When NVIDIA announced its RTX line-up of graphics cards with real-time ray tracing capabilities, the company was met with a lot of skepticism. There were basically no games that took advantage of the new tech and to most people, spending extra bucks for something that doesn’t even exist yet was just not rational. However, the tech was promising and as time went by, more game developers opted into the ray tracing hype for their games. Almost a year after the RTX announcement, many games have come out that use real-time ray tracing for different purposes. For example, Battlefield 5 uses it just for reflections while Metro Exodus uses ray-tracing for the distribution of light as well.
What makes ray-tracing so important and special though? Well, there are a couple of industry-changing things that real-time raytracing brings to the table. Firstly, ray tracing can be used to make games look so much more immersive and stunning. For example, ray tracing mimics the real life in terms of how different surfaces reflect and distribute light making the whole world look much more realistic.
Other than that, ray tracing also makes the game creation process easier for developers. Until now, they’ve had to add artificial lighting and reflections themselves into the game but with ray tracing, that’s not necessary as the reflections and lighting can be simulated in real time thanks to the ray-tracing tech. Furthermore, according to the lead system architect for the PS4, ray tracing will also be potentially used to simulate real-time sound waves to make games much more immersive.
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Now, we have many anticipated games like Cyberpunk 2077 coming out that crank the raytracing usage up to eleven. NVIDIA and AMD are also now battling very hard to bring the best raytracing capable cards to the consumers and things are starting to heat up. Initially, the RTX cards looked unnecessary but now, having a raytracing capable card is a must if you are serious about your gaming. While NVIDIA has released drivers that enable raytracing capabilities on non-RTX graphics cards, the dip in performance after enabling raytracing is too much for most of them except only a couple of high end cards. So, here are some of the best ray tracing graphics cards that you can buy right now.
1. NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 Super:
The NVIDIA RTX 2060 Super is the latest entry in the RTX line of cards. After AMD announced its Navi RX 5700, NVIDIA had to make some amends to offer better value to customers. And thus, the RTX Super line of graphics cards was born. The RTX 2060 Super takes the mantle from the 2060 as the best graphics card in terms of performance per dollar. The performance is pretty much the same as an RTX 2070 so you can expect some pretty decent 1440p gaming with raytracing enabled. While it is not the most powerful card out there, it certainly sits right on the sweet spot between performance and cost for most people. Furthermore, most people who play competitive games prefer 1440p over 4K because of higher framerates and smoother gameplay.
The RTX 2060 Super features 2,176 CUDA cores clocked at a relatively higher 1,650 MHz. What this translates to is a whopping 7.2 Teraflops of pure performance. It also has a higher 8 GB of GDDR6 VRAM now making the card a lot more future proof. The RT cores on the 2060 Super have also been amped up from the usual 2060 from 30 to 34 making the RTX 2060 Super capable of delivering a whopping 6 Giga Rays per second for ray tracing. This means that the RTX 2060 Super delivers 1440p gameplay with ray tracing enabled for most games without a sweat.
For example, in Metro Exodus, at 1440p with ultra settings and ray tracing enabled, the card managed to attain a solid average of over 60 fps throughout the gameplay. In terms of design, the RTX 2060 Super looks pretty much the same as the original RTX 2060 boasting that familiar chrome finish from NVIDIA.
If you’re looking for a graphics card that doesn’t cost too much and can blast through most games easily with raytracing turned on, the RTX 2060 Super is definitely the one for you.
- Great 1440p raytracing performance
- Amazing value
- Sleek design
- Not powerful enough for 4K gaming
- Availability might be a problem
2. NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 Super:
The NVIDIA RTX 2070 Super is the higher end variant in the RTX Super line-up of graphics cards. It is a beefed up RTX 2070 which, in some people’s opinions, didn’t quite deliver the performance it should have according to its 500-dollar price tag. However, costing the same as what the RTX 2070 did at launch, the NVIDIA RTX 2070 Super definitely brings some much needed improvements that really make this card compelling. In terms of ray-tracing capabilities, the RTX 2070 Super is probably the best card to have if you want to really do some serious 1440p gaming with very high framerates. This means that you can be competitive in games like Battlefield V while having the added benefit and beauty of raytracing thanks to the amped up clock speeds and higher number of CUDA cores in the 2070 Super.
As far as raw power is concerned, the RTX 2070 Super boasts an impressive 2,560 CUDA cores with higher 1,770 MHz boost clock speeds. This is a significant improvement over the original RTX 2070 and when you consider the fact that the 2070 Super costs the same as the 2070 did at launch, the improvement is seriously impressive.
For raytracing, the RTX 2070 Super is an absolute beast as it has a higher number of RT and Tensor cores as well and can, thus, produce over 7 Giga Rays of raytracing performance. However, the improvement does mean a slight bump in power consumption as the RTX 2070 Super can swallow as much as 215 Watts of power. The video memory remains the same as the original RTX 2070 i.e. 8 GB of GDDR6 clocked at 14 Gbps, which, in hindsight, is still really good and did not really need to be increased in the first place.
When translated to real life, the RTX 2070 Super holds up really well in most games at 1440p with raytracing enabled. For example, in Metro Exodus, the RTX 2070 Super managed to get over 70 fps on average comfortably throughout our tests at ultra settings and with full raytracing enabled. However, if you’re looking for something that can handle raytracing at 4K, you might have to look elsewhere as this card only managed just over 30 fps at 4K resolution. In terms of design, the RTX 2070 Super is a bit hefty but still rocks the same sleek metallic finish that the original RTX 2070 had.
If you’re looking for something with a bit more oomph and also future proofing while also not spending too much, the RTX 2070 Super is the perfect fit for you. The card is powerful enough to last for a few years while also not being too heavy on the wallet. You can get the RTX 2070 Super for around $500 in the market right now.
- Future proof
- The best card for 1440p gaming with raytracing
- Consumes more power
- Still costs a lot
3. NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti:
Sometimes, you’re not looking for something that is just good enough and you want something that separates you from the common chaff. If you’re one of those people that want the absolute best and do not want to settle for anything less, the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti is the graphics card for you. It is the most powerful consumer graphics card around. While it is not as new as the Super line of RTX cards, it still sits on top of the pyramid. Coming out in September of last year, the 2080 Ti led the revolution of ray tracing in gaming and set the benchmark for everyone else.
During the first few months, people weren’t very happy about the high price point of the card as ray tracing was still an unproven technology and wasn’t optimized very well either. However, the card has seen a resurgence as ray tracing has started to gain some mainstream traction. In terms of raw power and performance, nothing comes close to the RTX 2080 Ti. It is the absolute elite graphics card to have. However, to get the best out of an RTX 2080 Ti, you’d need other PC components that are equally as good so expect a hefty dent on your wallet.
The NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti is the ultimate card for 4K gaming with raytracing thanks to its ample 11GB of GDDR6 VRAM and 4,352 CUDA cores clocked at 1,635MHz. To put this into perspective, the number of CUDA cores in a 2080 Ti is twice as much as an RTX 2060 Super. The colossal specs don’t stop there, however, as the 2080 Ti also has 68 RT Cores for some serious ray tracing power.
In real life tests, the RTX 2080 Ti just blasts through anything that is thrown at it, whether it is 1440p or 4K. For example, at 4K ultra settings with ray tracing turned on, the RTX 2080 Ti manages to get over 60 fps with ease consistently in both Battlefield 5 and Metro Exodus even reaching the 100 fps mark at times. However, with great power comes great responsibility and you’d need a pretty decent thermal solution as the card produces a lot of heat.
In terms of design, the RTX 2080 Ti sports the usual dual fan cooling system. However, it also has a full-length vapor chamber that covers the entire PCB of the card for some extra cooling. Other than that, as it is the most powerful consumer graphics card out there, it being hefty and massive isn’t really something that you’d have to guess. The RTX 2080 Ti is big and powerful.
If you want the best 4K ray tracing experience for current and upcoming games on PC, the RTX 2080 Ti is the one for you. However, at around $1100, it is really expensive for a graphics card but with the top notch power it delivers, one can’t really complain. Read our full review right here!
- The best graphics card for 4K ray tracing gaming
- Draws less power than its predecessors
- Extremely expensive
- Gets quite hot
4. NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060:
The NVIDIA RTX 2060 is the ultimate budget card for your ray tracing needs. However, don’t let that ‘budget’ label fool you as the RTX 2060 is still an extremely capable card. While it may not have the raw power of something like an RTX 2080 Ti, it can still hold up on its own for most games. A lot of people are not too fussed about the resolution of their games and just want the best experience instead. In some cases, the best experience is indeed not related to the resolution as a lot of people play games on relatively smaller displays and cranking up the graphics settings is more important to them. If you’re one of those people, the RTX 2060 is the card for you.
While it is the lowest in the pyramid of RTX cards, it still has dedicated RT cores meaning that it is still a lot more capable at ray tracing than a non-RTX graphics card. It is also the cheapest RTX card that you can get and will cost you only around $320 which is pretty low considering that the card is fully capable of real time ray tracing at good framerates. In terms of raw power, the RTX 2060 makes use of 6 GB of the latest GDDR6 14Gbps VRAM. It also has 50% more CUDA cores than the older 1060 making it a real powerhouse. Without raytracing, you can even go up to 4K at 30 fps or 1440p at 60 which was not the case last generation.
Even with ray tracing turned on, the RTX 2060 easily manages over 40 fps during 1440p gaming. However, 1080p is where the card shines at its best. In Battlefield 5 at 1080p with ultra settings and ray tracing, the RTX 2060 comfortably hovers over the 70 fps mark at all times. At release, the value proposition that the 2060 offered was not exactly very compelling but after the 2060 Super came out, the RTX 2060 got a price cut and now it is the best budget ray tracing card out there. One thing that is missing from the RTX 2060, however, is the exclusion of an NVLink connector or SLI support which is a bummer.
Other than that, the RTX 2060 is a pretty standard RTX card in terms of design with dual fan coolers and a relatively smaller size. The NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 can be bought for a slashed price of $320 on amazon right now. Read out full review right here!
- Best card for 1080p ray traced gaming
- No thermal issues
- Relatively cheap
- Lack of NV Link or SLI support
- Not powerful enough for 1440p or 4K gaming
5. NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Super:
The NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Super is the most powerful of the new Super line-up of RTX cards from NVIDIA. However, it is still not quite as powerful as the 2080 Ti and sits somewhere above the vanilla 2080. It offers a slight upgrade over the original RTX 2080 while costing lesser than what the 2080 launched at which is a pretty good deal. If you’ve already bought one of the original RTX cards, however, getting a 2080 Super doesn’t really make much sense. This is more for people who have been waiting for a price drop for the original 2080. In any case, the 2080 Super is no slouch and can manage some great 1440p ray traced and 4K gaming without breaking a sweat.
In terms of raw power, the RTX 2080 Super is a beefed up version of the original RTX 2080. It has a slightly higher number of CUDA cores at 3,072 as compared to the 2080’s 2,944. Where the RTX 2080 Super does set itself apart from the original 2080 is the VRAM department where it has a faster 15.5 Gbps of memory bandwidth as compared to the 2080’s 14 Gbps. It is still not exactly what you’d call a massive upgrade though and is only suitable for those who haven’t really bought a graphics card for a long time since one could get the RTX 2080 for a discounted price these days as well.
When we move to the real life benchmarks, the results are pretty much what you’d expect. The RTX 2080 Super blazes through anything that is thrown at it, showing around 5 to 10% improvement over the RTX 2080. In Metro Exodus at 4K ultra with ray tracing turned on, the RTX 2080 Super managed around 40-45 fps which is playable. Turning the resolution down to 1440p just made the fps number skyrocket to high 80s.
At the end of the day, if you already have a relatively newer card, this might not be compelling enough for you. However, if you’ve been waiting to get a price drop on an RTX 2080, the 2080 Super is the one for you as it costs less and packs a stronger punch at the same time. You can get the RTX 2080 Super right now for around 700 bucks.
- Capable of decent 4K gaming with raytracing
- Cheaper than the original RTX 2080 at launch
- Still pretty expensive
- Not enough improvement over the 2080
6. NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070:
The NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 didn’t really get much praise when it launched last year because of a couple of reasons. Firstly, it was pretty expensive for a midrange card at over 500 dollars. Furthermore, the card did not really have an identity of what it was supposed to be. It was not capable enough for 4K ray traced gaming and was just somewhere in limbo land between 1440p and 4K. However, after the release of the RTX Super cards, the RTX 2070 got a price cut and now, the card actually offers some pretty good value for people who want some blazing fast 1440p ray traced gaming.
The NVIDIA RTX 2070 is an older sibling to the RTX 2060 Super. It is fast, power efficient and bridges the gap between 1440p and 4K gaming. So, if you want something that can provide some very decent 1440p ray traced gaming for many years, the RTX 2070 is the card for you. In terms of raw specs, the RTX 2070 boasts 2,304 CUDA cores which is slightly higher than the RTX 2060 Super clocked at 1,710 MHz boosted. Additionally, it has a pretty beefy 8GB GDDR6 VRAM with the same blazing fast bandwidth of 14 Gbps. The card is also very power efficient but doesn’t support NVLink or SLI.
The gains over the RTX 2060 Super carry over to real life as well. In benchmarks, we saw a solid gain of around 5-10% over the 2060 Super in most games. For example, in Metro Exodus at 1440p ultra with raytracing, the RTX 2070 managed to get over the 70 fps mark consistently and that too without any overclocking. At a price just over $450, you can’t really ask for much more and the 2070 has now really cemented its place into the midrange ranks of graphics cards.
- Amazing 1440p ray traced gaming
- Low energy consumption
- No SLI or NVLink support
- Not quite good enough for 4K gaming
7. NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080:
When the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 launched last year, it was met with skepticism. Yes, it was one of the most powerful mainstream graphics cards on the planet, but the price, for a lot of people, was just too much. At $800, the RTX 2080 was almost 300 dollars more expensive than its predecessor and NVIDIA struggled to justify the price increase for quite some time as raytracing was still not really fleshed out properly. However, almost a year later, the RTX 2080 has received a hefty price cut thanks to the release of the RTX Super cards and now, at $680, the RTX 2080 offers some pretty good value for what you get.
Firstly, it is perfectly capable of some very decent 4K ray traced gaming. Furthermore, it is almost as good as the much newer RTX 2080 Super at a much lower price point meaning that you are potentially getting a better value here. As it is meant for 4K gaming, the RTX 2080 packs some pretty beefy specs. 2,944 CUDA cores, 46 RT cores and 468 Tensor cores make RTX 2080 one of the most powerful consumer cards out right now perfect for anyone’s ray tracing needs. Elsewhere, the story is pretty much what you’d expect with 8 GB GDDR6 VRAM. However, the card is quite power hungry unlike the other RTX cards.
In real life tests, the RTX 2080 delivers exactly what you’d expect, stable framerates at 4K resolution. In Metro Exodus, the RTX 2080 consistently manages to hover over the playable 40 fps mark in 4k with raytracing turned on. However, if you do want to cross that 60 mark, you might have to dial a couple of settings down. In any case, the RTX 2080 offers some pretty good value and manages to hit that sweet spot of performance per dollar. Read our full review right here!
- Decent 4K ray traced gaming performance
- Overclocking is easy
- Power hungry
- Not quite able to do 4K60 with raytracing