Gaming powered by the cloud seems to be the future the industry wants, and Nvidia is making sure that they’re ready for that future with GeForce NOW. Currently in (free) beta, it’s a service that lets gamers have AAA gaming experiences on just about any Windows PC, Mac, and Nvidia shield. GeForce NOW supports a variety of game stores; however, the most important is Steam.
Although just because the game store of your choice is supported, don’t expect every game in your library to work. The service mostly focuses on new, hotly anticipated games and games that have a decent fanbase. So, if your game library consists only of older titles, then you will most likely be disappointed with this service.
You better have a solid internet service provider if you want to have fun. You need to have a connection of at least 50Mbps to get the most out of GeForce NOW, as it eats some serious bandwidth. If you’re unfortunate enough to have a monthly data cap, then you will have a bad time. Even the most conservative setting will consume an estimated 4GB of data an hour.
However, it’s not all gloom and doom. Stick with me here, because there is plenty to like about GeForce NOW.
Being able to go into your game library and just click play to get started is an awesome feeling. You don’t have to worry about whether you have enough space on your SSD, foregoing the mental gymnastics needed to decide which game has to go to make way for a new one. Moreover, you don’t have to wait for a game to download and install itself on your system. It’s just ready to go on one of Nvidia’s beefy servers.
Since GeForce NOW is powered by the cloud it means that you can access your game library from any computer that has the app installed. If you happen to forget your device on that next trip to visit family, it doesn’t mean that you’re shut out from your games. Simply install the app—with permission, of course—and you can get straight to having fun.
This is Epic [Settings]
With this service you don’t need to have a monstrous gaming rig to get an amazing experience. With Nvidia taking care of everything on their end you can easily crank the setting up to the max and performance will be smooth as butter. Just keep in mind that the higher up your push the resolution the more bandwidth you’ll be using.
I’ve namely been a console gamer, with my PCs being low powered and geared more towards playing media. Therefore, I’ve never been able to experience what high-end PC gamers get to enjoy. It’s certainly eye-opening and I can understand why the PC gaming community is so vocal. Being able to just select “epic” or “ultra” in the menu just feels good.
If you have a Mac and enjoy gaming, this will bring a huge smile to your face. GeForce NOW will undoubtedly be the easiest setup you’ll ever encounter to get your high-end gaming fix. No more having to deal with bootcamp or attaching some massive thunderbolt accessory. It’s native Mac support. Rejoice!
It’s a Bumpy Ride
Earlier in this article I mentioned how important a fast internet connection is but, even with blazing speed at your disposal you can still run into issues. There are plenty of posts on the Nvidia forums of users reporting stuttering and lag despite having something as advanced as a fiber connection. Since it’s all in the cloud a weak link in the chain means the whole thing breaks down.
During my time with the service I would see stretches where everything was smooth. This would be followed up by stretches where I got nothing but lag-filled games, making it impossible to enjoy. Even having the AmpliFi HD Gamer’s Edition, a router specifically certified to deliver the best experience, couldn’t prevent me from running into these issues.
Competitive online multiplayer games present plenty of problems. During games of Fortnite I could feel the lag creeping in, which can set you back against the competition. There were even moments where some mouse or keyboard presses just didn’t get registered. This meant a lot of deaths in heated one-on-one battles. This issue isn’t as pronounced in single-player, story driven games as that’s a more forgiving environment.
Gamepads Also Work
I didn’t know what to expect regarding support for gamepads. I really enjoy using my PlayStation 4 gamepad and prefer it over a mouse and keyboard when it comes to certain games. Thankfully, GeForce NOW does support Xbox and PlayStation controllers.
To get my PS4 controller working I needed to install a third-party app, DS4Windows. Without this extra app installed I simply couldn’t get games within GeForce NOW to detect the gamepad. I didn’t have the opportunity to test an Xbox One controller, although I’m guessing it’s an easier process since Windows natively supports it.
With the GeForce NOW beta, Nvidia is showing they have the technical chops to have an amazing service. When it’s hitting on all cylinders it truly feels like the future of gaming. However, Nvidia simply can’t control every part of the pipeline. That means that issues pop up that aren’t the fault of Nvidia or its user base. It’s a great showcase, though, and I recommend signing up for a beta code.
After spending time with the service, it has motivated me to start saving up for a nice graphics card. Something along the lines of an RTX 2060 or 2070; AMD also has something in the works with Navi. That way I can enjoy being able to crank up the settings without having to worry about any of the pitfalls of a streaming service. Maybe this is Nvidia’s plan all along: convince gamers to get a beefy, dedicated graphics card after getting a taste of the good life.