Why it matters: There’s a new GeForce Now tier for people who want to game on a virtual RTX 3080 in the cloud. Assuming it works as advertised, the new service will vastly outperform an Xbox Series X console, and Nvidia says the low latency will make the experience comparable to playing on local hardware.
Between the scalpers and the ongoing chip shortage, it doesn’t look like GPUs will become more affordable even though it seems like availability will slowly improve over time. No matter which way you cut it, this isn’t the best time to upgrade your rig unless money is no object.
However, if you have a good broadband connection there is a potential stopgap solution that you can use — cloud gaming. It won’t be the same as gaming on local hardware, but it does come close enough that it can work as a substitute until you are able to upgrade your system without breaking the bank. Better yet, it allows you to use almost any device you have on hand for a quick gaming session.
Today, Nvidia announced a new tier for its GeForce Now service that will allow you to get access to low-latency “SuperPODs” that pair several AMD Threadripper Pro CPUs with 1,000 GPUs that offer equivalent performance to that of RTX 3080 GPUs. The new premium tier is available for Founders and Priority members in North America and Western Europe, and will give you six months of membership for $99.99. The company says memberships will be limited at launch, but the service will become accessible for most users in the US next month and in Europe sometime in December.
To get an idea of what you’re getting with the new GeForce Now tier, each slice of the SuperPOD combines eight AMD Threadripper CPU cores with 28 gigabytes of DDR4-3200 memory, a PCIe 4.0 SSD, and a GA102 chip that offers 35 teraflops of GPU performance. That’s roughly three times the performance of an Xbox Series X console, which is relevant because Nvidia says the SuperPOD slice will offer a comparable latency of around 60 ms. If these claims hold true, that would also make GeForce Now up to three times faster than xCloud.
In other words, you’ll be able to stream games at up to 1440p and 120 frames per second on PC, and up to 4K HDR at 60 frames per second on Nvidia Shield TV. Some Android devices that come equipped with 120 Hz screens will also be able to stream games at up to 120 frames per second. Most MacBooks will be capable of streaming games at 1600p, and the newest MacBook Pros will be able to stream at up to 120 frames per second.
Of course, these numbers will depend greatly on your Internet connection and the distance between you and the closest SuperPOD servers. Nvidia says it leverages Adaptive Sync technology to reduce system latency for a smoother experience, and RTX 3080 members will see the lowest possible latency of all GeForce Now tiers.
Overall, GeForce Now RTX 3080 looks like a great deal, at least on paper. Nvidia says it offers seven times the performance of the most popular desktop configuration on Steam, or 70 times compared to the average laptop and up to 13 times when compared to Apple’s M1 MacBook Air.
As for the games you’ll be able to play, the selection is improving all the time. There are now over 1,000 games to choose from, including Amazon’s New World, Disciples: Liberation, Rise of the Tomb Raider, and more. Also worth noting is that Nvidia is launching a new GeForce Now client today, which brings beta support for Microsoft Edge on PC and includes the company’s new Adaptive Sync technology, which should improve latency even for people who don’t opt for the new RTX 3080 tier.