Google Stadia still beating Nvidia’s Geforce Now on response times

I’ve been a user of Google’s streaming gaming platform Stadia since the day it first became available to the public. I’m a member of the Pro and Founder levels. The fact that we were not getting true native-4k games (instead, we were getting between 1080P-1440P upscaled) and that a lot of advanced graphics features (like RTX, some fancy occlusion and volumetric effects) were not being included when PC users were getting them became increasingly frustrating to me over the last year. In addition, the frequent capping of 4K at 30fps was…well, it was making me irritable!

That’s when Nvidia Geforce Now debuted, and the Premium RTX3080 tier is on the horizon as a result. The prospect of playing 4K games at 60 frames per second, just as they appeared on a PC, was too tempting to refuse. And now here I am, in this place. And it’s true: when it comes to visual quality and frame rate, Geforce Now completely outperforms Stadia in every category.

However, there are two areas where Nvidia’s offering falls short of Google’s in comparison to the latter. And it comes as a complete surprise. Are you ready to take on the world? So, let’s get started…

The Stadia controller connects to Google servers directly (through WiFi), whereas all other platforms connect through the device.

As a reminder, I am using the Nvidia Shield gadget, which is connected directly to my 4K HDR TV, to play GeForce Now. I’ve been swapping between an Xbox controller, a Playstation DualSense controller, and my Stadia controllers on a regular basis for testing purposes. Using Nvidia’s EU Central servers, my latency is between 20 and 30 milliseconds even though I have a 500Mbps connection. When I play games in 4K, I have a pretty excellent — but not FANTASTIC — gaming experience. There is latency, but it is just because I am accustomed to playing first-person shooters. It is, on the other hand, a bit unnerving. A short flip and the action is complete in milliseconds…

The fact that it isn’t bothersome to everyone — and, to be honest, I still find it playable — Chris Bicourt is a professional basketball player.

However, the reaction time between me clicking my thumbstick or trigger on my controller and the outcome onscreen is substantially faster when I play Stadia, which I do on the same TV using a Google Chromecast Ultra. This is in comparison to the response time when I play Geforce Now. I don’t have a method to quantify it, but it’s noticeable to me. So, the major issue is: why is this happening? When it comes to this issue, which you’d assume would be one of the most critical for gamers, Google appears to be kicking Nvidia’s behind (like me). Well, after doing some investigation, I realised that Google has the ability to…

  • There are a lot of data centres.
  • Nodes in the periphery! ) (This is important for better peering, and Google has the most extensive network of these in the industry).
  • Sub-millisecond 4K encoding with sophisticated optimization (for more information, see https://stadia.dev/blog, where there was a post on this).
  • Games on Stadia must be adapted expressly for it, and some developers have indicated a relatively severe validation procedure; as a result, the game must strive for constant frame timings (which are extremely crucial due to the way encoding works), decreased latency, and other characteristics.

Instead of connecting to the device in front of you through Bluetooth as it does when used wirelessly, the Stadia controller communicates to Google’s servers over Wi-Fi when used wirelessly. From Geforce Now to Xcloud, every other streaming platform (and I mean every single one) requires the wireless controllers to be connected via your laptop or the device that is streaming the music and video. No other streaming platform can compete with this. That’s always going to add a few milliseconds to the game, which might be noticeable in some situations.

Stadia’s video compression method is far superior than that of Geforce Now games.

This one is a lot more contentious, and it could be a problem from my perspective. Please share your thoughts if you have had a different experience. However, there is one caveat: I haven’t observed it when playing in 4K. However, if you’re viewing the game at 1080p, it might be painfully evident. And it’s particularly noticeable in dark places or areas with a lot of detail. On Geforce Now, the grass and shrubs at medium to long range in The Witcher 3 seem like a jumble of tangled tangles. Now I understand that Stadia utilises the VP9 encoding method for 4K while Geforce Now employs the H.264/5 encoding system… However, we’re talking about 1080p here. And, in fact, the aesthetic difference is noticeable regardless of codec (since I don’t fully understand the intricacies anyhow).

So, in summary, while though Geforce Now is my preferred gaming platform in many ways, and it’s likely the one I’d choose if I had to choose between two, I will miss Stadia’s reaction times immensely!

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