GeForce Now: Stream PC games to your Mac

Macs see a fair number of new games—enough for us to comfortably pick 10 strong options for our monthly roundup, at least—but the selection still lags well behind Windows PCs. Release parity has gradually climbed over the past few years, but while we get a lot more indie games day-and-date with or soon after their PC counterparts, most big-budget, AAA games arrive late on Mac, if at all.

Hopefully that situation continues to improve over time, but Nvidia has another solution in mind: PC games streamed over the internet to your Mac with minimal delay. It’s a service called GeForce Now, and it’s currently available in a free, open beta for Mac. Essentially, Nvidia has powerful, GTX 1080 GPU-equipped servers running high-end Windows games remotely, and you can stream them directly to your Mac over a strong connection.

It’s not a new idea (OnLive did this years ago), but GeForce Now is impressively easy to use, the list of supported games is large and enticing, and the games run startlingly well for the most part—although not every game is ideal for this kind of setup. I’ve been playing around with the beta lately and came away largely impressed: here’s why it’s worth checking out.

Getting started

Announced back at CES in January, GeForce Now brings a couple of big benefits to Mac players. It allows you to play glossy, lavish games on even an older or low-specced Mac, eliminating the need to shell out for fresh hardware. It also opens up the doors to loads of great PC games that aren’t currently on Mac and may never reach the platform. Usage costs may eventually be prohibitive for some players (more on that later), but with the free beta test continuing on for the foreseeable future, now is the ideal time to give it a shot.

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Overwatch and PUBG on Mac? It’s OK to squeal with joy.

Head over to the GeForce Now website to download the beta client on your Mac and get started. Right now, it’s freely open to users in North America, as Nvidia has several servers spread around the United States, while European users can request access to the invitation-only test due to fewer EU servers at this point. You’ll need a free Nvidia account to access the service.

Once logged in, you’ll find the list of supported PC games that you can play on your Mac. Take note: GeForce Now isn’t an unlimited, Netflix-like, all-you can play service. You’ll actually need to own the games via Steam, Blizzard, or Epic Games’ platforms, while free-to-play games like League of Legends require their own accounts. Nvidia is just giving you the remote hardware to run the games you already own or have access to, not actually providing games to play.

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You’re “installing” to the cloud server, but supported games are already there and ready.

Nvidia does ease the process of getting up and running in key ways, however. Supported games are already installed on their remote servers, so while the launcher will pull up the PC version of Steam and prompt you to hit the install button, it’ll finish in an instant. Furthermore, some of the games on the list are already optimized to deliver the highest-quality experience over the internet, meaning you shouldn’t need to tweak any settings to start playing.

Patches and driver updates are handled automatically on their side, and you can usually get into a game in about 30 seconds. Also, game saves can be synced to the cloud and accessed across multiple devices, in case you have more than one Mac that you might play on. All of that is super handy.

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