Nvidia RTX GPUs bring ray tracing to PC gaming

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Nvidia has unveiled its new GeForce RTX 20-series GPUs, which are the first commercial graphics processors capable of ray tracing.

In a pre-Gamescom briefing in Cologne, Nvidia announced three new graphics cards: the GeForce RTX 2070, 2080 and 2080Ti. They are the first PC GPUs which can use a technique called ray tracing, which essentially works by tracing an imaginary path of light from the viewer’s eye back to the virtual objects in a game – in the process dealing with both lighting and textures.

Ray tracing can bring a leap in graphics quality but must be specifically supported by games. Nvidia announced that the PC versions of Battlefield V, Shadow of the Tomb Raider and Metro Exodus will all support it, with plenty more games likely to be added. Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang said that the GeForce RTX 2070 is more powerful than the GTX Titan XP, previously Nvidia’s most powerful graphics card.

However, there were some caveats following Nvidia’s reveal. The company said that it had to invent new ray-tracing-specific benchmarks, so its speed claims for the new cards will remain dubious until reviewers have managed to run benchmarks on them. And the cards are eye-wateringly expensive: Nvidia’s own cards made with the GPUs start at $599 in the US for the RTX 2070 and rise to $1,199 for the RTX 2080Ti.

 Still, ray tracing has long been something of a holy grail for games graphics – it was previously confined to high-end CGI setups. Click here to find out more about the RTX 20-series cards.