During Gamescon last year Nvidia presented their new line of graphics cards based on the Turing architecture. These included the GeForce RTX 2070, RTX 2080 and RTX 2080 Ti (both the 2080 versions have Founders Edition variants with higher boost clocks). The initial reveal was followed up by the “budget option” RTX 2060 just a couple of weeks ago.
Now we won’t get into specifics technical details how these cards work, but will give you a general idea how they stack up to the currently wider spread RTX line and is the upgrade worth the money.
The main selling point of the new line is the ray tracing option. It is essentially a method to enhance the visual presentation of games by improving the by improving the light, shadow and reflection effects. At first glance this sound promising, of course, but if you dig a little deeper you’ll probably find yourself torn between the decision “to buy or not to buy”.
The first obstacle you’ll encounter is where to even use the since the only AAA games who have this option (as of writing) are Battlefield V and Shadow of the Tomb Raider (along with the upcoming Metro Exodus and smaller games that barely step beyond the category of a tech demo). There have been announcements that more developers will include this option in future releases, but nothing is official yet. This puts you in an awkward position where you’ve splurged for a brand new piece of hardware, but have scant opportunity to use it.
Unfortunately lack of content is not the only problem. Even you’re just fine with using it on even one game, you’ll still be hard pressed to give in and turn ray tracing on since your FPS plummets the moment you do so (on the highest settings by half).
Seeing these numbers, it’s obvious that this technology isn’t optimized yet, or at least not enough to be viable, especially in games that require quick reflexes and therefore high FPS. There have been updates through various drivers that should bump the FPS on ultra to 60 (on Battlefield), but for this price that could still prove no enough.
Deep Learning Super Sampling
DLSS is the other side of the coin when it comes to RTX cards. It’s an anti-aliasing algorithm that uses “the power of deep learning and AI to train the GPU render crisp images”. In itself this doesn’t mean much, but it actually speeds everything up, while at the same time using less resources. The idea is that, over time, this would completely replace the now standard temporal anti-aliasing.
Since it doesn’t bring much to the table regarding picture quality, many citing it’s a glorified upscaling method and observing in a vacuum it does seem that way. Consider however the long-term pairing of both ray tracing and DLSS. You’ll be able to level out the high requirements of ray tracing with the performance enhancing DLSS making RTX cards reach over 60 FPS, or in other words, matching the performance you’re getting now with the GTX line without ray tracing.
The other great thing about DLSS is the rate at which it’s catching on with developers. It’s already confirmed that Battlefield V, Final Fantasy XV, Hitman 2, PUBG and more will be adding it with future updates and some new games will have it set up at launch.
You could say that the key features of the new RTX line are still a work in progress. There are too many unknowns, especially regarding ray tracing, since there isn’t a big enough pool to test these features out. We’ll all have to wait and see how it works on a larger scale, in more game spanning multiple genres. As it stands right now, you’ll be using the RTX line without ray tracing, just as an upgraded version of the GTX line, which honestly doesn’t seem necessary. Then, of course, there is the price. As you would expect of a new line, the prices are up there, and there aren’t any expectations of price drops this early in the cycle.
If you’re building a new gaming rig, have the money and are looking for long-term viability then these might be the cards for you. Even without ray tracing, you’ll be getting the best cards on the market. If, however you already have something with decent specs (any of the GTX 10s) and are pondering an upgrade our advice is to wait a while, because right now there really isn’t any reason to rush it.