Nvidia GeForce NOW: Cloud Gaming Makes Gaming Hardware Obsolete?

Gamers of all types have learned to appreciate and try to buy higher-end gaming hardware as video games become more demanding. That might be all about to change now with Nvidia’s rollout of its cloud gaming service. Even low-end hardware can use a stable internet connection to utilize remote, beefed-up hardware and “stream” the games back on their machine, while the remote machine actually runs the game.

Let’s see what this is all about and what we can expect to change in the coming years.

What is GeForce NOW?

Imagine if you could access a powerful computer in the cloud to run top AAA games. It will accept your input and you’ll see the game being played (and streamed) back to your device, which could be a laptop from 10 years ago running Windows 7, all in real-time. That is cloud gaming. The concept is in a nascent stage as of now, but Nvidia has already launched its service. Using GeForce NOW, you can play/stream 1800+ games (the games aren’t provided, you must own them already, except some 100-ish free ones) on any PC, laptop, TV, smartphone, or tablet! If you get the premium membership, you will get access to higher-end rigs for lower latency and higher resolution. Apart from making high-end resolutions accessible to gamers without investing in a high-end GPU, it also frees you from the shackles of local downloads. Games currently accessible include names like Starfield, Assassin’s Creed Mirage, CS2, Cyberpunk 2077, MWIII, The Witcher 3, Forza Horizon 5, Baldur’s Gate 3, Fortnite, Lost Ark, Diablo IV, and others.

You can get started by logging in on the official page. The official system requirements include a 64-bit Windows, 25 Mbps internet for 1080p@60, and 4GB RAM. In the way of graphics, all you need is to be able to stream properly, and the minimum specs here are Nvidia 600 or up, AMD HD 3000 or up, and Intel HD Graphics 2000 or up. All of this is pretty much included in any laptop or PC that was built in the last decade. You can also stream on macOS and the minimum spec is “Any Mac system introduced in 2009 or later.” ChromeOS, browser-based streaming, Android phones and tablets, iOS and iPadOS, handheld gaming devices, Android TVs, smart TVs, and Nvidia SHIELD are also supported. Nvidia did the beta test for this service back in October 2015. The public launch was in February 2020.

Is GeForce NOW free now?

Anyone can try GeForce NOW for free for an hour. The 1-hour session length will expire and you’ll join a queue, which can be pretty long at times. You can start as many 1-hour sessions as you’d like in a day. To play games for 6 and 8 hours, and at higher resolutions, you need to cough up $10 or $20 a month.

Why is GeForce NOW so expensive?

A GeForce NOW paid subscription gives you several benefits. When you really pay attention to what you’re getting, it might not sound like a lot. The “Priority” package is charged at $10/mo for 6-hour sessions and 1080p@60. The “Ultimate” package costs $20/mo and gives you access to RTX 4080 servers with 8-hour sessions and up to 4K@120. You can check the packages on the pricing page.

What games are on GeForce NOW?

There are 1800+ games available to be played or streamed through Nvidia GeForce NOW. You will connect your Steam, Epic Games, Ubisoft, EA, or GOG.com store with GeForce NOW to gain access to the games you already own. The actual list can be found on this page. The games include all major, popular titles such as Cyberpunk 2077, Fortnite, Apex Legends, Destiny 2, Genshin Impact, Witcher 3, Rocket League, Dota 2, CS, Elden Ring, Call of Duty, Manor Lands, Fallout 4, Baldur’s Gate 3, all Assassin’s Creed games, etc.

Do you need a good PC for GeForce NOW?

No. If you were to go by the minimum recommended specs, literally any smartphone, tablet, handheld, TV, laptop, or PC can run it. It’s kind of like accessing a remote server, giving in-game commands as input, and streaming 1080p or 4K video in real time. Your device is not actually “running” the game and so, it can be anything. Low-end PCs and laptops can also easily stream 4K@120 though it will make little sense if your screen doesn’t support that resolution and refresh rate.

Does GeForce NOW support 4K?

The free version gives you a basic rig. The Priority gives you 1080p@60. And the Ultimate package does give you 4K@120. So, yes, if you have a 4K monitor or TV, you can get the $20/mo subscription to stream at 4K with ray-tracing on. These are rigs with RTX 4080 so you can expect top-notch real-world performance even in the most demanding AAA games out there.

Can I get 240 FPS on GeForce NOW?

No, currently you can only get up to 120 FPS using the Ultimate package ($20/mo). On the cheaper $10 Priority package, it’s capped at 60 FPS.

What GPUs are used by GeForce NOW?

The basic rig could be using the RTX 20 series cards. The Priority subscription likely gives you access to a rig with RTX 3080 for proper, seamless 1080p@60 performance. And the highest-end package (Ultimate) uses RTX 4080 cards to deliver 4K resolution gameplay at up to 120 FPS.

Can GeForce NOW run on any laptop?

Yes, it can run on any laptop, including low-end or old hardware as well. Remember, your machine will not be running the game. The game will be run on a remote GPU in the Nvidia cloud data center. You will only be streaming the game. For the most part, it’s like viewing a live video on YouTube or Twitch – you don’t really need a beefy laptop to do that (just good internet). The only difference is that your input will also be uploaded in real-time (think of live chat on live stream) which will allow you to control your character, move around, interact with the game world, and so on.

Are there any free cloud gaming alternatives?

Cloud gaming has heavy operational costs (data centers, GPUs, servers, cooling). Nvidia is giving free 1-hour sessions only for people to try what they can get when they pay, that’s all. As such, there is no free cloud gaming alternative. Any such service will come with a subscription cost. There might be non-gaming cloud providers that can be configured to run games (Parsec and Paperspace come to mind), but it won’t be a pretty experience. Google’s cloud gaming experiment called Stadia was technically free, but it was killed off (the library was underwhelming).

Now, cloud gaming might be the future, but is Nvidia really doing the right thing here? We know for a fact that the company (along with AMD and Intel) is moving toward generative AI-focused chips. Gaming is on the back burner now. But still, the most sizeable and profitable segment for Nvidia is its consumer GPUs that gamers buy. If they develop a popular cloud gaming service that’s not too expensive (it’s already quite popular), aren’t they eating into their own market of consumer GPUs?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.