Gaming

Nvidia Expands Ray Tracing to Older GTX 10-Series Cards

Nvidia GTX

Nvidia’s ray tracing effects won’t just be exclusive to the company’s RTX cards. The feature is also coming to GTX 10-series cards.

Next month, the company is rolling out new drivers for the 10-series products, which will enable them to run “basic ray tracing” in games that support the graphics technology. As a result, millions of additional gamers will be able to enjoy more realistic lighting and shadow effects, said Nvidia product manager Justin Walker.

Just don’t expect the ray tracing to be on the same level of what an Nvidia RTX 20-series card can provide. The older 10-series products simply weren’t designed to render the lighting and shadow effects with the same efficiency as RTX cards, Walker said. Neverthless, the 10-series can squeeze enough ray tracing to better illuminate environments and characters within a game.

“It’s a lot better than not having it,” Walker told journalists during a press call. “We’ve been working very hard to optimize ray tracing across all our GPUs.”

To demonstrate the technology, Nvidia’s CEO Jensen Huang on Monday showed a video of what ray tracing can do when applied to the classic first-person shooter Quake 2. The effect is pretty stunning, offering new life to an old game. You can find more screenshots here.

The new ray tracing-enabling drivers will arrive for GTX 1060 6GB cards up to the Titan XP. They’ll also be available for the newly-released GTX 1660 and 1660 Ti products. (Sorry, no luck for owners of GTX 1050 or 1030 cards.)

Nvidia GPU Ray Tracing

Unfortunately, the new drivers won’t prevent the ray tracing from dragging down a game’s frame rate. “Any increase of the graphics is always going to come with a corresponding decrease in performance,” Walker said.

The other challenge facing ray tracing is that few games actually support the feature. Currently, the two biggest titles are Battlefield V and Metro Exodus. But Nvidia has been working to change this. On Monday, the company announced that more than a dozen software application makers —including game engine providers Unity and Epic Games— will adopt ray tracing support this year.

How well the GTX 10-series cards will render the ray tracing graphics will depend on the game. For instance, Battlefield V uses the technology to create reflections in water or windows, which can be easier for a 10-series card to render. The game Metro Exodus, on the other hand, uses ray tracing across entire environments, which will make it hard for a 10-series cards to process, Walker said. “You’re going to want RTX for that,” he added.

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated with the Quake 2 demo showing the ray tracing effects.

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