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Article - GeForce NOW: the future is now

We tested Nvidia's cloud gaming service

A year ago, at CES 2017, Nvidia announced to the world GeForce NOW, a cloud service with the power to transform a veteran with no capabilities to run videogames in a formidable PC gaming machine. After a slight delay that amounted to months and debut first for Mac users, the service is finally available in Beta for PC enthusiasts. What do we have to say about this service after years with multiple similar promises from other companies? From the outset, it works and it complies with everything it promises, so it is worth saying that it has us completely enthusiastic.

The installation process is simple: you only need to download the application and enter your Nvidia user information. Then a screen with the games that are compatible with the service is displayed and it goes without saying that the variety is acceptable. When you decide for one (you must have it in your personal library), GeForce NOW executes what we perceive as a virtual machine, that is, a space where Nvidia assigns you processing power and storage space. So, we decided on DOOM and then the software ran the virtual desktop, where it was necessary to enter our Steam credentials and run the game. It is important to mention that the service is also compatible with Uplay from Ubisoft and Battle.net from Blizzard.



Once the above was done, the game was installed on our virtual computer in seconds and was executed in a few moments. We set the video options to the maximum and increased the resolution to 1440p (2560 × 1440). However ... our first impression was disappointing because of a small technical peculiarity: we noticed that the response time exceeds the limits to deliver comfortable and fluid game sessions. In our inaugural session we used a common desktop computer with a 4K screen where the delay between the movement of the mouse and the action displayed by the screen was palpable. The experience became somewhat painful once it was combined with the movement of the mouse with the introduction of movement commands with the keyboard. In summary, the experience was not at all satisfactory due to the constant and imprecise adjustments in the introduction of commands; It was difficult to keep an eye on the enemies and avoid the opponent's fire resulted in jumps and clumsy movements.



The id Software FPS demands fast reflexes and is a fast game, which results in a demanding test for the GeForce NOW service. However, our readers with technical knowledge may have an idea about the origin of our problem. It happens that, initially, we do not quantify the time that the monitor takes to display the image; the famous Display Lag that in our case takes 34 ms to refresh the image. In this way, when using the diagnostic tool and knowing that the response time of the service is 30 ms, we conclude that the total response time is slightly greater than 60 ms.

To compensate for that delay we decided to try GeForce NOW on a laptop a couple of years ago, equipped with discrete gaming devices, but without the power to emulate the GeForce NOW experience. Within this ideal scenario for the service, with a laptop and a monitor with reduced Lag Display, the experience was transformed from painful to a walk through the clouds. Everything was due to the low total response time that we calculated was less than 40 ms and that gave us precise movements without pronounced adjustments at the time of playing, that is, the Input Lag barely manages to be perceived.

We were pleased because the gameplay was as if we were on a computer equipped with the most expensive and exclusive components. It was a dream come true to see the frame count per second reach more than 120 at a 2K resolution on a laptop that could barely hold 50 frames per second at low settings.



With the visual aspect we are satisfied. The compression of information used by the service is of high quality; the games look sharp and without annoying compression artifacts; On the other hand, the colors give the impression of being "washed out", that is, slightly off, which is understandable by the nature of the service. At other times we noticed that the fluidity was interrupted briefly to the point of showing on the screen artifacts typical of video compression, however, we believe that it is not a problem of the service and that it is rather due to an inconvenience that originates in our local network. We think that home users of the service that employ local networks without unusual work loads will maintain a good experience, fluid, without artifacts and of great visual quality.

After several game sessions we were surprised with the service; we could play without problem and with a very good image quality, but on the other hand, GeForce NOW presents a couple of slight problems in the future. To start, you can only transmit the games you own in your personal library of titles on Steam, Uplay and Battle.net, unlike the service that is available to SHIELD users, which allows you to enjoy a library of games for a monthly fee . We would like this quality to be introduced in the future GeForce NOW on PC to increase its appeal and unleash its potential.

The next aspect that comes before GeForce NOW is the cost: according to information that Nvidia disclosed in early 2017, playing 20 hours in a virtual machine with a video card equivalent to a GTX 1060 would cost approximately $ 25 or $ 10. hours of transmission with the performance of a GTX 1080. Now imagine how much it would cost you to finish The Witcher: Wild Hunt with GeForce NOW?

Anyway. GeForce NOW tells us 2 things: that the technology already exists to play comfortably through cloud services and that we are still far away to be efficient with some reduction of expenses in remote servers and accessible -in the sense that you need a 25 MB connection for the service to work properly. In spite of everything, our first impression of GeForce NOW is positive and, without doubt, it is a great window to look at one of the scenarios that the gaming of the future has for us.

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