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Nvidia GeForce Now: Ultimate subscription tested with RTX 4080

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Nvidia announced at this year’s CES in Las Vegas that it will introduce a new Ultimate subscription and automatically upgrade all users of the previous top tier. This goes hand in hand with the possibility of using the new RTX 4080 SuperPODS with 64 TFLOPS performance. Nvidia spoke full-bodiedly of the fact that the new SuperPODS should be 1.75 times as fast as the “old” 3080 SuperPODS. Furthermore, Nvidia Reflex is brought to the cloud with G-Sync support, Full Ray Traced Graphics, DLSS 3, a new AV1 encoder, 240 FPS for e-sports titles, ultrawide resolutions and [email protected] I was already able to access the new SuperPODS in the self-test and was able to get an impression of how good the new experience is.

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Perhaps just a few more words on the topic of cloud gaming. I have already used various services myself. I was involved with Stadia right from the start with the Founders Edition and was actually impressed by the service as such, because I felt the technology, the streaming and the quality were impeccable. The concept with the additional store alone, combined with the clumsy marketing and the many quirks at the beginning, gave Stadia no real market opportunity.

Xbox Cloud Gaming has the advantage that with the Game Pass you have a very large library with really good titles at your disposal. But there I have the problem that the resolution is really modest at 720p when playing on a large screen. Add to that the fact that you have to contend with hard artifacts, which further spoils the experience. I have never tried Shadow PC personally, but it offers a full-fledged PC with all the advantages. Pricey but very intense. Amazon’s Luna is not an issue in this country.

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That’s why I like GeForce Now best in terms of the concept. You don’t have to bring your own game library from Ubisoft, Epic or Steam and you can play it on Nvidia’s rigs. My library is the largest on Steam, with 41 titles playable on GeForce Now. Unfortunately, the company hasn’t yet managed to sEsports Extrasdeals with major publishers like Activision Blizzard, Bethesda, or Rockstar to bring titles like Red Dead Redemption 2, Diablo, or others onto the platform. The sports genre is also currently lightly occupied. There could still be greats like Fifa and Co. added.

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When asked, Nvidia announced that it was in constant negotiations with publishers to expand the library. There are currently over 1,500 games in total, with new ones being added every Thursday. The model as such is actually rather attractive for publishers, since no money slips through their fingers. Licenses have already been sold on the usual platforms and you’ve pocketed your cut. In a conversation with Nvidia, I dropped that Microsoft might allow a Game Pass sync. Can’t really care where you play the games as long as they get their monthly fee.

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Do you have to consider anything if you want to play via GeForce Now? Depending on the quality you want to play with, there are a few restrictions. On Windows, for example, you need at least an Nvidia Maxwell GPU or Intel GPU (6th gen) for 240 FPS streaming (1,920 x 1,080 pixels, 1,920 x 1,200 pixels); the following models are supported on Macs:

  • MacBook 2017 or newer
  • MacBook Air 2018 or newer
  • MacBook Pro 2016 or newer
  • iMac Retina 5K Late 2015 or newer
  • Mac mini 2018 or newer
  • Mac Studio (all)

In terms of Internet speed, the following requirements have been made:

The quality of the stream can be adjusted in different modes. You have the following to choose from:

  • balance: Uses the current bandwidth to display the best possible quality
  • data saver: Tries to save data with the best possible image and gameplay quality
  • Competitive: Optimizes the stream for low latency and 240 FPS
  • Custom: Here you can set all the settings yourself.

I had switched on the 240 FPS mode and thus also the Nvidia Reflex, but I couldn’t try it out because I didn’t have a suitable display. However, the mode as such should also result in latency savings for screens with lower refresh rates. Nvidia was able to measure the following latencies:

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But what is my experience now? I tried the service on a Mac, a Windows PC, an iPad and a Esports Extras phone in combination with a mouse and keyboard and with a controller. I was able to play satisfactorily on all devices. Depending on the location, however, you will notice that streaming via WLAN does not bring the same performance as a cable connection. Nvidia itself recommends this, of course, but there are no critical problems with WLAN either, at least in my house. There are dips in ping here and there that lead to dropped frames, but it’s manageable.

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Both the Mac and the Windows PC were hardwired in the test and were able to show a ping of a stable 15 ms and no jerks or the like. However, you should be careful that the frame setting in the game matches the frames of the stream or that it is a fixed multiple. I only had occasional problems with one game: Despite the frame limiter being set to 60 and the stream being limited to 60 frames, I had strange frame pacing problems and tearing in Life is Strange: True Colors. Couldn’t be reproduced on other titles and was the only game out of about 20 tested that had this problem.

In terms of performance itself, you really can’t go wrong with the new rigs. Depending on the game, you can turn the graphics settings up to the maximum and you will achieve very good FPS. If this is not the case, DLSS will help you, which does not cause any visible loss of quality in the quality setting, unless you stand still and really look closely at structures such as treetops or similar. To give you a feel for the performance increase, I benchmarked a few games on both the old and new rigs:

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As you can see, there is a massive speed gain on some titles, but not quite as much on the “heavy” titles like Crysis Remastered and Cyberpunk. Depending on the title and setting, you can get the promised 1.75 times faster. I can’t say much about DLSS 3 at the moment, as not many games are supported on the service. A Plague Tale: Reqiuem and Portal RTX were in maintenance mode at the time of testing. Warhammer 40,000: Dark Tide has the setting, here you have an average of 90 FPS with DLSS in the quality setting without around 35 FPS. André will again examine the new version of DLSS separately.

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A conclusion on the new Ultimate subscription from Nvidia GeForce Now? Nvidia has put together a really good package here, in which a lot fits. Personally, I don’t want to decide whether it’s the answer for e-athletes, I don’t have the skills for that either. From my point of view, the package is primarily attractive for casual gamers but also for serious gamers who do not want to sacrifice quality, ray tracing and resolution and/or face an upgrade challenge.

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200 euros for a full year may not be little, but a computer with similar capabilities costs a lot more. You can book this service for many years. Of course, the project stands and falls with the library that can be played with it. Here draft horses like Red Dead Redemption 2, Call of Duty, sports titles and more are missing. If this challenge can still be solved, in my view the whole thing will almost become a no-brainer for all those who cannot or do not want to afford a gaming computer. After all, such a monster takes up a lot of space.

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