Hey there! With cloud gaming services like GeForce Now, you don‘t need an expensive gaming rig to play the latest PC titles. These services do the heavy lifting on powerful remote servers and stream the gameplay to you. Convenient, right?
But here‘s the catch – GeForce Now actually has three different membership tiers:
- A free tier
- A paid Priority tier
- A paid Ultimate tier
So is GeForce Now really free to use? Or do you have to pay to properly enjoy it?
Let‘s take an in-depth look at what each tier includes to help you decide! I‘ll also share how GeForce Now compares to similar services like Google Stadia and Xbox Cloud Gaming.
Free Tier Limitations
While GeForce Now does technically offer a free membership tier, it comes with some significant limitations:
- 1 hour session length – Sessions are capped at just 1 hour of gaming before you get kicked off. Not ideal for longer play sessions.
- 720p resolution at 60 fps – Visuals are locked at 720p and 60fps. That‘s noticeably lower fidelity than paid tiers or local gaming on a decent PC.
- Standard access – Free members get regular access to servers. You might wait 30mins+ during busy times before playing.
- No ray tracing – The advanced lighting tech that makes modern games look amazing? Can‘t use it on the free tier unfortunately.
So in summary – the free tier lets you play, but only for an hour at a time in 720p without advanced graphics features. And you might be stuck waiting in a queue first.
Doesn‘t sound ideal for proper gaming, right? Let‘s see what exactly you unlock by paying…
Paid Tiers – What You Get for Your Money
Here‘s a comparison of GeForce Now‘s paid Priority and Ultimate tiers:
|Max session length
|Ray tracing enabled?
For just $9.99/month, the Priority tier gives you:
- 6 hour sessions – No more getting kicked off constantly! Play for hours uninterrupted.
- 1080p resolution at 60 fps – Sharp, smooth HD gaming that looks great.
- Ray tracing enabled – Unlocks cutting edge lighting effects for supported games.
- Priority access – Skip the queue and start playing fast, even during peak times. Big perk!
Priority is GeForce Now‘s top bang for buck tier. For a very fair monthly price, it removes the major limitations of free tier gaming.
If you want an even more premium experience, the $19.99/month Ultimate tier offers:
- 8 hour max session length – Practically unlimited gaming time.
- 4K resolution at 120 fps – Cutting edge visuals rivaling the best gaming PCs out there. Incredibly smooth and responsive.
- Ray tracing enabled
- Priority access
Essentially almost unrestricted, ultra high-end cloud gaming. But of course at double the cost of Priority.
Free Tier – Still Viable in Limited Scenarios
Based on the restrictions, you‘re probably thinking the free tier sounds pretty unusable, right? Well, I‘d argue the free tier can still be viable, but only in certain limited scenarios:
Good for Very Casual, Infrequent Gaming
If you just game occasionally and aren‘t too bothered by interruptions or lower visual quality, the free tier may suffice. Hop on for an hour here and there casually.
Allows You to "Test Drive" Before Buying a Membership
Signing up for the free tier lets you evaluate GeForce Now risk-free before considering a paid subscription. Test the technology and performance without commitment.
Grants Access to Supported Free-to-Play Games
Over 100 free-to-play games like Fortnite are playable on the free tier. So you can enjoy popular F2P titles without spending anything. Nice perk!
But for any serious, extended gaming, a paid membership is highly recommended. The Priority tier especially provides excellent value.
GeForce Now vs. Other Cloud Gaming Services
How does GeForce Now stack up cost-wise against competitors like Google Stadia, Xbox Cloud Gaming, and PlayStation Plus Premium?
Surprisingly well! Check out this pricing comparison:
- GeForce Now Priority – $9.99/month
- Google Stadia Pro – $9.99/month
- Xbox Cloud Gaming – $9.99/month (with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate)
- PlayStation Plus Premium – $17.99/month
For equivalent tier services, GeForce Now matches or beats the pricing of Xbox, Stadia, and PlayStation‘s offerings. Great value!
And when it comes to performance and technology, independent testing shows GeForce Now also leading the pack:
- Input lag – GeForce Now beats Xbox Cloud Gaming and PlayStation streaming with lower input latency according to Tom‘s Guide testing. More responsive controls.
- Frame rates – GeForce Now provides higher frame rates than competitors, even on the Priority tier. Smoother gaming.
- Graphics – Thanks to its RTX hardware, GeForce Now also has superior graphics and ray tracing compared to rivals.
So GeForce Now is very competitively priced while offering excellent streaming quality and performance. Big win for gamers!
Internet Speed Requirements
To game seamlessly on GeForce Now, you‘ll need a sufficiently fast internet connection:
- 720p/60fps streaming – Requires minimum 15 Mbps internet speed
- 1080p/60fps streaming – Minimum 25 Mbps internet
- 4K/120fps streaming – Minimum 35 Mbps internet
So while the free tier can work on slower connections, you‘ll want faster internet speeds to power 1080p or 4K gaming on the paid tiers.
Make sure to test your speeds to confirm your internet can handle your desired streaming resolution before subscribing!
Game Library Support
One of GeForce Now‘s best features is that it integrates with your existing game libraries from stores like Steam, Epic, Uplay, etc.
Rather than relying on a limited built-in library like Stadia, GeForce Now allows you to stream games you already own!
There are over 1200 supported games to play, including popular titles like:
- Apex Legends
- Destiny 2
- DOTA 2
- The Witcher 3
- Cyberpunk 2077
- Assassin‘s Creed Valhalla
The full list of supported games is extremely extensive, covering most major releases. Excellent!
Priority Tier – The Overall Best Value
Considering all the factors we‘ve covered, in my opinion the Priority tier clearly provides the best bang for your buck with GeForce Now.
For just $9.99/month, you get:
- 6 hours sessions
- 1080p/60fps streaming
- Ray tracing
- Priority access
It removes the major pain points of the free tier and offers a premium gaming experience that rivals consoles and high-end PCs, at a very affordable price!
For most gamers, Priority hits the sweet spot between price and performance.
The Ultimate tier obviously maxes things out if money is no concern. But Priority gets you ~90% of the way there for half the cost. It‘s the winner!
The Bottom Line
While GeForce Now does offer a free membership tier, it comes with significant limitations that make paid memberships far more viable for serious gaming.
The Priority tier in particular stands out as offering exceptional value at just $9.99/month. It grants you high-quality 1080p streaming, ray tracing, and priority access for an awesome cloud gaming experience.
So in summary:
- The free tier works for limited, casual usage
- The Priority tier is GeForce Now‘s sweet spot for premium gaming at a fair price
- The Ultimate tier provides an unrestricted, ultra high-end experience for a premium
Hope this detailed breakdown helps provide clarity on what GeForce Now‘s membership tiers include. Let me know if you have any other questions!