4K Gaming on a Budget with Nvidia Shield

Nvidia Shield

The overall meaning of a game console is quickly expanding and today Nvidia jumped into the space with the new Nvidia Shield. You’ve got to give them credit, this is one interesting looking piece of hardware. It’s made of aluminum with a subtle green LED up front and an origami-like shape everywhere else. It really doesn’t look like anything else out there no matter which way you look at it. Tucked around back is a small vent to keep the Shield cool and even though there is a fan Nvidia claims it should be almost completely silent.

Out of the box it comes with 16 gigabytes of storage but you can expand this with a Micro SD card or an external drive using one of the USB 3 ports. There’s also HDMI 2.0 onboard which is important because the Shield fully supports 4K, something not even the PS4 and Xbox One can handle yet. As the first device to run Android TV in 4Kthis is mostly useful for watching video and playing Fifa 17 tricks but the entire interface runs at full resolution and it theoretically even supports 4K gaming. This is thanks to the Tegra X1 inside that sports an 8 core processor and 256 core Maxwell GPU which is a cut down version of Nvidia’sGTX 980 desktop card.

To put this in perspective the Tegra X1 is over twice as powerful as the Xbox 360 with six times the memory and needing only one-fifth the power. Putting this all together one of the first titles for the Shield is Crysis 3. Yeah, this thing is no joke. They showed an early multiplayer demo on stage so while this is a little way out the fact that it runs Crysis should say a lot. They also showed off several other games including Doom 3 and Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel which should be available at launch. Borderlands in particular is a good example of how the Shield matches up with consoles and other Android titles like Portal and Half-Life 2 are also going to be available.

On top of the native games Nvidia unveiled their Grid streaming service. There will be two monthly subscription tiers that give you access to a game library and an option to buy new titles like Batman: Arkham Knight and The Witcher 3 the day they come out. As with all game streaming this is mostly based on your internet connection. To run games at 720p 30 FPS you’ll need between 5 and 15 megabits per second and if you want full 1080p at 60 FPS you’re going to need a beefy connection in the neighborhood of 15 to 50 megs down. If you’ve got decent internet the experience is pretty impressive, there’s a slight amount of lag but it’s much better than other options I’ve tried and should be good enough for all but the most twitchy of games.

Tying everything together is the Shield game controller. It’s a bit on the bulky side but it’s reasonably comfortable and supports audio if you want to listen to your game or media over headphones. This is going to be included with the Shield when it launches in May for $200 which is more expensive than other Android TV options but you are getting a lot here. So what do you guys think about the new Nvidia Shield?