What is real time ray tracing and is it worth the money?

If you have been keeping up with developments, you will likely know that Nvidia has released some new graphics cards in the RTX20X series that feature real time ray tracing. This feature is making huge waves in gaming right now but comes at a cost. So is it worth jumping on the bandwagon right away or better to wait for a while before you splash the cash?

Aside from running Dave’s Computers in New Jersey, I’m a gamer and I spend a lot of my free time playing all kinds of PC games. Any hardware, software game or peripheral that comes out, I want to know about it. Ray tracing is exciting but it also comes at a premium. Is that premium worth paying right away or is it safer to wait until the technology has proven itself and is lower in cost?

What is real time ray tracing?

Real time ray tracing is a way to render lighting in computer graphics. Once the preserve of supercomputers for movie studios with CGI, it is now being brought into the home with Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 2070 and 2080 graphics cards. You once needed a $20,000 computer to perform real time ray tracing. Now you can do it for $500.

The engine behind ray tracing calculates how every ray of light would react, reflect or rebound off any surface it might hit in real time to produce some amazing lighting effects. Even reading that statement, you begin to understand the computational power required to render every single ray of light in its journey while also rendering everything else the game needs to look amazing.

Here’s an in-depth look at how ray tracing works if you want to take a read.

Is it worth the money?

Being an early adopter in anything is an expensive and sometimes, risky business. In computers, it’s more expense than risk. At the time of writing, Nvidia have also released a cheaper RTX2060 card with ray tracing capabilities that will run you $350, which is pretty good for a new generation card. However, its ability to run 1920×1080 at 60fps with ray tracing has yet to be reliably established.

Currently, the only game that utilizes ray tracing is Battlefield 5. Other games will surely follow but for now, BF5 with ray tracing runs at around 30-40fps in high action scenes. That will improve with optimization and new drivers and Dice has already done a huge amount of work to optimize the game.

If you’re in the market for a new graphics card, the Nvidia RTX series makes for a good purchase. If you’re looking specifically for ray tracing, the 2060 has yet to prove itself but the 2070 and 2080 seem competent enough.

Whether it’s worth the money or not is up to you. So far, Nvidia have priced the RTX series competitively and offer all the features of a premium graphics card. The ray tracing feature comes as well as graphics performance, not instead of it. There are not yet enough games out to justify spending $500 on a graphics card purely for ray tracing but as you’re getting a good card and ray tracing, they do make sense.

If you have any issues with graphics or getting your new graphics card to work, visit Dave’s Computers in New Jersey. We are always happy to help!