Originally designed for its own Shield case and later extended to PC, Mac, and Android customers, Nvidia ‘s GeForce Now service has undergone extensive development, with an extended beta phase aimed at fine-tuning performance. The CEO of the chameleon brand, Jen-Hsun Huang, made no secret of this when announcing the financial results in May 2017: ” it will take us years to find the right balance between the cost of such a platform and the quality of service”. A reminder that such a service of PC virtualization in thecloud is not improvised, even when one of its key components – the graphics card – is produced directly. A lesson that Google Stadia could have listened to, judging by the quacks at its launch.
The closed beta and beta version of GeForce Now will have enabled more than 300,000 people in 30 countries to play more than 70 million hours of cumulative gaming. This is an excellent test of the stability of the service, and especially its ability to rebalance itself according to the speed of Internet connection. Because this is the crux of the matter when it comes to cloud gaming: by “outsourcing” all the components necessary for a competition PC, i.e. by delegating all the calculations to a remote source, the rendering is necessarily sent to you over the Net. And its quality therefore depends on yourflow rate.
In the conditions of use of the service, Nvidia recommends “an Internet connection of at least 15 Mbps for a 720p display at 60 frames per second and at least 25 Mbps for a 1080p display at 60 frames per second. You will also need to use a wired Ethernet connection or a 5 GHz wireless router. If your MacBook or notebook does not have an Ethernet port, you will need to use a” Ethernet adapter. In other words, it is better to have a wired Fibre or VDSL2 connection.
Afraid you won’t be eligible? Don’t panic: that’s one of the good news of its launch, GeForce Now comes in a free version and a “Founders” package at 5.49 euros per month (for 12 months, without commitment). This is even accompanied by a three-month evaluation period: in other words, the first debit of 5.49 euros will only be made after 90 days, if you have not cancelled beforehand. So you can see the quality of the service in very concrete terms, for your own use, without paying a penny.
This is a very aggressive strategy, neither Google Stadia (€9.99 per month) nor Shadow (€14.99 per month) currently has a free trial. On the other hand, this is the case for Sony PS Now, while Microsoft Xbox Game Pass is at one euro for the first quarter. However, these two services are slightly different from the offer of Nvidia or Google, since they are essentially limited to the catalogue of each of these publishers. Remember that GeForce Now is a cloud gaming service: it provides you with the resources to run games you’ve previously purchased, and nothing else. It is compatible with a wide range of dematerialized gaming platforms, such as Steam, Battle.net, Uplay or Epic Game Store. We will come back in a moment on how to get started and how to launch your favourite tracks.
In both packages, GeForce Now is compatible with a wide range of platforms and features a Windows client, MacOS, Android, Smart TV and Shield, soon to be joined by Chromebooks. In any case, you will get the most out of a Full HD definition at 60 frames per second. The difference is threefold: the duration of a session, the waiting time before starting a game and whether or not to activate RTX (ray-tracing).
In the free version, you can only play for a maximum ofone hour at a time, compared to six hours in the paid version. And since the material is “shared” between all users, Nvidia has set up a “queue” system in order not to clog up the service. With the free version, waiting time is not guaranteed while you enjoy “priority access”, in Nvidia’s own words, with the paid formula. An adjective that’s a bit fuzzy even though, in practice, we tried this premium version and all our games launched almost instantly.
Concerning Nvidia’s hardware infrastructure, without committing itself very precisely, we are promised more or less the rendering of a GeForce RTX 2080. A card that is on first-name terms with the 750 euros, all the same! In reality, it appears that it is Tesla RTX T10-8 clusters that are powering the service. Equipped with 24GB of GDDR6 memory and 4608 computing units, these custom pro cards would be shared between about three users according to our own speculation – hence the queuing system to ensure equivalent performance at equal speed between all players. The most important thing to remember is that the service runs on a Turing architecture, with cores dedicated to ray-tracing calculation: in its pay-per-use formula, GeForce Now offers such a rendering for all compatible titles. With the free version, we will be satisfied with a standard rendering, without RTX.
After downloading the GeForce Now client for the platform of your choice and logging in, you will be able to access your game library. Compatible with most platforms on the market, Nvidia’s service currently recognizes a good thousandtitles. Around 400 of them are even pre-installed on the platform and launch almost instantly in their latest version, with all the necessary updates.
Concretely, the exercise still requires a little gymnastics. In the search field of the GeForce Now client, you must enter the name of a game you want to launch (and therefore have already paid for). Is he in it? Good: click on the button to add it to your library. He’s not there? Impossible to integrate it by your own means: you are invited to solicit Nvidia to encourage them to add it to the catalogue, which they promise to do at regular intervals. For your convenience, GeForce Now includes many free to play games from Steam, including … the ones we recommend in our newly updated Top 50 Free Games Guide.
In any case, the search engine is publicly accessible, so don’t hesitate to check the presence of your favorite games. All the major headlines that cannot be ignored are included, even if some significant absences are to be noted. No Grand Theft Auto, for example, no Dragon Ball FighterZ for fans of the genre and no many indie nuggets, such as Shovel Knight or Return of the Obra Dinn. Although the latter titles don’t need such a technological arsenal to tour well.
Then by clicking on the thumbnail of one of your games, you launch a connection test then the corresponding platform appears on the screen. This is one of the differences with Shadow, for example, which is a “cloud computing” service and not “cloud gaming”: in the French solution, you administer a complete virtual machine under Windows 10. You must therefore install Steam yourself and then each of your games, monitoring the disk space. With GeForce Now, this is not the case: you are not limited in place and you do not see the underlying Windows session at all. Only your application shop occupies the entire screen and you are invited to authenticate yourself to find your purchases.
In other words, you search for Dead By Daylight, for example, and then add it to your game library. You click on its thumbnail to launch it and you authenticate yourself with Steam, to verify that you have already purchased it. With the premium edition, the game launches right away while you have to wait for a variable amount of time with the free formula, depending on the server-side traffic (it is possible to check it in real time, on Nvidia’s website). For more graphically demanding and above all technologically compatible titles, such as Metro Exodus or Wolfenstein: Youngblood, paying users get a bonus RTXrendering.
Are you in the habit of throwing the same game regularly? It is possible to create a shortcut on the desktop by creating a shortcut on the desktop that will take you through the entire process of launching the GeForce Now client, authenticating to the purchasing platform, and loading the corresponding game. Want to quickly restart a game you’ve already played? Go to your library, the GeForce Now client, and launch it with one click. In the end, the first steps are a bit painful, since you have to authenticate yourself with Nvidia’s service and then with each platform, but once these precious sesame are registered, the operation is more flexible.
So we tried several titles on the Windows client installed on an old laptop, with a Core i5 and iGPU integrated. With a fiber optic connection (865 Mbps) in Ethernet, the result is really promising: we have almost the impression of playing on a localPC, and framerate losses are rare. The rendering is often bluffing, especially on old or atypical platforms, which are discovering these non-standard conditions for the first time. Only ultra-precise and rigorous tracks, such as PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds or other Battle Royale, may lack finesse for the most demanding.
When switching to Wi-Fi (40 Mbps), the first artifacts appear as, with a few rare quality drops due to video compression. The mention “high packet loss” or “unstable connection” sometimes appears on the screen, but overall the latency is still very correct for many action-adventure titles.
With an Android phone and Wi-Fi (45 Mbps), the overall performance is excellent. The client is intuitive and convenient, with your library easily accessible, and the connection is fast. The games support Bluetooth gamepads and virtual sticks and buttons can be superimposed on the screen to manipulate your mobile directly. The switching from one customer to another is done very naturally. In the middle of the game on your smartphone, if you launch GeForce Now on your PC and then select the same game, you’ll be back in action in seconds. It’s convenient, and it works well.
With an erratic 4G connection (8 Mbps), nothing can be done about it: you’re wading through a muddy mess of pixels, with incessant jerks. But a warning had discouraged us from doing so, after the connection test, and Nvidia did not commit to supporting such low speeds.
Nvidia’s cloud gaming has excited us with its excellent performance, its three months free, its wide open catalogue and its aggressive pricing. The launch of GeForce Now is therefore not rushed and builds on a solid tofoundation, especially since it offers users a great deal of freedom by letting them directly access most of the games they have already paid for. And of course, if you’re interested in a new title, you can add it to your library and use the Steam or Epic Game Store browser to purchase it.
So obviously, to get the best experience possible, you will need a seriousinternet connection. But the long beta phase seems to have allowed Nvidia’s engineers to run in the first elements of QoS, in order to to dynamically adapt therendering. This is the sinews of the war, Shadow has notably invested a lot in R&D to refine the service at this level. Nevertheless, the French nugget has decided to postpone the Ultra (€29.99 per month) and Infinite (€49.99 per month) offers it promised us a few weeks ago. Respectively equipped with an RTX 2080 and a Titan RTX, they let appear a 4K rendering with ray-tracing for a complete PC. Now we’ll have to wait until 2021.
In order to continue to convince, GeForce Now will need to demonstrate stability once a serious user base is reached. Some drawbacks remain, such as the incompatibility of some titles, the first steps a little tedious to launch a game or the limit of one hour of session for the free formula. But with a premium account that you can try free for three months, without obligation, you would be wrong not to satisfy your curiosity.
✅ General performance
✅ 90-day, no-obligation evaluation period
✅ The existence of a free package
✅ The wide and open catalogue
✅ The RTX on the paid offer
✅ Multiple customers, with a quick hot switch
WE DO NOT LOVE
❌ The queue, on the free offer
❌ The session limited to one hour, on the free offer
❌ First steps a bit tedious to authenticate with each platform
❌ Compatibility is not immediate with all titles