Nvidia's future-focused reveal of the GeForce RTX 2080 and RTX 2080 Ti admirably outlined the gorgeous potential of real-time ray tracing, but left gamers hanging on a key question: How will the new Turing-based GPUs perform in traditional non-ray-traced games? With preorders already open for GeForce RTX graphics cards, it's a crucial detail. On Wednesday, Nvidia pulled back the curtain on how much faster the GeForce RTX 2080 is compared to the GeForce GTX 1080, and revealed some additional information about new RTX-boosted software features, including a massive upgrade to Ansel super-screenshots. Nvidia expects rasterized (read: normal) PC games to run about 1.5 times faster on the GeForce RTX 2080 than the GeForce GTX 1080, as you can see in the graph below. Games that take advantage of the new Deep Learning Super Sampling technology for the GeForce RTX series are roughly twice as fast on the 2080, Nvidia says.
It was promised at GDC last month, and now it's here. On Thursday, Nvidia released Game Ready drivers that unlock DirectX Raytracing support on the GeForce GTX 1660 and 1660 Ti, and on GTX 10-series graphics cards from the 6GB GTX 1060 on up. You read that correctly: You no longer need a pricey GeForce RTX 20-series graphics card to experience ray tracing in games that support it. Nvidia and its partners also released a trio of new tech demos that allow gamers to see the power of ray tracing for free. If you want to experience the best possible ray tracing, you'll still want to upgrade to an RTX graphics card.
Nvidia invested heavily in real-time ray tracing capabilities in its GeForce RTX 20-series graphics cards--so much so that those highest-end GeForce GPUs swapped out the age-old "GTX" branding for the new "RTX" name. But industry support for the radical new technology hasn't been fast in coming. Only a handful of big-name games ship with RTX features enabled. At the annual Game Developers Conference on Monday, the company revealed plans designed to spur wider adoption. Beyond some dev-centric announcements, Nvidia is enabling basic ray tracing support for several non-RTX GeForce GPUs.
Three weeks back, EA officially turned RTX on in Battlefield V, becoming the first game to support the radical real-time ray tracing capabilities of Nvidia's GeForce RTX 2070 and RTX 2080 and 2080 Ti graphics cards. Real-time ray tracing has long been considered the Holy Grail of gaming graphics. The fact that it's running at all in modern games is very technically impressive and required the addition of dedicated hardware in Nvidia's graphics cards. Some gamers were nevertheless disappointed at the significant performance hit associated with turning on RTX. Now, Nvidia and EA are delivering updates that considerably improve DXR ray-tracing performance in Battlefield V, by up to a claimed 50 percent.
After debuting in luxury-priced enthusiast graphics cards exclusively, Nvidia's real-time ray tracing is finally coming to the masses with the GeForce RTX 2060--although this $350 graphics card, as powerful as it is, skirts the upper limits of what could be considered mainstream. Yes, the GeForce RTX 2060 maintains the inflated pricing of other RTX options, which effectively bumps the cost of each performance tier up a notch. The $700 RTX 2080 costs as much as last generation's GTX 1080 Ti; the $500 RTX 2070 mirrors the price of the GTX 1080; and while the last-gen GTX 1060 cost $260, this new RTX 2060 moves into the GTX 1070's previous territory with a $90 price hike. But while the RTX 2070 and 2080 largely delivered performance in line with their similarly priced predecessors, you get a bit more with the GeForce RTX 2060. Not only does the card pack the dedicated RT and tensor core hardware that gives RTX GPUs their cutting-edge ray tracing capabilities, it trades blows in traditional game performance with the $450 GTX 1070 Ti rather than the $380 GTX 1070.