Google Stadia Tests Show Good Controller Response, But Some Image Quality Issues

Google Stadia Tests Show Good Controller Response, But Some Image Quality Issues

Digital Foundry takes a look at Google's new platform.

Now we know what Google has planned for gaming, with the internet giant announcing the Stadia platform today at GDC 2019. What we thought might be a streaming box is instead of a service that will stream to phones, tablets, and televisions. Google's trying to bring gaming to everyone with Stadia, even if not everyone has a great internet connection.

The folks over at Digital Foundry have an early hands-on look at the platform, including a deep dive on the technology behind it. All of the hardware exists on Google's server farms, instead of the player's home. The specific Stadia hardware was developed in tandem with AMD, offering more power than is available in current gaming consoles.

The full specs include:

  • Custom 2.7GHz hyper-threaded x86 CPU with AVX2 SIMD and 9.5MB L2+L3 cache
  • Custom AMD GPU with HBM2 memory and 56 compute units, capable of 10.7 teraflops
  • 16GB of RAM with up to 484GB/s of performance
  • SSD cloud storage

The manufacturer of the CPU is unknown, but Stadia offers discrete server-class CPU and GPU, making the hardware more powerful than current and potential next-gen consoles, which rely on system-on-a-chip architecture. The full power of the GPU goes to each player instance in Stadia, so your game will draw on the entire 10.7 teraflops. Digital Foundry notes that the hardware can be stacked to handle different tasks, with multiple instances of Stadia hardware being combined to make more graphically-intensive games.

"The way that we describe what we are is a new generation because it's purpose-built for the 21st century," Google's Phil Harrison told Digital Foundry. "It does not have any of the hallmarks of a legacy system. It is not a discrete device in the cloud. It is an elastic compute in the cloud and that allows developers to use an unprecedented amount of compute in support of their games, both on CPU and GPU, but also particularly around multiplayer."

Google is aiming for Stadia to be quick and seamless. Game loading times are aiming for five seconds, and Digital Foundry reports that testing Assassin's Creed Odyssey on Stadia saw an extra 17 seconds of wait time on the opening cutscene versus an Xbox One X. Developers for Stadia also side-step storage constraints, something no home console will be able to avoid. Likewise, since users are not hosting the game on their own hardware, patches and updates no longer become an issue for them; that's all handled on Stadia's side.

Digital Foundry's test of Assassin's Creed Odyssey was stuck with 30fps performance at 1080p, despite Google promising 4K resolution, 60fps, and HDR support for the final release. DF tested Stadia on two connections: a full 200mbps LAN connection and a worst-case 15mbps DSL connection.

Digital Foundry's input testing data. | Digital Foundry

The tests showed a controller response that very close to a local experience. In terms of image quality, testing showed that 1080p streaming will likely be the norm for connections of 25mbps, dropping down to 720p60 for 15mbps connections. Digital Foundry did note that there were artifacts during scenes of fast action, one potential problem with streaming gameplay, and the overall image isn't as sharp due to compression. For the average player, it'll probably be fine, but for high-end enthusiast players, the PC or Xbox One X is still the way to go.

On smaller displays, this is less of problem, but on a larger 4K television, the drop in image quality is apparently noticeable. On the flip side, smaller displays look better, but UI elements aren't built for the tiny screen, making some text illegible. The sweet spot seems to be the laptop screen: Digital Foundry said Assassin's Creed Odyssey looked great on a 13-inch MacBook Pro.

Stadia is launching sometime in 2019, and Google will be offering further information this summer. There are a number of developers already working on games for the new platform. For more on Google's Stadia, stay tuned to our everything we know guide.

Sometimes we include links to online retail stores. If you click on one and make a purchase we may receive a small commission. See our terms & conditions.

Mike Williams

Reviews Editor

M.H. Williams is new to the journalism game, but he's been a gamer since the NES first graced American shores. Third-person action-adventure games are his personal poison: Uncharted, Infamous, and Assassin's Creed just to name a few. If you see him around a convention, he's not hard to spot: Black guy, glasses, and a tie.

Read this next

What Was Your Favorite Reveal At The Game Awards 2019?

COMMUNITY QUESTION | It was another packed night for game announcements. What do you think was the best of them?

Xbox Series X Asks the Question, "What's in a Name?"

THIS WEEK IN BUSINESS | Microsoft not only unveiled its next console this week, but now Sony will start making games for other consoles too?

Pokemon is Getting a New Series of Animated Shorts Set in the Galar Region

The hopes and dreams of Galar region's trainers are coming soon to a small screen near you.

The 15 Best Games You Probably Missed in 2019

From flight sim to train sim, these are the best games that probably slipped past your radar this year.

Exclusive: Check Out This Chill Track From the Composer of Ninja Gaiden and Tecmo Bowl

Keiji Yamagishi puts his spin on a track from Card of Darkness.

More News

Pokemon is Getting a New Series of Animated Shorts Set in the Galar Region

The hopes and dreams of Galar region's trainers are coming soon to a small screen near you.

Exclusive: Check Out This Chill Track From the Composer of Ninja Gaiden and Tecmo Bowl

Keiji Yamagishi puts his spin on a track from Card of Darkness.

More on Android

Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Remaster Delayed Until Summer 2020

On the plus side, it'll have transferable saves across all platforms.

Minecraft on PS4 Is Finally Getting Cross-Play With Switch, Xbox One and More

Tomorrow, Minecraft completes its console cross-play journey.

The Elder Scrolls: Legends is "On Hold" at Bethesda

Bethesda's collectible card game is getting put in storage for the foreseeable future.

Nintendo Needs to Actually Support Its Games For Longer Than a Year

Smash benefits from healthy ongoing support, but where is the love for the rest of Nintendo's games?

USgamer Holiday Gift Guide 2019: For the Traveling Gamer

If your special someone is always on the go, here's some ideas to make those delayed departures sting a little less.

Fortnite Black Friday Deals - Games, Toys, Accessories, and More

Start dancing and bring in the llamas, because we have some awesome Fortnite deals for you.

Amazon Will Reportedly Announce a Cloud Gaming Service Next Year

Google, Sony, Microsoft, and soon, Amazon.