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Nvidia’s GeForce Now brings 1600p game streaming to M1 MacBooks

2020 MacBook Air.
Enlarge / 2020 MacBook Air.

Nvidia’s GeForce Now, like Google Stadia, lets you stream PC games to your computer, even if it’s not powerful enough to run the titles natively. Nvidia’s data centers stream content from the cloud, which means you can do high-level gaming on machines like thin-and-light Windows laptops or even MacBooks. And at a time when finding a modern GPU feels like searching for a unicorn, the idea of game streaming is starting to make even more sense.

There are some caveats, of course. There’s bound to be some lag, whether it comes from latency, Internet connectivity issues, or bandwidth overages. And while gaming services like GeForce Now aim to make it easy to run PC games on a Mac, users of the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro have had to make another sacrifice: resolution.

A different resolution

The MacBook Air has a native resolution of 2560×1600, as does the 13-inch MacBook Pro. If that seems like an odd resolution, that’s because the laptops use the 16:10 aspect ratio. 16:9 is still the most common aspect ratio among laptops, making 2560×1440 more common as well. GeForce Now subscribers with a MacBook Air or 13-inch MacBook Pro have had to resort to using that resolution, which is technically less sharp than the Macs’ native resolution (4,096,000 versus 3,686,400 pixels).

On Thursday, Nvidia announced Version 2.0.36 of its game-streaming service, and among its updates is the ability for Macs to play at 1600p. Of course, there’s another caveat. You have to subscribe to the highest tier of GeForce Now.

The RTX 3080 tier is $100 for six months, compared to $50 for six months or $10 for one month on the Priority tier and the Free tier, which limits you to one-hour gaming sessions. That said, we tested GeForce Now’s RTX 3080 tier in October and found performance to be impressive, even at higher resolutions.

In addition to 1600p MacBook gaming, the RTX 3080 tier offers the longest gaming session length (eight hours), a claimed frame rate of up to 120 frames per second, and 4K support—although, as of press time, the tier is in “preorder” status. Currently, Nvidia is also throwing in a copy of Crysis Remastered.

Nvidia’s announcement didn’t mention the 2021 MacBook Pros, which have 3024×1964 (14-inch version) and 3456×2234 (16-inch) resolutions, respectively. For those keeping track, that’s an aspect ratio of roughly 15.4:10, making it a little less tall than the M1 MacBooks GeForce Now just upgraded for.

New games, too

The latest GeForce Now update also added some games to the service:

  • Anno 1404 History Edition
  • A-Train: All Aboard! Tourism 
  • Monopoly Madness
  • Prison Architect 
  • Super Magbot 
  • Untitled Goose Game 
  • White Shadows

Team Green noted that it plans to add Syberia: The World Before at some point after its March release.

Ars Technica may earn compensation for sales from links on this post through affiliate programs.

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