NVIDIA has been causing waves of excitement ever since they announced the new RTX series graphics cards, and with good reason. Powered by the new Turing architecture, these cards claimed to make real-time ray tracing in games a reality, among other things. For those who don’t know, ray tracing is a resource intensive rendering technique that makes your favourite movies look so amazing with lifelike CGI. However, thanks to the limitations in GPU technology, we couldn’t achieve the same level of visuals in games. But the RTX cards promise to change that. Well, do they hold up? That’s what we’re here to find out.
Tech Specs and Features
||8 GB GDDR6
||DisplayPort, HDMI, USB Type – C
||6 pin + 8 pin
|Recommended Power Supply
The RTX 2080 is the successor to the Pascal-based GTX 1080, with improved clock speeds, a higher CUDA core count and higher memory bandwidth, sitting right in the middle of the uber powerful RTX 2080Ti and the slightly more affordable RTX 2070. Display options on the graphics card include 3 three DisplayPorts, one HDMI port and one USB Type-C port, the last one being quite handy when it comes to using VR. SLI is supported through NVlink, and for the first-time, NVIDIA’s adopted a dual-fan design for the Founder’s Edition instead of the standard single-fan blower layout, which in our opinion looks quite badass, especially with the glowing green logo LED. But that’s not all.
What makes the RTX cards so special, and exciting, are Ray Tracing and DLSS. While Ray Tracing facilitates realistic lighting and reflections in the games, DLSS (short for Deep Learning Super Sampling) uses AI to render the video more efficiently at higher resolutions, thereby resulting in a much smoother experience. To achieve this, NVIDIA has added two new types of cores to the GPUs, the RT cores and Tensor cores.
Performance and Benchmarks
On paper, the RTX cards sound a dream come true. 4K 60 FPS capabilities, ray tracing and DLSS are enough to make any gamer drool over their keyboards. The reality, however, is a little more complicated. The biggest issue these cards have faced since their launch is the lack of games that actually have ray tracing and DLSS, which makes it quite hard for anyone to discern whether the RTX cards are worth the price, which, mind you, is a significant jump over their previous gen counterparts. But, before we get into that, let’s take a look at the numbers. All benchmarks were obtained at 4K resolution at the highest preset.
From the benchmarks it’s pretty clear that the RTX 2080 is a great card for 4K gaming, though you might want to fine-tune your settings a bit to keep that FPS counter above 60. For those who don’t want to compromise on that, the RTX 2080Ti will definitely be a great choice. But once you start talking about ray tracing, which is the biggest reason why the cards were so hyped, things begin to look a little bleaker. Not only is there a serious shortage of games that support the feature, the GPU performance in the one game that does support it (Battlefield V), is highly disappointing. Take a look at the numbers below, obtained at 1080p.
As you can see, turning on DXR (which runs on DirectX) causes the framerate to dip all the way down to a dismal 42 FPS on Ultra, though it can still reach 60 FPS if you run it on low. In either case, that’s more than a 50% drop in performance compared to when DXR is off. And these numbers are at 1080p. Although, one shouldn’t forget, this is the first time that real time ray tracing has become achievable on a single graphics card, which in itself quite a feat. But, for someone who wants the most value in terms of performance and cost, things don’t look good for the RTX 2080 just yet.
DLSS, on the other hand, is a different story. There’s only one game benchmark available right now that supports DLSS, the updated Final Fantasy XV benchmark tool, and going by that, the RTX series shows a lot of promise, with a staggering 80% performance increase between the RTX 2080 and the GTX 1080 at 4K resolution. So hope is still there.
To sum it up, the RTX 2080, and the Turing cards in general, are a marvel in gaming technology. It’s refreshing to see a brand pushing the limits, trying to breathe more life into games instead of just peddling higher resolutions and more frames. That being said, it’s hard not to think of the RTX series as a rushed product. The cards are not a bad deal for gamers who don’t already own a 10-series Pascal GPU, but for anyone looking to upgrade their present rigs, it’s best not to rush in, and hold off till at least a few more games with ray tracing support are out. However, if you have the cash, and only want the best performance, it doesn’t get any better. Well, until you consider the 2080Ti, but that’s a story for another time.
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