Chromebooks could become ultra-cheap gaming laptops thanks to Nvidia GeForce Now

GeForce Now
(Image credit: Nvidia)

Nvidia’s impressive GeForce Now game streaming service is now available as a beta on Chromebooks, allowing these cheap laptops to run some of the most graphically-intensive games in the world – and that could spell bad news for the PS5 and Xbox Series X.

Why? Well, rather than splashing out $400 or more on a next-gen console to play titles like Cyberpunk 2077, you’ll be able to play it – with high-end effects like ray tracing – on a cheap Chromebook instead. Nvidia has promised that when Cyberpunk 2077 launches later this year, it will be available to play on launch day on GeForce Now.

While you’ll need a (good) internet connection to use GeForce Now, the potential to turn a humble Chromebook into a gaming device that could put some of the best gaming laptops to shame is very exciting indeed.

GeForce Now is free to join, and you use games you’ve already bought from stores such as Steam and Epic Games Store – and if you’ve already got a Chromebook, it means you can get playing without spending anything – though you are limited to one hour play sessions at a time.

However, there’s also a Founders membership subscription for $4.99/£4.99 (around AU$7), which extends the session length and enables features exclusive to Nvidia’s RTX graphics cards – particularly ray tracing for realistic lighting effects. 

If GeForce Now works as advertised (and we’ve been impressed with its performance so far), it means you’ll get a gaming experience that could rival the next gen consoles for a lot less money.

Nvidia also announced a new Hyper Scape bundle which combines the Season One Battle Pass token, exclusive in-game content and six months of Founders membership for $24.95/£24.95 (around AU$35).

Unfortunately, it has yet to launch in Australia at the time of writing.

Gaming Chromebooks?

The best Chromebooks are excellent laptops for students in particular, as they are relatively cheap but perform well thanks to the lightweight Chrome OS operating system. They are also often more secure than Windows laptops, and their batteries last much longer as well.

In fact, we’ve rounded up the best student Chromebooks for people looking for a new back to school laptop to study on. Being able to play the latest games, once the school day is over, is going to be another big selling point.

While GeForce Now has had a bit of a rough start – with many publishers pulling their games from Nvidia’s service – it remains one of the best game streaming services out there thanks to Nvidia’s impressive technology. 

The fact that you can play games you’ve already bought (the service currently supports over 650 games, including 70 free-to-play games), rather than having to re-buy them, like with Google Stadia, makes it a great choice for people with a large collection of PC games already.

Nvidia also announced its adding Steam Game Sync, which will automatically add a user’s Steam games to GeForce Now, so they can easily find them to stream them.

To play GeForce Now games on a Chromebook, type in in the Chrome address bar and log in – there’s no need to download any additional apps.

We’re looking forward to testing the service on some Chromebooks soon, to see if these affordable laptops can really challenge expensive gaming laptops, and even the PS5 and Xbox Series X, when it comes to playing the latest games. Exciting stuff.

Matt Hanson
Managing Editor, Core Tech

Matt is TechRadar's Managing Editor for Core Tech, looking after computing and mobile technology. Having written for a number of publications such as PC Plus, PC Format, T3 and Linux Format, there's no aspect of technology that Matt isn't passionate about, especially computing and PC gaming. Ever since he got an Amiga A500+ for Christmas in 1991, he's loved using (and playing on) computers, and will talk endlessly about how The Secret of Monkey Island is the best game ever made.