January 27, 2023

Testing Nvidia’s GeForce Now RTX 4080, the most advanced cloud gaming platform yet

Google Stadia shut down overnight, but it’s not the end of cloud gaming. Nvidia’s GeForce Now streaming service has already leapfrogged Stadia and many other competitors with the RTX 3080 level, and now offers an RTX 4080 graphics upgrade along with HDR and Ultra HD support.

That means all the usual performance upgrades you’d expect to find with a modern GPU you buy for a PC and a significant latency advance: 240fps. While the older RTX 3080 can produce at 120fps, the frame rate doubling is noticeable in terms of performance and latency. They make GeForce Now the most advanced cloud gaming platform yet and come close to feeling like you’re playing games on your PC.

I’ve been testing the new competitive GeForce Now Ultimate mode at 240Hz on a 32-inch Samsung Odyssey G7 (1440p, 240Hz), and my colleague Sean Hollister has been testing on a similar 240Hz monitor. You’ll need a 240Hz monitor like this to really take advantage of the new mode, but you’ll still get some latency benefits even on 120Hz and 144Hz panels thanks to Nvidia’s Reflex technology that evaluates and reduces system latency in games.

Fortnite It runs at 240Hz on Nvidia’s new RTX 4080 servers.
Photo: Tom Warren/The Verge

New competitive mode at 240 Hz

I’ve been a critic of Stadia’s mouse and keyboard slowdown, but GeForce Now Ultimate offers the kind of latency improvements that almost trick my brain into thinking I’m playing the game on my gaming PC.

I mostly play shooters like Destiny 2And Counter Strike: Global OffensiveAnd Apex Legends, and found it to be the biggest test point for cloud gaming latency. I’ve been playing Apex LegendsAnd CS:GOAnd Fortnite on Nvidia’s RTX 4080 servers for the past week. The 240Hz mode only works at the moment at 1080p, and only delivers up to 240fps in supported games. The list of games that support 240Hz mode is not very long:

  • Apex Legends
  • Counter Strike: Global Offensive
  • Fortnite
  • Rocket League
  • Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege
  • the war

Nvidia says it plans to add more games over time and could also add Reflex and the ability to support 240Hz mode in games where the developers haven’t implemented it.

so he said, Fortnite It was the most impressive of the 240Hz gaming suite I tested, particularly because it supports all of Nvidia’s ray tracing options, DLSS, and Reflex latency improvements. The game also lends itself well to streaming thanks to its cartoon-like art style. The latency improvements are huge for keyboard and mouse players, and I found it hard to notice any lag most of the time.

It didn’t run at 240fps reliably. In creative mode it was very smooth, but it was easy to notice the frame rate drop when you hop off the battle bus and slide into battle royale mode. Once I was on the ground I rarely saw a drop in frame rate, and input latency felt impressive most of the time.

CS:GO is mostly locked at 240fps on GeForce Now Ultimate.

CS:GO It’s mostly locked at 240fps on GeForce Now Ultimate.
GIF: Tom Warren/The Verge

in Apex Legends Latency can be more noticeable during a lot of action where you have to make quick decisions, but it still feels more impressive than when I tested RTX 3080-class servers over a year ago. and in CS: GO, It was lock-on at 240fps most of the time and felt super smooth.

Nvidia’s RTX 4080 servers include 64 teraflops of performance (about five times the performance of the Xbox Series X), full ray tracing, and DLSS 3. The competitive 240Hz mode can provide end-to-end latency of under 40ms in some games, which Gameplay beats Xbox Series X at 60Hz.

I can schedule between a Fortnite A session running on my PC with an RTX 4090 and one in Cloud Realm an RTX 4080, and the only noticeable difference was the quality of what I could see on the screen. I’ll let my colleague Sean Hollister explain the visual differences.

visual quality

Hi, I’m Shawn. You might remember me from previous cloud gaming stories like why GeForce Now just kicked Google Stadia. I totally agree with Tom that cumin is great; I’m really not sure I can tell the difference in responsiveness between a GeForce Now and a desktop gaming PC anymore. I definitely estimate performance gains of about 30 percent in my country Cyberpunk 2077 moviealso.

I just wish Nvidia had made a huge jump in image quality — because there’s one dead giveaway that lets me spot a cloud game every time. Tom and I call it “fog” because that’s what GeForce Now is all about. There seems to be a haze between you and what you’re looking at, almost every time you move.

Let’s be clear: here are two cropped screenshots of CS:GO At 1080p and 240fps. At first, I’m standing still. In a second, I started to move, As I constantly do in most games. Explodes these Pictureszoom in, and peek at the wall texture: so different, isn’t it?

At 1080p and 240fps, moving an inch can feel like switching to potato graphics.

If you want to get more technical, this is image compression, and it’s not unique to GeForce Now — every cloud gaming service suffers from it because they all need to shrink their images small enough so they can send 60, 120, or Up to 240 of them per second over your internet connection, all while quickly responding to your movements.

In some games, eg Fortnite, the haze is simply not noticeable. I suspect it is because FortniteIt is a very colorful game. Gray and black is often where you see the pressure effect at its worst. But it’s also particularly bad at 1080p. The only resolution you can use To put 240 FPS in GeForce Now. Fortunately, there are ways to reduce haze.

Playing in 4K greatly reduces it – even if you don’t have a 4K monitor. here two more Full size photos for CS:GO Streaming in 4K to a 1080p screen. Cropped, you can see it’s not perfect, but it’s a little better, and I think it’s great that GeForce Now lets you choose.

Left: standing still. Right: moving.

Unfortunately, 4K is not available on all GeForce Now clients yet. You can’t get it on the web, which means you can’t get it on Chromebooks or the Steam Deck. You will need a Mac, Windows PC, Nvidia Shield TV, or some recent smart TV. But I’m glad it’s an option on PC at all — Nvidia didn’t add it until last May, and it’s my favorite way to stream games now. It’s definitely a jump up from the old 1440p broadcast, as you can see in mine control Compare photos below.

Click here to blow this up for a closer inspection.
click here To blow this up for closer examination.
Photo: Sean Hollister/The Verge

In 4K 120 resolution, even the darkest parts of the woods are in Shadow of the Tomb Raiderwho looked It is almost incomprehensible The last time I wrote about GeForce Now, it is Reasonably clear now. I could see myself playing the entire game this way.

Things to consider with streaming games

Tom’s here again, and it’s time to talk about the biggest drawbacks to Nvidia’s GeForce Now service: game availability, pricing, and internet connectivity. Nvidia Steam and Epic Games Store support, but many games are still not available. Publishers like Bethesda and Activision Blizzard have pulled their games from GeForce Now, which means none of the games are available. fallout, the elder scrolls, doom, And Call of duty Addresses are available. This is a huge drawback for GeForce Now Ultimate, even if it’s the most impressive cloud gaming platform yet.

Pricing is also a barrier to experimenting with if GeForce Now Ultimate is right for you. Google lets you easily test Stadia for free (with a short 4K testing period), but there’s no way to get the best of Nvidia’s RTX 4080 experience without signing up for the $19.99 monthly subscription. This is disappointing because I think a lot of people will be impressed with this new mode at 240Hz or even running games at 120fps at 1440p or 4K.

I suspect a lot of people will turn down $19.99 a month for game streaming, but I think there’s a lot of value here. If you build an equivalent PC you’re looking at $2000 or more then power costs to play. A $2,000 PC runs over five years at about $33 a month, with electricity fees on top. It’s definitely an attractive prospect if you’re thinking of upgrading your PC, especially when any games you buy through Steam or the Epic Games Store on GeForce Now are always yours regardless of whether you’re a subscriber or not.

GeForce Now Ultimate won’t convince even the most competitive and hardcore PC gamer to switch, but that’s not really the point of it. For everyone else, this seems like a compelling option if your games are out there and are temporarily without a gaming PC or you don’t want to shell out thousands of dollars now to upgrade.

Nvidia is launching its new RTX 4080 servers just as Google Stadia is shutting down.

Nvidia is launching its new RTX 4080 servers just as Google Stadia is shutting down.
Photo: Tom Warren/The Verge

There is also the matter of connectivity and data usage to consider.

You’ll need to be close to Nvidia’s servers and hope they get upgraded. Ultimate subscribers in and around San Jose, Los Angeles, Dallas and Frankfurt, Germany will be the first to receive the RTX 4080 class, with weekly upgrades.

This new competitive mode will also consume around 13 GB of data per hour, so if you have an internet connection with data caps, this service probably isn’t for you. I tested GeForce Now Ultimate using a 1Gbps fiber connection with sub-5ms latency to Nvidia’s EU West servers. It’s the perfect connection for streaming games, but a lot of people won’t have any luck with the connection, so your mileage may vary.