PC games typically present users with myriad of graphical detail options that affect not only the visuals, but also the frame rate. Getting the best experience usually involves a fair bit of trial and error to determine which settings deliver the best graphics improvements with the smallest performance penalties. Some games do offer built-in optimization routines that tailor settings to a user's hardware configuration, but they tend to be fairly conservative and are sometimes completely hopeless. Nvidia thinks it has a better solution in GeForce Experience, a software package that optimizes in-game graphics settings based on the user's system specifications. Check out the promo video:
GeForce Experience's optimization routines are based on a combination of manual and automated testing. First, Nvidia's "expert game testers" identify demanding areas that are used to benchmark the impact of various quality settings. They also define performance targets, including a minimum frame rate, based on the pace of the game. Twitchy first-person shooters typically require higher frame rates than slower-paced real-time strategy games. Each graphical setting is weighted based on its visual impact and associated performance hit. Then, everything is fed into the "GeForce Experience supercomputer," which intelligently turns up the graphics detail until the performance target is reached on a multitude of presumably simulated hardware configs.
The iterative testing is conducted entirely on Nvidia's end. All the end-user has to do is install the GeForce Experience app, scan their system for supported games, and click the "optimize" button to apply the recommended settings for their rig. The software interface also explains how various settings affect the graphics, including what looks like a preview based on in-game screenshots. Neat.
In addition to tweaking game settings, GeForce Experience can download graphics driver updates in the background. The automatic driver downloads work with graphics cards dating back to the GeForce 8 series, but you'll need a Fermi- or Kepler-based GPU to take advantage of the game optimization capability. GeForce Experience is currently being tested in a closed beta with 10,000 users. An open beta is planned for January; by then, Nvidia should have expanded upon the 32 titles currently supported.
Naturally, GeForce Experience needs to send Nvidia information about your system. Some of that data may be aggregated and shared with Nvidia's partners, but the firm promises to keep user-level information to itself. GeForce Experience doesn't collect any personally identifiable information, Nvidia says.
GeForce Experience looks promising, especially for newbies who might not have otherwise touched a game's detail settings. However, the focus seems to be on reaching FPS targets rather than minimizing the frequency and severity of high-latency frames that can noticeably disrupt the smoothness of animation. Perhaps we need to introduce that GeForce Experience supercomputer to our inside-the-second methods.