GeForce Now Revisited

Last November during all the Black Friday madness I bought myself a new wide screen monitor. Nothing crazy fancy, it’s a 34″ curved Dell, 3440×1440. I didn’t go for 4K both due to cost and the fact that I didn’t think my PC could push 4K’s worth of pixels at a decent rate. I’ve got an RTX 2070 Super that feels like it is showing its age. I wasn’t even doing much PC gaming but I was having some issues with my setup of two 24″ 1920×1080 monitors. Anyway, point is, I bought a monitor that was much nicer than what I had. Higher resolution, HDR, curved screen.

It made PC gaming a lot more fun. One of the many reasons I enjoy console games is that playing in front of a 65″ 4K HDR TV with a good sound system is so immersive compared to sitting at a 24″ 1080P SDR screen with crappy speakers. A new monitor changed that (aside from the sound…still working on that). Problem now is that aging video card. I can still run older and indie games OK as long as I don’t push the settings too high, but I started thinking about either upgrading the GPU or just buying a nice new gaming PC. I really didn’t want to lay out all that cash though.

Then I noticed Scopique had started using GeForce Now again, and he seemed to be having good luck with it. I’d tried GeForce Now in the past and it had been OK, and I’m kind of fascinated by the idea of streaming games. I was a big fan of the Stadia technology, if not the business model, and playing games on Stadia had always felt good. On the other hand, playing on Microsoft’s XCloud always feels pretty bad. One thing I’ve learned is that your experience with streaming games is highly dependent on where you are and who your ISP is. I know folks who say XCloud works amazingly and I believe them. It just doesn’t work very well for me.

Anyway I decided to give GeForce Now another go. These days we have 1 GB Internet via Google Fiber with no data caps or anything. In practical terms a speedtest usually shows around 700 mbps up & down from my PC, so that includes any loss of speed due to internal networking and such. And my PC has a wired connection, so I was feeling pretty confident.

Screenshot from New World as played through GeForce Now.
My current system actually can play New World without too many issues but being able to jump in without the install and patch times made it kind of a treat!

I tried the free tier of GeForce Now and that was NOT impressive. First, the queue’s are crazy long. One night there were 210 people in front of me. I waited. After 20 minutes I was at 180 people; I figured at that rate I’d get a rig at about 1 am so I quit. Eventually I snuck in early on a weekend but even then there was a queue and when I did connect it was to a data center in Miami, and I’m in North Carolina. For folks not in the US, that means a data center about 800 miles or 1290 km away. I know that there are at least two data centers much closer to me, including one just over the state line in Virginia. I suspect that I got connected to the first usable slot and it happened to be in the Miami data center. With this set up the service worked but it wasn’t a great experience.

Undeterred and based on Scopique’s experience, I finally bit the bullet and bought a month of the Ultimate tier, which is required to go above 1080P anyway. And, aside from one glitch caused by some ‘optimization’ software running on my PC, so far the experience has been almost magical. At least for me and my puny PC. I’m playing on a 4080 rig with settings cranked way up and I’m getting 120+ fps on the server, though closer to 60 fps at my machine. But still I’ve never seen games look this good. Since becoming a paid member I’ve connected to that Virginia data center every time, and no more queues.

So now that I’ve drunk deep of the Kool-Aid I thought I’d talk about some pros and cons.


The Premium tier is $20/month which initially seemed really high to me. You can save a bit by going 6 months at time, which is $100 or $16.66/month (or $200/year). But remember, you’re playing on a 4080 which would cost you about $1000 right now. Spending $200/year instead might make sense depending on your needs. I kind of compare it to buying vs leasing a car. My brother has been leasing cars since forever and he just keeps rolling over to a new lease period and getting a new car every 3 years or so. This kind of feels like the same thing. It’ll take 5 years of GeForce Now to spend the same as you would on a 4080 today, but presumably Nvidia will keep bumping up the hardware so by then we’ll probably be playing on some even more powerful hardware. If you spend $1000 on a 4080 today, in 5 years it will no longer be state of the art.

On the other hand if you’re a “buy it once and run it into the ground” person then the monthly fee might sting a bit. My truck is a 2012, paid off long ago and no plans to trade it in. I’ll run it into the ground. So the monthly fee for GeForce Now is a little more concerning for me. My brother would love it, if he was a gamer. On the third hand, I pay $90/month for YouTube TV; the idea that I can cancel that for 2 months/year and cover GeForce Now is so compelling that I just canceled YouTube TV!


So far performance has been incredible. Games look amazing and the performance is so high it almost feels too high for me. I tried Doom Eternal and almost made myself sick, everything was so quick. I’ll have to get used to everything being this snappy. But what about the lag? I’m sure lag is there and if you’re a competitive gamer than a service like this isn’t for you. But as a 60-something dude with 60-something reflexes, I honestly can not detect any lag. I am NOT saying it isn’t there…just that my brain is too slow to notice it. Also bonus points for my PC staying completely quiet while I play. No more fans kicking into overdrive when I play a demanding game.


This is a mixed bag. The good news is, I don’t have to worry about driver updates or anything. I can play on any machine. I don’t have to worry about drive space. I am not a sequential gamer so I like to have a bunch of games installed and my hard drive is constantly full. No longer an issue. On the other hand, if the service goes down or something, I’m totally out of luck. I can’t install mods. And of course not every game is on the system. So if I’m interested in a new game I have to both find it in a game store like Steam and also make sure it is supported on GeForce Now. And I had to assume that games LEAVE the service too so you could wind up owning games that you can’t play without upgrading your PC.

I initially thought I’d also be playing GeForce Now on the TV in the living room via the Nvidia Shield streaming box but that doesn’t work as well as I would hope. The tech works but so many games pop open some kind of login field or anti-cheat dialog or something that it feels like more trouble than it is worth. If I were willing to connect a mouse and keyboard to the Shield I could solve this issue, but I’m not really interested in doing that due to the “Cluttering up the living room” factor.

Some games also come with their challenges. Forza Horizons 5 (on PC Game Pass) would not run in widescreen mode and it is new enough that I have to think it is capable of doing so. And Metro Exodus (Epic Game Store) would only run at a low resolution or at a higher res but tucked into a corner of the screen. I haven’t really spent time debugging either of these issues but I think it boils down to “When it works, it works great. When it doesn’t work… well you’re just out of luck.”


Overall I am absolutely delighted with how well the service works. I still don’t know if I’ll keep it past this initial month just due to the cost and the fact that I have the Xbox and the PS5, both with big backlogs, and do I really need a 3rd gaming platform that comes with a monthly fee? Probably I don’t. But damn, games look SO good on this widescreen monitor with a Nvidia 4080 pushing the pixels!! Decisions, decisions… 🙂

An Incomplete Guide to Streaming Game Services

Update 6/27/21: This post is woefully out of date at this point and since it’s the top post on the blog I figured I’d better at least acknowledge that. Since Oct ’20 I’ve more or less given up on streaming games. I was all-in on Stadia for a while but, as everyone but me said they would, Google seems to be losing interest in the service, having closed down their game studios. Stadia, if it survives, will be a place to play other publisher’s games and/or a service Google provides to other publishers who want to take advantage of game streaming.

Meanwhile xCloud has been improving. They are now beta testing PC support (via a browser) and have just starting rolling out XSX servers so some games are playing much better than they used to.

I haven’t really been following Luna or GeForce Now, so not sure what state those are in.

Original post follows:

There are so many different streaming game services out now, and they all seem to have their own business model. I thought I’d gather some data on the ones I’m familiar with. Please note in all cases I’m talking about official support. Some of these services can run on hardware other than what I list by side-loading or other work-arounds.

Also, apologies to Playstation Now fans. I don’t use it or know much about it, so I left it out. It’s $10/month and runs on PCs and PS4s and that’s all I know about it!

Amazon Luna

Resolution: 1080P. 4K ‘coming soon’ for selected titles
Where You Play: PC, Mac, Android, iOS and certain Fire TV devices. For PC & Mac you can download an app, or play through a browser.
Monthly Price: $6
$6 is their introductory price. Amazon hasn’t indicated how long the service will be at this price or what its final cost will be.
What You Get:
Unlimited access to a library of 50 games. Amazon says more games will be added over time. They don’t say that some games will leave the service over time, but I’d be VERY surprised if that doesn’t happen. It happens with every other “Netflix-like” service.
Additional Costs:
Amazon will offer “game channels” that bundle some unknown number of games together for an unknown additional cost. The first one will be an Ubisoft Channel.
Amazon Luna Controller, $50 – This is a controller that connects directly to your WiFi network which is supposed to reduce input lag.
Personal Notes:
This service just came out and is in paid early access. I don’t have a lot to say about it yet but the buzz is that it needs some optimization before it becomes a real contender. The initial library of games is OK but not great. A few AAA titles but a lot of smaller indie games, some that I’ve never heard of.

GeForce Now

Resolution: 1080P (4K coming soon…but has been for quite some time)
Where You Play: Nvidia Shield, PC, Mac, Android, Chromebooks
Monthly Price: $0
What You Get:
Nothing, you have to provide your own games from Steam or Epic Game Store. Not all games are supported. Sometimes games that are supported are removed. Free users are limited to playing in 1 hour sessions, I believe.
Additional Costs:
Founders Edition, $5/month – Founders get priority access to a session (free users sometimes have to wait in a queue), longer session lengths, and for some games, RTX support
Personal Notes:
My experience with GFN has been all over the place. There are several different servers you may connect to and so in one session you may get a game running beautifully at high settings, and the next time you log in it can only manage medium because you happened to connect to a worse server. My biggest issue is with logging in to things though. Every time you play you need to log into Steam or Epic (and you can’t copy/paste your password) which seems like no big deal but can become a headache over time. If you happen to have an Nvidia Shield, it will upscale games to 4K.

Google Stadia

Resolution: 1080P
Where You Play: Chromecast Ultra, Chrome Browsers, Android
Monthly Price: $0
What You Get:
Nothing, you have to buy your games from the Stadia Store. Once you do, you’ll have that game forever, or until Google pulls the plug on Stadia
Additional Costs:
Stadia Pro, $10/month – Pro users gets 4K resolution and surround sound, discounts on Stadia Store games, and anywhere from 4-6 free games/month that you can access for as long as you’re a Pro subscriber. (I think Google actually promises 1 game/month but for the last 6 months it’s been 4-6). Google offers a 1 month free trial of Stadia Pro.
Stadia Premium Edition, $99 — This is a bundle of a Chromecast Ultra and a Stadia Controller to use with it. The controller connects to your WiFi which is supposed to reduce input lag.
Personal Notes:
Stadia has been my best game streaming experience. Games run really well and are optimized for the service. The downside is that a game has to be ported to Stadia and the ports vary in quality. For example The Division 2 looks and plays better than it does on my local gaming laptop, (using Stadia Pro so it is in 4K) but other games seem to run at console-level graphics settings. If you want to play with a controller, for example on your TV, all games are guaranteed to support that.
There’s a lot of worry that Google will ‘pull the plug’ on Stadia and our purchases will be lost, but I don’t think that will happen given that there ARE purchases attached. In the same way Google Play movies and Android apps are here to stay, I think Stadia is too (the fact that they own game studios working on titles for Stadia also makes it seem less likely it’ll get canceled.)

Microsoft xCloud

Resolution: 720P
Where You Play: Android devices
Monthly Price: Included as part of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, which is $15/month (though you can often find deals/discounts)
What You Get:
150+ Game Pass games. First party games are permanent in the Game Pass library, third party games are constantly being added and leaving.
Additional Costs:
Personal Notes:
xCloud currently runs on Xbox One S hardware which puts a lot of limits on how well games run and in particular, load times. Load times are far worse on xCloud than on any of the other services listed. On the other hand, for Xbox owners, being able to go from playing on the local Xbox to picking up where you left off on your phone during lunch hour at the office is a nice benefit.
In 2021 Microsoft is supposed to update their data centers with Xbox Series S|X hardware which should really improve this service.
Also worth noting you can stream from your Xbox to your Android device. This is called remote play and is free, though games have to be installed on your Xbox.