GeForce Now just came out of its beta period, launching with a free and premium subscription. During our trial a few months back, 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’re here to put it through the wringer again.
In this GeForce Now review, we’re going to detail our experience after spending a few days with this cloud gaming service, which was developed by Nvidia. We’ll talk about its features, pricing, ease of use, performance and more, all before giving our verdict.
Put simply, Nvidia GeForce Now is unmatched by most cloud gaming services, falling just short of our best cloud gaming service pick, Shadow. With bargain-bin pricing, an excellent free plan and uncompromising performance, GeForce Now offers a perfect introduction into cloud gaming.
GeForce Now Video Review
Strengths & Weaknesses
- Excellent performance
- Free plan available
- Great platform support
- Support for keyboards & controllers
- Works with Nvidia Shield
- Multiple data centers in the U.S. & Europe
- Barebones interface
- Some games aren’t supported
- Timed gaming sessions
- Free players may need to queue
Alternatives for GeForce Now
Fresh off a public test run, Nvidia GeForce Now doesn’t have a lot of features. Unlike Shadow, which offers a full Windows 10 desktop, GeForce Now is restricted to only streaming games (read our Shadow review). That said, it’s clear Nvidia has that sole goal in mind, with excellent platform and peripheral support.
Starting with the platform, GeForce Now supports Windows, macOS, Android and Nvidia Shield, which runs a modified version of Android. Shield is where GeForce Now shines most, offering 1080p gaming at 60 frames per second to your TV. No matter what device you’re playing on, you can pick up where you left off on another one.
On all of these platforms, Nvidia automatically keeps games and drivers up to date, though you’ll need to install the game the first time you play. Additionally, it supports audio passthrough, allowing you to use in-game chat no matter what platform you’re playing on.
GeForce Now Recommended Controllers and Routers
Although GeForce Now supports a slew of controllers, Nvidia has some recommendations for the best experience. Of note are the glap Play p/1 and Razer Junglecat, both of which offer a Nintendo Switch-like design for your mobile device. These devices are ready to use with GeForce Now out of the box.
Other recommended controllers include the SteelSeries Stratus Duo and Razer Raiju Mobile. Although GeForce Now supports mainstream controllers like the Sony Dualshock 4 and Xbox One controller, these options are compatible between PC and mobile devices and are ready to use without any additional software.
As for routers, Nvidia makes a few recommendations, including the Razer Sila and TP-Link Archer C5400X, though most routers work. Nvidia recommends 15Mbps for 720p streaming and 25Mbps for 1080p. Although you’ll get the best experience using a hardwired connection, 5Ghz WiFi is supported, too.
GeForce Now Features Overview
|Coverage||U.S. and Europe|
|Supported DRM platforms||Steam, uPlay, Epic Games Store, Bethesda Launcher, Battle.net|
Nvidia GeForce Now supports a lot of games, though there are some titles missing from its lineup. Unlike PlayStation Now, you’ll have to bring your own games to GeForce Now; there are no titles included (read our GeForce Now vs PlayStation Now piece). That said, if you’re a PC newbie, you can get started with more than 30 free-to-play titles that GeForce Now supports.
Those include Destiny 2, Apex Legends, Fortnite, Dauntless, Warframe and World of Tanks. Otherwise, you’ll need a license for the game you want to play on a particular DRM platform. GeForce Now mostly defaults to Steam, though there are a handful of other DRM platforms supported.
From poking around, it seems GeForce Now supports uPlay, Steam, the Epic Games Store, Battle.net and the Bethesda launcher. There’s limited support for other platforms, including Origin, but those are the main ones. It’s important to know the DRM platforms GeForce Now supports, as you’ll need to add the proper version of a game to your library.
Above, for example, are the results for Metro Exodus. It’s currently available through the Windows Store and the Epic Games Store, though it’s coming to Steam in a few weeks.
You’ll need to add the proper version to your library depending on which DRM platform holds your rights. It can get confusing with some cross-platform games, like Metro Exodus, where you could have a license at one of three places.
Still, there’s no denying Nvidia’s support for PC platforms. Other cloud gaming services, like Vortex, are restricted to Steam, while some don’t support any DRM platform (read our Blacknut review for an example). Although not perfect, GeForce Now offers a dense library of titles across multiple license management platforms.
GeForce Now Games
With the technical hoopla out of the way, let’s talk games. GeForce Now supports just about every major release on PC, be it from an indie developer or AAA studio. New titles are added quickly, with games like Borderlands 3, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice and GreedFall already ready to play.
However, there’s a lot missing, too. Anything from Rockstar and most titles from EA are out of the question. If you want to play Red Dead Redemption 2 or Grand Theft Auto V, you’ll have to play locally. It seems Nvidia hasn’t reached an agreement with Rockstar yet, which shows the infancy of the platform.
Though it makes sense for those games, other omissions don’t. For example, GeForce Now doesn’t have any of the Tomb Raider games. In fact, it doesn’t have any Square Enix-published titles, with all of the Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest titles missing from the lineup.
Although we’re happy to see PC favorites like Mordhau and indie classics like Celeste, Nvidia has some work to do in getting other popular titles on its platform. If there’s a particular game you want to play, be sure to check that GeForce Now supports it before pulling the proverbial trigger.
Nvidia GeForce Now has a strange pricing structure. Rather than a flat monthly rate, like Shadow charges, Nvidia offers something similar to Stadia, with a free and premium membership (read our Google Stadia review). Although strange, GeForce Now is so inexpensive that the conditional service hardly matters. Read our Google Stadia vs Shadow piece, to see how the two compare.
Starting with the free plan, you can access all of the titles GeForce Now supports at 1080p and 60fps. However, Nvidia says that free users only have “standard access,” meaning you may need to wait to play the game, depending on traffic volume. Additionally, free users are limited to one-hour play sessions, though you can rejoin immediately after your session ends.
The Founders plan runs $4.99 per month for the first 12 months. Before that, however, you’ll be able to use the service for free during a 90-day introductory period. The subscription gets you priority access, meaning you’ll shoot to the front of the queue for games, real-time ray tracing and an extended session length of six hours.
A Founders membership has some quirks, however. It’s billed monthly, but Nvidia says on the checkout page that it’s only valid for up to one year. The $4.99 monthly price will increase after 12 months to whatever Nvidia is charging for a premium membership at that time. Additionally, Nvidia hasn’t released any details about future pricing, at the time of writing.
Regardless, there’s no denying how much value Nvidia is including with GeForce Now at the moment. The free subscription already offers a lot, with the Founders plan matching the level of services like Shadow, though at a much lower price. That said, we’ll have to reevaluate once Nvidia reveals the true pricing structure.
Ease of Use
Despite moving to a commercial release, GeForce Now has moved backwards from its beta in terms of usability. The beta application was actually easier to use, and although getting around still isn’t difficult, adding games to your library is.
Joining is straightforward, thankfully. Sporting a one-page design, the website manages to answer most questions surrounding the service while not going overboard in terms of design. Multiple “join today” buttons on the page will point you toward checkout, so it’s quick to get signed up.
Once you download the application, you’ll need to sign in to your account. Thankfully, you stay logged in, so you’ll only need to enter your password once. The app doesn’t have much going on, showing a carousel of featured titles at the top and your library of games on the bottom. We’ll revisit the latter in a moment.
The only other area is the settings page. Although it’s easy to skip past, GeForce Now has a lot going on there. Most importantly, you can choose the server location that’s best for you, as well as the streaming quality, which allows you to adjust your quality based on your desired data consumption.
Adding Games to Your Library
Now for the bad. In order to play a game on GeForce Now, you’ll need to add it to your library. This is accomplished by searching the title and clicking the plus icon next to it; simple enough. The problem is that you can’t browse the games that GeForce Now supports, although you could in the beta version of the app.
A browse page is essential, but filtering options would be nice, too. For instance, maybe you want to find only action games or filter titles based on if they support a controller. GeForce Now has this metadata built-in already — we’ll get to that in a minute — so it shouldn’t be too difficult to implement some sort of filtering system.
The problem continues once you’ve added games to your library. Your library is restricted to a slider on your dashboard, with no expanded view available. If you have 100 or so games, you’ll need to click through them five at a time. In that case, it’s better just to use the search bar, making the library obsolete.
During our testing, we found it best to just launch Steam through GeForce Now and navigate to games that way. Even with the restricted filtering options, we were surprised at how much information the service provides for games already in your library. Once you add a game, you’ll be able to see input support, screenshots, the release date, genre, developer and more.
One Step Forward, Two Steps Back
Nvidia has solved some of the issues we had with the previous application, most importantly when it comes to knowing which games are supported and on which platforms they’re supported. However, the redesign brings a number of challenges, making it feel more like a beta application than the previous one.
The current iteration desperately needs a dedicated library page, as well as a browse tab where you can see all of the supported titles. If Nvidia combined its old and new applications into one, it’d be the best we’ve seen.
As we experienced during the beta, Nvidia GeForce Now is at the top of the pack when it comes to game streaming. That said, it dialed back on the quality to accommodate a larger player base. Although we had a great experience on a hardwired connection, we weren’t able to push resolutions to 4K.
Not that we should be able to. GeForce Now is locked at 1080p, even if you try to change the resolution in each game’s settings. In our previous testing, we were able to push titles like Doom to 4K while staying north of 60fps. Presumably, Nvidia is now locking the resolution so that every player has a good experience.
For our testing, we used a hardwired internet connection with a download speed of 143.19Mbps, more than enough to satisfy GeForce Now’s 25Mbps requirement. Testing Doom, Cuphead and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, it was hard to notice a difference between GeForce Now and local gaming outside of resolution.
That said, there’s some input lag. Although indiscernible in-game, our cursor seemed to trail just a hair behind in menus. It should pose little issue for most players. However, those who are looking to play games competitively will still have issues with the amount of delay.
GeForce Now on Android
We also tested GeForce Now on Android, using Dead Cells, Doom and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive as our subjects. On a 5Ghz WiFi connection, it held up surprisingly well, even when losing a lot of packets. That said, the hardwired experience was much better in terms of input lag and frame rate.
On mobile, games were choppy, and when the internet connection started to dip, input lag and artifacting became issues. However, for a wireless connection, it’s hard to fault GeForce Now. With an excellent desktop experience and passable mobile quality, GeForce Now is the closest thing to the dream of playing your games anywhere you want.
According to the Nvidia GeForce Now FAQ page, the service is available in North America and Europe. That said, the server status page shows “alliance partner” servers in Japan and Russia, so it’s clear Nvidia is trying to expand.
Thankfully, Nvidia has put a lot of care into the regions it supports. There are nine GeForce Now data centers in the U.S. and another five in Europe. No matter where you are, you should have a location close to you, cutting down on the dreaded latency that can make cloud gaming problematic.
Although there are plenty of locations currently available, Nvidia’s reach isn’t as wide as Microsoft’s. Comparing Nvidia GeForce Now to Microsoft’s Project xCloud, which uses the Azure server network, Nvidia is still behind the curve (read our Project xCloud review). If you live outside of North America or Europe, or if you are traveling abroad, you’ll have some problems — our best VPN for Nvidia Shield guide may be able to help.
Nvidia GeForce Now’s official release has some problems, namely when it comes to navigating the interface. That said, for the price and quality, there’s nothing quite like it.
Although Shadow is still our favorite for its features and quality, GeForce Now blows everything else out of the water (read our Shadow vs GeForce Now comparison). If you’ve been eyeing Google Stadia, do yourself a favor and sign up for a GeForce Now account (read our Google Stadia vs GeForce Now piece).
What do you think, though? Are you going to give GeForce Now a shot? Let us know about your experience in the comments below and, as always, thanks for reading.
GeForce Now FAQ
- GeForce Now is an excellent cloud gaming service, offering 1080p gaming at 60 frames per second for free. That said, it has a few problems, namely with game support.
- Yes, GeForce Now is free, though there’s a paid plan available. Free users can play for an hour at a time and may need to queue for certain titles. Premium members can play up to six hours with almost no queues, as well as enjoy real-time ray tracing.