07:05 pm
22 November 2019

Blacknut Review

Blacknut Review

Blacknut is a cloud gaming subscription service. Subscribers gain access to over 200 games and can play them on a variety of devices, from computers to phones to Amazon Fire and Android TV. Blacknut offers a free trial period of 14-days, so I signed up and played lots of games under different conditions. Here’s what I found.

Blacknut is worthwhile if you want to explore a large game library, or if you aren’t concerned with resolution and simply want to play some games, but the service is unsatisfactory for people who need a perfect image.

Blacknut on PC

Blacknut works brilliantly as a discovery tool. The interface is slick and responsive. Every game is categorized into genres, and a list of genres runs down the side for quick navigation. When you hover your mouse over game art, a trailer plays. Once you’ve found something you want to play, it launches within seconds. I played plenty of games I’d never heard of but really enjoyed. I even bought one game on Steam, and I’ve added several others to my wishlist.

I played Blacknut on my PC, which is custom built with an Intel i7 CPU and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 660 Ti. My monitor is a BenQ v2400 Eco and is natively 1080p. I played with a keyboard and mouse or DualShock 3 controller depending upon the game.

My internet connection is wired via an ethernet powerline adapter. I ran speed tests on both SpeedTest.net and MeasurementLab.net. My download speed averaged 21 Mbps. My upload speed averaged 11 Mbps. I’m located on the east coast of the U.S. I measured every game’s frame rate with FRAPS.

PC Internet Speed Test

When you boot up a game on Blacknut, you’re greeted with a message during the very brief loading time: “For an optimal experience, we suggest that you don’t change the graphics settings.” For most games, however, I found that changing the graphics settings didn’t actually apply. I would attempt to change the resolution, for example, and click apply, and either nothing would happen or the the change would be questionable. Restarting the game, as is often necessary, also did not apply the graphics changes.

Most games were defaulted to 720p, and the resolution was either unchangeable or would not save if the attempt was made. A majority of the games were comfortably playable at a smooth frame rate.

The Last: Tinker City of Color. Comparison shots of Blacknut versus a downloaded copy via Steam.

Game Streaming Results

  • Furi:  720p. Solid 50 FPS.
  • Dogfight 1942: Unknown resolution. Solid 30 FPS.
  • ToyBox Turbos: 720p (though it claims 800×600). Mostly 30 FPS.
  • MXGP 3 : 720p. Mostly 30 FPS.
  • The Last Tinker: City of Color: 720p. 55-60 FPS.
  • Anarcute: Unknown resolution. 60 FPS.
  • Splasher 720p. 60 FPS.

From my experience, I can reliably expect Blacknut to run a game on my PC at 720p and hit a consistent frame rate of 30 or 60 FPS.

Because my internet speed is relatively slow, I decided to test Blacknut at a nearby relatives house on a much faster connection. SpeedTest and M-Lab gave me different results, but at a minimum I was getting 50 Mbps download and 5 Mbps upload.

Second Location PC Speed Test

Disappointingly, the results were the same. I tried the same games, and they streamed at the same resolution and frame rate, despite the drastic boost in connection speed. I believe that Blacknut not only defaults their games to 720p, but also outputs their video at 720p, so attempting to change the resolution is futile.

Blacknut on Mobile

Blacknut offers their games over Android and iPhone as well. I tested Blacknut on my Google Pixel 2 over wi-fi. I displayed the frame rate with GameBench.

Mobile Speed Test

On a much smaller screen, Blacknut looked sharp. I discovered a few engaging titles, especially Seasons After Fall by Swing Swing Submarine, and became absorbed playing them on my phone. Custom touch controls are baked into every game and function as well as any other touch control scheme you may have used.

Final Thoughts

Blacknut will likely not satisfy you if you need your games to run at full resolution. But if you’re looking to have an enjoyable time exploring different titles, then Blacknut serves wonderfully. Alternatively, if you like playing games on your phone, then Blacknut could be a good source of gaming for you. Finally, Blacknut offers a family package for $19.99 a month which supports four simultaneous players. Blacknut has a decent multiplayer selection that could be very fun for a small group looking to try out some new games together.

If you’re unsure if Blacknut is right for you, try out their free trial and see for yourself.