Nvidia GeForce Now Ultimate review: Who needs the most powerful … – XDA Developers

Nvidia GeForce Now Ultimate review: Who needs the most powerful … – XDA Developers

GeForce Now is a great way to stream games you already own through the cloud, and the refreshed Ultimate tier makes that idea even better.
Playing video games in 2023 can be quite an expensive venture. Buying a gaming PC with the latest specifications is costly, considering the rising prices of GPUs, and even consoles like the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X are hard to find. A great way around that is with cloud gaming. There are many options these days, like Xbox Game Pass Ultimate and Amazon Luna. However, out of all of them, the one that stands out is Nvidia GeForce Now service. You can play PC games through the cloud you already own on Steam, Epic Games, and EA Access, all without worrying about whether your rig is powerful enough or if you'll have enough money for the latest console.
I've used GeForce Now extensively because you can get a great gameplay experience from the cloud that feels similar to native hardware, provided your internet is up for it. So I was excited to be invited to a private preview of the service's updated Ultimate tier. It provides features like 240 FPS gameplay on competitive titles, updated RTX 4080 SuperPods powered by Ada Lovelace GPUs, ultra-wide and 4K resolutions up to 120 FPS, and DLSS3 technologies. Typically, playing games on maximum graphical settings was only reserved for people with powerful rigs or the best laptops, but that's no longer the case.
About this review: Nvidia upgraded our existing GeForce Now account to a special "private" Ultimate account with early access to RTX-4080 class performance servers and new features launching on Jan. 19. Our account was reverted to a public account after this date, which still has access to RTX 4080 servers where available.
Any PC, Mac, or mobile device can be a high-powered gaming machine thanks to NVIDIA’s cloud gaming platform. And thanks to the updated Ultimate tier, your games play better than ever.
Pros
Cons

Can play games at up to 240 FPS
Only targets PC players

Supports ultrawide monitors
Might be expensive for some

Makes a jump to RTX 4080 SuperPods

Nvidia GeForce Now has three plan options, but I'm reviewing the new Ultimate tier, which previously featured the RTX 3080 and is the highest you can get. An Nvidia spokesperson told me that RTX 3080 members will eventually become Ultimate Members and will get that automatic upgrade starting Q1 2023, which is set for January. The GeForce Now RTX 4080 servers in this updated tier are now live in San Jose, Los Angeles, and Dallas in North America, along with Frankfurt in Europe. This tier of GeForce Now costs $19.99 per month or $99.99 for six months. I've outlined the tiers and benefits for you below if you're curious.
Tier
Benefits Included

Free ($0/month)

Priority ($9.99/month or $49.99 for 6 months)

Ultimate ($19.99/month or $99.99 for 6 months)

Regardless of which tier you choose, you get access to a library of up to 1,500 games, which don't need to be downloaded because everything is updated and played through the cloud. Of course, these games aren't all free. You'll get access to games you already own, so all you need to do is connect your GeForce Now library to your Steam, Epic Games Store, Ubisoft Connect, or EA Access accounts. New games are added often, and you get access to 100 free-to-play games like Fortnite, Genshin Impact, League of Legends, Warframe, and other popular titles.
There's a lot new with Nvidia GeForce Now Ultimate in 2023, but we'll summarize. You'll basically end up with higher performance, lower latency, and higher frame rates. At the forefront of all this is a jump to RTX 4080 SuperPods, which are the new servers that power the service. They pack a whopping 64 teraflops of power, which is actually five times as much as the Xbox Series X and 1.75 times faster than the old GeForce Now RTX 3080 SuperPods.
Just like the RTX 40-series GPUs you can buy for your own gaming rig, these SuperPods also have full ray-tracing support with DLSS3, which boosts frame rates up to four times in GPU-limited games in fully ray-traced worlds.
As for the streaming technology itself, Nvidia is now using AV1 encoding. Nvidia is the first cloud gaming service to use this encoding, and it helps reduce latency and bandwidth versus H.265 coding used on other services like Xbox Cloud Gaming. This helps with the other cool new features, like 240 FPS gameplay on eSports titles, ultrawide resolution support (either 3840×1600, 3440×1440, or 2560×1080 21:9 aspect ratios), and 4K resolution at 120 FPS. It's worth noting though that streaming on these resolutions is capped at 120 Hz and not the 240Hz compatible monitors might offer.
I tested the changes with Cyberpunk: 2077, Rocket League, No Man's Sky, and Warhammer 40,000: Darktide. Getting to these games after connecting my accounts through the Nvidia GeForce Now web experience was easy since they were all listed on the front page of the service's app. Games were tested on a Surface Laptop Studio plugged into a 4K monitor supporting 144Hz refresh rates. I did not have access to a 240Hz or an ultrawide monitor to test the new Nvidia Reflex Competitive Mode portion of the service. Nvidia provided a demo video of how Reflex would work, which you can check out in the next section.
My usual gaming system is a Surface Laptop Studio, which I know isn't the highest-performing gaming PC or even a gaming laptop (if you even can consider it that.) It does, however, play a lot of PC games without issue, though the settings have to be turned down a bit. Thanks to Nvidia GeForce Now Ultimate, though, I felt like my Surface suddenly became a supercomputer. Additionally, all the games I played online through the service performed amazingly through the cloud, without any lag or dropped frames.
I'll start first with my Rocket League experience. It was suggested that I play it at the new 240 FPS with Nvidia Reflex, as well as ultrawide support. Now, my Surface Laptop Studio always played this game fine, but being able to pump the settings up to a maximum through GeForce Now Ultimate was a treat.
I right away noticed how much smoother the game ran through the cloud, particularly during online play with friends, and I didn't experience any dropped frames or lag. I just wish I had an ultrawide gaming monitor to unlock a wider frame of view that the Ultimate tier offers. I've played games natively on ultrawide monitors before, and I know that it unlocks new levels of competitiveness since the field of view is enhanced.
Thankfully, Nvidia demonstrated how 240 FPS works in Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Siege in the video below. The company also noted there are latency reductions when using a 120 Hz, 144Hz, or 165Hz monitor, but I didn't feel as much of a difference with my "basic" 120Hz monitor.
Basically, the Reflex SDK allows games to render just the frames that are needed when a monitor refreshes. Then, using network metrics and game performance, the client-to-server pipeline is optimized for higher streaming quality by rending the frames you see at the last moment. An Nvidia spokesperson told me that with the right GSync monitor, I'd get up to 40ms click-to-photon latency. That's lower than an Xbox Series X, apparently, which has 63ms system latency in the same game.
To control these settings and optimize for the lowest latency, you just go into the Streaming Quality settings and choose competitive. You can also customize resolution, frame rate, VSync, Reflex, and HDR from here, too.
For the rest of my tests, I tried out Cyberpunk: 2077, No Man's Sky, and Warhammer 40,000: Darktide. My Surface Laptop Studio really struggles with these games on even medium graphical settings, but Nvidia GeForce Now Ultimate allowed me to play them with graphics options ramped all the way up through the cloud.
I was happy especially to see that I could bump the settings for Cyberpunk 2077 and take advantage of my HDR monitor and the 4K resolution. Not even Xbox Cloud Gaming supports 4K HDR streams. This is one of the most beautiful-looking games, so I thought the bump in resolution would impact gameplay and latency, but it did not. I got a solid 120 FPS throughout my one-hour gaming session, and thanks to ray tracing, reflections in puddles after an in-game rain shower looked real enough to touch. Even driving around in a Quadra Turbo-R 740 at high speeds didn't stress the servers, and the game managed to keep up with my sudden movements.
My Surface Laptop Studio struggles with many games on medium graphical settings, but Nvidia GeForce Now Ultimate allowed me to play them with graphics options ramped all the way up.
Cyberpunk 2077 is really the best possible display of the RTX 4080 SuperPods, but No Man's Sky and Warhammer 40,000: Darktide were also suggested for a full 4K 120 FPS experience (Darktide doesn't support ultrawide). I started a new storyline in No Man's Sky, and it was amazing to see how bright and vibrant the game looked after being dumped on a planet for the first time. Even Darktide looked and performed great, keeping up to the promised 120 FPS in the busy opening scene where you're constantly chopping at enemies to escape a cell block.
Playing these games on Nvidia GeForce Now Ultimate was exactly like playing natively on a console or a PC, if not better. I got solid frame rates, support for 4K and HDR, ray tracing, and great online play with no latency. The service fools you into thinking you might not need a gaming PC after all. Of course, it's all dependent on your internet. If you have a solid internet speed like me (75 up/75 down), then there will be no issues. Nvidia suggests at least 45 Mbps and GeForce now app 2.0.47.125 or later for the best experience, so slower connections might result in more lag, which is the only real concern with the service.
You should subscribe to Nvidia GeForce Now Ultimate If:
You shouldn't subscribe to Nvidia GeForce Now Ultimate if:
If you already own a huge library of PC games and don't want to worry about upgrading hardware or having the latest specifications, then the updated Nvidia GeForce Now Ultimate is for you. The Ultimate tier has been updated with RTX 4080 SuperPods, which give you amazing ray-tracing capabilities and help you enjoy games on ultrawide monitors at 240 FPS, 4K resolution at 120 FPS with HDR, and so much more. You can even play games on Chromebooks.
The only flaw is that not all PC games work with GeForce Now just yet, so not every single game you own will be available. You can see if your games are supported on the GeForce Now website.
Any PC, Mac, or mobile device can be a high-powered gaming machine thanks to NVIDIA’s cloud gaming platform. And thanks to the updated Ultimate tier, your games play better than ever.
I have over six years of experience covering Microsoft, Surface, Windows, macOS and ChromeOS news and rumors for sites like Digital Trends and OnMSFT. I also write laptop reviews and how-to guides. I am a Microsoft fan and I have a drawer full of PCs and other devices. You can follow and interact with me on Twitter if you want to chat! I’m always there making new friends!

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