We were able to test Nvidia’s new GeForce Now Ultimate offering with the GeForce RTX 4080 for several days, stunning performance and still some weaknesses.
With the now recorded death of Google Stadia and the absence of Amazon Luna in Europe, Microsoft and Nvidia are now major contenders in the cloud gaming sector. The two offers have to be of very different interest. Microsoft bets on a Netflix video game with a large catalog that’s very easy to access on many devices, while GeForce Now bets more on technical quality and the integration of existing games.
At CES 2023, Nvidia wanted to give its service a new boost with the unveiling of GeForce Now Ultimate. This formula replaces the GeForce Now RTX 3080 subscription and represents the pinnacle of Nvidia’s cloud gaming offering in a more sustainable way.
What is GeForce Now Ultimate?
With this new package for 19.99 euros per month (or 99.99 euros for 6 months), Nvidia now wants to offer a platform based on the GeForce RTX 4080. We access precisely a machine equipped with an AMD Ryzen processor with 16 cores out of 28 supported GB RAM and Windows 10.
On its website, Nvidia promises that this will enable sessions of 8 hours on the fastest servers with a resolution of up to 4K and a refresh rate of up to 120 frames per second.
Beyond this new computing power, Nvidia takes the opportunity to incorporate some really welcome new features.
We think in particular of support for ultra-wide screens in 21:9 or 21:10, with a supported resolution of up to 3840 x 1600 pixels at 120 Hz. Nvidia takes full advantage here of its PC architecture, capable of adapting to any type of games screens. Nvidia also integrates its Reflex technology to reduce latency.
We were able to test the Nvidia GeForce Ultimate offering by connecting to the Frankfurt servers. In fact, the deployment of the GeForce RTX 4080 will be gradual and, according to Nvidia, France should only be affected in a few weeks.
As with the launch of the RTX 3080 offering, the experience is simply stunning. In line with the performance of the GeForce RTX 4080, we can run all the available games with the best settings and very fluidly.
A latest generation open world game like Watch Dogs Legion can run at an average of 69 frames per second at 3440 x 1440 pixels with all settings at maximum including ray tracing and without using DLSS.
A Plague Tale Requiem on GeForce Now in 4K at maximum settings // Source: Frandroid
If your internet connection allows it, the game will run with no visible image compression and no noticeable latency. It feels like playing a local game.
The magic of cloud gaming works when you’re running cutting-edge games on computers that aren’t allowed to: a MacBook Air, a tablet, or the Nvidia Shield box. Also note that Nvidia’s service is technologically beyond its limitations. The HDMI port on the Nvidia Shield is not capable of offering 4K at 120Hz.
We repeated the experience with other games of the likes of Fortnite or Cyberpunk 2077 and the same opinion is repeated: the graphics settings are at maximum and the latency is imperceptible. Pretty impressive as we are not connecting to French servers for this test, but to Frankfurt servers.
The service’s flaws continue to include the fact that it still offers a limited catalog, but one that’s growing every week and has big titles with multiple publishers absent, like Activision Blizzard. In this catalog it is necessary to own the games, the subscription does not include an all-inclusive catalog like Game Pass. Finally, although Nvidia has greatly improved its system, we still encountered cases where a game’s launch was interrupted by the need to re-identify on Steam.
Ten years ahead of the competition
A quick calculation shows that this offering is simply ten years ahead of Microsoft’s Xbox Cloud Gaming. In fact, the Redmond-based company has chosen to base its cloud offering on its Xbox consoles. The latest overhaul includes games based on the X series.
The Xbox Series X generation, launched in 2020, should logically find its successor around 2027 if Microsoft and Sony keep up. Given the performance delivered by the GeForce RTX 4080, it’s still doubtful that the possible next Xbox will offer anything comparable, for a machine that has to remain very affordable and compact for your living room. It is also necessary to count the time it takes Microsoft to update its cloud gaming offer with these new machines.
In short, barring a surprise or a strategy shift on the part of Microsoft, we’re nowhere near ready to see an Xbox Cloud Gaming offering capable of running games on the same terms as GeForce Now. Technically, Nvidia was already unmatched. The company now takes generations on. To ask whether the possible next extension towards a possible GeForce RTX 5080 would make sense in the future.
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