State of Cloud Gaming - Q4 2017

November 3rd at 5:00 am

At this point I've been heavily testing cloud gaming for about a year now. In that time, it has become clear that cloud gaming has now reached the point of being generally viable. Of course, there are certainly use cases that cloud gaming still isn't ready for such as highly competitive gaming and gaming with VR headsets. That isn't to say cloud gaming isn't ready for the mainstream though. Gaming in the cloud with 1080P and 60 FPS is now "easily" achievable, granted you have an above average internet connection. In the table below I've outlined some of the top streaming programs, but this is far from a definitive list. In fact, I plan on continuing to release these quarterly State of the Cloud articles as I continue to test options for cloud gaming.

 

Streaming Programs

Program

Monthly Cost

Platform Compatibility

Core Functionality

Special Features

Parsec

Free

  • Windows
  • Mac
  • Linux
  • Raspberry Pi
  • Android

Local Ease of Use:

Cloud Ease of Use:

Low Latency:

Max Resolution:

2560 x 1600

  • Share Your PC with Friends.
  • Open Catalog - Play Games from Steam, Origin & more!
  • Co-Op games with local multiplayer.
  • Integration with multiple Cloud Providers.

Steam In-Home Streaming

Free

  • Windows
  • Mac
  • Linux
  • Steam OS

Local Ease of Use:

Cloud Ease of Use:

Low Latency:

Max Resolution:

4K

  • Built-in to Steam - No additional software required.

Moonlight

Free

  • Windows
  • Mac
  • Linux
  • Raspberry Pi
  • Android
  • iOS
  • Chrome {Alpha}

Local Ease of Use:

???

Cloud Ease of Use:

???

Low Latency:

???

Max Resolution:

4K

  • Open Source
  • Open Catalog - Play Games from Steam, Origin & more!

LiquidSky

See Pricing in the Cloud Hardware Section Below

  • Windows
  • Android

Local Ease of Use:

Not possible

Cloud Ease of Use:

Low Latency:

Max Resolution:

4K

  • Open Catalog - Play Games from Steam, Origin & more!
  • Ability to easily change between hardware tiers.

The focus of this article is on cloud gaming, but programs that allow you to use your existing gaming PC as a personal cloud gaming rig are perfect for the transition period as gaming moves to the cloud. If you have a gaming rig and an internet connection with great upload bandwidth, then using your own machine while on the go saves both time and money. This in part is why I believe Parsec currently offers the best sreaming solution out on the market right now. It's both easy to stream over your local network but also while on the go, and works equally well with cloud machines. It's that versatility that really gives Parsec their advantage, and they seem to embrace that from the start. While you're free to setup parsec on any cloud hardware provider, they've actually setup integrations with two outstanding cloud providers: AWS and Paperspace.

 

The second advantage of Parsec over the other options falls into their unique and awesome feature that allows you to allow friends to connect to your local or cloud machine. With Steam you can share your library with a friend, but Parsec takes that a step further and allows you to share your entire PC with a friend. Where this becomes really cool though, is playing games with local multiplayer. Having the ability to connect to a single machine with several of your friends is reminiscent of previous console generations. With versatility to play whatever games you want, on the hardware you want and the unique ability to have multiple people connect to a single machine, it's hard to argue against Parsec being the current streaming king.

 

That's not to say that Parsec is always the best option. If you only have games on Steam and want to play games around your house from a central location, then Steam is likely the best bet for you. LiquidSky also has some strong potential, with some of the best pricing out on the market. Earlier this year LiquidSky had a large update from Windows 2012 to Windows Server 2016, which coupled with some poor decesions has resulted in a rough 2017 for LiquidSky. It's been months since this large backend update and the Mac client still hasnt returned. Another poor decesion to offer ad-supported play time with low capacity only added salt to the wounds of paying customers unable to access the machines they were paying for. A recent storage update has improved performance on LiquidSky, so it appears that they've begun the process of turning around their year to end 2017 on a positive note.

 

With Parsec as a leader on the software side of cloud gaming, that leads to the question of which provider to go with for cloud gaming. Once again, this is not a definitive list of all your options in terms of cloud hardware providers with dedicated GPU tiers. The following table will focus on the hourly pricing of these tiers with a baseline of 500 GB of SSD storage and will also highlight the hardware specs.

 

Cloud Hardware Providers

Service

Hardware Tier

Hourly/Monthly Cost

@ 20 Hours *

Hourly/Monthly Cost

@ 40 Hours *

Hourly/Monthly Cost

@ 60 Hours *

Hourly/Monthly Cost

@ 80 Hours *

AWS

g2.2xLarge

 $3.27 🔸  $65.40

 $2.02 🔸  $80.80

 $1.60 🔸  $96.00

 $1.39 🔸  $111.20

Paperspace

GPU+/P4000

 $.90 🔸  $18.00

 $.65 🔸  $26.00

 $.57 🔸  $34.20

 $.53 🔸  $42.40

Paperspace

P5000

 $1.15 🔸  $23.00

 $.90 🔸  $36.00

 $.82 🔸  $49.20

 $.78 🔸  $62.40

Paperspace

P6000

 

 

 

 

LiquidSky

Gamer **

 $1.00 🔸  $19.99

 $.50 🔸  $19.99

 $.33 🔸  $19.99

 $.25 🔸  $19.99

LiquidSky

Pro ***

 $1.00 🔸  $19.99

 $.50 🔸  $19.99

 $.67 🔸  $39.99

 $.50 🔸  $39.99

Service

Hardware Tier

CPU

Clock Frequency

vCPUs

RAM

GPU

vRAM

AWS

g2.2xLarge

Xeon E5-2670

2.6 GHz

8 Cores

15 GB

NVIDIA GRID K520

4 GB

Paperspace

GPU+/P4000

 Xeon E5-2623 v4

2.6 GHz

8 Cores

30 GB

Nvidia Quadro M4000

8 GB

Paperspace

P5000

 Xeon E5-2623 v4

2.6 GHz

8 Cores

30 GB

Nvidia Quadro P5000

16 GB

Paperspace

P6000

 Xeon E5-2623 v4

2.6 GHz

8 Cores

30 GB

Nvidia Quadro P6000

24 GB

LiquidSky

Gamer **

Xeon E5-2690 v3

2.6 GHz

3 Cores

6 GB

Nvidia Grid M60-8Q

2 GB

LiquidSky

Pro ***

Xeon E5-2690 v3

2.6 GHz

6 Cores

12 GB

Nvidia Grid M60-8Q

4 GB

* Based upon 500 GB of monthly storage.

** LiquidSky sells their service in a monthly plan with credit bundles for additional time. The Gamer plan uses 1 credit per minute. This does result in spare credits for these calculations and credits do rollover to an extent.

*** LiquidSky sells their service in a monthly plan with credit bundles for additional time. The Pro plan uses 2 credits per minute. This does result in spare credits for these calculations and credits do rollover to an extent.

With the hardware specs and pricing, you can make some assumptions on what tier might be the best for your requirements. For example, the Gamer plan from LiquidSky clearly won't run high-end modern games with only 2GB of VRam and three cores of CPU. Their certainly are games it'll run just fine, and one cool aspect of LiquidSky is they make it easy to move between hardware tiers. This allows you to use the cheaper Gamer plan for older or low requirement games then bump up the performance to Pro when required. However, since these services use server grade hardware it's hard to directly correlate those specifications to performance. That's where benchmarks come in handy!

 

 

I've given each game an Overall score which is a less scientific score, that takes several things into account. In part these scores are based upon that tier's performance compared against the other tiers, while also looking at the goal of getting a solid 60 FPS experience. In addition, I take into account any issues with the games running on that service. For example, I'll be testing PUBG on LiquidSky again but this requires a work-around to get the mouse to work that you must do everytime you boot up the cloud pc. I'll take this into account when giving that tier a score. LiquidSky hardware was tested and scored based upon using their software. Paperspace was tested and scored based upon using Parsec for the software.

 

 

I'll be continuing to test more games in the future so expect the next major article to have way more benchmarks. If you have any suggestions for specific games to test or even any comments on this article, then message me over on Twitter: @TProvokingTech.

 

Cloud Hardware - Performance Benchmarks

Hardware

Hardware Tier

Player Unknown's Battleground

SW: Battlefront

Doom

Paperspace

GPU+

Overall Score:

Average FPS: 41.6

Min FPS: 13

Max FPS: 66

Overall Score:

Average FPS: 56.1

Min FPS: 41.7

Max FPS: 78.7

 

Overall Score:

Average FPS: 64.7

Min FPS: 49

Max FPS: 94

Paperspace

P5000

Overall Score:

Average FPS: 68.5

Min FPS: 26

Max FPS: 142

Overall Score:

Average FPS: 75.3

Min FPS: 53.0

Max FPS: 121.3

Overall Score:

Average FPS: 75.3

Min FPS: 57

Max FPS: 135

LiquidSky

Gamer

 

Overall Score:

Average FPS: 57.2

Min FPS: 13.7

Max FPS: 68.0

Overall Score:

Average FPS: 13.4

Min FPS: 9

Max FPS: 34

LiquidSky

Pro

 

Overall Score:

Average FPS: 66.4

Min FPS: 54.0

Max FPS: 68.0

Overall Score:

Average FPS: 63.9

Min FPS: 57

Max FPS: 66