadow allows access to a computer in its entirety, proving to be a very valuable resource for all those "insiders" who need a high-performance and always available machine. A detail that is not insignificant and which, in some ways, makes me understand why so little is said about Shadow when, to all intents and purposes, it is a question of a service that can be easily exploited for cloud gaming, especially considering the power of the machines made available to users.
Probably even the top management of Shadow thought the same thing since, for a few weeks, the service has decided to push more on the cloud gaming sector, proposing a new tier designed specifically for gamers. Shadow Power is the name of this new subscription which, instead of presenting itself as a stand-alone product, has been conceived as an expansion of the basic model. Are you only interested in working remotely on a high-performance machine? You can subscribe to Shadow. Do you want to take advantage of a machine equipped with Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070? You can buy the Power extension to have a decidedly high-performance gaming machine available only when you really need to use it.
You may not know it, but I have a fetish for all these cloud services that offer high-performance computers that should make PC gaming accessible even to those who can't, or simply don't want to, invest large sums in gaming machines of this magnitude. So, quite simply, I threw myself into it for a few weeks.
A complete service in everything
First of all it is necessary to explain to you that, by subscribing to Shadow, you will literally find yourself renting a remote computer that you can access through a simple application available for Windows, Mac, Ubuntu, iOS, iPadOS, tvOS, Android, Android TV and Oculus Quest. The control of the remote machine is almost total, since Shadow will provide you with administrator permissions, allowing you to install practically any type of application, manage the files saved inside it and carry out any type of operation.
This obviously means that it is possible to literally install any game that supports the technical data sheet of the rented machine, without limitations of any kind and without having to check the presence of the chosen title among long lists.
Obviously, as I mentioned earlier, you have to keep in mind the technical data sheet of the "base" machine made available by Shadow: 3.5 GHz Intel XEON, Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080, 12 GB DDR3 RAM, 10-bit Windows 64, all resolutions supported, and a 256 GB SSD. Precisely by virtue of the technical data sheet, not exactly suitable for the latest generation gaming PCs, with the addition of €15 you can literally transform the machine at your disposal, changing the video card, processor and RAM to be able to play the latest titles.
AMD EPYC 7543P at 2.8 GHz with 4 cores and 8 threads (very similar to an AMD Ryzen 3600), Nvidia RTX A4500 with 20 GB of GDDR6 memory (a similar model to the RTX 3070) and 16 GB of DDR3 RAM, are the endowment that can be obtained by accessing the Shadow Power service. An endowment that may perhaps seem uncompetitive compared to the other offers proposed by competitors but which undoubtedly acquires added value when one reflects on the fact that the PC, made available, is completely manageable by the end user.
In addition to this important aspect, Shadow Power can be enjoyed through multiple monitors connected at the same time, which in turn can handle different resolutions (up to 4K) simultaneously. Another added value is given by the fact that the remote PC is connected to a highly performing internet network, capable of approaching monstrously to 1 Gbps in download and comfortably exceed 100 Mbps in Upload.
The only aspect that didn't completely convince me, especially considering the price of the service, lies in the management of the remote PC's storage space. Each machine, as I mentioned earlier, has 256 GB, which can be expanded up to a maximum of 5 TB by purchasing additional packages according to your needs. For heaven's sake, nothing different from the various cloud storage services but considering the final price of Power Shadow, having to spend an additional €2,99 for each additional 256GB storage package could make many users turn up their noses.
Addressing the price issue, I am more than aware that it may seem excessive for many Shadow Power users, in fact, it costs overall €44,98 per month (€29,99 for the basic version plus an additional €14,99 for the Power upgrade), all without counting the cost of any additional storage. An undoubtedly important price, especially if one considers the "monthly" expense which, however, is justified by the numerous positive aspects that I have been able to observe during the weeks spent together with Shadow Power.
First of all, I immediately clarify that the "PC to PC" experience (in my case Mac to PC) is fluid and without latency. The connection available to me was a 200Mb fiber used both via an Ethernet cable and via 5GHz WiFi. Undoubtedly a good connection but not one of the best available and which, in any case, it allowed me to work easily with Shadow Power, using the remote PC in the same way I use my Mac every day.
However, the experience was slightly different when I decided to test Shadow Power through my mobile devices (in this case iPhone, iPad and AppleTV). The main problem was the absence of an interface designed specifically for these devices. A lack that made the use of my remote computer slightly more uncomfortable and less immediate, even if still fluid and lag-free (especially when connected in 5G).
Shadow Power in the videogame field
In the videogame field, which is where Shadow Power wants to present itself, the final experience fully showed the great advantage of having full control of the remote PC, while presenting some, obvious, ancillary operations to be performed before being able to play.
Indeed, Shadow Power is not a “Plug and Play” system and requires the user to manually install the various launchers and, consequently, the various games in our libraries. A natural process for anyone used to playing on PC but which inevitably collides with the immediacy of use so much promoted by the competition.
The possibility, however, of being able to install MODs, tweak the graphics settings, manage each parameter of the various games and even stream like on a traditional computer, undoubtedly offer that added value that, only once you have had the opportunity to try Shadow Power by hand, you can fully understand, even going so far as to justify the high price.
Once I started testing Shadow Power with a few next-gen titles, I was more than surprised by the quality of the service. Elden Ring, Cyberpunk 2077, Marvel's Spider-Man Remastered… all played with active Ray Tracing, 60 fps and a resolution that reached the maximum ceiling of 1440p. The fluidity of the images on the screen has never had anything to envy to that offered by a traditional PC e native support for controllers from Sony and Microsoft, has allowed me to enjoy, even on the move, the various titles in my library in a decidedly comfortable way.
Furthermore, if you do not have a pad, Shadow Power offers touch controls to simulate the keyboard of a traditional controller, offering a reward which, although not very comfortable, it can prove interesting for a few hit and run games in the downtime. Finally, the only moments in which I could perceive a delay in command input was when my home connection suffered some drastic drops in bandwidth. Nothing surprising but still important to know in case you don't have a stable connection available.
In conclusion, Shadow Power is undoubtedly an excellent service but also very peculiar and which is certainly aimed at a very specific segment of consumers. In fact, it can be a temporary solution for anyone about to change their gaming PC, as well as an excellent way to use their Mac as a gaming machine. The possibility of always carrying a virtual PC with you, through the application for mobile devices, is undoubtedly an added value which could become a very important strength if the developers decide to make the application for mobile devices more functional. Finally, the possibility of being able to totally control the PC is absolutely the flagship of a service whose only, real, weak point is a price that is not affordable for all budgets.