All the controller (or mouse) codes go the other way, while you get gameplay video back up to 1080p 60fps (it will be expanded to 1440p 120fps soon).
- GeForce Now Review
- GeForce Now Video Review
- Strengths & Weaknesses
- What Is NVIDIA GeForce Now?
- The Pricing and Hidden Costs of GeForce Now
- Nvidia GeForce Now compatible devices
- How much does GeForce Now cost?
- Good Remote PC Gaming (With a Little Bit of Effort)
- Google Stadia vs GeForce Now: Game library and availability
- Google Stadia vs GeForce Now: Device support
- How GeForce Now fits into the stream-iverse
- RTX 3080 tier wins, even at a higher resolution
- Which devices is GeForce Now available on?
- What else do I need to stream GeForce Now?
- Is my internet fast enough for GeForce Now?
GeForce Now Review
GeForce Now is a cloud gaming service from Nvidia, and as you’d expect from a company with so many resources, it’s very, very good. It is not known, however, whether it will break the rest of the market. Read our full GeForce Now review for all the details.
GeForce Now has just come out of the beta period and has launched a free premium subscription. During our trial period a few months ago, we had a great time with GeForce Now, praising its quality and consistency across titles. Now that the platform can be used by the masses, we are here to run it through the wringer again.
In this GeForce Now review, we’ll detail our experience after spending a few days with this cloud gaming service that was developed by Nvidia. We’ll talk about its features, prices, ease of use, performance and more before we give our verdict.
Put simply, Nvidia GeForce Now is unmatched in most cloud gaming services, far less than our top pick of cloud gaming service, Shadow. With a bargain price, an excellent free plan, and no-compromise performance, GeForce Now offers the perfect introduction to cloud gaming.
GeForce Now Video Review
Strengths & Weaknesses
- Perfect performance
- Free subscription available
- great platform support
- Support for keyboards and controllers
- Works with Nvidia Shield
- Multiple data centers in the US and Europe
- Hull interface
- Some games are not supported
- Timed game sessions
- Free players may require a turn
We can’t blame NVIDIA for the disadvantages of GeForce Now. These are also negatives to almost every other cloud gaming service. For what it’s worth, NVIDIA has done a commendable job in the cloud gaming space so far, even more so than Google.
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.
The Pricing and Hidden Costs of GeForce Now
To get started, you can access GeForce Now for free with some restrictions. Impressive, right? Well, not if you’re looking for uninterrupted gaming sessions. This is why:
The free plan puts you in the standard queue to join the server. You will be battling hundreds, if not thousands of players to start a new game session. When you open a session for a specific game, it will last exactly one hour and then disconnect you from the server.
You can start a new session right away, but be prepared to wait in the server queue again for an hour of play.
The $ 9.99 Priority plan per month extends your session time to 6 hours and you get put in the priority server queue, meaning you’ll be able to get back into the game almost immediately.
If you were one of the lucky ones to try the GeForce Now beta, you would have access to a special Founders plan that costs $ 5 per month and gives you all the Priority benefits.
Whichever plan you choose, you need to monitor the session timer to avoid unexpected interruptions.
Most importantly, please note that this price list is not for one game. You must own or purchase games from one of the supported stores such as Steam, Epic Games Store, or Ubisoft Connect. If you thought you could pay $ 10 a month and play whatever you wanted, sorry but you can’t.
Above, for example, the results for Metro Exodus. It is currently available on the Windows Store and Epic Games Store, though it will be available on Steam in a few weeks.
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).
You can have the fastest internet that can handle the highest quality settings, but streaming will never look as good as content rendered locally on your gaming PC. This is because streaming over the internet requires video compression.
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 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 game
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.
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.
Google Stadia vs GeForce Now: Game library and availability
Nvidia hasn’t been shy about casting a shadow over Stadia’s limited game library on its official blog. Indeed, Stadia had a very limited startup library, but that has changed a lot in recent months. There are currently over 230 games on Stadia, with more coming monthly.
On the other hand, GeForce Now gives you access to thousands of games you’ve already purchased on Steam and other popular PC platforms. This list includes some of the most popular free games such as Fortnite, League of Legends, and Apex Legends.
For games without cross-play, you will also be matched with other PC players. This alleviates Destiny 2’s number issue on Stadia, although it could put you at a disadvantage due to the inherent lags of cloud gaming.
This may all sound too good to be true to people with extensive game libraries, and in a way it is. Nvidia still needs publishers to sign titles to make them available for streaming, which means many Steam games are not available on the platform. Others, such as the Tomb Raider series, were actually removed from the service after a short period of availability. Don’t be surprised when more games are removed from the platform in the future.
Another problem is that Geforce Now is heavily focused on Steam, so if you bought the same games from the Epic Game Store (or got them for free) you may not be able to access them.
For older Steam games, it’s also a good idea to make sure they support cloud saving. If not, you will lose your progress with each new game session.
If you’re not yet enormously behind on gaming on Steam, both Google Stadia and GeForce Now have their pros and cons. Stadia Pro unlocks at least three titles a month, but you can only play them if you are a subscriber. Buying games on Steam is often much cheaper, but may not be supported by GFN in the future. Even so, having more games and free-to-play titles gives GFN a distinct advantage.
Google Stadia vs GeForce Now: Device support
One of the biggest benefits of cloud gaming is portability, and both Google Stadia and GeForce Now allow you to play games on a variety of hardware platforms. Here is a quick rundown of the supported devices.
Another problem is the use of the internet. GeForce Now uses more data than the average YouTube or Twitch stream. The bandwidth consumed will largely depend on the quality setting ranging from 4 GB to 15 GB per hour. That’s almost 100 GB for a six-hour gaming session at the highest quality settings.
How GeForce Now fits into the stream-iverse
The catch, of course, is that GeForce Now is still the most bulky cloud gaming option on the market. Admittedly, the service is also the most flexible and independent of the store.
So before I move on to the best parts of Nvidia’s new “GeForce Now 3080” option – its higher performance, higher peak resolution, and higher maximum FPS – I should be setting the stage for the service and comparing it to its peers, so stick with me.
To add a game to your GeForce Now library, manually search for it, then “add to library”. You’ll have to buy it elsewhere. Nvidia GeForce just checks to see if you’ve paid for it – although it conveniently downloads the save file from the cloud save feature of these storefront.
Use the Steam Library Scanning feature in GeForce Now to automatically accumulate games purchased through Steam. This does not work with EGS, Ubisoft Connect, or EA Origin. (Artifact? Does it work in GeForce Now? Huh.)
Enter something like “free-to-play” and GeForce will give you the gameplay without the purchase.
Most cloud gaming services require one way or another to rely on their store ecosystems. You can only play games on Google Stadia if you buy the versions that are exclusive to those games (or get access to giveaways through the Stadia Pro subscription service). If you want to stream Xbox Game Streaming games, you’ll need to pay for an Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription, and you can only stream approximately 200 games as selected by the service – unlike additional Xbox games that you purchase individually. And Amazon Luna offers different “channels”, each with individual costs and unique content, that you can choose from and arrange in the same way as with video streaming subscription services.
The cost of GeForce Now, on the other hand, has nothing to do with the games you can buy or borrow, everything to do with the Nvidia hardware you rent in the cloud. In some ways, GeForce Now is just a cloud computer that you can use as you see fit. When you use GeForce Now, you log into other storefronts on your server farm, load and play games you have already purchased using their profiles, and save files. Nvidia’s cloud gaming service doesn’t care where or how you buy your games. He just wants to power them.
The big catch, however, is that some game publishers do not allow Nvidia to stream their games. (Remember: when you buy a game from an online store, you only pay for access to the license. This means, among other things, that publishers can take your access this way.) After launching the service in 2019, Nvidia was forced to remove the games it originally hosted after some publishers hailed profanity – in particular, games from Activision Blizzard’s Battle.net service. We have some good news, many more games have been added to the service over time from the following storefronts, for a total of just over 1,100 games:
- Epic Games Store
- Ubisoft Connect
- Origin of EA
Until this week, GeForce Now only had two tiers: $ 98 / year or Free. The latter involves performance degradation and the required wait in server queues, so if too many people are using the service you have to wait for paying clients. This free option is a decent way to basically confirm that your ideal streaming device – smartphone, set-top box, or weak netbook – can connect to the service and translate gamepad taps or keyboard and mouse madness into a cloud of streaming video games. But it’s not good for image quality or processing power.
RTX 3080 tier wins, even at a higher resolution
Meanwhile, the paid version includes basic “Nvidia RTX” support. Its server instances feature Nvidia’s proprietary GPU cores that are designed for ray tracing and Deep Learning Super-Sampling (DLSS), but only a few per instance, thanks to the enhanced RTX variant of the server-grade Nvidia Tesla T10 GPU. The results are generally strong enough to get average modern PC games at a constant 1080p, 60fps refresh rate, usually with a few graphical bells and whistles turned on.
As I already attested, if you are within the proper geographic range of Nvidia’s servers and you have a wired Ethernet connection with low ping, you can expect near unwavering performance when playing with your mouse and keyboard at various shooters on the site. But 1080p resolution at 60fps and medium settings is basically what the rest of the streaming fight offers. How much more juice can the same Nvidia application ecosystem gather, especially if Nvidia itself, producer of so many high-end GPUs, is applying its own hardware upgrade?
The best way to answer this question is to let a few compatible games talk. After all, these are the exact same versions of PC games you can install on your own PC, and some have benchmark sequences built in. So I did some testing of an existing $ 98 / year service, called the “founder” tier, before Nvidia invited me to pre-launch the “3080” tier for $ 198 / yr so I could compare the power of the two server options on their own.
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla benchmark scores on the GeForce Now 3080 service tier. “Ultra” graphics settings, 1440p resolution.
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla benchmark scores at the GeForce Now founders service level. “Ultra” graphics settings, 1080p resolution.
Watch Dogs Legion intense ray tracing test results on GeForce Now 3080 service layer. Graphics settings “Ultra”, RT at almost maximum, 1440p resolution, DLSS enabled in “quality mode.
Watch Dogs Legion, GeForce Now founders’ service tier of intense ray tracing test results. “Ultra” graphics settings, RT at almost maximum, 1080p resolution, with DLSS enabled in “quality mode.
The above benchmarks for computationally brutal Assassin’s Creed Valhalla (no ray tracing) and Watch Dogs Legion (significant ray tracing) are explained in their captions. Bottom line: all testing from the newer 3080 service tier is done at the higher 1440p resolution, but still clearly ahead of the same testing at the lower 1080p resolution at the founding tier of the service. Unfortunately, we couldn’t run these tests with the FPS graph attached, so we were left with vague, wavy line graphs. Even so, all of these tests have the key “bottom 1 percent”, and when they are higher (which is, by a large margin, at layer 3080), you can expect fewer frame stuttering and refresh rate drops.
That said, only a few games currently support true 4K on Stadia, and many are limited to 4K 30fps. The rest is simply upscaled to 4K, and 120fps is completely out of the question.
Which devices is GeForce Now available on?
In Australia, GeForce Now is available for a variety of browsers, smartphones, tablets, and Smart TVs. Here is the list of eligible devices:
- Windows computer (Windows 7 or later)
- MacOS desktops and laptops (macOS 10.11 or later)
- Chromecast from Google TV
- Sony Smart TV
- Android smartphones and tablets (Android 5.0 or later)
- iPhones and iPads via the Safari web browser (iOS 14.3 or later)
However, from our experience so far, there have been a few strange caveats. For example, when we tried to test GeForce Now on a 2020 Sony Bravia Smart TV, it would only allow us to link an Epic Games Store account, not a Steam account, even though Steam is linked to an account in the PC app.
What else do I need to stream GeForce Now?
We’ve determined that you don’t need the latest hardware to stream games with GeForce Now, but you do need – which can be hard for some Australians – a stable internet connection of at least 15Mbps and only 720p streaming at 60 frames per second. If you want to stream 1080p at 60fps, you will need at least 25Mbps (NBN Basic II speeds). Lastly, you’ll also want an Ethernet connection to your 5GHz router for the best experience, which can be one big hurdle for many players. That’s according to the Nvidia support site, although we did manage to connect well over Wi-Fi.
Is my internet fast enough for GeForce Now?
If you are not sure what your current internet speed is, please use the internet speed test tool above to find out. If you find that you’re missing the required megabits per second, take a look at the popular NBN 100 plans below for a potential upgrade path.
Brodie Fogg is the Australian chief editor at Reviews.org. He has been involved in consumer technology, telecommunications, video games, streaming and entertainment for over five years on sites like WhistleOut and Finder, and provides streaming recommendations on 7NEWS every month.