Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the lights on at MakeUseOf. Read more.
Computer games are complex beasts. Though their gameplay is often similar to what’s found on a console, the flexibility of the PC platform allows for fine-detail control not possible on other platforms. Games built for a computer will have a buffet of graphics options that can be adjusted to create an amazing visual experience.
But how do you know what settings are best for your video card? In the past, this has been a process of trial and error, but Nvidia has crafted a new solution called GeForce Experience. This software can update drivers and optimize games so they offer the best graphics possible with your hardware. Let’s take a closer look.
Manage And Download Drivers
Drivers are essential to every piece of hardware in your computer, and they are particularly vital for a video card. Without drivers your video card wouldn’t be able to communicate with your PC, but there’s more to them than that. Drivers also impact performance, and improvements can enhance both stability and in-game performance.
That’s why updating them is important. Unfortunately, remembering is another matter, as driver updates are generally not posted as major news at technology ‘sites. Nvidia’s GeForce Experience solves the problem by integrating driver updates into the software. When an update becomes available it will appear in the main menu, and you can download through the software rather than your web browser.
Better still, the GeForce Experience software actually provides some useful information, such as the current driver version you’re using and the improvements you can expect to enjoy with the update. Again, this is something already available to users, but integrating it all into a single interface makes the process more intuitive. And that means you’re more likely to use it.
Optimize Games For Your Nvidia Video Card
As mentioned, computer games have a lot of options. Users can tweak anti-aliasing, turn on anisotropic filtering, enable high dynamic range lighting and enable tessellation. Many games even have multiple choices under each setting.
This customization is appreciated, but it creates a problem for the user. Ideally a game should be set to the highest detail possible without compromising framerates, but how can you determine what the proper settings might be? There’s no way to do so without sitting down and spending an hour with FRAPS to change settings one-by-one. Most people don’t have the patience for that.
NVidia GeForce Experience solves this problem by importing settings directly to your games from Nvidia’s database. After installing the software you can open the “Games” tab and scan for games installed on your computer. Once this is complete, the games found will appear, and you’ll be able to see the current settings that you selected. With a click of the “optimize” button, the software will automatically import settings that provide the best performance/detail compromise for your particular Nvidia video card, and those settings will take effect the next time you launch the game.
This is such a great improvement that I’m honestly a bit bewildered that no one thought of this approach before. However, the tool’s auto-detect feature does not work perfectly, so you may need to manually select games before you can optimize them. The list of supported titles is small, too, so most games that aren’t a recent AAA release can’t be optimized (yet).
System Summary And Optimization For Nvidia SHIELD
Opening the My Rig section of the NVidia GeForce Experience software will show you all the vital details about your computer. More importantly, it will tell you if your system is eligible for game optimization and game streaming to Nvidia’s SHIELD – and if not, the software highlights what needs to be done to enable each feature.
SHIELD, for those unaware, is Nvidia’s new hand-held gaming console that will be released in August (we will be reviewing and giving one away when it launches). The device will run Android and will feature a powerful Tegra 4 processor that can play 3D games smoothly on the SHIELD’s 5-inch, 720p display. But the “killer feature,” in my opinion, is game streaming.
Users with an Nvidia GEForce card and the SHIELD handheld console will be able to stream games from their computer to the device over a local WiFi network. Let’s say I want to play Portal 2, for example, but I’m tired of being cooped up at my desk. With SHIELD I can stream the game from my computer to the handheld and play on my couch, in bed, or anywhere else in range of my router.
SHIELD isn’t free, of course; it’s a $299 device, which is quite a lot for a modern handheld. Still, users who buy one will find the GeForce Experience software to be crucial.
The GeForce Experience software is available as a free download from Nvidia’s website. You’ll need a relatively new Nvidia video card to use it, as well as Windows Vista, 7 or 8. If you fit these requirements, however, there’s really no reason not to grab this tool, as it’s quick to download that improves your gaming experience.