If you’re a PC gamer, you’re unquestionably familiar with Nvidia, a company known for manufacturing powerful graphical processing units capable of playing the latest polygon-based games.
In fact, according to data collected by Jon Peddie Research, Nvidia commanded 17.5 percent of the GPU market in 2017, just nudging out its dedicated GPU rival, AMD, which sat at 14.4 percent. In short, there are a lot of Nvidia GPUs in the hands of PC gamers—and, unfortunately, thirsty cryptominers.
If you have at least one of Nvidia’s gamer-centric Geforce GTX graphics cards installed in your gaming rig, you should do yourself a solid and download the Nvidia GeForce Experience desktop software. Nvidia GeForce Experience isn’t a requirement for smooth gameplay, but the app has useful tools designed to enhance your PC gaming experience.
Fun fact: I’ve had Nvidia GeForce Experience installed in my gaming desktop for approximately two years, and (sadly) didn’t explore the depths of its offering until it was time to craft this article. I completely slept on the software, so I hope my discoveries will help you save the kingdom, knuckle down opponents, and blast your enemies into next week—and share those special moments with others.
As for now, let’s dig into the Nvidia GeForce Experience.
1Get 'Game Ready' Drivers
For PC gamers, there are few scenarios more frustrating than purchasing a new game, booting it up, and dealing with crashes or generally sub par performance. Fortunately, Nvidia partners with developers before the release of high-profile titles to prep Game Ready drivers. These drivers, according to Nvidia, “boost performance, fix bugs, and improve your gaming experience.”
GeForce Experience automatically notifies you when Game Ready drivers are available. You can obtain them by clicking Check For Updates, and then installing the drivers. Even better, these Game Ready drivers are often available prior to a game’s release, so you can jump right into your favorite virtual world without driver-related hiccups. For example, the Final Fantasy XV Game Ready drivers were released more than a week before the game dropped.
2Optimize Your Game Settings
If you’re a thorough enough gamer to purchase a high-end gaming rig with an Nvidia GPU, you’re also a person who cares about game optimization. GeForce Experience finds your rig’s prime system settings for the game you wish to play by tapping the power of Nvidia’s cloud data center.
In doing so, GeForce Experience tests thousands of PC hardware configurations to find the optimal balance of graphical eye candy and system performance. More than 500 games are supported, including Kingdom Come: Deliverance, Diablo III, Project Cars, Resident Evil 7: Biohazard, Stardew Valley, and Team Fortress 2.
You can click the Optimize icon to initiate the optimization process, or dip into the Games section and select Automatically Optimize Newly Added Games.
ShadowPlay is Nvidia tech that lets you perform many video-based actions. With ShadowPlay, you can broadcast play sessions, share gameplay videos and screenshots, and enjoy a DVR-style Instant Replay mode.
Additionally, a relatively new feature, ShadowPlay Highlights, recognizes your best in-game moments, such as going on an impressive kill streak or downing a difficult boss, and automatically captures video footage so you can focus on the action. ShadowPlay Highlights is compatible Metal Gear Survive, PUBG, and other popular titles. It’s really, really cool.
To customize ShadowPlay’s video broadcasting options, tap Alt+Z and dip into settings. Once there, you can connect your social media platforms of choice (Twitch, YouTube, or Facebook), tweak the video frame rate (30 frames per second or 60 frames per second), bit rate (10Mbps to 130 Mbps), and resolution (360p to 4K).
4Grab In-Game Pics With Ansel
A beta feature, Ansel is the name of Nvidia’s in-game capture tool that was built in cooperation with game developers. It lets you capture traditional screenshots, rotate the view for dramatic free cam photos, and capture 360-degree panorama images that are suitable for virtual reality use.
Selecting Ansel’s High Resolution option lets you capture screenshots in “super resolution.” These photos, which are tens of thousand of pixels in size, have virtually no anti-aliasing, so the image details are incredibly detailed.
Nvidia Ansel is only available to gamers who have a GeForce GTX graphics card (680M model or later), 4GB of RAM, and the Windows 7, 8, or 10 operating systems installed in their gaming desktop or gaming laptop. The technology is limited to a handful of games, but hopefully that will drastically expand in time.
5Bust a Visual Freestyle
Nvidia Freestyle is a beta feature that lets you apply Instagram-like filters to your games as you play. You tweak the video’s color or saturation, or even apply an incredibly sexy HDR filter.
Freestyle is integrated into supported games at the driver level for deep compatibility. Check Nvidia’s list of compatible Freestyle games to see which titles in your library are supported for this new tech. They include Cuphead, Smite, and Warframe, among many others.
6Play in the Living Room With GameStream
Nvidia is known for its powerful GPUs, but the company has also dabbled in other game-related hardware. The Nvidia Shield TV, for example, is a media player that streams 4K, HDR-enhanced video to your big-screen television. But did you know that you can use it to play PC games?
If you have the Nvidia GeForce Experience software installed on a gaming PC, you can stream your favorite titles to a TV. You simply open the app on your PC, register your Shield TV, and make sure that both devices are on the same network.
7Check Your Specs
This is a tip that doesn’t directly add to your gaming fun, but it shows your potential for gaming fun.
If you visit the “General” section within the Nvidia GeForce Experience app, you can view your rig’s specs. That may not rank high on your excitement meter, but what’s cool is that the Nvidia GeForce Experience shows if those specs match the minimum requirements for Game Optimization, GameStream, Virtual Reality, and maintaining the In-Game Overlay.
8Join the Beta
If you want to get in on the ground floor of new Nvidia GeForce Experience features, sign up for the beta by opening Settings and selecting Enable Experimental Features.
This gives you early access to new features, and gives you the chance to shape their development by providing feedback.