NVIDIA brings ray tracing to some GeForce GTX cards today

Nvidia Delivers Ray Tracing Driver for Previous-Gen Pascal Cards, New Demos

This Game Ready Driver is compatible with a fairly decent range of GTX cards, starting with the 6GB GTX 1060 and going all the way up to the recently released GTX 1660 and 1660 Ti. These GPUs would use normal shaders to ray trace scenes, albeit at much lower fidelity and at the expense of performance.

You can download the Nvidia 425.31 Game Ready driver here. They also bring support for Anno 1800. Nvidia has published benchmark results from its own tests in three games: Metro Exodus, Battlefield V, and Shadow of the Tomb Raider. Of course, if you can see ray tracing and like it, but the games don't run smoothly, that works out in Nvidia's favor.

This all sounds well and good on paper; Nvidia's ray-tracing tech has until now been reserved for its flashy GeForce 20-series RTX graphics cards, with the GPUs' underlying Turing architecture boasting dedicated RT cores for handling the complex calculations ray-tracing needs. With ray-tracing enabled, even the RTX 2060 can outperform the GTX 1080 Ti. Basically, this technology renders illumination, reflection, and shadow in a more realistic looking way, while working faster and more effectively than past technology. The older GTX 10-series cards, on the other hand, were never created to render the lighting and shadow effects with the same efficiency as their RTX counterparts.

But that's no longer the case, and Nvidia's most recent driver package now unlocks DXR in-game to all users with compatible GTX cards.

This post originally appeared on Tom's Guide. He stated that even the most powerful GTX GPU which is the 1080ti will only be able to exhibit the ray tracing features at a maximum resolution of 1080p.

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While this is indeed big news, it's probably best not to get too excited about the prospect of ray tracing on GTX GPUs.

You can see from the header up the top there which techniques are being used by current ray tracing-enabled games.

The company says reflections can be fairly easy, if there aren't many of them on the screen, and they're on a flat surface (like the puddles in Battlefield V).

Nvidia has shared some ray tracing gaming benchmark comparisons in games such as Shadow of the Tomb Raider, Metro Exodus, and in various tech demos on its blog. People who own RTX cards don't get much out of this update, other than the ability to say, "welcome to the party" to people with lesser GPUs in the comment sections of websites such as this. Fast forward to August 2018 and the announcement of the GeForce RTX 2080 Ti at Gamescom, and now Reflections: An Unreal Engine Real-Time Ray Tracing Demonstration could run on just one GeForce RTX consumer graphics card thanks to the Turing architecture's RT Cores that greatly accelerate ray tracing performance. I believe that 1080p would be a sweet spot but only for those who want to try the feature to see the difference and to assess whether getting an RTX card is worth it or not.

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