What is ray tracing and what hardware and games support it. What graphics cards have ray tracing

Both in the Nvidia Benchmarks (photo above) and according to benchmarks conducted by PC Gamer – when testing the comparable price of the GeForce RTX 3080 with the Radeon RX 6800 XT – Nvidia’s Ampere architecture showed almost twice the ray tracing performance than its competitor.

What is ray tracing and what hardware and games support it?

What is ray tracing, and what hardware and games support it?

(Pocket-lint) – If you’re a gamer, you’ve probably heard of ray tracing, but you may not know exactly what that means or why it’s a big deal. We’re here to help.

Nvidia has been promoting ray tracing since it first announced its RTX 20 series graphics cards in 2018, but ray tracing is much more than just a marketing ploy to help sell graphics cards for high-end PCs and gaming hardware.

It is an emerging game visual enhancement technology that provides a much more immersive, eye-catching and visually pleasing gaming experience.

What is ray tracing?

Ray tracing is actually nothing new. It’s been around for years, but it’s only recently that PC hardware and technology have come to the point where you can implement ray tracing in a way that can really change your games. In real time.

In its simplest form, ray tracing is a system that is used to enhance lighting in games. This happens in many different ways. It is used in everything from reflections to shadows, both in the game environment and on the items it contains. This includes atmospheric effects, reflections from surfaces (water, metal, glass), and even diffused lighting.

Of particular interest is diffused lighting, which includes light that reflects off surfaces and reflects off others. In effect, it is an indirect light source which then helps to create a more realistic experience. Imagine the sunlight streaming into the room, then reflecting off the walls and floors and naturally brightening the entire room. This is one part of how ray tracing works.

What is ray tracing and what hardware and games support it image 4

When ray tracing is fully implemented, often you won’t even notice what’s happening unless you pay close attention as it’s part of the whole picture of a graphically stunning environment. It’s only when you see a comparison of games with and with ray tracing turned on and off that you see how this can make a difference.

Thanks to the latest and greatest Nvidia GPUs, it all happens in real time. This helps to generate “high definition reflections in real time that reflect the details in front of, behind, above and below the player or camera; details that the player could not see using previous techniques.”

In addition to reflecting light, shadows and ambient highlights, the ray tracing system can also add impressive visuals to in-game characters and even to the items they carry.

Think of the reflections of the player’s sword blade or metal armor showing the surrounding world with a mirror effect, but realistically mirrored and in real time – changing as the characters move and pass through the game world.

Reflections, shadow lighting and immersive visuals

This demo, built in the Unreal engine, shows off many of the next-generation rendering features that this technology makes possible. Effects in this demo include:

  • Textured area lights
  • Area of ​​light shadows with ray tracing
  • Reflections with ray tracing
  • Ambient occlusion with ray tracing
  • Cinematic Depth of Field (DOF)
  • Ray tracing noise reduction in Nvidia GameWorks

By using this new technology in lighting rendering and creating visualizations, developers can create an incredibly realistic gaming experience.

It will certainly be interesting to see how this technology develops in the near future. We’ve already got a taste of what the future of gaming might look like, and ray tracing is another step in the right direction.

What is ray tracing and what hardware and games support it photo 6

It should be mentioned that game consoles – Playstation 5 and Xbox Series X (and S) in particular – support ray tracing for certain game titles.

The Basics of Ray Tracing

Ray tracing is a technique that works well for illuminating a computer generated scene. The concept is not new; The novelty is having computational power within reach, which enables its effective execution.

Imagine you shoot a beam of light at an object and track it bouncing off the surface, almost as if you are walking into a dark room and pointing a flashlight. Then imagine firing multiple rays, using those that keep coming back (and not coming back) to get an idea of ​​what the scene should look like. For example, rays that did not return were likely blocked by the object, thus creating a shadow. (To think of a concept in the same way as it is to think about how radar works is not far off.)

This basic explanation highlights how ray tracing is similar to real-world lighting: the light that reaches your eye tells your brain what you see. Animated films have been using ray tracing for decades; For example, Pixar’s Toy Story brought it to light in 1995, and since then, huge strides have been made in rendering.

About the time the movie industry has been using ray tracing, video games have relied on a different technique, rasterization, to render 3D worlds. But before we get into the reasons for this, let’s contrast ray tracing with rasterization.

The Fundamentals: Ray Tracing Versus Rasterization

Rasterization is an object-based approach to rendering scenes. Each object is painted with color first, and then logic is applied to show only the pixels closest to the eye. By contrast, ray tracing colors pixels first and then identifies them with objects. Simple that explains it all, doesn’t it?

Well, not really, so think about it this way. Rasterization requires special techniques and tweaks to create realistic visuals. For example, a game’s rendering pipeline can be customized and optimized to apply a specific effect where the pixels on an object follow a specific pattern. Of course, this kind of logic will vary depending on the subject and scene. It takes a developer effort to exploit this, but it can pay off in performance as the computer may be able to render a complex scene without a proportionate amount of computing power.

Ray tracing is usually used in a more general way than rasterization as it is based on shooting light rays. As a result, the techniques for obtaining visual effects with it are based on the way in which these rays are used. For example, softer shadows and reflections require more rays to be projected, while motion and blur effects may require you to change the timing of the rays or their origin point.

In summary, rasterization and ray tracing can be used to achieve the same result (or at least close to it). So now let’s examine why one would be used instead of the other.

When NVIDIA introduced its GeForce RTX 2000 series to the world in 2018, the graphics card market was shaken in depth. These RTX graphics cards revolutionized the gaming world.

Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080

The best GPU for 4K ray tracing
  • Great 4K performance
  • Ray tracing is amazing
  • Much cheaper than RTX 2080 Ti
  • HDMI 2.1 support

The Nvidia RTX 3080 was the first Ampere GPU to be tested by the Trusted Reviews team of experts and remains the card we recommend to players looking for the ultimate 4K performance to date.

To this day, the card features state-of-the-art specifications with key features including an improved, more efficient 8nm manufacturing process, new RT cores, 3rd generation Tensor cores, and Micron G6X video memory (VRAM).

During our tests, the card proved to be able to run even the most demanding games, including Cyberpunk 2077, with playable frames per second at maximum graphics settings and ray tracing enabled.

Admittedly, it doesn’t match the performance of the Nvdia RTX 3080 Ti, but we still believe it offers better value considering the lower price point.

Reviewer: Alastair Stevenson
Full review: Nvidia RTX 3080

Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070

Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070

The best card for 1440p gaming
  • Excellent 1080p and 1440p performance
  • Smaller design than the RTX 3080
  • Amazing value

If you haven’t jumped to 4K yet, then the Nvidia RTX 3070 is the best card we’ve tested and which we currently recommend to most buyers. The card has the same core architecture as the RTX 3080, and during testing it offered excellent HD and 1440p performance, even with ray tracing enabled.

Thanks to its dual-fan design, it is also significantly smaller than the RTX 3080, making it a better choice for small builds. Nvidia’s Ampere generation now offers even cheaper options, but we believe this card performs best in terms of performance and price, better than any other graphics card on the market.

If you can’t get your hands on the RTX 3070, we also recommend checking out the slightly more expensive RTX 3070 Ti or AMD RX 6800.

Reviewer: Alastair Stevenson
Full review: Nvidia RTX 3070

Nvidia RTX 3060 Ti

Rasterization is an object-based approach to rendering scenes. Each object is painted with color first, and then logic is applied to show only the pixels closest to the eye. By contrast, ray tracing colors pixels first and then identifies them with objects. Simple that explains it all, doesn’t it?

What You Get With RTX

Shadow of the Tomb Raider RTX off vs. RTX on

ray tracing wasn’t the only addition NVIDIA included, but it was certainly the most popular feature.

In the beginning, more cynical PC hardware enthusiasts were skeptical of the idea and quickly criticized and created memes mocking the technology as soon as it was announced.

They were quite accurate in their assessment that ray tracing would not bring a huge improvement in the appearance department. However, upon closer inspection, even those who were stubborn in their beliefs had to admit that it brought about visual improvements.

How It Works

In the past, reflections and lighting effects were used and we could see them, but the truth is, they were part of an elaborate illusion of smoke and mirrors. The static lighting effect would be effectively coded to show reflections and shadows that might look nice, but that wasn’t the real deal.

Game developers had to figure out ways to make their games look properly shaded and lit using these tricks. The fact that they have often done this successfully shows their inventive and innovative approach.

RTX provides true real-time simulation of light particles. The game world is now dynamically rendered, allowing for much more realistic and engaging visuals.

These visuals can now be rendered so accurately that we are slowly but steadily moving towards hyper-realistic graphics in video games.

When the light and reflection particles are calculated with RTX, the engine takes into account the surface material from which the light is bouncing.

For example, light reflection is rendered differently if the reflecting surface is water and not glass. Similarly, the light will look different when it hits a marble floor or sand.

Below is a technical demonstration of ray tracing featured in Battlefield V at CES 2019.

ray tracing explained

This is achieved by means of constrained traversing the volume hierarchy which, as the name implies, is an algorithm for traversing through the BVH tree structure. While this significantly reduces the computational requirements, there is still a very noticeable surplus.

GPUs that do not have additional ray tracing hardware would have to use shaders, which would create a huge bottleneck.

A simple solution from NVIDIA for additional computing requirements is to assign dedicated cores to these computations. RT cores contain two separate units, one of which deals with the boundary tests and the other performs triangle intersection tests. This significantly reduces the load on the GPU and allows you to perform other tasks more efficiently.

Deep Learning Super Sampling – DLSS

100 banknotes flying through the green vortex

There’s nothing wrong with recognizing how amazing NVIDIA technology is in their RTX series, despite what the internet might say about it. What’s not so amazing is the fact that there are simply not many games that can make the most of everything RTX cards have to offer.

On a more positive side, the industry is clearly impressed by ray tracing and DLSS technology. As time goes on, we are likely to use the technology to its full potential more and more.

With NVIDIA firmly seated on the throne of the GPU, it has the power to dictate the pricing of its cards. When they introduce breakthrough technology such as real-time ray tracing into the gaming world, they cannot be blamed for exploiting and testing the limits of their consumers’ wallets.

You could take a look at the RTX 3090 at $ 1,500 and consider it even more expensive than the RTX 2080 Ti. Keep in mind, however, that the $ 700 RTX 3080 far outstrips the RTX 2080 Ti and is considered NVIDIA’s flagship and, we dare say, its best representative.

The RTX 3070 and RTX 3060 Ti offer further price drops compared to their predecessors, and that is certainly commendable. Unfortunately, even with AMD’s RDNA 2 GPU release in late 2020, we still haven’t seen a significant drop in high- to mid-tier GPU prices.

At the time of its launch, the RTX may have been above the expected and convenient price range, but by 2022 it seems the RTX has found its foundation in both performance and price. All in all, we can safely say that they are undoubtedly worth the money.

Nvidia G TX graphics processors (1060 and newer) can support basic DirectX Raytracing (DXR), which is possible thanks to a driver released in mid-2019 by Nvidia.

ASUS TUF AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT:

Based on the AMD RDNA 2 architecture, the AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT graphics card offers a gaming experience in 4K resolution. It has 16 GB of GDDR6 memory and 128 MB of AMD Infinity Cache. In addition, there are 72 compute units. All these aspects allow this graphics card to deliver very high frames per second. The combination of this AMD Radeon RX graphics card and AMD Ryzen processors ensures efficient gaming performance.

The axial fan design incorporates multiple fan blades and advanced rotation patterns. This, along with the fan’s efficient double ball bearings, leads to increased airflow. A MaxContact heat sink is available for efficient heat transfer. This spreader presents a flat surface for heat dissipation. The durability of this graphics card is excellent thanks to its sturdy frame and aluminum cover.

The ventilated back plate facilitates the discharge of warm air towards the housing exhaust fans. It is discharged there, not recycled back into the GPU cooler. There is a GPU bracket where the heat spreader connects to the matrix.


When this card is paired with the AMD Ryzen ™ 5000 series desktop processor, AMD Smart Access memory provides efficient gaming performance.

This video card has exceeded 144 hours of verification program. This program is subject to a series of rigorous tests to ensure compatibility with the most modern games.

MaxContact technology is used to dissipate heat across the die and inside the heat sink array.

Said technology polishes the surface of the heat spreader. Accordingly, the contact with the die is increased to ensure efficient heat transfer.

ASUS TUF AMD Radeon RX 6900 XT:

Offering powerful performance, the Radeon RX 6900 XT delivers serious 4K graphics. It allows you to play with a very high number of frames per second. Get great gaming experience with advanced computing units, advanced AMD Infinity Cache and large graphics memory.

GPU Tweak II offers performance tweaking, system monitoring, and temperature control.
Thanks to the ventilated back plate, hot air will not circulate in the cooling system. Strength is excellent due to the aluminum frame and metal backplate.

Axial-tech fan design leads to more blades on all 3 fans. This fan design has been improved with multiple fan blades and the latest rotation pattern. Moreover, on the side fans, the barrier rings are positioned downwards to provide better airflow through the cooling system. Overall heat dissipation is further enhanced by the MaxContact heat spreader. Compared to plain bearing designs, double ball bearings have an almost double service life.


DirectX Raytracing (DXR), AMD FidelityFX, and Variable Speed ​​Shading (VRS) are key features. Provide realistic shadows, lighting and reflections.

The heat spreader draws the heat inside the heat pipes. Now the heat is transferred through the pile of ribs that occupy the 2.9-slot surface of the card.

AMD Smart Access Memory technology, combined with the AMD Ryzen 5000 series processor, provides advanced gaming performance.

This graphics card, which has passed 144 hours of validation, is compatible with the latest game titles.

What’s the View of AMD on Ray Tracing?

AMD has always argued that ray tracing technology was no big deal. When the technology was launched with Nvidia’s GeForce RTX series, AMD argued that the ecosystem was not yet ready for it and it might be too early to launch the technology.

The fact is, there are a limited number of titles that support ray tracing available. Even Nvidia had to wait for Microsoft to launch Windows 10’s October 2018 Update before extending DirectX support. As AMD CEO Lisa Su aptly puts it, “.. we work closely with the ecosystem on both hardware and software solutions, and expect ray tracing to be an important component, especially as, frankly, it is more mainstreamed.”.

Put simply, ray tracing refers to the rendering process where the color of the pixels is computed from the paths of simulated light; and its interaction with virtual objects.

Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080

The best graphics card up to 4K

Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 specs:

I did not include the “cheap 4K graphics card” option here, because let’s face it, when you spend all that money on a new GPU it pays off to get the best, and now it’s the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080. Not only is it capable of delivering a smooth 60fps at maximum settings in almost all of today’s big-time hits (there are a few exceptions, of course, but few and they’re very rare), but it’s also a much better buy than the AMD Rywal of the next-gen 4K, the Radeon RX 6800 XT.

Like all new graphics cards at the moment, the RTX 3080 has been sold out for months, making it very hard to get hold of. In theory, the RX 6800 XT is technically a tad cheaper than the RTX 3080, but it just isn’t quite as fast as Nvidia’s new flagship, both in terms of raw performance and how it handles ray tracing.

The RTX 3080 also has the benefits of Nvidia’s DLSS technology, which helps boost ray tracing performance in compatible games (which is increasingly found in large ray tracing games), and an AMD DLSS equivalent is not available at the moment. It is possible that the RX 6800 XT will replace the RTX 3080 when AMD FidelityFX Super Resolution technology is set free, but in the meantime the RTX 3080 is a 4K graphics card you can buy right now.

What we like:
✔️ 4K 60fps performance at maximum settings in almost every game
✔️ Greatly improved ray tracing and DLSS performance compared to Nvidia RTX 20 series
✔️ Sets the benchmark for next-generation 4K graphics cards

Frequently asked questions

If you’ve tried to buy a new graphics card recently, you know it was almost impossible to get one. Inventory levels are at their lowest, and demand for new hardware has never been greater – and it doesn’t look like it’s going to get much better anytime soon; Nvidia had previously warned that the current GPU situation may not resolve itself by 2022, and here it has not. The same goes for those trying to buy a new console as the Xbox Series X and Series S and PlayStation 5 suffer from similar delays and shortages.

On the graphics card front, this is due to a combination of Covid-19 production delays from 2020, with many factories shutting down as they should be preparing to prepare for all new hardware launches due at the end of the year and a new cryptocurrency mining boom. GPUs are a hot commodity for cryptocurrency miners as many of them rely on having a lot of GPU power to mine their currencies. This is a grim situation as the additional demand from cryptocurrency miners means even more people than usual are competing for these cards, making it difficult for ordinary people to get one. However, this situation is not just for 2022, as we saw with the great shortage of graphics cards in 2018. Things will finally sort themselves out, but we can wait a long time.

Which graphics cards support ray tracing?

Ray tracing is a new hot new generation hardware graphics technology, but to take advantage of it you need a special graphics card. At the moment, these are all Nvidia RTX 20 and 30 series GPUs, and AMD Radeon RX 6000 cards. On the Nvidia side, it covers everything from RTX 2060 to RTX 2080 Ti and from RTX 3050 to RTX 3090 Ti, while the CPU family AMD ray tracing graphics begin with the RX 6500 XT and end with the RX 6900 XT.

Intel is also expected to release ray-traced graphics cards in 2022 from the Arc Alchemist range. We’re not sure when exactly, however – Intel originally claimed it would be released in the first quarter of 2022, before removing that release window from its website.

Which is better, AMD or Nvidia?

The age-old question that changes with every generation of graphics cards. Currently, Nvidia graphics cards are best for playing games at high resolutions like 1440p or higher. AMD cards are better for those on a budget as they often have better value than their Nvidia counterparts – and you can see that breakdown quite clearly in the cards we picked above.

Indeed, while the new AMD Radeon RX 6000 cards are often just as powerful as their high-definition Nvidia counterparts, both in terms of raw performance and ray tracing capabilities, they suffer from two major problems. First, they’re not as cost-effective as Nvidia’s high-end GPUs, and often offer slower performance for a similar amount. AMD has FidelityFX Super Resolution (FSR) technology, which is a scaling technology that works similar to DLSS in that it can significantly increase FPS in games that support it – but without intelligent AI or its own built-in aliasing, the results rarely show up as visually impressive as DLSS. Besides, FSR also works on GeForce GPUs, where DLSS is just Nvidia.

This card is the best 1080p gaming GPU we tested. When we benchmarked the card, we found it regularly rivals the 2080 Super’s performance, which cost much more when it launched many moons ago.

What Is RTX Voice and How to Enable It on Your Nvidia Graphics Card

Now that we’ve gone through ray tracing and its relationship to Nvidia’s RTX technology, let’s take a look at the AI-powered RTX Voice app.

What Is RTX Voice and Is It a Big Deal?

RTX Voice works to eliminate background noise from real-time voice communications. This can be extremely useful for everything from streaming to video conferencing calls.

What makes RTX Voice even more cost effective is the fact that it filters both background noise and incoming noise emissions from other people during a call.

In other words, your friends or colleagues can hear your voice clearly, and you can hear their voice free of excessive pollution from surrounding noise.

RTX Voice runs on many supported applications; a full list of which can be found here.

Can You Use RTX Voice on GTX GPUs?

RTX Voice really has nothing to do with the RTX nomenclature and the architecture surrounding it.

Ray tracing is not used in this application, and while Nvidia initially mentioned that this technology was made possible by Tensor cores, it later withdrew this claim.

The reason for this misrepresentation could be a hack that was created to make RTX Voice compatible with the GTX GPU.

Shortly thereafter, Nvidia allowed RTX Voice to be officially compatible with Nvidia GTX graphics cards that have driver 410.18 (or newer.

How to Enable RTX Voice

Currently, you can download RTX Voice as a standalone app or integrate it with the Nvidia Broadcast app.

Please note that Broadcast is only available for Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060, Quadro RTX 3000, Titan RTX or higher graphics cards; and requires 64-bit Windows 10.

If you want to download RTX Voice, the setup process is pretty straightforward. Download the app, install it, and turn on background noise removal.

For instructions on how to organize RTX Voice for specific compatible apps, please refer to the official Nvidia guidelines.

When to use RTX Voice

While RTX Voice is extremely useful in real-time voice communication applications, it can become a hindrance to voice recording on tape.

When RTX Voice filters noise, fine blemishes and artifacts are introduced into the sound; and may overlap with the dialogue.

These drawbacks are easily ignored when heard in real time, but can be distracting and unpleasant when editing audio. The resulting distortions are also difficult – if not impossible – to remove.

For pre-recorded audio, it’s best to use an app – such as Adobe Audition or iZotope RX 8 – to clean and restore audio in the post-production process.


As technology advances, computer-generated photorealistic images and videos move from pre-rendered goods to real-time experiences.

real-time ray tracing is still in its infancy as techniques such as photon mapping and path tracing are still being implemented.

It’s time to invest in making the most of real-time ray tracing.

From a content creator’s perspective or simply as a way to indulge in gaming, enabling and harnessing your GPU’s RTX capabilities is a must.

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