Technology

Chromebooks can now play PC games with GeForce Now






Lori Grunin/CNET

The competitors in cloud gaming is heating up, with Microsoft’s Xbox game streaming (xCloud) arriving in September, and now Nvidia encroaching on Google Stadia’s turf by including Chromebooks to GeForce Now‘s supported platforms. The flexibility to run on a Chromebook is a superb choice, and GeForce Now could be a barely extra good choice than Stadia. It is also straightforward to make use of: Simply go to play.geforcenow.com, add a recreation you personal that is in Nvidia’s supported record, and launch. 

In contrast to Stadia, which has a small library of custom-optimized video games that you just purchase particularly to run on its platform, GeForce now’s bring-your-own-game. At the very least if you happen to purchase a recreation on Steam, Epic or Ubisoft, you may nonetheless be capable to run it on a PC if Nvidia pulls the plug on the service fairly than get caught with a pile of ineffective bits. Nevertheless, I stand by my opinion that you just should not purchase video games completely to play with any of those providers. They transfer out and in of the libraries due to licensing offers, and you might but find yourself with that pile of ineffective bits; with GeForce Now, you’d have to purchase a PC able to working the sport if it flits out of the library.

You do not essentially want to purchase video games, although. There’s a big number of free-to-play video games — nothing that is not free on each platform, however now you may play them on a Chromebook. You can provide the $4.99-per-month Founders membership (which entitles you to precedence entry and longer periods than the free choice) a strive with Nvidia’s new promotion: six months for $24.95, which is equal to a free month. It features a Season One battle cross for Hyper Scape and a few content material.

The good factor is you could hearth up one of many free-to-play video games with the free account in your Chromebook and provides it a shot at zero value.   

Now you could sync your Steam library with GeForce Now, matching Nvidia’s record together with your library isn’t longer as onerous because it was, however in case you have video games by Epic Video games Retailer it is actually tedious on a Chromebook. That is as a result of there is not any EGS launcher for Chromebooks, and you may solely see your recreation library within the launcher, not by way of the location. It isn’t Nvidia’s fault, however it’s Nvidia’s drawback.

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The minimum recommended Chromebook specs aren’t those you’d find in a cheap model, despite Nvidia’s claim that a $299 model will run GeForce Now “fine”: a 7th-gen Intel Core M3 or better (which has integrated Intel HD Graphics 600) and 4GB or more of RAM. Just as with its general network requirements, Nvidia does recommend a wired or 5GHz wireless connection — that means WiFi 5 (802.11ac) — and a network connection speed of at least 15Mbps (25Mbps recommended).

Although those are the recommended specifications, Nvidia has tested about 14 Intel-based models so far, some of which fall well below them:

I gave the service a whirl on the Chromebook 715, which falls on the high-end of the performance spectrum. When it works, it works well, and the experience matches playing on the desktop.

But, as usual, beyond a certain point it’s not the hardware that holds back the experience; it’s your internet connection. And bandwidth is only one factor when playing. The consistency of the connection is even more important, and it’s something you can’t measure because it changes minute to minute, and it’s hard to fix in many situations. That doesn’t always translate to poorer gameplay, but it frequently does start glitching the controls.

I’d launch a game when the connection was OK and at least 150Mbps, but by the time the opening screen appeared I’d start getting “spotty connection” warnings on a regular basis. In Observation, the glitchy video and unresponsive camera controls could pass as part of the game. In a platformer like Dead Cells, not so much. So your mileage may vary.

I suspect the problem is crowding on the Wi-Fi channels; there are no lightly used ones among the 20 or so Wi-Fi networks surrounding my apartment and my router. Ethernet is an option, but really inconvenient, which is probably true for a lot of people. This isn’t unique to GeForce Now. It happens with all the services for me. But clearly it’s an issue, given that Nvidia has a recommended router program for the service.

The other problem is Chromebook screens, which tend to be dim and washed out. They’re usually not designed for a great gaming experience or with high contrast the way a phone or higher-end laptop screen is.

The Chromebook version supports all the latest features of GeForce Now, including Highlights, which can automatically record notable gameplay, and FreeStyle, for applying filters to your games. Ansel — the high-resolution capture tool in Nvidia’s drivers — will be arriving soon in GeForce Now.

If you’ve got a Chromebook, even one that doesn’t meet the minimum specs, it’s certainly worth giving it a shot to see how well it works on your particular setup.





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Author

Lori Grunin