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Nvidia’s GeForce Now turns MacBooks into GTX 1080 gaming machines through the cloud

GeForce Now GPU stack

Yet again, my job is being threatened by a streaming service. First it was Blade’s Shadow PC and now it’s Nvidia’s GeForce Now cloud gaming service. Nvidia are currently carousing Mac users into ditching a potential PC build and opting instead for their latest cloud venture, offering GTX 1080 power with none of the physical components required.

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It’s not often we talk about Macs here at PCGamesN – for obvious reason – yet Nvidia’s GeForce Now essentially loans out a GTX 1080-powered PC to Mac users, through the power of the cloud, so they get a pass this time. Thanks to the lack of local device rendering or processing, you can even play PC-only titles through the service such as the enormously popular PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds.

I gave PUBG a go myself on my ageing MacBook Pro Early 2011 model – this laptop struggles when opening an email – and GeForce Now not only managed to successfully load PUBG, but I enjoyed the game on full-blast ultra settings. My gigantic Corsair Air 540 PC fitted with an albeit slightly dated AMD R9 390 could barely deal with this game at far less graphical fidelity, and even then it was whirring like a jet engine at takeoff.

Aside from the lower resolution than I’m used to – 1280 x 800 on my particular MacBook – games were smooth and fairly consistent experience overall, with only occasional dips in quality. While I didn’t manage to score particularly high on the PUBG leaderboards, it seemed this was due to personal skill rather than game-breaking lag or latency. Yes, I’m a scrub.

MacBook Pro
There is at least one caveat, however, as you’ll need an internet connection above 25Mbps to download the sheer volume of data that game streaming requires, and Nvidia recommend speeds of 50Mbps for the best experience the service can offer. You’ll also need to be close to Nvidia’s servers in North America or Europe to play, at least until Nvidia launch more servers worldwide.

For the swift connection requirements you gain the benefit of no longer requiring local installations of your preferred games. Just click install on any game you own in Steam while running the service and it will be ready to go in seconds, with the added benefit of keeping your precious storage space free.

Unlike the Nvidia Shield game subscription service, you will need to have purchased any games you choose to play with the GeForce Now for Mac, so be prepared for the cost of purchasing any games you don’t yet own on Steam.

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Pricing for the service is not yet confirmed, and it is possible that the service will ditch the GeForce Now monthly pricing template, as is the case with the Nvidia Shield service, in favour of a pay-per-hour style pricing plan. For the first two months of beta, however, the service will be free.

For PC gamers with limited laptop power, GeForce Now will be available on PC sometime down the line – although a release date has not yet been confirmed.

Giant graphics-championing server farms and speedy internet connections won’t be replacing desktop towers any time soon, at least not for us PC players. Even mid-range cards can push glorious 1440p resolutions and likely even greater with the next generation. Yet, for a Mac fan with a taste for casual gaming – or simply seething jealously for PUBG players – you may no longer feel renegaded to Steam’s big title B-list.