by Benjy Boxer
Gamers have been tinkering with setting up cloud machines for gaming for the last couple of years. One of the first and most popular blog posts that demonstrated the viability of setting up a cloud rig for gaming was published in 2015 by Larry Gadea. In this post, he details an intricate set up of a VPN taking advantage of Steam-in-home streaming. The setup is cumbersome, but the results were inspiring for many. As we built Parsec to enable any gamer to access his gaming PC remotely for full 60 FPS, HD gaming, we aimed to make it easy for those with technical skills to set up a cloud gaming rig on AWS. We published an AMI for anyone willing to put the time into setting up their own g2.2xlarge instance at AWS. We’ve seen hundreds of people do this over the past 6 months along with others setting up Azure servers. Now, gamers are able to set up AWS instances, connect to them with a Raspberry Pi, and play Overwatch on a $35 device.
There are a lot of costs associated with the instances. Those prices differ based on region and they change frequently. Since this can get pretty complicated, we built a simple calculator to estimate your costs of playing PC games at 60 FPS on the cloud.
What Am I generally Paying For On The Cloud?
The providers are consistent in charging for a few key elements of the cloud gaming machines:
- Variable processing on the GPUs and CPUs you’re renting
- Fixed storage costs (if you want to save your hard drives)
- Outbound bandwidth for the video stream
- Windows Server 2016 licensing
Amazon Web Services GPUs
AWS g2.2xlarge instances have Nvidia K520 cards. They’re about 3–4 years old at this point, and AWS is still charging about $0.75 per hour to use them. One of the biggest benefits of using AWS and these older cards is the ability to take advantage of spot pricing to reduce your costs further. AWS now offers a 1-hour and 6-hour reserved spot instance, but if you’re willing to keep an ephemeral gaming machine, you can also bid close to $0.20 per hour for a cloud gaming rig. Be aware, however, that you could lose access at any time when you’re outbid on the market. You can see our setup guide for AWS when you create an account and visit our cloud management page.
In the Fall, Azure released their N-series instances, which have much newer and more powerful Nvidia K80s. Azure charges a premium ($1.08 per hour) over AWS for access to these newer machines, but the graphics quality is definitely better. One issue with these machines, however, is that Microsoft seems to only offer standard HDD hard-drives with the N-series Windows Server 2016 Instances. We have a setup guide for Parsec on Azure here.
How To Use The Calculator
For those looking to tinker with cloud gaming, we hope this calculator helps you conceptualize some of the costs of the public cloud providers. Each provider has different variables contributing to the overall cost of renting their machines, but based on your gaming habits and the cloud data center region you’re closest to, you can see what an estimate of your costs would be. To edit the file, please make a copy in Google Drive. Certain cells are protected, so you don’t accidentally break the calculator. When you change the default values, the calculator will throw a lot of errors due to those values not matching the provider.