Have you heard about cloud gaming services like GeForce NOW that allow you to stream and play high-end PC games on practically any device? If so, you may be wondering if it‘s really possible to use these services for free or on the cheap. Well, you‘re in luck – this comprehensive guide will show you multiple ways to maximize your GeForce NOW experience without breaking the bank!
What is GeForce NOW and How Does Game Streaming Work?
For those new to the world of cloud gaming, GeForce NOW is a service from Nvidia that leverages high-end remote servers to stream video game footage to your local device. This allows you to play games that normally require an expensive gaming PC or console on cheaper hardware like phones, tablets, laptops and more.
Instead of rendering graphics locally, your inputs are sent to the cloud server which handles all the heavy computational work and streams back high quality video. This game streaming technology eliminates the need for high-end hardware components like graphics cards to play the latest games!
According to a recent report from Mordor Intelligence, the global cloud gaming market was valued at $1.5 billion in 2021 and is projected to reach $7.24 billion by 2027. This incredible growth underscores the increasing mainstream appeal and adoption of services like GeForce NOW.
GeForce NOW Membership Tiers and Features
GeForce NOW currently offers three membership tiers:
- 1 hour session length
- Standard access, potential for wait times
- 1080p 60 FPS streaming
- Free-to-play game access
Priority – $9.99/month
- 6 hour session length
- Priority access to reduce wait times
- 1080p 60 FPS streaming
- Ray tracing support
RTX 3080 – $19.99/month
- 8 hour session length
- Highest priority access
- 1440p 120 FPS or 4K 60 FPS
- Ray tracing and DLSS support
In addition to different session lengths and performance capabilities, the paid tiers offer priority access to GeForce NOW‘s server capacity. This helps reduce or eliminate wait times when servers are busy.
The RTX 3080 tier also unlocks features like ray tracing and DLSS which can significantly enhance gaming visuals when enabled.
Technical Requirements for Streaming Performance
To get the best GeForce NOW streaming performance, you‘ll want internet speeds of at least 15 Mbps for 720p at 60FPS, and 25 Mbps for 1080p at 60FPS. An Ethernet connection is ideal, but a solid 5Ghz WiFi setup also works well.
Make sure to enable "Adjust for poor network conditions" and "Limit bandwidth" in the app‘s settings. This helps maintain smooth streaming if your connection wavers.
GeForce NOW is supported on Windows and macOS computers, Android and iOS mobile devices, Android TVs and set-top boxes like NVIDIA Shield, and various smart TVs and streaming devices.
Cloud Gaming vs Local Gaming – Pros and Cons
Cloud gaming services like GeForce NOW provide some unique advantages over traditional local PC and console gaming:
- Play high-end games on virtually any device without expensive hardware
- No console or gaming PC cost
- Instant access to games without downloads or updates
- Seamless play across devices
- Requires a consistent high-speed internet connection
- Potential for input lag or compression artifacts
- Limited selection of supported games
- No game mod support
Many people use cloud gaming to supplement their regular gaming habits when they want to play on different devices. The cloud can‘t completely replace local gaming, but offers unparalleled flexibility.
Getting the Most Out of the Free Membership
While paid memberships provide premium features, GeForce NOW‘s free tier is quite capable in its own right. Here are some tips to maximize the free experience:
Take advantage of the 1 hour sessions to enjoy multiplayer titles like Fortnite, Apex Legends, Destiny 2 and Warframe with your friends.
Connect via Ethernet if possible for lower latency. Use 5Ghz WiFi when wired isn‘t practical.
Set streaming to 720p 60FPS in the app settings to help maintain smooth performance.
Play during off-peak hours like weekday mornings to avoid potential peak time queues.
Immediately restart your session after 1 hour ends to double your access time.
Register on GeForce NOW forums and Reddit to get alerts on giveaways and free trial offers.
Be patient and persistent to eventually gain access to in-demand games like Cyberpunk 2077.
With the above tips, you can enjoy a surprising amount of free gaming on GeForce NOW‘s base membership!
Unlocking Paid Tiers for Free or Cheap
The good news is that with a bit of effort, you can gain substantial access to GeForce NOW‘s paid tiers either for free or at a steep discount. Here are some proven methods:
Use referral codes – Existing GeForce NOW members often post referral codes online that grant 1-3 free months of paid membership for new users. r/GeForceNOW is a good spot to find active codes.
Leverage carrier promotions – AT&T in particular has run generous promotions like 6 free months of paid GeForce NOW membership for wireless customers. Keep an eye out!
Watch for giveaways – Nvidia and other companies frequently give away free months of GeForce NOW Priority or RTX 3080 access. Follow GeForce NOW social accounts to stay updated.
Buy discounted codes – Sites like Eneba sometimes sell GeForce NOW membership codes at discounted rates, usually 20-30% off retail price.
Only upgrade for selected titles – If you‘re mainly interested in ray tracing for games like Cyberpunk 2077 or Fortnite, only upgrade for 1 month at a time to access them.
|Membership||Regular Price||Discounted Price|
|1 Month Priority||$9.99||$6.99|
|6 Months Priority||$59.94||$41.94|
|1 Month RTX 3080||$19.99||$13.99|
By mixing free trial periods and discounted codes, you can effectively try out GeForce NOW‘s paid tiers for extended stretches at little to no cost.
Ray Tracing and DLSS – Game Changing Technologies
Ray tracing and NVIDIA DLSS technologies are some of the biggest reasons to consider upgrading from the free GeForce NOW membership. Here‘s a quick rundown of what they add:
Ray Tracing – Simulates how light behaves in real life for significantly more realistic lighting, shadows, reflections and more. Supported in games like Control, Cyberpunk 2077, Fortnite and more.
DLSS – Uses AI to boost frame rates with minimal loss in image quality. Let‘s ray traced games run smoothly on GeForce NOW.
Together these technologies bring your favorite games to life like never before! Consider testing out the Priority tier just to see them in action.
Step-By-Step Guide to Getting Started
Getting started with GeForce NOW is quick and easy:
Create a GeForce NOW account – You can register for free on the GeForce NOW website. Make sure to verify your email.
Connect gaming accounts – Link platforms like Steam, Epic Games, Ubisoft Connect so GeForce NOW can access your game libraries.
Download the app – Get the GeForce NOW app for your desired platform – Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, smart TVs, etc.
Start playing! – Browse your available games library and start a session. GeForce NOW will handle the rest!
Check settings – Dive into the app settings and enable options like "Adjust for poor network conditions" for optimal performance.
That‘s all it takes to start experiencing GeForce NOW game streaming. Have fun playing your favorite titles!
Cloud Gaming Adoption Is Accelerating
Industry analysts predict cloud gaming is poised for explosive growth in the coming years. DFC Intelligence forecasts an over 16x increase in users from 10 million in 2020 to 164 million by 2024.
Gaming industry veteran Phil Spencer from Xbox explains cloud gaming‘s appeal:
"Cloud gaming provides seamless access to games across devices which resonates strongly with players. It removes hardware barriers to entry and allows billions of smartphones to become powerful consoles."
For many, services like GeForce NOW will serve as on-ramps to next-gen gaming experiences previously out of reach.
GeForce NOW System Requirements vs Building a Gaming PC
Let‘s compare what it takes to achieve high fidelity 1080p 60FPS gaming via GeForce NOW versus building your own local gaming PC:
|GeForce NOW||Gaming PC Build|
|25 Mbps internet connection||$800+ for GPU, CPU, RAM, SSD, etc|
|Any laptop, phone or tablet||Expensive PC case, power supply, cooling|
|No downloads or updates||Time consuming component research and assembly|
|Cloud servers handle processing||Regular component upgrades needed|
While dedicated gaming PCs offer benefits like unlimited game access and modding capabilities, GeForce NOW provides a compelling value proposition – utilize the devices you already own to play new games instantly without huge upfront investments.
Troubleshooting Common Issues
Since game streaming is highly dependent on your network, you may occasionally experience hiccups like lag, compression artifacts or disconnects. Here are some tips to smooth out issues:
- Check your network speeds with speedtest.net and confirm you meet minimum requirements
- Move closer to your router or connect via ethernet instead of WiFi
- Close other bandwidth-heavy apps and pause any downloads
- Adjust in-game graphics settings for optimal performance
- Contact your ISP if you consistently can‘t achieve 25+ Mbps speeds
Small tweaks like these typically resolve most streaming problems users encounter. But generally, GeForce NOW‘s technology works remarkably well.
Conclusion – Experience Next-Gen Gaming for Less
Thanks to cloud streaming services like GeForce NOW, playing the latest visually stunning titles at max settings is now possible without breaking the bank. For just a few dollars a month, your basic laptop can transform into a mighty gaming powerhouse.
Hopefully this guide provided you with all the tips, tricks and knowledge needed to start streaming your favorite games through GeForce NOW while minimizing costs. The world of high fidelity gaming is now at your fingertips almost entirely for free!
Now grab your phone, launch the GeForce NOW app, and step into an immersive ray traced world previously only achievable with an expensive gaming rig. The future is here – have fun storming Night City in Cyberpunk 2077 from the palm of your hand!