NVIDIA shows how much ray-tracing sucks on older GPUs

Sarah Tew  CNET

Sarah Tew CNET

The GTX GPUs that support the new Ray-Tracing technology update are GeForce GTX 1660ti, GTX 1660, Titan XP (2017), Titan X (2016), GTX 1080ti, GTX 1080, GTX 1070ti, GTX 1070, GTX 1060 6GB and the laptops that are equipped with equivalent Pascal and Turing-architecture GPUs. Those demos are available to download today from NVIDIA's website, while the Game Ready driver for GTX cards can be found on the company's Drivers page.

As of this writing, the games that support ray tracing are Battlefield 5, Shadow of the Tomb Raider, and Metro Exodus. That's because the last-generation GTX cards use traditional shader cores and don't have dedicated RT cores like the new RTX components. NVIDIA makes it clear that its RTX cards are still the best GPUs for ray tracing, so in some ways, this sort of feels like a play to get GTX users to upgrade to more capable RTX cards. The GTX 1080 Ti, for instance, hit an average of 30 frames per second, and while that might pale in comparison to something like the RTX 2080's average of 65.7 frames per second with DLSS turned on, it still isn't bad for 1440p gaming with DXR.

While speaking with journalists, Nvidia product manager Justin Walker said he recommends playing the games at a 1920 by 1080 resolution, and perhaps downgrading other settings. So dropping to low might get you something a little smoother on the more demanding ray tracing games. Showcases ray-traced reflections, ray-traced area light shadows, ray-traced ambient occlusion for characters and Nvidia DLSS technology.

Enabling DXR on GeForce GTX gives developers the flexibility to optimize their games for systems that don't necessarily have the RTX enhancements on board. Much to my own surprise however, NVIDIA says that they aren't expecting to see game developers release patches to take into account DXR support on cards without RT hardware; this of course isn't required since DXR abstracts away the hardware difference, however it's up to developers to account for the performance difference. However, there are still a few interesting things to note here, namely how well our current best graphics card for 1080p victor, the GTX 1660 Ti, compares with Nvidia's much more expensive GTX 1080.

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This post originally appeared on Tom's Guide. It is the first time that real time ray tracing has been used for caustics.

Switching to 1080P made a few cards more viable, but even then only the RTX cards are approaching 60 FPS and even then only with DLSS enabled to help push them over the line. If you own any of them, you can try out ray tracing in the above-mentioned games. If you don't have any of those games, Nvidia is also releasing a trio of tech demos that show off RTX's chops. At the time of their announcement, NVIDIA announced that this driver would be released in April, and now this morning, NVIDIA is releasing the new driver.

With the exception of Metro Exodus's intense Global Illumination, the newer GeForce RTX 1660 and 1660 Ti deliver roughly as much performance as Nvidia's older GTX 1080 flagship with ray tracing enabled. While these cards feature the Turing architecture, both are missing the dedicated RT Core silicon to augment the ray tracing experience.

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