NVIDIA GeForce NOW Beta Update 5

I’ve been playing Destiny 2 using NVIDIA GeForce NOW for MacOS (in beta) during my trip to Denver. The client was recently updated – this post focuses on the addition of Advanced Streaming Settings.

Here’s a little introduction about how I came across NVIDIA GeForce NOW, in case you missed it:

NVIDIA GeForce NOW Mac Beta

“New Ultra Streaming Mode and Direct Mouse Input can reduce lag by 30%” (NVIDIA GeForce NOW for Mac Forum)

Test Setup

Machine

Alice’s Late-2013 MacBook Pro Retina 13″ (MacBookPro11,1)
Intel Core i5-4258U 2.4GHz (Dual Core)
4GB DDR3-1600
Intel Iris 5100
Built-In Retina LCD (2560 x 1600 Retina)

Network

CenturyLink DSL Connection (35 Mbps Download / 5 Mbps Upload)
Hardwired to LAN using USB 3.0 Gigabit Ethernet Hub (the one I recently ordered)

I noted the video settings that NVIDIA GeForce NOW selected within Destiny 2:

Ultra Streaming Mode Off On
Video Settings
VRAM Usage 2579 MB / 24370 MB 1330 MB / 24370 MB
Resolution 1280 x 800
Vsync Off
Advanced Video
Graphics Quality Custom
Anti-Aliasing SMAA FXAA
Screen Space Ambient Occlusion 3D HDAO
Texture Anisotropy 16x 4x
Texture Quality Highest Medium
Shadow Quality Highest Medium
Depth of Field Highest High
Environment Detail Distance High
Character Detail Distance High
Foliage Detail Distance High Medium
Foliage Shadows Distance Highest High
Light Shafts High
Motion Blur On
Wind Impulse On
Additional Video
Render Resolution 100%
HDR Off
Chromatic Aberration On
Film Grain On

I also tested on my mid-2011 MacBook Air:

Mid-2011 MacBook Air (MacBookAir4,1)
Intel Core i7-2677M 1.8 GHz (Dual Core)
4 GB DDR3-1333
Intel HD Graphics 3000 (384 MB)
Color LCD (1366 x 768)

The only difference was the video resolution, which defaulted to 1280 x 720 instead of 1280 x 800.

Input delay was noticeably reduced with both Ultra Steaming Mode and Direct Mouse Input enabled, though it felt like the network was too slow to keep up with demands. I will have to test in greater depth at home, when we can remove the network as bottleneck. When the network cooperated, I was able to challenge with a lot more confidence than previously, making for a better experience overall.

NVIDIA GeForce NOW Mac Beta

I was on the phone with Alice last night when I decided to check out the NVIDIA GeForce NOW beta for MacOS. I’d seen it in a promoted post on Facebook when I was going through my feeds earlier in the day, and was immediately interested.

I installed the beta and fired up Diablo III. I proclaimed “The future is here!” as I made my way past the login screen, which I’d last seen as far back as 2013. My mid-2011 MacBook Air ran the game at all low settings when it first came out, but I was now looking at it in its full glory, made possible by GPUs in the cloud.

I set out to see how I might tie my Mac into my streaming setup. I grabbed the mini-DisplayPort to HDMI adapter that I had left laying around ever since I began leveraging DLNA, and used it to connect my MacBook Air to my AVerMedia Live Gamer HD. OBS displayed “HDCP,” but passthrough functionality was unaffected.

I played Fortnite, a title I knew that my workstation could run passably at low settings at 1280×720. The image was obviously being scaled up from whatever GeForce NOW decided was suitable for my MacBook Air. I noticed occasional input lag, which I am assuming is because I was running off of WiFi. It would be nice to tie my MacBook Air more neatly into my workstation setup through a Thunderbolt hub (Amazon.com), but most importantly, I need to hardwire it to my LAN. While a USB ethernet adapter (Amazon.com) would do the trick, I would be better served by a combination USB hub ethernet adapter (Amazon.com).

What really turns me on to NVIDIA GeForce NOW’s technology:

  • It allows users to prioritize investments into infrastructure over amassing local processing power. Investments into infrastructure are long-lasting, whereas Moore’s Law makes keeping up with the latest processors costly.
    • Reduces barriers to entry for modern AAA titles, allowing in users on long upgrade cycles

Next steps:
Before I make the investment into bypassing HDCP (either on the AVerMedia Live Gamer HD or before the signal hits it), I would like to learn how to force NVIDIA GeForce NOW to output to the external display at its native resolution instead of selecting the optimal resolution for my MacBook Air’s display.