With graphics cards still in short supply, upgrading your PC seems like a pipe dream for those without deep wallets. The good news is you don't need a powerful PC to play the latest games. In fact, you don't even need a computer if you subscribe to the GeForce Now Powered by StarHub cloud gaming service. It works with practically any internet-connected device that has a screen, and supports a game controller or keyboard and mouse. In short, you can now play the top computer games on your smartphone, tablet, or even an Android-powered TV.
- Works on PC/Mac/iPad/iPhone/Android/Android TV/Chromebook/Chrome browser
- Monthly subscription, no free trial
- Supports games on Steam/Epic/Origin/GOG/Ubisoft Connect
- Ray tracing supported
As you may gather from the GeForce Now branding, this cloud gaming service comes from graphics chipmaker Nvidia, while StarHub is the local partner that's running the service. How it works is that GeForce Now renders the games on its servers and then streams it over the internet to your device (only one device at any time). It's a bit like renting your own PC in the cloud. As you can imagine, you'll need a fast and stable internet connection for the best experience. You can run GeForce Now on a web browser (Chrome or Safari) — simply log into the service on its website. But I recommend downloading the GeForce Now app if it's available for your device. For starters, the app has a built-in network test to check if your internet connection is up to scratch. There are also a couple more options for the streaming quality controls.
In addition to a fast internet connection, you must already own the games on supported digital platforms (Steam, Epic, Origin, GOG and Ubisoft Connect) before you can play them via GeForce Now. It's not a buffet-style video streaming service like Netflix. And even if you own a particular game, it may be unavailable on GeForce Now. The cloud gaming service does not support all the games in the market. It has over 1,000 game titles, and adds new ones every Thursday. In my case, GeForce Now worked with only 32 out of the 100-odd games in my Steam account. Some of the biggest game franchises (Fallout and Call of Duty) are missing because their publishers Activision Blizzard and Bethesda do not want their games on GeForce Now. TLDR: Peruse the list of supported games before subscribing.
I tested GeForce Now on four devices — an ultrabook, a four-year-old computer with a GeForce GTX 1070 graphics card, a Chromebook and the Nvidia Shield TV box. Overall, I was quite satisfied by the performance, especially for single-player games like Cyberpunk 2077 and Metro Exodus. Frame rates are capped at 60fps and the maximum resolution is 1,920 x 1,080 pixels. I also liked that there's support for ray tracing, which isn't available for my devices. But it's a different story for competitive games like first-person team shooter Apex Legends. Perhaps my wireless connection was inadequate, but the game lagged at critical moments that made it rather frustrating. A wired connection probably would have helped, but that isn't possible for my ultrabook or Chromebook.
GeForce Now Powered by StarHub is worth a look if it has the games you wish to play. I feel it has to expand its game library significantly to be a viable alternative to owning a gaming PC. You also need the right accessories if playing on smartphones or tablets as PC games usually do not work with touchscreens. You don't need to subscribe to StarHub broadband or mobile to get GeForce Now, but StarHub customers do get a discount. For non-StarHub customers, a monthly subscription costs S$19.99 a month (or S$199.90 a year) while StarHub users pay S$11.99 a month (or S$119.90 a year). You can sign up for GeForce Now here.
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