It’s not uncommon to have multiple gamers living under a single roof. But what happens when all those gamers want to play at the same time? Wi-Fi mayhem, arguing over who gets to use the best hardware, and, often, separation as family members retreat to their respective gaming caves. Alienware is looking into that solving that problem, with one powerful, mysterious computer.
An R&D project announced today, Concept Nyx is essentially a household server with enough computing power to allow multiple people to stream PC games off it simultaneously. I checked out a prototype in person and saw it powering two gaming sessions at one time—one user fragging on a non-gaming laptop, and another on a larger screen fit for a living room.
Alienware showed me two gamers playing at once but its lab is currently testing Concept Nyx with four gamers playing concurrently. A spokesperson told me there’s “basically no performance drop” when adding a person, but the demo wasn’t long enough (under 10 minutes) to confirm that for me.
Concept Nyx is like cloud gaming services, such as Nvidia GeForce Now and Google Stadia, but instead of streaming games off a server in some far-off datacenter, you’re streaming off one right in your house. Since everything is happening more locally, Alienware expects “lower latency, greater bandwidth, and more responsiveness,” Glen Robson, Dell Technologies’ Client Solutions Group CTO, said in a blog post today.
And like cloud gaming services, Concept Nyx would enable gaming on typically non-gaming devices. For example, you could theoretically game on a Dell XPS without a discrete graphics card.
Obviously, this all requires a lot of computing power. I could tell Concept Nyx was stacked based on its size, but Alienware wouldn’t confirm what or how many CPUs, graphics cards, or other components were inside. It’s also unclear what sort of cooling techniques would be used to keep things running cool for prolonged periods.
One thing I appreciated about Concept Nyx is that while it encourages family members to game frequently, it also encourages physical closeness, which you don’t usually associate with PC gaming. A split-screen feature Alienware is experimenting with would allow two gamers to play on the same screen at once. That means you could play Halo Infinite while your kid plays Cyberpunk 2077, and both enjoy the best screen in the house while sitting next to and, dare I say, talking to one another.
Alienware also demoed Concept Nyx keeping track of where you are in the game, so you could move from the computer in your bedroom to the one in the living room and keep playing with ease.
In that same vein, Concept Nyx looks to simplify game access by unifying all PC games under one app, regardless of where you originally got it from. “Gaming on Concept Nyx aims to be as effortless as access your favorite music, TV shows, and movies,” Robson said.
As a concept, Alienware may never turn it into something you can actually buy. However, Alienware will continue to develop the project, so it’s possible we’ll see something like it or even just some of its features in a shipping product one day.