Using Shadow with Dual Monitors - A Review of Multi-Screen

Shadow PC Mar 28, 2021

Not too long ago, Shadow announced the Alpha for their Multi-Screen function. This was a feature that many were waiting for for a long time.

I have spent the last few weeks using this new feature with a dual monitor setup on Shadow, and I would like to tell you my thoughts on it.

TL;DR: It's epic :)

What is Multi-Screen?

The Multi-Screen feature on the Shadow Client allows for you to use Shadow on more than one screen. Essentially, the Shadow Client launches two streams, one for each monitor.

In full-screen mode, it will act exactly like if you have two screens hooked up to your pc. In Windowed mode, you get two separate Shadow windows that you can move around between monitors, resize them how you want, and drag them where you need them.

Full-screen mode is preferred, as I have run into some issues with Shadow's automatic resolution detection software when dragging the windows between monitors.

Is it different from "Set as Secondary Screen"?

Yes, it is!

The "Set as Secondary Screen" setting in your Shadow Launcher will set the device running the Shadow Client as the secondary screen to your Shadow. This feature will work fantastic if you have multiple devices that only allow for a single display output.

An example would be having two Shadow Ghost's. With one of them, you can sign in to your Shadow, as you usually would. With the second, you would enable the "Set as Secondary Screen" setting. Once you connect to your Shadow, your second Ghost will act as a second monitor to your first Ghost, allowing you to have a dual monitor setup with your Shadow.

The Multi-Screen feature will work best on devices that can allow for multiple display outputs, as you can use more than one monitor with a single Shadow Client.

Performance

The overall performance of multi-screens with Shadow is near perfection.

The only issue is that both Shadow Windows share the same overall bandwidth. For most people, this should not be too much of a problem.

But, for those who like to push the limits, that is where things may get a little rough.

You see, Shadow has a maximum bandwidth limit of 70mbps. This is quite a bit. You could efficiently run a 4k monitor at 60 frames-per-second with this type of bandwidth. But what happens if you add a second 4k monitor?

Now, Shadow has to send two separate 4k images to your computer. When you are sitting at your desktop, idle, this should be perfectly fine. Static images or minimal movement on the desktop means that Shadow is not using a lot of bandwidth.

What happens when you have a game running on one screen and a video or something else running on your other screen?

Shadow then needs to start distributing bandwidth between the two monitors. Having to handle two 4k streams will surely cut down the maximum bandwidth available for each monitor, resulting in a grainy or less than perfect image quality.

In my opinion, if you want to use the multi-screen feature, keep an eye on your image quality of the Shadow Stream. Suppose you notice things starting to get grainy. In that case, you may need to adjust the resolution on your second monitor or make sure nothing that would require additional bandwidth usage is being used on your secondary monitor.

I use Multi-screen with two 1080p monitors. I game on my left screen and use my right screen to have Discord or something static, such as a game guide or similar. I have not experienced any issues in terms of the visual quality of the Shadow Stream.

Ready for Beta?

According to Shadow, the Multi-screen feature should be coming to the Beta client soon. From my experience, I think it is ready for Beta.

Is it ready for a stable release? Probably not. The multi-screen feature does have some bugs.

Issues I have run into

Shadow in Windowed Mode can cause the automatic resolution detection to break on Multi-screen.

If you switch to windowed mode and move the screens between monitors too fast, your Shadow stream may get stuck detecting a new resolution.

To fix this, I move the screens back to the previous monitor, wait for the automatic resolution detection to finish, and then slowly move them back. Otherwise, a restart of the Shadow stream usually fixes it as well.

Ghost monitors

No, I am not talking about the Shadow Ghost. What I mean by Ghost monitors is that Shadow would sometimes create a 3rd or 4th monitor that is "attached" to your Shadow. This can lead to windows going off-screen or losing your cursor.

I use the NVIDIA control panel and disable all screens that are not in use to fix this.

This could also affect if you disable multi-screen on your Shadow. Sometimes, your Shadow will still boot thinking it has a second monitor. You will need to disable it in the NVIDIA control panel as well.

Shadow Stream starts with both windows on one monitor

I start Shadow in Full-Screen mode. With Multi-Screen enabled, sometimes it will start with both the Shadow Streams opening up on one monitor.

I then have to exit full screen and manually move one of the Shadow windows over to the second monitor. Once that is done, I enable full screen again and am good to go!

Final Thoughts

I am loving the innovations Shadow is bringing to Cloud Gaming. When I started using the service back in 2019, I would have never expected to use the service on two monitors.

Yet, here we are!

The Multi-Screen feature helps both gamers and those looking to boost their productivity alike.

I look forward to what other innovations Shadow will bring to the table, specifically 4:4:4 coloring and better bandwidth management.


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