Cloud streaming is becoming ever more important in the contemporary age of next-gen consoles being next-to-impossible to purchase. Unlike Google Stadia and Amazon Luna (barring Prime subscribers), Nvidia’s GeForce Now cloud gaming platform is actually free at its base level, allowing almost every gamer to play the games they love on the go. Except, of course, for select Apple users.
Nvidia’s newest update to the service, titled version 2.0.40, adds a host of much-needed features to GeForce Now, most prominent among them being Apple M1 processor native support. Although commendable and certainly a welcome touch, it’s not exactly as streamlined as one may believe.
Amid its press release, Nvidia relays that native support for Apple M1 processors now gives select Mac users some much-needed wiggle room, specifically calling it an “overall elevated experience,” without detailing how exactly. Before the version 2.0.40 update, GeForce Now simply ran, akin to most alternative Intel Mac applications, on a Rosetta 2 compatibility layer.
Now, however, Nvidia’s update allows GeForce Now to decrease startup times and power consumption while utilizing the app. But, Nvidia doesn’t specify if the Apple Silicon native support gives Mac users an increase in gameplay, such as better input latency and overall quality while streaming games.
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The major downside behind gaming on most Apple products, despite the company’s reasonable GPUs of late on both M1 and M1 Ultra devices, is the outward prominence behind Microsoft’s Windows OS. Per Statista, nearly 73% of global desktop PC users were on Windows in Dec. of last year, while only 15% utilized macOS. Thus, major AAA video game developers have little to no incentive to target the macOS platform.
Additionally, Apple’s resources aren’t necessarily targeting contemporary forms of OpenGL, a cross-platform vector graphics programming application used in rendering, or Vulkan API, the open standard for real-time 3D graphics applications. Apple mostly sticks to graphical software resources such as its own proprietary Metal API, which isn’t exactly a go-to either for most mainstream developers.
It still remains to be seen just how much of a difference Nvidia’s recent update to GeForce Now really is, but the service alone has time again to be a relatively optimal form in the cloud gaming sphere. The only downside behind it is the necessity of already owning various games in order to play them remotely, but it’s much better than paying for a service and still having to buy games akin to Google’s Stadia.
GeForce Now memberships run at $9.99 a month or $49.99 at six months for those looking for additional features, like RTX ray-tracing support, higher performance, and longer gameplay sessions. Its aforementioned free base level only comes with an hour of playtime at GTX 1060-class graphical performances, which isn’t bad at all.
Nvidia’s cloud service obviously isn’t comparable to utilizing a more powerful system with 20-series Nvidia GPUs or better, but the product certainly works when put up against its alternatives. Plus, GeForce Now is the best bang for your buck for those without a graphics card or those utilizing ARM chip-integrated Mac devices.
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