GeForce Experience: A Beginner’s Guide for Better Gameplay

Gfe Setup Guide Featured Image

NVIDIA GeForce Experience is a software suite that comes with the drivers for your NVIDIA graphics card. Technically, you don’t even need to use GeForce Experience; some people even go far out of their way to install just the driver and not the suite. But for the majority of users, we highly recommend installing GeForce Experience because of the huge number of features on offer. Let’s dive into how to set it up and use those cool extra features, while also answering some common questions.

How to Download and Install GeForce Experience

Fortunately, GeForce Experience has a pretty straightforward installation process. First, head to the GeForce Experience download page and click “Download Now.”

Gfe Setup Guide Download Step 1

Once the setup application is downloaded, it’s time to run the installer. Double click on the installer to install it like any other Windows application.

Gfe Setup Guide Setup Step 1 Eula

After installation, you will need to sign into GeForce Experience before you can start using it. If you don’t already have an NVIDIA account set up, you can use a social media login instead.

Gfe Setup Guide Setup Step 2 Login

Upon initial sign-in, you’ll be brought to the Home Screen with a pop-up offering you a tour and an option to automatically optimize games as you install them. We recommend unchecking this option for now and skipping the tour. You can always come back to it later if you feel like you’ve missed something.

Gfe Setup Guide Setup Step 3 Launch Choice

What’s Included in GeForce Experience?

GeForce Experience basically has three key pillars: the Game Optimization feature on the Home Screen, the Driver update feature on the Drivers Screen, and the NVIDIA Share overlay used to capture and record gameplay.

Before we jump into the extras, we are focusing on the main reason to get GeForce Experience: easy driver updates.

Gfe Setup Guide Driver Demo Step 1

On the Drivers screen, you will be automatically notified when a new driver is available. You can even change settings to have driver updates be auto-downloaded, though we wouldn’t recommend this on a bandwidth-limited or latency-sensitive connection.

Gfe Setup Guide Driver Demo Step 2

The driver update process is pretty straightforward, too. Once the download is done, you can choose between an “Express” and “Custom” installation. Express will just upgrade over your existing driver with minimal fuss, but Custom offers a few extra options, including a clean reinstall.

Gfe Setup Guide Driver Demo Step 3 Custom Install

How Does GeForce Experience Optimize Gaming?

The Game Optimization available in GeForce Experience can serve as a way to somewhat simplify graphics optimization for users. This can be especially useful for those who don’t know how to optimize graphics settings on their own.

To optimize an individual game, head to the Home screen and select the game of your choice. For this tutorial, I’m using Doom Eternal.

The first thing you’ll notice when choosing a game in GeForce Experience is that you’ll be given a slideshow of different in-game screenshots highlighting and explaining different graphical effects.

Gfe Setup Guide Optimize Games Screenshot

Below this screen, you’ll see a list of both your current in-game settings and NVIDIA’s recommended settings:

  • Decal quality
  • Depth of field
  • Depth of field anti-aliasing
  • Directional occlusion
  • Display mode
  • Geometric quality
  • Lights quality
  • Particles quality
  • Reflections quality
  • Resolution
  • Resolution scale
  • Resolution scaling mode
  • Resolution scaling target FPS
  • Shadow quality
  • Texture filtering quality
  • Texture pool size
  • Volumetrics quality
  • Water quality
Gfe Setup Guide Optimize Games Settings

On my GTX 1070, these settings are a little overzealous by default. While my system can certainly run Doom Eternal at NVIDIA’s recommended settings and 60 FPS, I’m running on a 144 Hz monitor and want a bit more than that. Fortunately, you can adjust the curve that balances GeForce Experience by clicking the Wrench icon.

Gfe Setup Guide Optimize Games Slider Quality

You can adjust this slider according to your preferences. For my GTX 1070 and high-intensity games like Doom Eternal, I adjusted the slider to the value in the screenshot below.

Gfe Setup Guide Optimize Games Slider Performance

If you look at my settings, you’ll notice that more of them already match NVIDIA’s recommendations. However, NVIDIA remains a bit overzealous with a few options here, pushing Ultra Nightmare and adding lots of GPU utilization where it isn’t needed. Most of the settings being pushed to Ultra Nightmare don’t add too much stress, but something like Volumetrics Quality definitely shouldn’t be on Ultra Nightmare in a performance config.

Gfe Setup Guide Optimize Games Settings For Performance

Fortunately, where GeForce Experience makes a mistake like this, it’s pretty easy to fix. However, this is why I wouldn’t recommend that users allow GeForce Experience to auto-optimize all of their games. Unless they only plan on playing at 1080p and 60 FPS.

If you’re targeting that simpler, console-esque experience, setting games to auto-optimize on GeForce Experience makes a lot of sense, but don’t be afraid to test settings changes of your own.

For instance, I recommend against using Motion Blur or Depth of Field – not just because they use extra performance but because they can both actively impede the visual readability of a given game.

How to Access NVIDIA Share in GeForce Experience

NVIDIA Share, previously called Shadowplay, is NVIDIA’s software solution for recording and streaming gameplay directly from your GPU. We’ve actually already written a more detailed guide on NVIDIA Share, but for this article, we do still want to give you a solid place to start.

First, go ahead and hit Ctrl + Z to open your NVIDIA Share overlay. It should look something like the screenshot below.

Gfe Setup Guide Nvidia Share

From here, you can toggle each of these features pretty much at will and change their specific settings, as long as they aren’t enabled at the time (e.g., you can’t change Instant Replay settings while it’s enabled, as it’s still recording).

If there are any specific settings you’re looking for, you’ll want to click the Gear icon to dive into them. Most users shouldn’t need to bother with deeper configuration of NVIDIA Share, but the settings menu does have a few hidden gems.

The main things I recommend changing are “Privacy Control” and “Audio.”

If you’re on desktop, “Privacy Control” will allow Instant Replay and Recording to also work on your desktop and ill be less likely to get disrupted by alt-tabbing out of the game in question.

For desktop and laptop users, though, you’ll definitely want to go into “Audio” to split your audio tracks.

Gfe Setup Guide Nvidia Share Audio Tracks

By enabling “Separate both tracks,” you’ll get cleaner recordings of your desktop/game audio. You can still use the mic track when editing and uploading the video, and having it be a separate track will make it much easier to edit and remove background noise.

For settings beyond these, check out our dedicated guide on NVIDIA Share.

Troubleshooting GeForce Experience

If you’re experiencing issues with GeForce Experience, especially crashing or other issues that are affecting your gameplay, it may be time to do a clean reinstall.

If your issues seem to be minor, and you just want to start over, follow our initial setup process above and select “Perform a clean installation.”

If you still have issues following a clean installation, however, you may need to go a little further. In this scenario, you’ll want to download Display Driver Uninstaller. Make sure that DDU and your driver install executable are in an easy-to-find place in your files (even your desktop will do), then reboot into Safe Mode.

Run DDU first, then install your new driver and restart into Windows. If you’re still experiencing issues past this point, unfortunately, you’re most likely dealing with either a graphics card issue or a problem elsewhere in your system.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Do I need to use GeForce Experience to get NVIDIA drivers?

Gfe Setup Guide Download Driver Only

If you don’t want to use GeForce Experience, don’t worry! You can (and should) still get up-to-date NVIDIA Graphics Drivers. Click here to head to NVIDIA’s office driver download page.

2. Is GeForce Experience free?

Yes, but the NVIDIA graphics card required to use it is not.

3. Does GeForce Experience work on laptops?

As long as the laptop in question has an NVIDIA graphics card, it will work.

4. Are all games supported by GeForce Experience?

No, but the majority of modern, non-obscure indie games are. Additionally, if a game is supported by GeForce Experience, you’ll be able to apply optimized settings regardless of what storefront (Steam, Origin, GOG) you get it from.

However, Xbox Game Pass games, Microsoft Store games, and other UWP-based games are not supported by GeForce Experience. Games from non-Microsoft platforms will nearly always work, though!

If you’re worried about optimizing graphics settings on your own in those games, don’t be. The settings you’ve been seeing and tweaking in GeForce Experience with supported games will be similar or identical to the ones in non-supported games. As a shortcut, start by turning off anti-aliasing and motion blur and setting a medium graphics preset if you’re getting poor performance.

5. What’s the difference between GeForce Experience and NVIDIA Control Panel?

If you right-click the NVIDIA icon in your taskbar, you may notice that you actually get to choose between two options rather than just GeForce Experience.

Gfe Setup Guide Gfe And Ncp Tray Icon

NVIDIA Control Panel shares some similarities with GeForce Experience, and unlike GeForce Experience, is actually a native part of the NVIDIA graphics driver. Even if you could skip NVIDIA Control Panel installation, though, you definitely wouldn’t want to.

Gfe Setup Guide Ncp

NVIDIA Control Panel is where you control settings like resolution, refresh rate, color settings, and G-Sync support. With “Manage 3D Settings”, you can also set Global or Per-Program 3D graphics settings, including Low Latency Mode and Power Management Mode. Most settings here have explanations built in, too!

Are you looking for more guides? Check out this ultimate monitor buying guide, the best RGB keyboards guide, and this graphics card buying guide.

Christopher Harper Christopher Harper

I'm a longtime gamer, computer nerd, and general tech enthusiast.

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