GeForce NOW is officially available on Chromebooks as of this week, and if you can’t tell, we’ve been extremely impressed by the performance thus far. For many Chromebook users, GeForce NOW presents a better version of what Stadia promises: solid streaming games, a vast library (including many titles you may already own), a massive existing player base (these are PC games, after all), and a fantastic overall user experience in the web player.
We already put some thoughts together about how well this all works on Chromebooks, but our testing was admittedly on higher-end hardware. I’ve played on the Acer Chromebook 713, the HP Pro c640 Chromebook, and the Lenovo Flex 5 before this morning. We were made aware of a minimum requirements page that NVIDIA has put up concerning GeForce NOW on Chromebooks and what sort of hardware users need to take advantage of it. I was immediately dubious. To their credit, the page states:
We expect GeForce Now to work well across a broad set of Chromebooks and are in the process of testing. Based on preliminary testing with the devices listed at the bottom of this page, please find our recommendations below. We will continue to evolve our recommendations as we test our service on more Chromebooks.
Their testing only covers 10 Chromebook models and they go a step further to lay out the baseline of device that they recommend for playing games on GeForce NOW. At the bottom of the system ‘requirements’ sits Intel Core M and Celeron processors with at least 4GB of RAM. NVIDIA states that “you may experience stuttering or high latency on some systems” when it comes to these processors. As a streaming service that does all the work in the cloud on powerful servers, I wasn’t sure what difference it made when talking about processors in Chromebooks. As long as the device has enough steam to stream full HD content, I figured that was enough.
Low power Chromebooks tested
So, as we do around here, we tested some things. As one of the most popular devices around right now, the Lenovo Duet was a perfect starting point. The system requirements page from NVIDIA states that ARM-based Chromebooks are not recommended at all. They go as far as saying “we do not recommend ARM based Chromebooks. You may experience stuttering and high latency.” Challenge accepted.
As expected, the Duet handled Fortnite just fine and I even played a few matches while I was in there. I then moved on to far more inferior hardware in the ASUS Chromebook C223 (Celeron N3350 + 4GB RAM) and the AOPEN Chromebase (Rockchip RK3388 + 4GB RAM) and loaded up Fortnite on those screens. And you know what? It was perfect, too. No hesitation, to stutters, no problems. I played a few matches on each to get a better feel for what longer play sessions would feel like, and there was no discernible difference between GeForce NOW on a $600 Chromebook and on a $200 one.
From what we can tell at this moment, if your Chromebook is up to date, it will probably work with GeForce NOW quite well. You do need the latest version of Chrome and I’d wager that 4GB of RAM helps, but we also tested on the ASUS Chromebit with its meager RK3388 processor and 2GB of RAM and everything was crazy-smooth there as well. As it turns out, these low-end Chrome OS devices struggle more with loading NVIDIA’s website then they do with the actual game play.
I would recommend shutting other resource-heavy tabs and apps down in the background while you play, however. A bunch of updates or random Android apps that may be taking your precious bandwidth won’t help anything, here, so it’s best to stream with as clean of a setup as you can muster. With a solid connection (NVIDIA says 15MB/s will get you HD gameplay) to your router and an updated Chromebook, you should be up and running, playing games in a far-better environment than a cheap Chromebook deserves to be. Our next test? LTE. Stay tuned.