Nvidia finally catches up to AMD and drops a new app that promises better gaming and creator experiences

Nvidia has announced plans to bring together the features of the Nvidia Control Panel, GeForce Experience, and RTX Experience apps all in a single piece of software. On February 22, Nvidia explained on its website that this new unified app is being made available as a public beta. This means that the app could still be changed in the hopes of improving it, but you can download it now and try it for yourself.

The app is made specifically to improve the experience of gamers and creators currently using machines equipped with Nvidia GPUs by making it easier to find and use functions that formerly lived in separate programs. 

Users with suitable Nvidia GPUs can expect a number of significant improvements that come with this new centralized app. Settings to optimize gaming experiences (by tweaking graphical settings based on your hardware)  and downloading and installing new drivers can now be found in one easy interface.

It’ll be easier to understand and keep track of driver updates, such as new features and fixes for bugs, with clear descriptions. While in-game, users should see a redesigned overlay that makes it easier to access features and tools like filters, recording tools, monitoring tools, and more. Speaking of filters, Nvidia is introducing new AI Freestyle Filters which can enhance users’ visuals and allow them to customize the aesthetics of their games. As well as all of these upgrades, users can easily view and navigate bundles, redeem rewards, get new game content, view current GeForce NOW offers, and more.

Screenshot of the webpage where users can download the Nvidia app beta

(Image credit: Future)

Nvidia's vision

It certainly seems like Nvidia has worked hard to create a more streamlined app that makes it easier to use your RTX-equipped PC. It’s specifically intended to make it easier to do things like make sure your PC is updated with the latest Nvidia drivers, and quickly discover and install other Nvidia apps including Nvidia Broadcast, GeForce NOW, and more. The Nvidia team also claims in its announcement that this new centralized app will perform better on RTX-GPU-equipped PCs than its separate predecessors. That’s thanks to reduced installation times through the app, better responsiveness from the user interface (UI), and because it should take up less disk space than its predecessors (I assume combined). 

This isn’t the end of the new Nvidia app’s development, and it seems some legacy features didn’t make the cut, including 360/Stereo photo modes and streaming directly to YouTube and Twitch, because they see less use. Clearly, Nvidia felt it wasn't worth including these more niche features in the new app, and anyone who wants to continue to use them can still use the older apps (for now, at least). The new app is focused on improving performance, and making it easier to install and integrate new features into users’ systems. 

An Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 slotted into a PC with its fans showing

(Image credit: Future)

By combining its apps into one, easy-to-use piece of software, Nvidia is finally catching up to AMD in one aspect where Team Red has the advantage: software. AMD's Radeon Adrenalin app already offers a lot of these features, as well as others, like a built-in browser and HDMI link assurance and monitoring that can automatically detect any issues with the HDMI’s connectivity – all in one single interface.

Finally, AMD doesn’t require users to make an account to be able to use its app. We don’t expect that Nvidia will fully catch up to AMD’s app just yet (though it would be nice not to have to sign in), but this is definitely a push in the right direction and hopefully users will see a lot of use out of the new app.


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Good news Windows fans, the Ayaneo Next Lite gaming handheld will support your favorite OS

The latest in a long line of Ayaneo PC gaming handhelds, dubbed the Ayaneo Next Lite, will not only be an incredibly affordable portable option but will also be changing course on its OS.

According to a statement posted on the official Ayaneo Twitter/X account, the handheld will come with Windows 11 64-bit Home Edition pre-installed instead of Linux. A great option for those who are more familiar with Windows OS versus a Linux-based one. However, for those who prefer the latter, users will still have the option of the open-source HoloISO project version of Linux, which is based on SteamOS.

All this and the Next Lite is still launching at the very budget price of $ 299 up to and during crowdfunding, which is far less expensive than other options on the market. It’s a switch-up from the Next and Next Pro, which seems to be sticking with the Linux-based OS. And that makes more sense as they’re both meant to compete with the Steam Deck.

Ayaneko could differentiate itself from the market 

While in general, I’m quite agreeable with the idea of using Windows OS for the Ayaneo Next Lite, since it’s the most widely used operating system by a longshot, there needs to be a reckoning for PC gaming handhelds that use it in general.

What makes SteamOS so excellent is that it’s tailor-made for the Steam Deck, so it feels smooth and intuitive. However, other PC gaming handhelds that use Windows OS like the Asus ROG Ally and the Lenovo Legion Go, make the mistake of not tailoring said OS to the system which results in a much clunkier user interface.

Though we don’t know what Ayaneo is planning with the Windows 11 OS it’s using for the Next Lite, crafting a unique user interface would be a great way to differentiate it from other handhelds that otherwise have gotten more attention due to its brands being more well known.

Then again, Ayaneko has also made some unusual decisions, like choosing HoloISO which hasn’t been updated in months (at the time of this writing) instead of ChimeraOS for the Linux-based OS. So there’s no telling what the manufacturer is planning other than targeting a much larger market. We'll have to wait and see how things shake out when the handheld finally launches.

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The Meta Quest 3 doesn’t beat my 4K TV for Xbox gaming, but I don’t care – I love it

After Thursday’s surprise Xbox Cloud Gaming launch on the Meta Quest 3, I've spent most (read: too much) of my evenings trying the service out. And while it doesn’t hold a candle to my more traditional 4K TV and console setup from a technical perspective, its portability more than makes up for that.

For the uninitiated, Xbox Cloud Gaming is basically Netflix for video games. For a monthly fee of $ 16.99 / £12.99 / AU$ 18.95, you can stream titles from a massive catalog of content to your phone, PC, Xbox console, and now Meta Quest 3, Quest 2, and Quest Pro. The advantage, of course, is you don’t need super powerful hardware to play the latest games – they’re run on high-end machines many hundreds (maybe thousands) of miles away and just use your device as a screen and a relay for your controller inputs.

When playing in the real world, you’re limited to the size of your TV, phone screen, or computer monitor. In VR, you can enjoy playing these games on a gigantic virtual display – with the size becoming especially apparent when using the Quest 3’s mixed-reality mode. The Large and Extra-large screen options were bigger than any TV I’ve seen before – even the ridiculous displays shown off at tech trade shows – and it made me feel like I was gaming in my own private movie theater.

My view as I play Xbox games on my Quest 3 while all cozy in bed. The screen floats in front of me while I hold a white Xbox controller.

This screenshot doesn’t do the virtual screen size justice (Image credit: Future / Hamish Hector)

The trade-off is the graphics quality leaves something to be desired. Xbox Cloud Gaming can apparently stream 1080p (full-HD) at 60fps gameplay – but I’m certain the quality I experienced wasn’t this high. That's most likely due to a combination of the Quest 3’s display specs, my internet connection throttling the app’s abilities, and the gigantic virtual screen not giving visual blemishes anywhere to hide; instead blowing them up to make them more noticeable than ever.

Head in the cloud

Yet, when I lay in bed wearing my Quest 3 with the virtual display floating on the ceiling above me using mixed reality, I was still utterly lost in Starfield until the early hours of the morning. I only stopped when my headset alerted me that its charge was low and I realized it was well past 2 am.

This portability – to be able to play anywhere with a strong enough internet connection – is why cloud gaming in VR succeeds. You can play in bed, during your commute, at a coffee shop while waiting for your friends, or pretty much anywhere you can think of. Yes, you can stream Xbox titles to your phone, too, but the display is small, and the experience just isn’t as immersive as the virtual screen that wraps around you.

To this end, the VR headset is starting to borrow elements of the many AR glasses I’ve tested over the past year – the likes of the Xreal Air 2 or Rokid Max – and I’m pretty darn excited about it. These AR specs connect to a compatible phone, laptop, or games console using a USB-C adapter and virtually project the screen in front of you.

The Xreal Air 2 Pro AR smart glasses next to the Xreal Beam hub, they're both on a wooden table in front of a brick wall

The Xreal Air 2 Pro AR smart glasses and Beam (Image credit: Future)

The clear advantage of the Quest hardware is it’s more than just a wearable projector – it’s a whole spatial computer in its own right that can do incredible things without any external hardware. What’s more, while the Quest 3 is pricier on paper – by about $ 100 / £100 / AU$ 150 depending on the glasses – once you factor in the need to buy a few not-so-optional add-ons to get the most out of AR specs, the cost difference is negligible (the Quest 3 might even end up being cheaper). Not to mention that you get far more bang for your buck from a VR headset.

While going fully wireless has advantages, having tried Xbox Cloud Gaming I’m now even more desperate for Meta’s VR hardware to start supporting wired connections to a greater range of devices. I’d love to use a Steam Deck, Nintendo Switch, PS5, and other gadgets in a similarly immersive way without needing to splash out on AR specs. Hopefully, such features will be added to the Quest platform in the not-too-distant future.

Some work is needed 

Before Meta works on adding these capabilities, though, I’d like it and Microsoft to make a few updates to the Xbox Cloud Gaming app. Considering this app was announced over a year ago at Meta Connect 2022, I’m surprised it’s so basic and lacking a few features that feel like no-brainers.

The first is an easy way to position the screen. From what I can tell, the only virtual display controls within the app are the size options. If you want to move the screen to a different position – which is essential for playing lying down – you need to first press the Oculus button to open up your quick menu bar. Then, when you grab the bar to move it, the Xbox screen will move with it.

This workaround is effective but not intuitive; I stumbled into it completely by accident.

The second is an emulator so the Quest handsets can double as an Xbox controller. Admittedly, this may be tough, as the controllers are almost identical, but the Quest controllers lack the D-Pad and third menu button. Even if this emulated controller is only compatible with a small selection of titles, it would offer users a great way to test out Cloud Gaming before they invest in a wireless Xbox controller (they aren’t massively expensive, but they aren’t cheap either – they’re pricier than most VR games).

Lastly, it would be helpful if there was an in-app way to see how stable your connection is, see what resolution and framerate you’re getting, and choose if you want to optimize for graphics or performance. 

All that said, despite its deficiencies, the Xbox Cloud Gaming app is a must-try – especially for those with an Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription and compatible controller already. While I’ll still spend a lot of time gaming on my TV, I can honestly see this VR app becoming one of my most used in 2024. It might even convince me to start taking my Quest 3 with me everywhere so I can game on the go.

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The latest Windows 11 update won’t install for some users, and tanks gaming performance even if it does

Windows 11 users are experiencing issues with the update KB5031455, with some systems not installing the update, others encountering installation problems and some seeing error messages as well as gaming issues if the update does install successfully. 

According to Windows Latest, several users have complained to the site about the Windows 11 update, stating the installation would “run and fail, then reboot, run and fail again.”

Another user commented on problems with gaming performance after the update, saying that the build “broke a few games.” According to the user, some games available from Epic Games Store, such as Fortnite and Horizon Zero Dawn, crashed and refused to start. More comments like these have been left on the Windows Latest site. 

This is not the first time a string of issues has been presented due to preview updates.  KB5030310, a preview update for those using Windows 11 22H2, caused issues with File Explorer that led to buggy behaviour and slower run times.

If you’ve yet to install the KB5031455  update, we recommend you hold off a bit longer until these issues are addressed by Microsoft. But, if you’re feeling brave and want to go ahead anyway, you’ll need to go to Settings, then to Windows Update, and select ‘Check for Updates’. Once your device finds the new optional update, click the ‘Download and install’ button.

It’s worth bearing in mind that Windows Latest has tested the update on its own machines and noted the same problems listed above, so once again, we recommend you proceed with caution if you plan to install the update.

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Windows 11 update reportedly causes havoc, from gaming glitches to boot failures

Windows 11’s latest cumulative update has been triggering a whole heap of problems going by a bunch of online reports, including causing havoc for PC gamers in some cases.

This is KB5030219, the compulsory update for September that was released last week and piped to Windows 11 22H2 systems.

Windows Latest spotted a catalog of reported gremlins in the works with KB5030219, and that includes the update causing Blue Screen of Death (BSoD) crashes.

On top of that, readers have reported instances of system slowdown to Windows Latest following the installation of KB5030219, and network connection problems, with internet access apparently failing for some post-installation.

There are also reports of PCs failing to start entirely after the update, which is very worrying of course – there’s nothing worse than your system failing to boot after applying an ‘upgrade.’

Another report on Reddit, on the official thread introducing KB5030219, complains about a problem where the Start menu (and search functionality) fails to work for some folks.

That Reddit thread contains quite a number of other issues, including various performance problems (like a very slow right-click menu) and tabs in File Explorer disappearing due to KB5030219, as well as some weird audio glitches. Oh, and installation failures, with the update failing to complete in some cases (a continued problem with Windows 11 cumulative updates for some folks).

And on top of that, as mentioned, PC gamers have been hit here. Windows Latest highlights some apparent performance glitches with Starfield, and a post on Microsoft’s own Feedback Hub claims the Game Pass version of Starfield is experiencing TDR (timeout detection and recovery) errors and crashes.

“After removing the update, the Starfield game ran normally,” the affected gamer observes.

However, Windows Latest further notes that it’s not sure if these Starfield performance issues could be related to Nvidia’s most recent GeForce driver, or to this Windows 11 cumulative update.

One Redditor certainly lays the blame at Microsoft’s door, saying: “It’s definitely a Windows update issue for me because I didn’t update my GeForce driver (I use the studio driver that is still at v536.99) but stupid me did the Windows update and now my PC is exhibiting all kinds of intermittent internet connection problems, lags, slow application startups, etc.”

Another Redditor claims: “Yes! I thought it was the new Nvidia driver I had installed at first, but then rolled it back and [the] issue [performance problem in Starfield] was still present. I then uninstalled update KB5030219 and issue was completely gone. Reinstalled the latest Nvidia driver again and it was fine. Not sure what they broke with that Windows update, but I won’t be reinstalling it until it has been addressed.”

Other reports from PC gamers include Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart misfiring with crashes and freezes.

A ship landing in Starfield

(Image credit: Bethesda Softworks)

Analysis: Return of the timeouts (sadly)

This is a surprisingly lengthy laundry list of serious issues across the board, really. We expect some rockiness to be experienced with any new patch, true, but this kind of level of apparent chaos is a poor show from Microsoft. The range of the glitches, and the performance hits in many cases – for gaming, and operation within the Windows 11 environment in general – make for a truly worrying state of affairs.

What doesn’t help is there’s no admission from Microsoft that there’s anything amiss here, at least not yet. In the supporting bumph for KB5030219, Microsoft simply states that it is “not currently aware of any issues with this update” and leaves it at that.

What’s extra disappointing for us here is that TDR errors were resolved in July, with the cumulative update for that month – so to see them apparently making a return already is a bit of a blow, to say the least.

Hopefully, Microsoft will be investigating the many outlined issues here, because clearly, something has gone awry with KB5030219 – to see this much disgruntled chatter around an update, and such a wide-ranging set of apparent problems, is definitely concerning.

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Microsoft fixes seriously annoying PC gaming bug with Windows 11 update

Windows 11’s Moment 3 update has arrived, albeit only in preview form right now, and as well as new features, it comes with a whole lot of bug squashing – including the fix for a glitch that has been driving some gamers round the bend.

Namely Timeout Detection and Recovery (TDR) errors which crash the game and can lock up the PC. These have been around for a long time, and you can trace troubleshooting efforts all the way back to Windows Vista on Nvidia’s support forum.

Microsoft’s release notes for the Moment 3 preview (KB5027303) state that: “This update addresses an issue that might affect your computer when you are playing a game. Timeout Detection and Recovery (TDR) errors might occur.”

There are some thumbs-ups for this move on Reddit, though no reports that gamers who have been experiencing TDR crashes of late are no longer getting them – not yet, anyway. But we’ll take Microsoft at its word, of course, and this is an important step forward.

One user on Reddit did observe: “Funnily enough, Spider Man Remastered no longer crashes since I have installed this update. I never had TDR issues though.”

So maybe there are some overall stability fixes in the background here for PC games, as well as the TDR remedy? Perhaps.

Another useful facet of this update for gamers is that it improves performance with high polling rate mice (as seen before in testing), reducing levels of stutter with these peripherals (such as the models found in our best gaming mouse roundup).

Analysis: Bug fix bonanza

There are a bunch of other bug fixes delivered by KB5027303, too, including a solution for an issue that stops File Explorer working (that’s a big one, as File Explorer is the central part of the Windows interface which displays your folders and files).

There’s also a cure for flickering video in some apps, the virtual on-screen keyboard failing to open (after coming back from the lock screen), and some earbuds not working (for playing streaming music). That’s quite a bit of problem solving from Microsoft.

Remember, however, this is a preview update, meaning it’s an optional one. If you’ve been frustrated by those TDR errors crashing games, or another of the mentioned gremlins, then you might well feel this update is worth installing. Any risks of still undiscovered bugs in preview likely pale into insignificance compared to the problem you’re facing, anyway.

Otherwise, folks may want to wait for this update to get its full release, which will happen next month (on July 11 to be precise, so that’s not all that much of a wait).

As ever with optional updates, the choice is yours. Windows 10 gamers, however, are a bit miffed that the TDR fix is here for Windows 11, but not for the older OS – so they don’t have a choice, and are forced to live with any game crashing antics. With any luck, Microsoft has this resolution inbound for Windows 10 and it’ll be coming soon enough, fingers crossed.

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Apple might have already ruined the Vision Pro for VR gaming

Apple claims to have broken the mold with its new Vision Pro mixed reality headset, which promises to revolutionize everything from video calls to general laptop use. But there’s one area the shiny new headset could fall down: VR gaming.

Although Apple’s WWDC 2023 showcase did highlight VR gaming experiences as a core part of the Vision Pro’s capabilities, new information reported by Mixed has revealed that there might be some design choices within the visionOS software that could seriously impact the VR gaming experience.

Recently-released Apple documentation explains that “the system defines an invisible zone that extends 1.5 meters from the initial position of the wearer’s head”, during ‘immersive experiences’ in VR. It goes on to say that “if their head moves outside of that zone, the experience automatically stops and passthrough returns to help people avoid colliding with objects in their physical surroundings.”

This sort of safety feature is commonplace in the best VR headsets, like the Meta Quest 2. However, Meta’s system allows users to define a set space around themselves for the purposes of spatial safety; while it looks like standard VR apps on the Vision Pro – as opposed to Apple’s ‘immersive experiences’ – will switch to transparent mode if you move just a meter from your starting point.

Locked in a (virtual) box

While the Vision Pro does boast a lot of great features, a one-meter limit could prove problematic for some VR apps – especially games. I own a VR headset (the excellent HP Reverb G2) which I use for gaming, and I definitely move my head more than a meter while playing most games, like dodging an oncoming slow-motion bullet in Superhot VR.

Immersion is king when it comes to gaming in VR; you don’t want to be pulled out of the experience, and the Reverb G2’s system – similar to the Meta Quest series – allows me to ‘draw’ the exact boundaries of my space, which is much larger than a meter. If I get too close to a physical object, the entire game doesn’t become transparent. Instead, I see a blueish outline of the closest objects that bleeds into the game to warn me I might be moving too much.

However, with just a single meter of space to move around before your in-game surroundings become transparent, it’s not hard to see how in-game immersion could easily be interrupted.

The Vision Pro also relies on hand gesture controls rather than the physical handsets used by most VR headsets, which could prove to be a significant barrier to developers porting their VR games to Apple’s product. Obviously, neither of these stumbling blocks is a concern for playing non-VR titles, where the Vision Pro simply 'projects' a gameplay screen in front of you.

I can only hope that this is merely the default setting and that Apple will allow Vision Pro users to tweak the boundaries of their ‘safe zone’ for VR gaming. All reports do point towards this being the greatest VR device ever made, and it would be a real shame to see Apple drop the ball here – especially since the tech giant seems to finally be getting serious about gaming.

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Xbox App for Windows is making PC gaming more accessible

Microsoft has just powered up the Xbox App for Windows in a new update that brings in a lot of useful changes, on the accessibility front for starters, and also with game cards, better filtering for your games library to find what you want, and more.

Windows Central reports that the May update for the Xbox App on PC is now out, reworking accessibility settings to make them more, well, accessible, bringing all these options together in a new menu.

Xbox App for Windows Accessibility Menu

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Essentially, this acts as a one-stop-shop hub where you can access accessibility settings for the Xbox app – for example, disabling animations or background images (those are actually two new features designed to remove what might be unnecessary distractions for some folks). Also, the menu offers convenient shortcuts to other accessibility options (for Windows in general, for instance, or the Xbox Game Bar).

Another significant change has been introduced for game cards, which offer up more info. So you can now see at a glance how long a game takes to finish (typically), details on pricing, and relevant info on when the title is coming to Game Pass (or indeed being dropped).

Xbox App for Windows Filters

(Image credit: Microsoft)

There are also new options to filter your game library, so for example, it’s possible to look for games you can beat in a few hours (under five) if you just want a quick fix for your next venture into PC gaming. It’s also possible to sort games via accessibility features, too.

Microsoft has implemented tweaks on the social side for the Xbox App, too, allowing you to pop out your friends list (or a chat) into a separate window. If you have two desktops going, you can have a game running full-screen in one, and your social stuff popped onto the other.

Xbox App for Windows Social

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Analysis: Impressive steps forward

There’s some very useful stuff added here, with the extra details on game cards, and additional filter options likely to prove very handy (especially the idea of looking for quick fix games, or indeed the opposite end of the spectrum – games that will consume your life for the next month or three, perhaps). Note that the estimations of game lengths are drawn from a website (HowLongToBeat.com).

Furthermore, Microsoft continues to put its best foot forward with further efforts on the accessibility front. We’ve seen a lot of such work in Windows 11 at a broader level – with lots of progress with Voice Access in particular of late (courtesy of the Moment 3 update) – and it’s great to see this happening on the gaming side of the equation in the OS, too.

As a final note, one thing PC gamers might have missed is that Windows 11’s live captions work in games, too – and the feature does a pretty good job for those titles which don’t have native captions.

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Xbox tech set to reduce CPU overhead by up to 40% when gaming on Windows 11

Windows 11 gamers could get some really beefy benefits from DirectStorage tech, which was recently announced to have arrived on Microsoft’s newest OS – but it’ll be some time yet before developers incorporate it into games.

We already knew that Windows 11 would give users ‘optimal’ results with DirectStorage (compared to Windows 10) in terms of what this feature does – namely seriously speeding up NVMe SSDs.

However, there’s been an eye-opening revelation concerning exactly how much difference this will make when it comes to relieving the pressure on the PC’s processor.

As TweakTown reports, Cooper Partin, a senior software engineer at Microsoft, explained that the DirectStorage implementation for PC is specifically designed for Windows.

Partin noted: “DirectStorage is designed for modern gaming systems. It handles smaller reads more efficiently, and you can batch multiple requests together. When fully integrated with your title, DirectStorage, with an NVMe SSD on Windows 11, reduces the CPU overhead in a game by 20-40%.

“This is attributed to the advancements made in the file IO stack on Windows 11 and the improvements on that platform in general.”

Analysis: CPU resources freed which will make a major difference elsewhere

A 40% reduction is a huge difference in terms of lightening the load on the CPU, although that is a best-case scenario – but even 20% is a big step forward for freeing up processor resources.

Those resources can then be used elsewhere to help big open world games run more smoothly – as we’ve seen before, DirectStorage isn’t simply about making games load more quickly . There’s much more to it than that, and now we’re getting some exciting glimpses of exactly how much difference this Microsoft tech could make to PC games.

Of course, while the public SDK (software development kit) has been released, it’s still up to game developers to bake in this tech when they’re coding, and it’ll be quite some time before we see DirectStorage appearing in many games.

The first game which uses DirectStorage is Forspoken, and we got a glimpse of that at GDC, where it was shown to load up in a single second. Forspoken is scheduled to arrive in October 2022.

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