Cloud gaming is just starting to become a viable technology with new platforms like Stadia and xCloud gearing up to offer next-gen titles. Nvidia, however, has been toiling on GeForce Now for years — it first debuted the technology as “Grid” in 2013. Today, GeForce Now is a service you can subscribe to on Android, PC, and finally, Chromebooks.
Like other cloud gaming options, the appeal of GeForce Now is that you can play high-end games even if the device in front of you is incapable of rendering anything released in the last decade. That’s because Nvidia’s servers are doing all the heavy lifting to push the pixels, and then video of the gameplay streams down to your device. Control inputs go back up to the server, allowing you to play the game. It’s like having a really, really long video cable called “the internet.”
Ideally, cloud gaming shouldn’t care what device you’re using, but we’re not there yet — rendering a live video stream where buffering isn’t possible can push some devices in ways that can harm the experience. Nvidia has released GeForce Now Beta on Chromebooks, which are, in many ways, an ideal way to play high-end PC games. They have keyboards, you can easily plug in a mouse, many have capable x86 processors, and they have large displays compared with a phone or tablet. They just don’t have a lot of power. They’re good enough for GeForce Now, though. Well, some of them are.
Nvidia will allow any Chromebook to run GeForce Now, but it suggests you use a somewhat capable Chromebook with at least a Core m3 CPU, Intel HD graphics 600, 4GB of RAM, and a 15Mbps internet connection (but 25Mbps is better). Nvidia says devices like the Google PixelBook Go and Asus Chromebook Flip c434 have been tested and found to work well with the service.
GeForce Now lets you play many of the games you already own via stores like Steam. Numerous publishers pulled their games from GeForce Now when it launched as a commercial offering, so Nvidia is still adding games as it negotiates deals. Still, you can join for free and play games like MechWarrior 5 and The Witcher 3. Free accounts only get 1-hour sessions, but the $4.99/mo lets you play longer and use RTX graphics technologies in games.
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