As I’m continuing to test out the capabilities and use cases of the newly released Lenovo Chrombook Duet, one of the main things I wanted to see if it could do was play some games. Specifically, I wanted to see how GeForce NOW would run on it. We’ve done a video in the past of GeForce NOW running on a pretty inexpensive Android tablet that couldn’t really push PUBG Mobile and the service worked without flaw on a good network.
For Chromebooks, it’s not been so rosey. As a matter of fact, our testing of the service has only happened via putting Chromebooks in Developer Mode and sideloading the APK. This is not the optimal way to do anything on a Chromebook, so we tested it this way so most users wouldn’t have to and came away unimpressed. Things froze up after only a small bit of time passed in a game and rendered the whole experience useless on a Chromebook. To be fair, NVIDIA is planning on a web-based player like Stadia has, so I can easily cut them a bit of slack on this front for the time being.
It never really sat well with me that this service worked perfectly on slow Android tablets and failed on Chrome OS, though, so the first chance I had to try it out with the Lenovo Chromebook Duet and its ARM processor inside, I set out to jump into developer mode and sideload the app to give it a try. Before doing so, however, as I was installing a few other games to test out on the Duet and noticed one of the recommended apps in the Play Store was GeForce NOW. Here’s why that’s odd: that app doesn’t show up in the Play Store at all for Intel-based Chromebooks.
Obviously, I immediately installed it and launched into Fortnite. And, as you can likely infer from the title of this post, things the game launched just fine. For the first few minutes, I thought it was quite perfect, honestly. Everything moved along at a nice clip and framerates were fantastic, but I quickly noticed a small flaw in the experience: mouse tracking. Testing again on my phone, the mouse and keyboard move as quickly as they do locally, so the issue lies somewhere in the UI layer that converts Chrome OS mouse activities into Android ones. There’s no denying that there is just a tiny bit of input delay.
Don’t get me wrong, it is completely playable, but for games that require precise, fast movements, this ever-so-slight delay really hurts the experience. I’m unsure at this point whether or not GeForce NOW is showing up as a download on ARM Chromebooks by accident or if NVIDIA is really wanting to push their service out to supported devices in this way. In the early days of GeForce NOW, it seemed clear that the path forward for Chromebooks would be the web player, but there could have been a changing of the guard that pushed them to move forward on Chromebook support for those with ARM processors.
We tried this on a few older ARM-powered Chromebooks and GeForce NOW installs just fine on them all, so if you have one around and want to try it out, at least you know that you now can now do so. For me, I’m still waiting on the web version to roll out to really start using GeForce NOW on a regular basis. For the time being, I’ll keep getting my Fortnite fix on my iPad mini as I wait for a proper version of GeForce NOW to be available on something like the Samsung Galaxy Chromebook.