Assuming the technology and promised performance work as advertised, GeForce Now represents the most compelling game streaming service we’ve seen so far.
- 5 Reasons Why NVIDIA GeForce Now Isn’t Worth Your Money
- What Is NVIDIA GeForce Now?
- Nvidia GeForce Now
- Don’t like
- How GeForce Now works
- Nvidia GeForce Now compatible devices
- How much does GeForce Now cost?
- GeForce Now Internet Connection Requirements
- What Platforms Can I Play On?
- The Benefits of Storefront Support
- Sounds Great, But What About the Downsides?
- How can I access Nvidia GeForce Now?
- How much does Nvidia GeForce Now cost?
- The Free plan
- The Priority plan
- The RTX 3080 plan
- Good Remote PC Gaming (With a Little Bit of Effort)
5 Reasons Why NVIDIA GeForce Now Isn’t Worth Your Money
Thinking about subscribing to NVIDIA’s cloud gaming platform? We encourage you to rethink it, and here’s why.
NVIDIA GeForce Now has been around for a long time. In 2020, the service rolled out of the beta to the full version with a paid subscription. Recently, NVIDIA has doubled prices for new customers.
Unlike Google Stadia, NVIDIA has had plenty of time to tweak its GeForce Now platform since it hit the market very early. However, we still can’t fully recommend it if you’re looking for the perfect PC gaming experience in 2021.
Here are the top five reasons why GeForce Now isn’t worth your hard-earned money.
What Is NVIDIA GeForce Now?
For those who don’t know, GeForce Now is a cloud-based game streaming service developed by NVIDIA. Basically, it allows you to rent a remote desktop and use its hardware to play games on your computer, tablet, or smartphone. The service will rely on your internet connection, not your own hardware, to stream games from that computer to the cloud.
Sounds too good to be true, right? You may be wondering why building a gaming PC is?
While GeForce Now is a good choice for someone who doesn’t have a powerful PC or uses a MacBook, it’s not a service that aims to replace local gaming hardware. In most cases, you’d be better off buying a game console than paying for GeForce Now.
That said, cloud gaming still has a long way to go in terms of visual fidelity and latency. For both of these things to be significantly improved, we may need some significant advances in video codec and broadband technology.
Nvidia GeForce Now
- Impressively stable gameplay.
- It does not require buying new versions of games.
- Expansion to new devices fairly quickly.
- Your ability to play a particular game may be at the mercy of IP license agreements.
- Still limited to 1080p at 60fps
Like Google Stadia, Xbox Gamepass Ultimate for game streaming (formerly xCloud), and other cloud gaming technologies, GeForce Now renders and streams supported PC games from its datacenters to phones, Chromebooks, PCs, and Macs so you can play on devices that you would otherwise not be able to run them on. An added bonus is that you don’t have to deal with system updates or worry about stability.
The service made its debut on the company’s Nvidia Shield streamer long before the transition to the beta for PC, Mac, and Android phones. But Shield has one advantage over all the other devices GFN runs on: it’s always connected via a wired line to your modem or router. This eliminates one of the biggest variables in cloud gaming: wireless latency. Sure, you can connect PCs and Macs over Ethernet, but this can be really a hassle depending on how your space is laid out.
How GeForce Now works
GFN differs from the competition in that it works with games you’ve already paid for (mostly on Steam) or received for free (mostly through the Epic Games Store), rather than requiring you to purchase a special version of the game (such as Stadia) or stream games from a specific subscription library (e.g xBox Gamepass Ultimate or Sony PlayStation Now).
It is also similar to virtual machine services such as Shadow; they provide an entire, persistent cloud Windows system that can be accessed by phone as well as other devices which means you can basically play any existing Windows game. It’s a more expensive solution, although it offers one advantage that the others don’t: it works on iPhones and iPads as well as all other devices.
You launch the appropriate application for Android, Windows, or Mac OS, find a supported game in your Steam library (or one of several that you got directly from Ubisoft or the Epic Game Store), and start the game. There are also around 90 standard free games. The app connects to the nearest datacenter that has a game rendering engine and sends it to you. Game synchronization and account management are handled by the respective services.
Like all game streaming services, GeForce Now requires a lot of bandwidth and internet speed. Requires a minimum connection of 15Mbps for 720p60 game streaming and 25Mbps for 1080p60 streaming. This means a wired or 5 GHz Wi-Fi connection to the router.
Nvidia GeForce Now compatible devices
Nvidia GeForce Now can be played through Shield TV’s proprietary set-top boxes. You can also get it through the desktop apps for Google PCs, Macs, and Chromebooks.
Any Android device with 2GB of RAM and sports Android 5.0 is compatible, but you’ll need a separate controller.
This also applies to Android TVs that are not Shield TVs, but as the app is currently only in beta, Nvidia does not guarantee the performance or availability of all features.
Only the LG U + UHD TV with Android, only available in Korea, is officially compatible (except Shield).
There is also support for iOS devices via the Safari browser. Just load play.geforcenow.com to the new page.
How much does GeForce Now cost?
There are currently two membership options for Nvidia GeForce Now, and the best news is that one of them is free. A third plan has recently been added and pre-orders are now open.
With free membership, you can play any compatible games for up to an hour. You may have to wait in line for a slot on one of the Nvidia machines to become available as paid members have priority.
Paid members, called Priority, get a longer session (up to 6 hours), priority access (hence the name), and games are played using the highest tier graphics, with RTX cards and ray tracing where applicable.
Priority Membership costs £ 8.99 / $ 8.99 / € 9.99 per month. You can also pay for 6 months upfront to save some cash – this way it costs £ 44.99 / $ 49.99 / € 49.99.
The new RTX 3080 tier is now available for pre-order. It will debut in November in North America, in December in Europe, and will offer 8 hours of playback in a single session, exclusive access to servers running on the amazingly impressive RTX 3080 graphics cards, ray tracing and gameplay up to 1440p at 120 frames per second. Owners of Nvidia Shield TVs will also be able to play in 4K HDR.
RYX 3080 Membership costs £ 89.99 / $ 99.99 / € 99.99 for 6 months and is available initially in limited quantities.
Founding members who signed up for the first year of service as a public offering will continue to pay the old lifetime rate (unless they upgrade to RTX 3080).
Nvidia softened the blow by including a 3-month free trial for its paid service as well. So if that doesn’t help you, it’s time to save. This means you’ll get an effective 15 months of GeForce Now Founders for $ 60.
GeForce Now Internet Connection Requirements
A service like GeForce Now not only requires some amazing data center technology to function properly. Your own internet connection must do the job.
This means a connection of at least 15 Mb / s for 720/60 fps performance and 25 Mb / s for 1080p / 60 fps performance. Total bandwidth doesn’t matter either. Nvidia recommends using a high-speed router in the 5Ghz band to minimize latency.
Alternatively, you will need to connect the device to the router using a wired Ethernet connection. Cellular connections may be too slow, depending on your location. And if you have a data limit, such a service can eat it all up very quickly.
What Platforms Can I Play On?
Nvidia supports a wide variety of devices. Both Windows and Mac computers as well as Android devices are supported. If you are an owner of an Nvidia Shield device, you can also play. Support for Chrome OS will also come at some point in the future.
Android devices require at least Android 5.0 with 2 GB of RAM. Windows machines require a 2Ghz dual core processor with 4GB of RAM and anything equal to or better than Intel HD Graphics 2000. You should check the official website to make sure your Mac is supported.
Thanks to Google Stadia, the product is advertised as a standalone platform. This means you are buying games for Stadia just like you are purchasing for PC or console. It is also offered as a very high end 4K, 60fps offering.
The Benefits of Storefront Support
The GeForce NOW approach still requires you to purchase games through the store of your choice, of which Steam is best represented. This probably has more pros than cons, and it’s perfect if you’re looking at GeForce NOW as a temporary solution (which many people have given how difficult GPUs are right now).
When you purchase the game on Steam, you can save it and use it on any future hardware you want to buy. So, if you buy the latest version through Steam on day one and spend 30 hours on it through GeForce NOW, next year, when you finally get your hands on a new PC, you can simply log into Steam and play it locally. There is no need to maintain a GeForce NOW subscription or use the service solely to play the game.
The same goes for the Epic Game Store and Ubisoft Connect, two other supported services. The Epic storefront managed to collect multiple releases thanks to its exclusive deals, prompting many to use the service due to the availability of the game. Having to use the Epic Storefront may not be a good idea for the average gamer, but being able to use this store site via the cloud or locally has its benefits. NVIDIA also promises to restore Epic’s Fortnite to iPhone via GeForce NOW.
Then there are the Steam mega sales and the free Epic games. Steam has two big sales a year (the summer sale and the year end sale), while the Epic Game Store is giving away not only critically acclaimed games but entire franchises to entice more users to create an account and get it. This is a great way to save money, and many of these titles are playable with GeForce NOW.
Sounds Great, But What About the Downsides?
The biggest downside to any cloud gaming service is performance, or more specifically latency. Depending on factors like your internet connection speed, distance from the server, and type of connection, the type of experience you can get with a service like GeForce NOW can vary widely.
There are several data exchanges to consider when using cloud gaming. First, the game needs to be streamed from the server. To interact, you will send a signal (e.g pressing a button), which is then sent to the server and processed. The cycle begins all over again as the results of your actions are sent back to you.
Skeptical how well this will work? Luckily, GeForce NOW has a free tier that you can use for evaluation. Sign up, join the queue and thoroughly test the service on several different games before purchasing. The performance you get at the free tier in terms of latency (or how “lagged” game seems to play) should give you some indication as to whether higher tier services are a worthwhile investment.
The type of game you play can often cause or break such a service. Games that aren’t reliant on reaction, such as simulation of automation and resource management, perform much better than multiplayer shooters or fighting games. You probably want to exclude fast multiplayer games entirely in favor of single-player gameplay.
Another downside to GeForce NOW in particular is that it doesn’t come with a game library to jump into like many of its rivals. If you’re starting out in the cold without a Steam game library or similar service, you’ll be paying for GeForce NOW to spend more money on games to be able to use the service.
You’re limited to protecting your email while streaming through the Free or Priority tiers, but if you wish to take advantage of the RTX 3080 Advanced Tier, you can upgrade to email protection on supported devices and up to 4K on an Nvidia Shield TV.
How can I access Nvidia GeForce Now?
The best part about cloud gaming is their availability, and GeForce Now is a great showcase of cloud gaming technology. The Nvidia GeForce Now app is available for download on PC, Mac, Android, Shield TV, and Chromebook.
There is no native iOS app due to Apple’s limitations on cloud gaming apps, but Nvidia has provided a workaround in the form of a web app accessible via Safari, allowing you to play AAA games on your iPhone or iPad without needing a dedicated app.
How much does Nvidia GeForce Now cost?
Such an impressive cloud-based game streaming service must be quite expensive, right? Evil.
The service was free during the closed beta, and Nvidia kept this theme in full with a free plan along with a premium, but still budget-friendly, priority plan (formerly known as the founding plan) and the ultimate RTX 3080.
The Free plan
The free plan is limited to 1-hour broadcasts, and while you can disconnect and reconnect right away, you’ll need to queue to regain access.
You’ll still be able to play RTX games like Metro Exodus, but you won’t be able to turn on RTX if you’re on the free plan.
The Priority plan
The Priority plan, which costs £ 8.99 / $ 9.99 a month after increasing from the initial Founders plan £ 4.99 / $ 4.99, offers access to six-hour streaming sessions along with support for the RTX 20 series in compatible games such as Cyberpunk 2077 and Metro Exodus with priority access to the service during peak hours.
It’s worth noting that if you signed up for the Early Bird Founders plan, you’ll still pay a discount of £ 4.99 / $ 4.99 per month through Nvidia’s Founders for Life benefit – only new subscribers pay a higher fee. However, this does not apply to an upgrade to the top-end RTX 3080.
The RTX 3080 plan
The RTX 3080 tier is the newest (and most exclusive) tier of GeForce Now, offering the best possible gaming in the cloud. The highlight, of course, is the exclusive access to servers with top-end RTX 3080 GPUs that enable ray tracing and the aforementioned increased 1440p / 4K resolution, but there are other benefits as well, including longer, 8-hour gaming sessions.
It’s now available in the US and Europe, but unlike the other tiers, it’s only available in six-month servings for £ 89.99 / $ 99.99 apiece.
Whichever plan you choose, go to the GeForce Now website to sign up and download the client for your chosen platform.
GeForce Now runs on its own on PC, Mac, and Android. This is a fairly simple game loader that allows you to search for games, add them to your GeForce Now library, and start a game.
I tested GeForce Now on a 13-inch Samsung Notebook 7 Spin with an Intel Core i5 processor and integrated graphics. I had no problems running any GeForce Now games on this notebook which, it should be noted, does not have dedicated 3D graphics.
While GeForce Now can stream up to 1080p60, the games that run by default are 720p. I had to manually change the resolution of most games that I myself opened to 1080p, which is another minor inconvenience, but hardly makes it useless.
After linking the accounts and making sure everything is logged in, installed, and set up correctly, I had an almost flawless GeForce Now experience. Every game I’ve played, including The Legend of Bum-bo, Disco Elysium, Diablo 3, The Surge 2, and Dark Souls 3, looked and felt great, with 1080p graphics that seemed to have a solid 60fps (after making sure each game was set to play at this resolution). More importantly, the controls were extremely responsive and I couldn’t detect any lag between my inputs and my characters’ actions on screen. This is vital for any game streaming service. Even my cloud saves transferred without any input from me almost flawlessly; Dark Souls 3 was the only gamewhich did not import any saves from my PC installation.
Good Remote PC Gaming (With a Little Bit of Effort)
Nvidia GeForce Now is one of the best game streaming services available, allowing you to play some of the best titles on Steam, Battle.net, Epic and UPlay on almost any computer or mobile device. The way it integrates these digital libraries with your own is weird and awkward at times, but if you don’t mind taking a few extra steps to load the game onto a system that otherwise couldn’t play it at all, it works very well.
If you have a large collection of PC games and want to play a large part of them on the go, GeForce Now is a service you can get. If you want to try out a huge library of older Netflix-style games but aren’t interested in creating a personal collection, PlayStation Now is a fantastic choice. As for Google Stadia, unless the service solves its problems with limited game selections and opaque pseudo-ownership of purchases, it won’t even make it on the list.