Want to experience high fidelity gaming without an expensive gaming PC or console? GeForce NOW makes it possible to stream thousands of games over the cloud to any device. But the premium tiers require a paid subscription.
So how do you get GeForce NOW Priority or Ultimate for free? This complete guide shares all the tips and hacks to maximize your free cloud gaming experience.
Overview – What is GeForce NOW?
For those new to cloud gaming, GeForce NOW is a service from Nvidia that lets you stream games on demand over the internet.
Instead of running games locally on a gaming PC or console, GeForce NOW runs them on powerful cloud servers powered by Nvidia RTX GPUs. It encodes the video output and streams it to your device.
This allows playing high fidelity games on pretty much any hardware like old PCs, laptops, Macs, phones and tablets. The heavy lifting is handled in the cloud, while your device just decodes the video stream.
GeForce NOW has over 25 million members as of 2022. It‘s available across Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Android TV, smart TVs and more.
The GeForce NOW app connects to Nvidia‘s data centers. When you launch a game, you get allocated a cloud server that runs the game and streams back the video.
GeForce NOW Membership Tiers
GeForce NOW offers three membership tiers with varying levels of performance and priority access.
The Free membership has the following limitations:
- Session length limited to 1 hour
- 1080p resolution @ 60 FPS
- No ray tracing or DLSS support
- Standard access – You may have to wait during peak times
The 1 hour restriction places quite a damper on the experience. But the Free tier lets you test out GeForce NOW easily before committing to paid plans. It‘s also great for casual gaming in short bursts.
According to Nvidia, Free members can play unlimited sessions per day, subject to availability. You may have to queue up again after each 1 hour game time.
Priority provides major improvements over the Free tier:
- Session length increased to 6 hours
- 1080p @ 60 FPS or 1440p @ 120 FPS
- Ray tracing and DLSS supported
- Priority access to cloud servers over Free members
Priority gives you uninterrupted long play sessions with higher framerates and graphical effects. No time limitations or waiting in queues.
It costs $49.99 every 6 months or $99.99 yearly.
Ultimate membership unlocks the highest performance:
- Session length increased to 8 hours
- 4K @ 60 FPS or 1440p @ 120 FPS
- Full ray tracing and DLSS supported
- Top priority access – Get cloud servers ahead of all other tiers
You can enjoy up to 4K HDR gaming with the highest frame rates and graphics quality. No queues or session limits to hamper your experience.
Ultimate is priced at $99.99 for every 6 months or $199.99 annually.
Clearly, the Priority and Ultimate tiers offer a much superior game streaming experience thanks to higher performance and unrestricted access. But the membership fees add up, especially if you plan to use GeForce NOW regularly for over a year.
Thankfully, there are multiple ways to get extended GeForce NOW subscriptions totally free or at significant discounts!
Get GeForce NOW Priority Free with Device Bundles
One of the best ways to get GeForce NOW Priority is via device bundles and giveaways.
Nvidia frequently runs promotions where buying select devices like GPUs, laptops and Shield TV entitles you to free GeForce NOW codes.
For example, as of November 2022, buying an Nvidia RTX 4080 or 4090 GPU nets you a free 6 month GeForce NOW Priority code.
Some active offers to grab now include:
- 6 months free Priority: Nvidia RTX 40 Series GPUs and Gaming Laptops
- 6 months free Priority: Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4, Z Flip 4
- 1 year free Priority: LG OLED TVs
Nvidia partners like MSI, Dell, HP, Asus etc. also provide GeForce NOW bundled free with their gaming PCs, laptops and monitors.
So if you were planning to upgrade your system anyway, purchasing select components from the above brands is a no-brainer. You enjoy premium GeForce NOW access at no extra cost.
Redeem Free GeForce NOW Codes from Giveaways
Both Nvidia and its partners are frequently giving away free GeForce NOW subscriptions through contests, surveys and social media giveaways.
Here are some places to grab codes:
Nvidia Surveys – You may see Nvidia survey invites by email or when visiting their site. Completing them usually rewards a 1-6 month GeForce NOW code.
Nvidia Newsletter Giveaways – Subscribing to the GeForce NOW newsletter gives you free code raffle entries.
Nvidia Contests – Big giveaways for new game launches, holidays and events. Follow their social media handles to stay updated.
Partners Giveaways – Brands like LG, Samsung, MSI etc. provide codes with product launches and events.
Gaming Sites Giveaways – Major gaming sites like IGN, Gamespot and PCGamer often get codes for giveaways.
Reddit and Discord Contests – The GeForce NOW Reddit and Discord servers organize frequent giveaways for members.
GeForce NOW Affiliate Streamers – Streamers part of the GeForce NOW affiliate program give out free trials during live streams.
The availability of free codes fluctuates. But with some persistence across the above sources, you can often grab 3-6 months of free Priority access.
When you get a code, redeem it on Nvidia‘s promotion redemption page linked to your GeForce NOW account. The free duration gets added to your membership.
Extend with Mobile Carrier and VPN Offers
Some mobile carriers and VPN services bundle GeForce NOW Priority free with their plans.
For example, AT&T has offered 1 year free Priority with select unlimited data plans. T-Mobile also ran a similar 6 month free promo.
VPN providers like Surfshark give away 6 month GeForce NOW codes with their 2-year plans. This also helps bypass any GeForce NOW regional restrictions.
The availability of such deals varies. But if you need the carrier or VPN service anyway, be sure to pick plans giving free Priority membership to maximize value.
Earn Rewards and Buy Discounted Gift Cards
Another great way to reduce the cost of GeForce NOW is by earning rewards and gift cards.
Nvidia sells GeForce NOW gift cards with credit denominations from $25 to $100. Many third party brands also offer Nvidia gift cards.
Here are some options to earn these gift cards:
Cashback sites – Portals like Rakuten give cashback on electronics purchases, redeemable for gift cards. Use the cashback earned to buy Nvidia gift cards at a discount.
Credit card rewards – Points from travel or cashback credit cards can often be redeemed for gift card credit on brands like Nvidia.
Survey sites – Completing surveys on sites like Swagbucks rewards points redeemable for gift card codes.
Referral programs – Referring friends to services like Rakuten or Swagbucks earns points and bonuses.
Streaming commissions – If you live stream games, you can enroll in Nvidia‘s affiliate program to earn commission on referrals.
Trading gift cards – Exchange gift cards from other brands for Nvidia ones at sites like CardCash.
Once you receive the gift card code, visit Nvidia‘s website and use the Apply Gift Card option during GeForce NOW membership purchase. This reduces the cost significantly.
Optimize Settings for the Best Free Experience
While the 1 hour restriction limits gameplay, with some optimization you can get the most out of the Free membership.
Here are tips to improve streaming performance and quality:
Use wired Ethernet – This eliminates the inconsistencies of WiFi like latency spikes and dropouts.
Pick closest servers – Manually selecting the servers geographically nearest to your location gives the lowest ping. Avoid picking distant servers even if queue seems smaller.
Set streaming to 720p 60FPS – This resolution and framerate needs the least bandwidth. Ideal for weaker connections.
Disable in-game VSync – This setting adds input delay. Turn it off and limit FPS to 60 for smoother gameplay.
Close background apps and browser tabs – Suspend all non-essential software during play sessions to prioritize bandwidth.
Restart if session expires and servers aren‘t busy – You can immediately start again without queuing if no other players are waiting.
Check server status page – The GFN Status page shows real time server disruptions and advice.
With the above tweaks, you can have a pleasant cloud gaming experience even on the Free tier…until the 1 hour limit hits.
How Does GeForce NOW Compare to Consoles and Gaming PCs?
Thanks to Nvidia‘s high performance data centers, GeForce NOW‘s streaming quality is nearly on par with consoles and gaming PCs.
Here‘s how the experience compares according to real user testing:
|Feature||GeForce NOW||Gaming PC/Console|
|Visual Quality||Up to 4K HDR with RTX ray tracing and DLSS||Comparable or better than consoles|
|Performance||Up to 120 FPS at 1440p or 60 FPS at 4K||Matches or beats gaming PCs and consoles|
|Game Library||Frequent new additions from Steam, Epic Games etc.||Majority of latest PC game releases supported|
|Multiplayer||Seamless competitive online play against PC players||Ping difference hardly noticeable|
|Saves and Progression||Cloud sync maintains progress and achievements across devices||No hassles switching devices|
In terms of graphics, frame rates and overall image quality, GeForce NOW matches and even exceeds consoles when using Priority or Ultimate membership.
The only visual downside compared to gaming locally is occasional compression artifacts and rarely minor stuttering when internet has issues. But with a steady 50Mbps+ connection, cloud gaming feels nearly indistinguishable from a physical console or gaming PC setup.
GeForce NOW also provides a superior experience to services like Google Stadia thanks to top tier Nvidia GPU performance, frequent new additions to the game library and wider device support.
Ideal Internet Speeds for GeForce NOW
To enjoy the best GeForce NOW performance, Nvidia recommends the following minimum internet speeds:
- 15 Mbps for 720p at 60 FPS
- 25 Mbps for 1080p at 60 FPS
- 35 Mbps for 1440p at 120 FPS
However, for very high image quality with no visible compression artifacts or blurring, an internet speed of 50 Mbps or higher over a wired connection is recommended.
Faster internet allows streaming at higher bitrates for better visuals, reduces latency and minimizes stuttering.
Wired internet like Ethernet avoids the inconsistent speeds and interference issues of WiFi. This is especially important for competitive multiplayer gaming where low ping and zero packet loss are crucial.
Data caps imposed by some internet plans also affect experience – unlimited data is strongly suggested for frequent GeForce NOW users.
The Hardware Running GeForce NOW
Let‘s take a quick look under the hood at Nvidia‘s data center setup powering GeForce NOW‘s game streaming:
CPU – x86 processors including AMD EPYC and Intel Xeon
GPU – Nvidia A10G GPUs based on Ampere RTX 3080
RAM – Up to 32GB of GDDR6 memory
SSD Storage – PCIe Gen4 NVMe SSDs for game storage
Network – Up to 400 Gbps bandwidth per server
Hypervisor – Runs on Nvidia GRID Virtualization Platform
OS – Windows Server 2019 + Nvidia cloud gaming software stack
This high performance infrastructure allows encoding and streaming games with high efficiency and ulta low latency.
Nvidia is constantly upgrading its data centers with new hardware, expanding game hosting locations and boosting server capacity to improve the experience.
Recent upgrades include adding AMD Ryzen CPUs with AVX2 optimization for enhanced encode times and increased SSD storage for faster game launch speeds.
Top Games on GeForce NOW
GeForce NOW supports over 1300 games across stores like Steam, Epic Games Store, Ubisoft Connect, EA Origin etc.
The library features most of the latest and most popular AAA games. Top titles currently include:
- Apex Legends
- Destiny 2
- Cyberpunk 2077
- Spiderman Remastered
- God of War
- Microsoft Flight Simulator
- Elden Ring
- The Witcher 3
- Dying Light 2
- Forza Horizon 5
- Assassin‘s Creed Valhalla
Nvidia keeps rapidly adding new and upcoming games like Hogwarts Legacy and Starfield. You can browse and search the full catalog on the GeForce NOW website.
Supported games are run on Windows, so Anti-cheat software that blocks virtualization like Valorant and Genshin Impact sadly can‘t run. But the vast majority of Steam and Epic titles work flawlessly.
The Future of Cloud Gaming is Bright
Cloud gaming services like GeForce NOW are still in their infancy. But with 5G, expanded server infrastructure and new technologies like AI super resolution, the future looks very promising.
According to a survey of industry experts, advantages like lower costs, wider accessibility and instant demos/trials will cause cloud gaming revenue to increase 10x over the next 5 years.
We‘re likely to see rapid cloud gaming adoption across mobile, smart TVs, AR/VR headsets and even self-driving cars.
Nvidia is poised to lead this revolution thanks to their existing GPU technology leadership, global data center presence and rapid GeForce NOW growth.
With 25 million members as of 2022, GeForce NOW has amassed a strong user base at impressive speed. And the platform keeps getting better each month.
2022 alone saw upgrades like 4K HDR streaming at 60 FPS, ultra low latency via Reflex tech, expanded device and TV integrations, family account sharing and more.
So next time you face the GeForce NOW 1 hour countdown on the Free tier, don‘t despair! Instead try the tips in this guide to unlock Priority or Ultimate access for free.
Happy cloud gaming to all!