Nvidia’s RTX series gained a lot of hype because of their Ray Tracing and DLSS features which enabled realistic looking graphics quality and reflections in games. The feature was locked on for the RTX 20 series GPU only and no other manufacturer was offering this as they didn’t have the required hardware.
But now Nvidia has announced that the last gen Pascal GPU owners will also be able to experience some ray tracing. They will release a driver update in April which will enable basic DirectX ray tracing. This isn’t quite surprising as any DirectX 12 supported graphics card can already theoretically enable fancy ray tracing effects using the Microsoft’s DirectX ray tracing API.
The performance, however, will be very poor as they do not come with the right hardware. Currently, only Nvidia RTX 20 series GPU feature RT and Tensor cores designed for machine learning and ray tracing that help enable Deep Learning Super Sampling (DLSS).
This seems like a clever marketing strategy by Nvidia to make more sales as it will push more gamers to upgrade to the new RTX series when they will not be able to properly experience the ray tracing feature. The performance of the GTX series will be 30-50 percent less than the RTX if the ray tracing feature is enabled.
Keep in mind that even Nvidia’s most powerful GPU the RTX 2080 delivers only 60+ frame rate at max settings and ray tracing set to Ultra. If we take a look at the Nvidia’s comparison chart we can see that even the most powerful GPU of last gen, the GTX 1080 Ti is struggling to deliver playable frame rates.
You might be able to experience games that use less computational horsepower like Battlefield V. But in more demanding titles like Metro Exodus, the frame rate caters all the way down to 18 FPS on a GTX 1080 Ti.
Of course, there are a few things to consider here like the test was performed at 1440p settings and ray tracing set to Ultra. These aren’t the comparison points you would use if the goal was to represent that the 1080 Ti can offer ray tracing.
You might be able to get playable frame rates if you lower the graphics settings to low or medium and then enable the ray tracing.
This will incline more gamers to upgrade their hardware as Nvidia themselves have admitted that their sales of RTX series have not been as much as they expected. So they have added DXR compatibility to the GTX series graphics card that will never actually be able to support the feature but will give a demo to the owners.
Here’s the list of all the graphics card that will support the ray tracing through the latest driver update.
- NVIDIA Titan V
- NVIDIA Titan XP
- Titan X
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 Ti
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 6 GB
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660 Ti
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660
(Above attached links have detailed reviews of their graphics cards)
The driver update will also enable this feature on P laptops featuring Pascal and the Max-Q version of the GPU but the performance will be very poor. The new Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 and 1660 Ti will, of course, perform better than others on the as they feature the new Turing architecture and share some other similarities with the RTX GPUs.
The game developers will have nothing to do with this driver update, the games that already support this feature will now also allow GTX owners to experience it.
This is the first generation of ray tracing and of course, it will get better with time. The RTX is the future of Nvidia products so they are trying to entice gamers to the new GPU series by attempting to bring some of that compatibility to their last gen graphics cards.
On the other hand, AMD will also be soon releasing their 7nm graphics card but they have already clearly stated that they wouldn’t implement the DirectX enabled ray tracing until they come up with the hardware that delivers standard level performance.
To conclude, the ray tracing is currently in its early stages and not many games support it. If you already own a supported GPU then you should be excited about the feature. It is a solid strategy by Nvidia to give customers the opportunity to test the ray tracing features on old hardware. We would suggest you to wait for the 7nm graphics cards if you are going to upgrade as the prices of the RTX series have been anything but impressive.