GeForce Now Streaming Gaming Exit Beta – Is It The Cloud Of PC Gamer’s Dreams?

Posted by at 9:09 am on February 4, 2020

GeForce Now service has left beta with pricing starting at free for unlimited one-hour sessions that don’t even require a credit card.  They are also offering a $4.95 plan which gives you 6 hours a session and RTX support.

What makes Geforce Now different than other cloud gaming services is the fact you are getting time on a real gaming PC with your library of PC games from the stores you already shop at.  (Well sans one for me, we will talk about that a little later). When compared to a service like Google Stadia, there are not any exclusive titles on GeForce Now and you are not forced to buy/rent at only their store.

Since the service is basically a PC in the cloud, it means games which support cloud saving of game data such as achievements and sync’ing your old saved games all can go back and forth between machines – service supported devices or that gaming rig you have a home with the game locally installed on it. Games installed on GeForce Now like they do on a stand alone PC. Well, even better, since the installs are near-instant to your cloud desktop on the services vs waiting for that long download you must endure on your home gaming rig to finish before playing.  Please note there are over 1,000 games that Nvidia supports but doesn’t cache locally in its server farms, meaning you’ll need to “download” them to Nvidia’s servers each time you play.  It is still faster than doing at home for well over 95% of us in the US.  Again, the service at its core, is just a cloud based gaming PC with a Geforce video card you have access to.

Supported Devices

The service has clients for Windows, MacOS, Nvidia’s Shield TV set-top, and Android smartphones (Android 5.0 ) or higher, packing 2GB of system memory).  Nvidia says it will ship a WebRTC version to Chromebooks towards the end of Q1. When it comes to routers and gaming devices, click here to see Nvidia’s recommendations.

On the product support front, Nvidia claims their forums and FAQ have taken care of most of members needs well.  Paid members will have the option of personal support too.

Why Apple, Why

During the press call with the Nvidia team, we were told by the team “to ask Apple” why there wasn’t a client for iOS or iPadOS.

Some of you may not know, but Apple and Nvidia have been having issues with each other for the last couple of years publicly. Apple stopped signing Nvidia drivers for use in on the Mac with macOS 10.14 (Mojave), which many users who needed and used CUDA Apps and APIs were left out in the cold.  Nvidia was more than willing to make new CUDA drivers (the link is to Nvidia’s statement on CUDA 10 and macOS 10.14) for the new macOS, but Apple was the blocker then and we here at TOT bet they are again when comes to allowing a GeForce Now client app for iOS and iPadOS.

We hope that Apple will work with Nvidia to get a client out for iOS and iPadOS.  While they both are at it, we would love to have a client for tvOS so we can play games on our AppleTV devices too.  Please Apple, don’t make your supporters pick using your platforms over playing the games they love.  After-all those RTX Studio Laptops are very nice machines and you can game on them too.

macOS 10.15 (Catalina) only supports 64-bit applications, which has many Mac gamers sad since many Mac games cannot run anymore since they are 32-bit apps.

If you are a gamer who wants more than what Apple Arcade offers – such as Triple-A titles, real MMORPG’s, hard core first person action and Real-time strategy games.  Sign up for Geforce Now!

Discord Support

GeForce NOW supports Discord app just like using the service on Windows or Mac machine. So when you launch a game or digital store on GeForce NOW, your user status message will update in the Discord App for Windows or macOS automatically.  In short, the service making the use of Discord as easy and as fun running it on your gaming rig.

In-Game Overlay

Plus, there is an In-game Overlay you can activate with the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+G. This overlay gives you additional features such as capturing game highlights, recording your gameplay, etc.

Performance

The service works great on both  150Mbps hard-wired  or Wi-Fi connection, for all but the pro eSports players (one getting paid to play) it is like playing a game stored locally on your PC, using the controllers you already own and love.   This is something that Google’s Stadia has failed at more times that I would like remember for me.

On a 50Mbps Wi-Fi connection in a home, the service delivers a solid performance at 1080P 60fps. No audio issues,  no noticeable delays or artifacting – even in intense FPS firefights.

All the above tested was with Streaming quality set to Balanced mode.  In that mode game play will use around 10 GB an hour, Data saver mode use about 4GB an hour and appear to be around 720P 30fps.  Competitive mode use around 6 GB an hour.

But the service for me is about being on the road with a work laptop or a cellphone. So I took out my Ryzen 5 3500U 8GB of ram laptop and went to a rural coffee shop to play.

 

Depending on how many other people were using the wifi network, I was gaming at 720P 60fps to 1080P 60fps. Like all the other services, you need a strong network to take advance of the service fully.  GeForce depends on factors like how fast your internet connection is and how far away you are from Google’s servers. While I would always like better performance, I was able to play titles on a machines that could not play them in any other way.  While it was not like having a full gaming tower gaming rig with RTX 2080Ti, it was very enjoyable and could carry the machine in a small backpack. It short, I had fun which games I normal would not play at such location.

Nvidia says it has nine dedicated gaming data centers in North America and six in Europe that can reach 80 percent of broadband locations in 20 milliseconds  or less. During the press call they said with their partners the service with achieving 10ms round-trip latency  in Tokyo, (SoftBank), Seoul (LG U+), and Moscow (GFN.ru).

In short, you need a 15 Mbps connection or better, 30 Mbps for 1080p60 streaming, and 50 Mbps is what Nvidia suggests for the best experience. There’s no 4K or 1080p120 support at this time.

The Cost

One of the big points Nvidia made during the press call is that they want to support as many gamers as possible.  This is why they have a plan where you can play an hour at a time for free.  Now you may need to wait your turn to get that free hour in a wait list/que but it free and they are not asking for a credit card number to have an free account with the service. We think it is more than a fair deal.

So what do you get if you pay the $4.99  a month for the “Founder’s” plan?  You get priority access (Aka limited or no wait list) and can play for six hours at a stretch.  Nvidia will alert you well in advance so you can wrap up a gaming session.  But there is more.  You get RTX support in games.  This is a great way for you see what your games will look and play like if they have real-time ray tracing support and you are not in the position to buy a card with RTX support at this time.  We plan to do a review of playing some RTX games on the service soon.

Store And Game Support

Can it play can it play Crysis? That is an old school question! Yes, it is. Sadly the answer is No!

EA, Remedy, Capcom, Square Enix and Rockstar games are not on the service, even though some of publishers participated during the long beta testing phase. We hope that will change.

The service does offers you the choice of some the popular game stores. Nvidia supports Steam, the Epic Games Store, Battle.net, and Uplay. But my modern day Crysis, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is playable on the service. But I have not done so yet.  Here’s why.

If you purchased the game from Stream you are great to go. But I got my copy from GOG.Com and the service does not support games bought from that store or their store client, GOG Galaxy, at this time.

When we reached out to Nvidia, their rep said the following:

We don’t have anything to announce on the GOG front.

We hope that GOG will be added to the service to the service soon.  We here at TOT love a ton of old games and indy titles which have made to our controllers and keyboards due to the efforts of the fine folks at GOG.

When it comes adding more games to the service, Nvidia said they would be reaching out to developers, studios and publishers of all sizes. Plus you can send feedback in the client to make game support requests.

System Requirements

GeForce NOW requires a 15 Mbps internet connection (25 Mbps recommended). We also recommend that you use an Ethernet connection for the best experience. If you connect via Wi-Fi, a 5GHz network is preferred.

  • A Windows PC running Windows 7 (64-bit) or higher, 4GB of system memory, a 2.0GHz dual-core X86 CPU or higher and a GPU that supports DirectX 11
  • A Mac with macOS 10.10 or higher (complete list of models can be found here)
  • Any NVIDIA SHIELD TV (2015, 2017, 2019; Base and Pro models)
  • Any Android phone running Android 5.0 (L) or higher and 2GB of system memory
  • A Bluetooth gamepad is strongly recommended, including the SHIELD controller, Razer Raiju and Junglecat Mobile, or Steelseries Stratus Duo

Again click here for recommendations for the best routers and gaming controllers.

Pass, Try Or Buy Now

Both Laura and I have tried over the years more than a few cloud gaming services. We loved OnLive service back in the day, but it was ahead of its time and required you buy games from their stores. Your saves did not follow you to other platforms.  As Laura likes to say “OK I did it, I beat it and I NEVER WANT TO DO THAT AGAIN.”  This is something which is possible with GeForce Now since it is just a PC in the cloud.

We love the Xbox Game Pass for PC, but you still need a PC which can play that game and those games come and go at the choice of Microsoft, not you.  GeForce Now gives you true ownership of the games you purchase. This even mean you can leave the service and you can still play those games on PC, as alone as meets the requirements for the game. Yes, this is a case of Netflix vs buying the movie or TV show – you can debate for the ages on the topic.

So to be honest, if it wasn’t for video editing and game reviewing, I would not have a powerful laptop.  I would just game at home with my tower and bring an ITX machine and monitor to LAN parties.  You can still get more bang for your buck with desktop over a laptop.  Plus upgrading is still much easier.

There are still many times to use a lower powered laptop  – when I am just writing and covering an events where I will bring the footage home or just need to grab a few photos to go alone with a story.  While your work you do mostly is different, I think many of you who go to school or work on the road, have machines that get the job done but cannot play many AAA titles.  GeForce Now makes playing those games possible and it is very enjoyable when the network meets the  requirements.  If you are MAC User, just sign up now.

Macs have their place, but PC is the winner hands down when it comes to gaming.

I like my little 13 inch laptop, but it lacks the power to play many titles I love at 1080P, no less at 60 FPS.  I found GeForce Now at great way to get my fix when I away from my gaming rig.  Heck I can even play on my Android phone!

For you parents out there.  I will always tell you to buy a PC over a console. Why?  Your kid can do homework, learn to code and gain other valuable skills a console just does not offer.  GeForce Now is great for this use too.

Let’s be honest, not all of us can afford to buy even a middle of the road gaming PC, no less a high end gaming rig for ourselves or our kids.  Some schools want kids to have a a certain type of laptop, a Macbook or Chromebook, etc.  GeForce Now lets them and you play now as you either save for that gaming rig of your dreams, or put the money away for something else you may need or want. With GeForce Now the games you get will be able to move forward with you as your system grows or your needs change.

If you are the type of gamer, who looks down at anyone not packing at least RTX 2070, Core i7 desktop with a 240hz 1440p G-Sync monitor…Well first, I will say you are missing the point of gaming. It is about having fun.  Next try carrying that everywhere with you. Trust me it doesn’t work.

We here at TOT think except for people with very poor Internet access and who are true pro-gamers where every ms counts (sorry that isn’t most of ), you should at the very least try out the service with a free account and see if supports the games you love.  This service has been a long time coming from Nvidia and they have learned a ton along the way.  This is not their first time in the gaming ring, they are not looking making a fast buck because gaming is hot right now. This was the business that gave the company its start and allowed it to become what it is today.  Team green does not always make me happy, but GeForce Now is well worth what they are asking for it and it should grow number of PC gamers.  That is a good thing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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