Geforce Now Brings Streaming Cloud Gaming to Everyone

You can stream games you already own to Mac, PC, Android, and Shield

What: NVIDIA's long-awaited Geforce Now streaming cloud gaming service is now available.

How: You can download the client for Mac, PC, Android, and NVIDIA Shield.

Why Do You Care: The system will let you play the latest demanding games on lower-end hardware.

Geforce Now app download page

If you've been waiting to jump on the streaming game bandwagon, now might be the time. NVIDIA's long-awaited cloud gaming service, Geforce Now, is available for anyone with a Windows PC, Mac, NVIDIA Shield, or Android device.

Google's competing service, Stadia, got middling reviews when it released in November 2019, mostly focused on network reliability and the fact that you have to purchase (or re-purchase) games and a specialized controller for the service.

Geforce aims to fix the latter issue, at least, by working with any Steam, Epic, or other digital gaming platform games you already own. If you buy a game from one of these outlets, and lapse your Geforce Now membership, you'll still be able to play the game (assuming you have hardware it can run on).

What Geforce Now does, then, is give you access to games that typically require a high-end gaming device on any lower-powered computer or Android gadget you already own. Think playing The Witcher on a commodity PC and you'll see the advantage.

The system specifications are pretty impressively low: You'll need a Windows 7 or later PC with at least a dual core x86-64 CPU running at 2.0GHz or faster, 4GB of system memory, and a GPU that at least supports DirectX 11. Mac users will need at least an iMac from 2009, a MacBook from 2008, MacBook Pro or Air from 2008, or later running macOS 10.10 or better.

Android folks will need an android device with 2GB of RAM and run Android 5.0 or later, with OpenGL ES3.2 support or higher.

Your network connection will need to be at least 15Mbps for 720p resolution at 60 frames per second, or 25 Mbps for 1080 p at the same frame rate (the gold standard for PC games). NVIDIA recommends a wired Ethernet connection or a 5GHz wireless router.

Cloud gaming is a hot topic in the gaming world, going way back to the ill-fated OnLive service that came out too soon in 2011. Microsoft's Game Pass and Sony's PlayStation Now are similar (yet not fully streaming) services from the big gaming companies, with Microsoft looking to go full streaming with its not-yet-released xCloud.

NVIDIA is offering Geforce Now for a low $5 per month for 90 days, though the company hasn't revealed what the monthly cost will be after the trial period. Better yet, there's a free tier, which limits gaming to one hour sessions and places you in a queue to join the servers. The premium, Founders tier still limits your gaming sessions to four hours, but you'll get priority access to gaming servers.

Ultimately, you'll need a good network connection to stream any cloud-based games, but the ability to play them on machines of any quality is a great value proposition for gamers.