Markfl370

Cloud Computers for FS: Read this before buying your next machine

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I have been using various cloud platforms for the past 18 months and thought some of what I learned may be helpful so here it goes.  Let me caveat this by saying I am in no way affiliated with any of these companies or their products and my recommendations are based solely off my experience.  My goal was to replace my gaming desktop with a cloud computer and I am happy to report I succeeded.  I now play both X-Plane 11 and P3DV4 in the cloud exclusively and it costs me roughly $60-80/month depending on how often I play.  I think if you play more than 100 hours a month the economics wouldn't really make sense but if you are someone like me that mostly plays on the weekend it works well and best of all you don't have to worry about buying hardware.  I read a lot posts asking for advice on buying computer hardware and most of it will not work well for flight sims or worse many buy a high end machine only for it to be outdated in a year or so.  

Prerequisite:  You must have atleast 20Mbps internet connection.  I have standard cable internet and it works well.

Here is what I use for my systems:

I use a 7 year old laptop running Linux Mint connected via HDMI to a 40 in LCD TV with X52 and Pro Pedals but I have also used a Raspberry PI and it works well too.  In both cases I use a physical Ethernet connection to my cable modem.  You could use WIFI but would need to be 5GHZ.

X-Plane 11:

Parsec Gaming Software (This a low latency client to access the cloud computer - a must have for cloud gaming.  It includes USB over IP support for Controllers and my X52 and Pro Pedals work just fine on cloud machine)

Paperspace P6000 Machine (8xCPU -30G RAM - 24GB VRAM) - After Storage Costs it is about $1.30 an hour.  I use Flight Factor A320 and 757 mostly with ZL17 Ortho, X-Enviro, and about 15 plugins with 35-45FPS average with one notch below Max Graphics Settings.

P3D V4:

Parsec Gaming Software

Paperspace P5000 Machine (8xCPU - 30G RAM - 16GB VRAM) - After Storage Costs it is about $.95 an hour.  I use PMDG 777 & 747 with Orbyx Global, LC, Vector, UT Live, Active Sky with 25-35FPS on the ground 40+ in the air with one notch below Max Graphics Settings (Except shadow quality).  I have used FSLABS A320 at about 15-20 FPS and it worked but I think FF is a better model so I use XP11 for my Bus Driving.

AWS and Azure both have cloud machines available but they are were both more expensive and less powerful than the Parsec machines during my testing but if you could not use Paperspace, the Azure NV6 instance with Parsec would be the next best option for about $.15 more per hour and about 5-10 FPS less.

Parsec gives you the option to rent a Paperspace or AWS machine straight from their software or you can set it up yourself with the cloud provider but I recommend especially for the budget conscious you give it a try before buying your next PC.  Just remember to budget 5-10 hours for setup and installation.

I suspect the Cloud GPU's are only going to get better.

Mark

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Very interesting thanks for sharing!

How noticeable would you say is the latency between your control inputs and the results on the screen?

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I have attempted this with many of the cloud gaming services like liquid sky.

I found the compression made cockpit quality really poor and being limited to 1920 x 1080 a bit of a deal breaker.

Do you have some screenshots of how it looks for you?

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13 hours ago, Markfl370 said:

Parsec Gaming Software (This a low latency client to access the cloud computer - a must have for cloud gaming.  It includes USB over IP support for Controllers and my X52 and Pro Pedals work just fine on cloud machine)

This all depends on the latency (not bandwidth) of your internet connection. It'll be around 70-100ms roundtrip, which is the equivalent of 10-12fps. No thanks.

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The bandwidth requirement is about the quality of the stream for the encoder not latency...the whole point of the parsec software is to help with latency... it works well.

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9 hours ago, LB777 said:

Very interesting thanks for sharing!

How noticeable would you say is the latency between your control inputs and the results on the screen?

Nothing noticeable once you map the controllers correctly...if you can detect 10-20ms your better than me lol.

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9 hours ago, Martyn Pearson said:

I have attempted this with many of the cloud gaming services like liquid sky.

I found the compression made cockpit quality really poor and being limited to 1920 x 1080 a bit of a deal breaker.

Do you have some screenshots of how it looks for you?

I only use 1080p so works for me and I do not see much of a difference...at 4K it probably would but I have not tested at higher resolutions.  

IMHO Liquid sky is not competitive with Paperspace, AWS, or Azure.  From my testing Paperspace on Parsec performs the best.  X Plane 11 on Paperspace P6000 machine is quite stunning with Ortho (will post some photos this weekend). Could I get a few more frames from a physical machine...probably but I don’t have to pay $3000 upfront for a computer and I only have to pay for the time I use the computer...i think that is a good value.

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Interesting, but the switch user share seems like that might trigger some EULA violations and/or will start requiring vendors to enhance their EULAs.  But this technology seems to be very similar to Citrix from many years ago, only applied to game apps rather than business apps.

It's not a technology that meets my requirements, but I can see it might fit others desires/goals.  Flight Simulation is a difficult market for this type of processing as user demands require higher FPS, higher resolution, better quality graphics, and lower latency.  Cloud gaming and the monthly costs aren't recoverable, it's like renting ... you'll find many Flight simmers will hold onto 5 year old (or more) hardware at an initial cost of about $1000-$1500 (not sure where you got $3000 from as that would be a fairly high-end system) ... 60 months x $40/mo (assuming one uses a package deal for 8hrs usage per week) = $2400 over 5 years.  But these services also do require that the end user have a computer, just doesn't need to be a powerful computer, so one's 5 year cost is probably more like $3000-$3200.  There's also the question of how often these Cloud gaming services are updating their hardware and do they guarantee hardware updates over a period of time?

20Mbps should be pretty easy to obtain for many, I'm at 1Gbps and it seems to double in performance every 2 year in my area ... the kicker is that some ISPs have bandwidth restrictions in terms of usage, in my cases I have an unlimited plan ($100/mo), but each plan tier has different restrictions or no restrictions on total data usage.

It's an interesting option ... so this is where all the bitcoin computers are going now 🙂

Cheers, Rob.

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5 hours ago, Markfl370 said:

the whole point of the parsec software is to help with latency... it works well.

Unless you have a time dilation machine, you can't do anything about the latency. Bandwidth yes, but the speed of light is what it is.

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Just now, Luke said:

Unless you have a time dilation machine, you can't do anything about the latency. Bandwidth yes, but the speed of light is what it is. 

Basically yes, they use a thing called buffering...i.e. delay the program start until the program has enough data stored in memory to create a significant enough "buffer" for the program to run smoothly.  Same thing Netflix does. If your thousands of miles from the nearest data center you will probably have issues but if your round trip delay is less than 200ms you will be fine.

3 hours ago, Rob Ainscough said:

Interesting, but the switch user share seems like that might trigger some EULA violations and/or will start requiring vendors to enhance their EULAs.  But this technology seems to be very similar to Citrix from many years ago, only applied to game apps rather than business apps.

It's not a technology that meets my requirements, but I can see it might fit others desires/goals.  Flight Simulation is a difficult market for this type of processing as user demands require higher FPS, higher resolution, better quality graphics, and lower latency.  Cloud gaming and the monthly costs aren't recoverable, it's like renting ... you'll find many Flight simmers will hold onto 5 year old (or more) hardware at an initial cost of about $1000-$1500 (not sure where you got $3000 from as that would be a fairly high-end system) ... 60 months x $40/mo (assuming one uses a package deal for 8hrs usage per week) = $2400 over 5 years.  But these services also do require that the end user have a computer, just doesn't need to be a powerful computer, so one's 5 year cost is probably more like $3000-$3200.  There's also the question of how often these Cloud gaming services are updating their hardware and do they guarantee hardware updates over a period of time?

20Mbps should be pretty easy to obtain for many, I'm at 1Gbps and it seems to double in performance every 2 year in my area ... the kicker is that some ISPs have bandwidth restrictions in terms of usage, in my cases I have an unlimited plan ($100/mo), but each plan tier has different restrictions or no restrictions on total data usage.

It's an interesting option ... so this is where all the bitcoin computers are going now 🙂

Cheers, Rob.

I agree it is not for everyone.  I travel a lot and I got tired of buying pricey laptops that could barely handle flight sim so it more of what works best for me. For most people buying a computer capable of running XPL11 or P3DV4 with decent settings and add-ons, the magic number is about 100 hours a month.  If you use your flight sim more than a 100 hrs a month, buying a computer is the best option but less than that cloud computers make more sense.  Old computers have very little residual value so I see not having to store old computer hardware as a benefit.  Bitcoin computers went away because the value has dipped significantly and it doesn't make economic sense to pay thousands of dollars for graphics cards...If bitcoin rebounds I am sure they will be back.

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