Nvidia claims its virtual RTX 3080 service will outperform a local Xbox Series X on all counts

Nvidia has announced a premium third tier of membership for its cloud streaming service, GeForce Now. With the RTX 3080 membership, for $99 every six months, subscribers will have effective access to their own virtual GeForce RTX 3080 gaming PC. This means you can take a low-spec desktop or work laptop and turn it into a high-end gaming PC via the cloud. 

Powering these virtual machines are Nvidia's new supercomputers called the GeForce Now Superpod. They match AMD Threadripper CPUs with Nvidia Ampere GPUs and these technical beasts can deliver 39,200 Teraflops, 11,477,760 CUDA Cores, and 8,960 CPU Cores each. Your membership reserves a chunk of those cores for your virtual PC, which will then stream your games directly to practically any one of your existing devices. 

According to Nvidia, this service can deliver up to 120 fps (so long as your display supports at least 120Hz), and the super low latency of 56ms. If it rings true in the final live analysis, that makes GeForce Now nearly four times as fast as xCloud and, even more suprising, about two-thirds the latency of gaming on an Xbox Series X at 60 fps. 

That's a game-streaming service promising to deliver lower latency, over an internet connection, than playing on a physically connected console. Of course, your mileage will vary depending on your internet connection and geographically how far you are from one of its new Superpod servers. 

Nvidia is using Adaptive Sync to ensure these lower latency streams, and it's almost directly analogous to the feature used on PCs to ensure the GPU and monitor synchronize to ensure a smooth delivery of images. Here Adaptive Sync synchronizes the frame output of the server to the frame delivery of the screen connected to the end client.

The result is low latency, and reduced stutter, because it's eliminating dropped and repeated frames.

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Header Cell - Column 0 GeForce Now RTX 3080 instance
GPUNvidia Ampere - 35 TFLOPS (3x Xbox Series X)
CPUAMD Threadripper - 8-core, 16-thread
RAM28GB DDR4-3200
SSDPCIe 4.0 drive
Bandwidth requirements1440p/120Hz - 35 Mbps | 4K HDR - 40 Mbps
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The Nvidia RTX 3070 and AMD RX 6700 XT side by side on a colourful background

(Image credit: Future)

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The RTX 3080 membership will cost $99.99 (£89.99) every six months, and will give you exclusive access to the RTX 3080 servers, ray-tracing, and supports up to 1440p resolutions at 120 fps. Shield TV users will also get a boost in performance with 4K HDR support (at 60 fps) finally making its way to the streaming device. 

If you only access GeForce Now on a browser, this membership supports Chome, Safari, and Edge.

Most Macbook users will be able to stream at 1600p and the new Macbook Pros powered by that fancy M1 chip will be able to stream natively at 120 fps. Android gamers can also enjoy 120 fps gaming so long as their device has a 120Hz display. 

Existing Founders and Priority members will get the first crack at Early Access preordering for the new RTX 3080 memberships, starting today, with availability for everyone else starting on November 21st. 

In a time where trying to find a physical RTX 3080 GPU is near impossible, a virtual one might be the next best thing. Assuming it all works as advertised, anyway. At just $200 to upgrade practically any device to an RTX 3080 powered PC, that's got to be pretty tempting for anyone who was looking to upgrade their current rig. 

Though there are obvious caveats. As we've already stated it's totally reliant on both how reliable your current internet service is, and how close you are to one of the new Superpods. That said, Nvidia maintains that you only need a 35 Mbps connection to achieve 1440p gaming at 120Hz, and 40 Mbps for 4K HDR at 60Hz. 

While GeForce Now does plug into your existing Steam and Epic accounts, there is still the issue that not all the games in your various libraries will be accessible via Nvidia's streaming service. Though you may own the games themselves, a bunch of publishers and devs are still trying to figure out a way to get their hands on a slice of the streaming monies, and so some aren't available.

But games are getting added all the time, especially the latest titles, so there is still plenty of fun to be had now and in the future. Potentially as evidenced by the GeForce Now prospective games leak from a while back; from that we now know God of War is coming to PC and that Valve is getting Half-Life 2 updated, potentially for a Steam Deck launch.

We'll be getting our hands on the new RTX 3080 streaming service soon to give it a good going over ourselves.

Dave James
Managing Editor, Hardware

Dave has been gaming since the days of Zaxxon and Lady Bug on the Colecovision, and code books for the Commodore Vic 20 (Death Race 2000!). He built his first gaming PC at the tender age of 16, and finally finished bug-fixing the Cyrix-based system around a year later. When he dropped it out of the window. He first started writing for Official PlayStation Magazine and Xbox World many decades ago, then moved onto PC Format full-time, then PC Gamer, TechRadar, and T3 among others. Now he's back, writing about the nightmarish graphics card market, CPUs with more cores than sense, gaming laptops hotter than the sun, and SSDs more capacious than a Cybertruck.