Thanks to the advent of cloud gaming, gamers don’t necessarily need the latest and greatest hardware to access the latest and greatest games. But with ease of access comes a myriad of issues, namely choppy Wi-Fi connections that produce a litany of performance and latency issues. Alienware hopes to change that, while simultaneously solving one of PC gaming’s biggest challenges: how to make it easy for gamers to access and play their extensive game library on any device.
Enter “Concept NYX,” one of many prototypes and concepts from Dell, Alienware’s parent company, shown at CES 2022. As the Las Vegas conference neared, PCMag had the opportunity to get hands-on with Concept NYX, Alienware’s bold attempt to harness the power of edge computing for high-performance, on-the-fly gaming processing.
A feed for every screen
In our short Concept NYX demo, we started by loading Cyberpunk 2077 on one computer screen and Rocket League on another screen across the room. Both games were broadcast locally, directly from the nearby broadcast system (which closely resembled a larger computer tower, complete with RGB lighting.)
The games ran just as well as on any other streaming platform, but the concept really started to make sense when we sat down on the couch. Using a phone app, Alienware reps merged the two games onto the large TV in front of us, moving the games from their separate devices across the room and onto the same screen. This allowed two of us to play both games independently of each other, side by side, on one TV.
If Concept NYX were to come to market as a complete product, screen switching would ideally take place within each device’s menus or via a controller button. As a prototype, reps had to manually swap which game was pushed to which screen with the phone app, which wasn’t without its problems. It is understandable for a concept.
The central idea behind Concept NYX is to make accessing your catalog of games as easy as accessing music or movies, by tapping into a central library of all your games, wherever you go. bought them. The concept’s rudimentary UI looks a bit like GOG Galaxy 2.0 – an app loaded on each client device will allow you to stream your game library to that device.
All this to say that Concept NYX is not just a computer or an application, but an entire ecosystem. It’s the PC’s “server” tower and UI, controllers, and device screens around your home that work in tandem to stream your games anywhere in your home.
push me to the edge
All this is possible thanks to advanced computing. Concept NYX wants to shorten the distance between servers, placing information in your living room rather than having to communicate with remote servers, which is how cloud streaming works. Since the processing happens locally (via the ominously large PC tower Alienware was using for this demo), this would eliminate latency, provide greater bandwidth, and make for a more responsive overall experience.
Alienware hopes Concept NYX’s unique appeal will appeal not only to hardcore gamers, but also casual gamers, especially those with large families. In our demo, we were only able to stream Rocket League and Cyberpunk 2077 simultaneously, but Alienware is experimenting with the ability to power up to four game streams at once.
In theory, you could gather with friends around the couch and play a split-screen game, use your corner of the screen to play something totally different, or just watch someone else’s stream. , just like you would on Twitch. If you’re not interested in playing on the same screen, the idea is also that you would still only need one PC so everyone can play games in separate places throughout the house. .
You might imagine that streaming so many games at once would require a lot of power, and you’re right. Dell didn’t elaborate on the exact specs of this closed system, but it’s clear that serious computing power is essential to make the NYX concept possible. Suffice it to say, we think it needed to pack some serious high-end hardware, possibly including multiple GPUs. We can’t imagine it will be cheap, though.
It remains to be seen whether Concept NYX is economically feasible (or whether it will even work as expected in terms of performance). But with growing interest in cloud streaming thanks to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, Google Stadia and Amazon Luna, Dell’s efforts to offer a localized version of the ability to stream your favorite titles are promising.