ShadowPlay now available in GeForce Experience

When Nvidia revealed the GeForce GTX 780 in May, it teased a new feature that would leverage Kepler’s video decoding block to record in-game action. Dubbed ShadowPlay, that feature is finally available in the latest GeForce Experience software update.

By far the coolest thing about ShadowPlay is "shadow mode," which constantly records gameplay to ensure that epic moments can always be preserved. With the touch of a hotkey, gamers can save the last several minutes of footage to an MP4 file ripe for YouTube. ShadowPlay also has a manual mode that lets users start and stop recordings themselves. The two modes can be enabled at the same time, and they can record simultaneously.

Much of the heavy lifting is performed by Kepler’s built-in H.264 encoder, so the performance impact should be minimal compared to existing, software-only solutions. Nvidia says the hit is typically 5% and can reach 10% in "the most demanding cases." That said, the company cautions that the performance impact may be greater on SLI setups that churn out extremely high frame rates.

ShadowPlay records video at 1080p, and users can choose between three quality levels that correspond to 15, 22, and 50Mbps. In Windows 8, available storage is the only thing that limits the length of manual ShadowPlay recordings. Shadow mode’s user-configurable buffer is capped at 20 minutes. Windows 7 users have to make do with a 10-minute shadow mode maximum and manual recordings up to only 3.8GB. There are some other restrictions, as well. ShadowPlay only works with full-screen games, and it’s limited to DirectX 9, 10, and 11 titles.

To use ShadowPlay, a GeForce GTX 650 or better is required. So is a desktop system; the software doesn’t work with Nvidia’s notebook GPUs right now. ShadowPlay will be expanded with future updates, though. Support for Twitch.tv streaming is coming in a future release. Let’s hope Nvidia finds a way to make the tech work with OpenGL titles, too.

Comments closed
    • JosiahBradley
    • 7 years ago

    How does this compare to MSI’s Afterburner video recorder that uses Intel’s QuickSync and the iGPU to do the encode for much less impact on gameplay?

      • Chrispy_
      • 7 years ago

      This.

      I thought quicksync was entirely self-contained, meaning that it has a 0% overhead even when the CPU is heavily loaded.

      Unless I’m wrong about that, 0% overhead and unlimited recording time sounds a whole lot better than 5-10% overhead and 20 minute recording limits….

        • Deanjo
        • 7 years ago

        QuickSync does have quite a bit of overhead for this type of operation. Copying the framebuffer over to the QS encoder alone requires memory transfers that are not free or light.

        That being said, just gave ShadowPlay a go on Bioshock Infinite on the Titan with all options cranked @ 2560×1440 and didn’t notice any degradation in game play. Still smooth as butter.

      • f0d
      • 7 years ago

      quicksync is another good option but not all cpu’s have quicksync so this is better for those of us that have cpu’s without quicksync

      i have a 3930k which doesnt have quicksync or i probably would have used the afterburner option as i always have it loaded anyways

    • AustinW
    • 7 years ago

    Looks like ShadowPlay also requires a Core i3-2100/Athlon II X4 630 or better. No love for my Q6600 : (

      • Great_Big_Abyss
      • 7 years ago

      Maybe time to upgrade from a platform that is five years old, eh?

      • slowriot
      • 7 years ago

      Meh, a Athlon II X4 630 is only marginally faster than a Q6600. I bet it’d work for the most part.

        • puppetworx
        • 7 years ago

        Yep, but if not it’s very easy to overclock.

      • crazybus
      • 7 years ago

      Yeah, my overclocked Q9400 is easily faster than an Athlon II X4 630 but isn’t supported.

    • bowman
    • 7 years ago

    Microsoft bought NVIDIA’s soul? Well, okay then. I’ll just stick to Fraps. It’s not like I can use this anyway with my ‘ancient’ 560 card.

      • Diplomacy42
      • 7 years ago

      As ancient as they are, Fermi dominated keplar for a gen and a half in raw power, and really the value wasn’t even there until just yesterday when they knocked 300 off the 780s on a whim… <3 GTX580 SLI

    • DPete27
    • 7 years ago

    Oh, Bensam123 will love this!

    • Firestarter
    • 7 years ago

    My HD7950 is supposed to have an hardware H264 encoder as well. I mean, it’s there I guess, but I wouldn’t know from all the useful things I can do with it!

    • jessterman21
    • 7 years ago

    Very excited to try this out after work. I feel like it was tailored for those of us with i3s…

      • jessterman21
      • 7 years ago

      Tried it while playing Crysis 3. Pretty great – though it’s definitely closer to a 10% GPU performance hit than 5% on my rig.

      • jessterman21
      • 7 years ago

      Ah good. YouTube freaking murdered the video quality.

      [url<]http://youtu.be/DmlQA_M0OoA[/url<]

    • NeoForever
    • 7 years ago

    Bummer.. I have a gaming laptop. I guess I didn’t spend enough on my Kepler purchase.

    • Pholostan
    • 7 years ago

    Only fullscreen and no OpenGL support is kind of a bummer, but I guess we’ll see down the road.

      • slowriot
      • 7 years ago

      Yes, fullscreen only in particular stands out to me. Seems it would hurt some of the benefits for streamers. Also I’d be curious how this works (if at all) with programs like Xsplit.

    • Noigel
    • 7 years ago

    Are there any other solutions (maybe an additional PCI card) that could do something similiar? A solution that could record more indefinitely and not drag game frame-rates down?

      • Farting Bob
      • 7 years ago

      You can get video capture cards which simply record everything as it is passed onto the monitor/speakers with minimal overhead on the CPU/GPU. But these tend to be quite expensive if you want to record 1080p or more at 60fps. Fraps is generally the easiest way of recording games for most people since it requires no specific hardware other than a good CPU (quad core recommended) and plenty of storage space (since it uses a very light compression to reduce CPU load the files are multiple GB’s per minute for full screen recordings).

        • Noigel
        • 7 years ago

        Yeah, I use DXTORY but both it and Fraps will drop framerates noticeably. Will check into some brands of cards… bet they are expensive.

    • LSDX
    • 7 years ago

    I wonder how much PowerDVD, TMT and movie studios paid in order to stop this from being used as screengrabber.

      • Deanjo
      • 7 years ago

      You can always use the nvenc sdk for that.

    • SCR250
    • 7 years ago

    “When Nvidia revealed the GeForce GTX 780 in May, it teased a new feature that would leverage Kepler’s video decoding block to record in-game action”

    That should read as encoding block not decoding block.

    • Farting Bob
    • 7 years ago

    I wonder how much MS paid to put that limit on Win 7 for no technical reasons at all?

      • Pholostan
      • 7 years ago

      Very strange limitations.

      • MathMan
      • 7 years ago

      Nothing at all? It’s not reasonable to expect companies to develop features for an OS that’s 2 generations old. My guess is that it’s not the effort needed to develop but the fact that all this stuff needs to be part of the testing/QA cycle.

        • Noigel
        • 7 years ago

        Win7 isn’t exactly long in the tooth and Win8 is/was poorly adopted.

        • Pwnstar
        • 7 years ago

        Windows 8 is pretty much Windows 7 underneath. You can design your software to run on Win7 and it will run on Win8 just fine.

        • Diplomacy42
        • 7 years ago

        Its reasonable to support them if you actually expect people to upgrade and stick with the green team. If Nvidia thinks I’m going to use trashcan 8.1 just to get the most out of their cards, they are sorely mistaken.

        also windows 7 isn’t 2 generations old.

          • MFergus
          • 7 years ago

          It’s a very dumb limitation but until AMD offers a similar feature it’s still better than nothing.

      • Forge
      • 7 years ago

      It’s not arbitrary at all on Nvidia’s side. They’re using the built-in Microsoft MP4 multiplexer/demuxer, and it has a hard 4GB limit. Win8’s newer iteration of that mux/demux does not have a 4GB limit.

      The 4GB limit was a fairly vague item in the MPEG4/MP4 spec, and MS went conservative with it in the Win7 version. Now that they’ve seen MP4s in the wild that are out of spec, they’re being a little more flexible.

        • peartart
        • 7 years ago

        It’s almost like there isn’t a conspiracy!

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