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Anybody else use GFN or Stadia in lieu of locally owning a powerful GPU?

Associate
Joined
7 Sep 2020
Posts
91
As per title.

I'm fresh from the paradigm-shattering experience of seeing a game in 1440p @ all settings maxed max out on my monitor's refresh rate… on a potato laptop from 2014 with an i5-5200u and no discrete graphics. So at this point I'm like… huh, a local 3080 would cost me at least 50 months of GFN subscription and obviously within 50 months we'd be looking at 5080, with 4080 in the meantime. This is probably very much like the 'buy or lease' dilemma with company cars and laptops. Welcome to HaaS. ;) And it's ironic that gaming should be the pioneer of it — but completely not irrational given the prices of gaming equipment and the costs and risks of ownership (+300W on PSU; stronger CPU to drive the GPU; more PSU wattage with that; replacement cost if the thing breaks down the day after its 2-year warranty expires, etc.). Of course, a real, physical 3080 would have some resale value, but then the subscription presumably updating to current generations would still beat you selling the 3080 and buying a 4080 and then 4080 => 5080.

Of course, if the monthly subscription cost you 1/20 of the cost of a local card, then it could be better to buy the card. But if the ratio is closer to 1/40 or 1/60, then that changes things, and quite drastically.

In my case, being almost without a GPU at the moment (7850 2GB will run some games @ low or mid settings), I figured I could skip the GPU purchase and just buy a new 12600K (with an iGPU to support GFN, which my 9600KF doesn't have) and 420 AIO and OC the heck out of it for single-core performance I sometimes need at work when processing particularly large or complicated files through unoptimized parsers.

Of course, I could buy a nice 3070 for 620 pounds, but a year's worth of GFN costs 120. I'd rather take 5 years of streamed 3080 than a local 3070. There are factors to consider, but they only seem to weaken this result a little, not overturn it.

The next thing I can think about is, well, if GFN proves to be a reliable service and good value for the money in the long run, and if it stays around without becoming much more expensive, I suppose I could reduce my desktop + laptop setup to just laptop instead of upgrading both. (In a way, this is conceptually similar to the older idea of using a USB/Thunderbolt GPU case to hold a desktop GPU, which is still less expensive than a desktop PC, except going a step further and eliminating local ownership of a GPU at all).

What do you guys think? Obviously part of me longs for a nice little 3070 here in my rig, but at the same time I can't deny the maths, it really seems to make little sense buying a GPU vs GFN.
 
Soldato
Joined
25 Sep 2009
Posts
8,253
Location
Billericay, UK
No, although during the GPU drought it cross my mind these online game services were available but I don't want to go down the route of treating my games as a service and response times are an issue (not to mention Stadia was built around Vega 56/64 GPU's so graphics settings are going to limited if they haven't replaced them).

We went through the worst GPU drought in history but people would rather wait in vein for a year for their rtX 3080 pre order to arrive then sign up to GFN/Stadia. If companies with the clout of Nvidia and Google can't pry people away from the pre-order queue and too their ready made solution then I can't see these services really ever taking off in big way.
 
Soldato
Joined
30 Aug 2014
Posts
4,292
As per title.

I'm fresh from the paradigm-shattering experience of seeing a game in 1440p @ all settings maxed max out on my monitor's refresh rate… on a potato laptop from 2014 with an i5-5200u and no discrete graphics. So at this point I'm like… huh, a local 3080 would cost me at least 50 months of GFN subscription and obviously within 50 months we'd be looking at 5080, with 4080 in the meantime. This is probably very much like the 'buy or lease' dilemma with company cars and laptops. Welcome to HaaS. ;) And it's ironic that gaming should be the pioneer of it — but completely not irrational given the prices of gaming equipment and the costs and risks of ownership (+300W on PSU; stronger CPU to drive the GPU; more PSU wattage with that; replacement cost if the thing breaks down the day after its 2-year warranty expires, etc.). Of course, a real, physical 3080 would have some resale value, but then the subscription presumably updating to current generations would still beat you selling the 3080 and buying a 4080 and then 4080 => 5080.

Of course, if the monthly subscription cost you 1/20 of the cost of a local card, then it could be better to buy the card. But if the ratio is closer to 1/40 or 1/60, then that changes things, and quite drastically.

In my case, being almost without a GPU at the moment (7850 2GB will run some games @ low or mid settings), I figured I could skip the GPU purchase and just buy a new 12600K (with an iGPU to support GFN, which my 9600KF doesn't have) and 420 AIO and OC the heck out of it for single-core performance I sometimes need at work when processing particularly large or complicated files through unoptimized parsers.

Of course, I could buy a nice 3070 for 620 pounds, but a year's worth of GFN costs 120. I'd rather take 5 years of streamed 3080 than a local 3070. There are factors to consider, but they only seem to weaken this result a little, not overturn it.

The next thing I can think about is, well, if GFN proves to be a reliable service and good value for the money in the long run, and if it stays around without becoming much more expensive, I suppose I could reduce my desktop + laptop setup to just laptop instead of upgrading both. (In a way, this is conceptually similar to the older idea of using a USB/Thunderbolt GPU case to hold a desktop GPU, which is still less expensive than a desktop PC, except going a step further and eliminating local ownership of a GPU at all).

What do you guys think? Obviously part of me longs for a nice little 3070 here in my rig, but at the same time I can't deny the maths, it really seems to make little sense buying a GPU vs GFN.
Yes, but I have both (a local 3080 and I use GFN's 3080 tier, I'm curious, greedy and lucky :cry: ). When GFN is all working correctly it is amazing and difficult for me to tell the difference between local and the cloud.

Some game publishers have removed their games from the service for very short-sighted reasons which is its main disadvantage. The other is that the server class CPU is a bit weak compared to a desktop equivalent in poorly optimised games like the worst case scenario that is Far Cry 6 (although performance is greatly improved since they switched from Intel to AMD Epyc CPUs with the advent of the 3080 tier).

However, you do save on the electricity bill (which is very important, particularly at the moment), you can play games almost instantly and if the technology keeps improving I could see myself ditching continually upgrading my gaming PC in a couple of generations to become a cloud gamer exclusively.

A last little benefit: GFN's 3080 equivalent GPU has 24GB of VRAM so you don't have to worry about running out unlike with the 10GB 3080 :cry:.
 
Last edited:
Soldato
Joined
30 Aug 2014
Posts
4,292
No, although during the GPU drought it cross my mind these online game services were available but I don't want to go down the route of treating my games as a service and response times are an issue (not to mention Stadia was built around Vega 56/64 GPU's so graphics settings are going to limited if they haven't replaced them).

We went through the worst GPU drought in history but people would rather wait in vein for a year for their rtX 3080 pre order to arrive then sign up to GFN/Stadia. If companies with the clout of Nvidia and Google can't pry people away from the pre-order queue and too their ready made solution then I can't see these services really ever taking off in big way.
I agree to an extent, but the 3080 tier of GFN only came out at the end of last year in the UK (long after the release of the 30 series cards). Before this they were relying on anaemic Intel server CPUs which meant their previous highest end Priority/Founders (2080 tier) often didn't perform like a 2080 and you often wouldn't get a 2080 either, now you always get a 3080 barring an exceptional event. The biggest upgrade was switching to using AMD Epyc CPUs instead, which although not quite as fast as a Zen 2 desktop CPU in gaming, they are reasonably close.

The streaming technology was greatly improved with this release, as was the maximum resolution (from 1080P at 60 FPS to 1440P at 120 FPS and then most recently to 4K but at 60 FPS). You can now monitor in-game framerate as well as stream framerate and stats with Nvidia's overlay which I really appreciate.

The game library is getting bigger all the time and Nvidia seem to be getting better at attracting big publishers.
 
Associate
Joined
21 Apr 2007
Posts
2,024
I fail to see how GFN addresses the obvious issues of :
- latency
- 4k
- VR
- enhanced peripherals for Sims
- game compatibility for older titles I still want to play
- bandwidth contention and packet loss during peak hrs
 

TNA

TNA

Soldato
Joined
13 Mar 2008
Posts
21,387
Location
London
No. Stadia is a turd. Business model is all wrong for streaming imo and it is Google, we all knew this would happen.

The maths maybe appealing as you say, but you can’t deny a lot of users here are hardware enthusiasts and enjoy upgrading to new kit every now and then. Would not want to deny myself of that and be at the mercy of a company if they may not have a particular game in their catalog and be at the mercy of when they may pull the plug etc.

If steam ever released a good service in the future, that may peak my interest, but not in any rush.
 
Associate
Joined
8 Nov 2012
Posts
299
It's pretty impressive, although I do like being able to tinker with the files. First thing I do when I start playing some games is visit pcgw and apply any fixes it needs.
 
Soldato
Joined
18 Feb 2015
Posts
5,905
The thing is, when they announced the 3080 tier I did the math and it came out like I would've been out considerably above £1K because the personal rig can also mine during downtime and for the lifespan of the card until about last month that was quite profitable (and ofc once that's paid off you're still left with the PC - which has plenty of worth by itself). That's besides all the issues GFN has like poor server reliability, game-specific issues which could be remedied on a local PC but you can't on GFN, poor game launches, still missing major publishers etc. and without going into how a lot of is artificially gimped by Nvidia themselves like f.ex. not being able to do HDR on PC, instead you need an Nvidia Shield... And the list goes on.

Now the economics have changed a bit, because mining is not so profitable anymore and it's on its way out, but you can still rent out GPU time for other stuff and more importantly we're on the cusp of a new hardware generation that will properly leapfrog consoles while also having prices come back down to earth, so it's going to be possible to make a killer PC to last throughout the console generation for ~£1K. At that point it would take less than 4 years of usage for the PC to reach £ parity with GFN 3080... but you wouldn't have to deal with all the issues that streaming has (and without taking into account any revenue the PC might generate, or if it's use for other purposes as well which would technically "discount" its costs because you'd still need a PC etc).

Overall not worth it unless you really need the mobility, and maybe not even then. It's an interesting service with a lot of potential but it's sadly not great right now & Nvidia has been dragging their feet getting it off the ground, which I know because I've been paying attention it from launch day. Not out of the ordinary given that their competitors (Stadia et al) have acted in much the same way but achieved even less. Unfortunately none of them really had the balls required to take charge of this new sector of gaming. It's going to be many more years still until that changes given that both Nvidia & Microsoft have focused on slow growth instead, and Stadia's been pretty much abandoned now for months.
 
Soldato
Joined
30 Aug 2014
Posts
4,292
I fail to see how GFN addresses the obvious issues of :
- latency
- 4k
- VR
- enhanced peripherals for Sims
- game compatibility for older titles I still want to play
- bandwidth contention and packet loss during peak hrs
Well they have 4K now if you use the PC app. However, the packet loss is still my main problem, although it has improved quite a bit recently (it's a fairly common problem on Sky Broadband which is my ISP, or other ISPs that use the Openreach infrastructure).

However, if you get your broadband from BT and ask them to put you on the 'super stable' connection supposedly that fixes the vast majority of the problems. This is probably a UK ISP issue rather than Nvidia's fault directly as GFN creates heavy UDP traffic.

All I can say is the XBOX cloud gaming service is much worse with the frames often being redrawn in. Stadia is the best for packet loss and connection issues, but GFN has the best performance, quality and latency by far when it's working correctly.

I have been trying out all these cloud gaming services recently because I was curious.
 
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Associate
Joined
7 Sep 2020
Posts
91
Putting a two or three dozen GB per hour strain on your relationship with your ISP probably carries a bit of negative goodwill.

I've been calculating the economic factors these last days and while EPYC+A10G 'rented' for fifteen quid monthly, hence e.g. 360 for 2 years, appears to be more attractive than a local PC upgrade, especially if your CPU is also a problem, such as taking an old business laptop as a starting point (e.g. my Latitude 5550 w/i5-5200u and no discrete graphics). However, in the long-term, after 5 years that's 900 pounds and you begin to wonder about the resale value a local PC might have. In the short term, especially if you have a decent CPU, you realize that 90 — for half a year — is a dent in your GPU budget easily the size of a whole GPU tier and your GPU obviously wouldn't lose 180 pounds p.a. in value bar extreme events. So without the benefit of a proper, rigorous analysis, both the short term and the long term look far less attractive than the mid-term.

Then again, perhaps the mid-term could be a niche in which GFN could find its legitimate application. For example if you need to wait something out, such as the current situation, or wait for some specific future event like AM5 release or large payout. I suppose it's not unreasonable to expect 3080 prices to go down by at least 90 GBP in half a year, but then you could always be wrong — see the Q4 2021 letdown after the high hopes of July and August. Or there could be another pandemic and supply chains grinding down to a halt (although that in itself could be a situation GFN is of good help in waiting out).

If I look at my existing backlog of not very recent games, none of which bar one or two support RT or DLSS, a 1080ti would be sufficient for fluent 1440p ultra, for the price of 1.5 years of GFN's 3080 subscription (Priority costs half but is capped at 1080p; although 1080p ultra @ 60fps is still great in itself, it looks bad on my 32'' 1440p monitor). It's reasonable to presume that a 1080ti will keep at least 50% of its street price 1.5 years from now. The only risks are that it might simply die or end up being hard to sell due to age, but I can't imagine being unable to recover at least 33% of its value after 18 months, while 66% is not out of the question. The difference in GFN 3080's favour, however, is that it recently supports 4K/60fps, which is something a 1080ti wouldn't always achieve in games like The Witcher 3, Kingdom Come: Deliverance or especially newer ones like Horizon, and 'fake' (dowscaled with DSR/VSR) 4K usually looks better than normal 1440p on my monitor. GFN 3080 won't go above 60fps in 4K, but realistically speaking a 1080ti usually wouldn't either, or maybe 65 (my 1070ti achieved 55 in the best cases) but not really the 75 my monitor can do. And for pure 1440p without insisting on a huge framerate, a used 1070ti costs 2/3 of the price of a used 1080ti and is probably the best money-for-fps except for risks relating to its age and history (although 1070ti released 1.5 years after 1080 or 1060). If it survives a year or two, and it probably will, it should also retain at least a half of its current value. And its SLI-able in case it gets really cheap.

I suppose I'll have to rethink this idea. However, for the time being my subscription is valid until 16 June, and on 31 May comes out a nice DLC for CK3, which I already own and which will benefit greatly (in the late game) from GFN's EPYC CPUs compared to my 9600KF. Until 31 May, I have a company website to redo. So it's probably reasonable to give it a try, maybe extend by another month. One advantage is that I could actually buy a modern game (in which 9600KF + 1080ti would cap out at 40fps in 1440p ultra with RT disabled) while my subscription lasts and push the oldies backlog further down. Unfortunately, I have several GFN-supported games on GOG rather than Steam, which means I'd need to rebuy them on Steam (increasing the total cost of this path), but again, those could be put off till later and I could just buy and play new games. GFN 3080 does have an advantage when it comes to playing new AAA releases in 1440p, especially with RT.

What's optimistic is that the economic outcomes are so close to each other that you can't go completely wrong, whichever route you take. Kind of like owning vs leasing in some industries. There's mess with the various outcomes, a difficulty sorting out and comparing them and making your personal pick, but the actual economic loss is small in any case. Sigh. Haven't made much progress, it seems.
 
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