NVIDIA unveils real-time ray tracing graphics cards w/ its RTX 20-series lineup

NVIDIA, one of the biggest names in computer gaming, is back at it with the company’s latest graphics cards. Featuring NVIDIA Turing architecture, the 20-series GPUs feature something computer gamers have long wanted: real-time ray tracing. This, along with more performance, could make the 20-series graphics cards one of the biggest updates to gaming in a long time…but should you upgrade?

Last year, I upgraded from my GTX 970 to the GTX 1080, and it was one of the best computer upgrades I had done in a long time. With Turing, however, I’m likely going to be passing, at least at the start.

Every computer enthusiast knows that when new graphics cards come out, there’s a high chance of dropping hundreds, if not thousands of dollars on new models.

NVIDIA’s Turing platform changes the name from GeForce GTX to GeForce RTX, and that’s mainly due to the new ray tracing abilities of the 20-series cards. NVIDIA claims up to 6x faster performance from previous generation graphics cards.

Real-time ray tracing is the game here. Ray tracing is the “definitive solution for lifelike lighting, reflections, and shadows …” according to NVIDIA. This will enable super realistic effects when gaming, giving your alternate universe a more cinematic experience.

Until now, ray tracing was only available for pre-rendered assets and was generally used in movies. It required a lot of computational power and doing it in real-time versus something pre-rendered was just a pipe dream to many computer gamers. With NVIDIA Turing, though, it could become a quick reality.

We’re at the mercy of game developers with this technology, however. Though some titles will support Turing out of the box like Shadow of the Tomb Raider, Battlefield V, and Metro Exodus, you really won’t see many real-world use cases for RTX graphics cards for several months while we wait for game developers to jump on board.

Power wise, yes, Turing graphics cards will outpace the previous architecture by far. But, not in every area. As pointed out by PCWorld, the RTX 2080 features fewer CUDA cores than the previous-generation GTX 1080 Ti, coming in at 2,944 verses 3,584.

Really, the 20-series graphics card are for those who need to be on the bleeding edge. In my opinion, consumers are better off staying on the 10-series of cards as they come back down in price.

You’re looking at a starting price of $599 for founders edition cards, and $499 for aftermarket options from makers like EVGA, MSI, and others.

This is a great step in the right direction, I think. Real-time ray tracing is something gamers have long wanted, and its finally here. The only issue is, with new technologies comes adoption times.

We really won’t know exactly how great the performance gain is in current-generation games until benchmarks are done, and we’d recommend waiting until those come out before pulling the trigger on picking up these new cards; unless you want to be on the cutting edge.

We saw it with the iPhone X when apps had to update to support the new display, and we’ll see it here. The only difference is, an app can be updated in a few weeks…games take years to build with new technologies.

You can visit NVIDIA’s website to pre-order the RTX 2070, 2080, or 2080 Ti starting at $599. RTX graphics cards are starting to appear on Amazon, Best Buy, and Newegg.

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