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NVIDIA proves the cloud can replace a high-end gaming rig


On the Surface Laptop — a great ultrabook marred only by its weak integrated graphics — running over our office’s WiFi, PUBG felt almost as smooth as it does on my dedicated gaming rig. It ran at a steady 60 frames per second, even though I cranked the graphics settings to Ultra and the resolution to 2,560 x 1,400. After a few minutes of running around the game’s apocalyptic European town and taking out other players, I almost forgot I was playing something that was running on a server hundreds of miles away.

The game’s excellent audio design also survived: I had no trouble pinpointing people sneaking around a house while wearing headphones, and the bomb strikes in “Red Zones” still rattled my skull. Mostly, though, I was surprised that I didn’t feel any lag while I was using the Surface Laptop’s keyboard and a Logitech wireless G903 gaming mouse. Moving the camera around and aiming my weapons felt incredibly responsive, and I was surprised that I was able to outgun some players in some heated shootouts.

That lack of latency was even more impressive with Overwatch, an even faster-paced game. Characters like Tracer and Genji, both of whom would be tough to play with any noticeable lag, felt as nimble as they do on my desktop. I didn’t even have trouble landing shots with snipers like Hanzo and Ana. I was simply able to enjoy playing the game as I normally do. And even more so than with PUBG, I was impressed by how well GeForce Now handled Overwatch’s vibrant and colorful graphics. Gorgeous maps like Ilios and Dorado appeared as detailed as ever, and the same goes for the game’s imaginative character models and costumes.

GeForce Now easily handled graphically intensive titles like Destiny 2 and The Witcher 3, which felt even more impressive to play on the Surface Laptop. Both games managed to run at 60 FPS at a 2,560 x 1,400 resolution (the service supports up to 2,560 x 1,600), with all of their graphics settings turned all the way up. Even though Destiny 2 isn’t exactly a fast-paced shooter, it still benefited from the service’s low latency, which helped me mow down waves of enemies without much trouble. And with the Witcher 3, I was impressed that its graphically rich world didn’t lose any fidelity while being streamed. Perhaps because these games are particularly demanding, I occasionally experienced connection hiccups while playing them. They only lasted a few seconds, but if I were fighting against tough bosses, they could have easily led to my doom.

Those disruptions also made it clear that your experience with GeForce Now will depend largely on your internet connection. I had a mostly trouble-free experience in our office and at home, where I have 100 Mbps cable service. But if you don’t have a steady 25 Mbps connection, Ethernet access or strong wireless reception, you’ll likely see more gameplay-disrupting issues. I wasn’t able to run any games at Starbucks locations around NYC, and based on my terrible experiences with hotel WiFi, I’d wager you’d have trouble using GeForce Now while traveling too. (The service is only supported in the US and Europe at the moment.)



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