Hands-On With NVIDIA's GeForce Now Streaming Game Service

Back in 2017, NVIDIA announced the launch of its GeForce Now streaming gaming service, which it made available in a beta capacity.

After years of testing, polishing, and refining, the GeForce Now service saw its official launch on February 4, so we thought we'd go hands-on with GeForce Now to see how it works on Apple's Macs.


GeForce Now is a streaming gaming service that lets you play GPU and CPU intensive games on Macs that might not be able to natively handle the hardware requirements for a particular title.

All rendering and computing is handled by NVIDIA's servers, where the games are installed. Gameplay is then streamed to your computer, so naturally, a robust internet connection is required to make sure there's no lag.

There's a free version of the GeForce Now service, which provides standard access and limits gaming sessions to one hour, but for $4.99 per month, gamers can get priority access, support for NVIDIA's RTX graphics rendering platform, and longer session lengths.

The $4.99 per month cost (or the free service) does NOT include access to games. You still need to purchase games from supported game stores like Steam to be able to play them using GeForce Now, though there are some free ad-supported titles.

Even though GeForce Now has been in beta for three years, the game library is still a little bit lackluster. There are many newer games that are not supported, but games like Fortnite, League of Legends, Witcher 3, and Destiny 2 are available.

NVIDIA recommends a stellar internet connection, but even with 400Mb/s download speeds, we ran into some troubles. On a 12-inch MacBook, which is certainly not powerful enough to play most games, titles would output at 30 frames per second maximum at a resolution of 1200 x 800, which was not a positive gameplay experience. The game was choppy, blurry, and frustrating to play.

Using GeForce Now on an iMac Pro with the same WiFi connection resulted in similar performance issues, but swapping over to an Ethernet cable for a hardwired connection solved all of our issues.

Playing Destiny 2 over GeForce Now with an ‌iMac Pro‌ on the wired connection resulted in no lag, a much higher resolution and frame rate, and no dropped frames. It was a smooth experience that was much like playing the game on a high-end gaming PC.

When trying a wired connection on the 12-inch MacBook, gameplay was also flawless, so NVIDIA is not kidding about the internet requirements. For the best possible experience, connecting over Ethernet is ideal.

GeForce Now is limited to North America and Europe at the current time, and the gaming library is limited, but as new titles are added, this may be a service worth checking out. It's free to try, so long as you own the game you want to play.

Have you tried GeForce Now? Let us know what you think in the comments.

Top Rated Comments

gimmesomemo Avatar
15 months ago
Ive been using GeForceNow throughout Beta on my shield tv (wired) and it has been really amazing. I never bothered with my MacBook, as the whole point was to be able to play on my 55' 4k tv on a sofa with a beer and a controller, from a measly android tv box!
Sure, there were some issues which came and went, some laggy weeks, sever bugs, etc, but overall it was really good.
The big, big problem now, is game developers pulling out of the service.
Seems like they're getting greedy and figured out that if they pull out of Geforce Now and go exclusively on Google Stadia they can get us (suckers) to buy their games twice.
There's no way to justify their behaviour other than greed, and if you look at the companies who are doing it, it makes sense.
It's a real, real shame. Stadia - a) sucks, b) you need to buy all games again, and c) well it's google so I don't trust them as far as I can hold them to account.
Geforce now is really head and shoulders above the rest in functionality and its getting beaten down by industry greed at the cost of us, the consumers.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ChrisMoBro Avatar
15 months ago
How many people almost fell off their chair with shock/excitement when they saw the words "Nvidia" and "now" and momentarily thought Nvidia drivers had been released?
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
warp9 Avatar
15 months ago
Without Blizzard, it's a non-starter for me.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Freida Avatar
15 months ago
if you can afford to pay monthly for 400mb/s internet + paying for geforceNow surely you can afford better computer. This service makes no sense to me.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
SeanG1027 Avatar
15 months ago
12 inch MacBook Pro?
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Winni Avatar
15 months ago

if you can afford to pay monthly for 400mb/s internet + paying for geforceNow surely you can afford better computer. This service makes no sense to me.
That's simply because you fail to see the bigger picture. It's the declared strategy of all big IT corporations to move --all-- computing to "the cloud", games are just one piece of the puzzle here (albeit a very demanding one).

Xbox is turning into a streaming platform for games, Microsoft already stated that they no longer care what hardware you want to use to play Xbox titled. You probably can even expect an Xbox streaming client for Sony's Playstation rather soon.

In December 2019, Microsoft launched a product called "Windows Virtual Desktop". It's exactly what it says on the (virtual) "box": A virtual Windows desktop, running in Azure. With the desktop versions of Office. And whatever other software you want to install on it. All you need is an HTML5 capable browser to use a Windows machine this way. And again, Microsoft doesn't care what hardware or operating system you use to access this virtual desktop.

"We’re building out Azure as the world’s computer.”
-- Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft Corporation, in his ”Vision Keynote” at the Microsoft Build 2019 Conference

This is where this all is headed. Right now, they're all building the back-end infrastructure so that it is ready when the telcos have finished upgrading their (mobile) networks to make the necessary bandwidth available. What will feel completely natural to use in five years from now, is being built today.

But all of us should ask ourselves the very important question whether we want this future.

Here is the must-read book on the topic, and it explains in non-technical language why that question is to important:

"The Age Of Surveillance Capitalism"
https://shoshanazuboff.com/book/
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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