GeForce Now is a so-called cloud gaming service. But what is cloud gaming anyway? In cloud gaming, games are not played locally on the user’s own console or PC, but on an external server. The server receives the user input via the Internet and plays back the sound and video signal in return. Users can therefore get by with very simple hardware, even a smartphone or tablet. It often does not have to handle much more than a browser like Google Chrome.
Plans and pricing
The free plan Allows playing for a maximum of 1 hour. This time is especially for casual gamers who do not play very much.
The founder plan costs 10 euros per month and grants priority access, with no limit on hours played per session and RTX support (ray tracing) in compatible games.
If people do not want to play a lot, the free plan is more than enough. On the contrary, and you’ll want to do it anywhere, the Founder’s plan is a great option. Also, you get a free trial for 90 days.
Nvidia will offer an upgrade with the “Geforce Now RTX 3080” rate starting in December 2021. Including the best picture quality and performance, it will be available for 99.99 Euros per half year.
Its biggest weakness compared to its rivals is the limited duration of its lessons. Those who want to use GeForce Now for free have to queue before the game starts. Depending on the number of players ahead, the waiting time can be between a few seconds and a few minutes. This can only be avoided with a priority subscription of just under €9.99 per month.
But even after the game starts, the time people can spend having fun is limited. Free users currently only have a session duration of one hour. Priority membership holders don’t have to log in again until after six hours. To avoid catching players completely off guard, a warning is given ten minutes before the session expires.
Playing on the TV is also a bit awkward and expensive at the moment. With the competition, the already existing console or a Google Chromecast is usually sufficient to bring cloud gaming to the home TV. GeForce Now, on the other hand, requires a more complex technical solution or expensive hardware. With Shield TV, NVIDIA offers a solution for around 149 Euros, which is not necessarily a bargain. In the Pro version, it even costs 200 €. A compatible shield controller costs about 70€.
The games start a bit bumpy, especially compared to the head-to-head race. First, we have to launch GeForce Now, select the game we want, then log into our Steam or Epic account and reconfirm our identity via Steam Guard if necessary.
In addition, the use via the browser is already possible, but it does not seem to be mature yet. Therefore, using the GeForce Now app on PCs is still recommended, but it is not available on most SmartTVs.
Geforce NOW is also available on Android and IOS phones, where many games can be streamed to phones. However, you should connect an external controller for the game to work properly.
As for Geforce Now, Cloud-Gaming-Service offers some compelling advantages, especially for newcomers.
Through a partnership with Steam Cloud Play and Epic, Geforce Now lets you instantly play the various titles you’ve purchased. The only requirement is to register and link to a Steam or Epic account. A constantly growing list of all supported titles is available on nvidia.com.
Unlike other providers like Google Stadia, games are not purchased separately here. Another advantage in this context is that gamers on Steam and Epic benefit from relatively low prices.
However, there are still problems from time to time. The popular game “The Witcher 3” could not be launched in our test, although it is available via the library. According to our research, this is a problem that occurs with some, but not all players. We could not conclusively clarify whether the problem is due to the game version or another factor.
NVIDIA offers Geforce Now as “Free” and “Preferred” subscriptions. While the free membership comes with some compromises, it should be sufficient for casual players.
So, if you already have a Steam or Epic account, you can start using GeForce Now almost immediately at no additional cost. The “Preferred” subscription currently costs just under 10 Euros per month.
Even those who are surprised not to have a full game library on Steam or Epic will find plenty of entertainment on GeForce Now. That’s because the offer includes many Free to Play titles like Fortnite, Apex Legends, World of Tanks, Rocket League, or Warframe.
Due to the real risk of lower frame rates or considerable delays in cloud gaming, a free comprehensive test is always recommended before buying a subscription. GeForce Now offers this possibility to all interested parties.
Nvidia GeForce NOW is not a new service, but has been available for the Nvidia Shield devices since 2015, but has also been released as a beta for Windows PC and Mac since the beginning of 2018. The last release since February 2020.
The user installs a client on his system (PC or Mac), with which he accesses a computer at Nvidia via the Internet like a remote system. There, the games run on systems with Tesla GPUs, which are comparable to the Geforce GTX 1080 in terms of performance. Intel’s Xeon processors with several cores and 16 GB of RAM are used as the CPU. The hard drive space is not limited
Nvidia promises smooth games in FullHD (1920 x 1800) with 60 frames and maximum detail fidelity with this technology.
The system requirements for the client are very moderate: The user’s client only has to be able to decode H.264 videos smoothly, which even weak processors like the Atom series can do to a PC/Mac, including Sony or Microsoft game controllers. For Mac users, in particular, GeForce NOW brings PC gaming to the Mac easily and without much effort.
Nvidia recommends a transfer rate of at least 15 Mbps for 720p at 60 FPS and 25 Mbps for 1080p at 60 FPS to ensure the incoming video has no noticeable lag and is smooth. If the data rate is not sufficient, GeForce NOW successively reduces the resolution to 540p30, provided this is specified in the client software settings. Nvidia itself operates several data centers in Europe to ensure top performance and fast Internet connections.
Especially for first-person shooters in the professional sector, 60 fps is not enough for many gamers. Nvidia offers the Ultra Streaming Mode with 120 fps for this target group but reduces some settings in the games to achieve a constant frame rate.
Can NVIDIA actually get a functioning cloud gaming up and running? After all, Google and Microsoft have a far bigger and stronger infrastructure and still have to struggle with the pitfalls of streaming.
The service actually works surprisingly well and can absolutely compete with the other providers on the market. In fact, even after some technical problems and fewer dips in resolution compared to Google Stadia.
With the connection to Steam and Epic, gamers can not only access many of their already purchased titles right from the start but also benefit from the low prices in the two stores. Despite its limitations, the free basic version is already perfectly sufficient for many casual gamers. And a great assortment of entertaining free games rounds out a really attractive package.
But there are also downsides. GeForce Now can replace a new PC, but replacing a console is difficult. There is a suitable hardware solution, but the price is not necessarily cheap. The new regular login, Steam and Epic password requirements, and waiting times to start the game also make the overall impression a bit dull. Competitive solutions are much more realistic.
The bottom line is that GeForce Now is the perfect choice for those who want to try Cloud Gaming for themselves without investing extra money. And some of you may find that you can do without an expensive graphics card or control panel as long as the Internet connection is fast enough.