FutureFive New Zealand logo
Consumer technology news from the future
Story image

Trust us, we’re Nvidia: GeForce RTX 20-series GPU preview

By Darren Price
Mon 12 Nov 2018
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Nvidia’s ridiculously expensive RTX graphics have arrived full of promise, but with very little to actually show for themselves.

I’m currently reviewing a GeForce RTX 2080ti graphics processing unit. I’m not really ready to present my findings, because, well, to be honest, I’ve not really got anything for you.

But, before I go on, I really do believe that the direction the Nvidia are taking with their new RTX 20-series graphics cards is going to, literally, be a game-changer. I just can’t prove it to you right now.

The GeForce RTX 20-series GPUs have the same CUDA Cores that we had in the GTX 10s, but they also feature Nvidia’s new Tensor and RT Cores. Unfortunately, there is not way to test, benchmark or even engage the Tensor and RT Cores. Apparently, it’s coming for the likes of Shadow of the Tomb Raider and Battlefield V, but not yet.

Right now, if you dump down the best part of NZ$2,500 down for a GeForce RTX 2080ti, all you are looking at is a 30% increase over a 1080ti. You are paying over a grand for that 30% extra.

But if you factor in what’s coming, it’s a different picture.

You see, the RTX 20-series, with its Tensor and RT Cores are going to turn game development on their head. You may have read about the RTX 20s’ real-time raytracing capabilities (using the RT cores) and the AI capabilities that the Tensor Cores bring to the table and you may have seen the videos. It all comes across as marketing fluff.

So, when I caught up with Brian Burke, Nvidia’s gaming tech PR guy, at PAX AUS in Melbourne, I didn’t hold back. I asked him why should Kiwis part with such a huge amount of money for something that, right now, doesn’t do a lot.

I’m a massive advocate for Nvidia. Their technology has been driving the advancement of video game graphics since the demise of 3DFX. No disrespect to AMD/ATi, but they’ve been playing catch-up with Nvidia for well over a decade. Because of this I felt okay asking Nvidia where were the RTX demos? Why can’t new RTX users have something, anything, to show off the power of their new cards?

Brian’s response was muted, but I think Nvidia know that they may have jumped the gun launching the technology before the developers had anything ready. If it was the other way around though, it would have been the same problem, with gamers lamenting on why they have the games but not the hardware to run them.

Whilst the average Joe is going to have to wait, Nvidia did show me the Star Wars RTX demo in real time. I followed the HDMI cable from the TV to a PC running the demo with a GeForce RTX 2080ti installed, just to be sure. 

The ray-tracing capabilities of the RTX 2080ti seem impressive. For developers, ray-tracing is the holy grail. Most of them have become experts at faking ray-tracing, using screen-space reflections, but will likely jump on-board with little persuasion.

All the games we play at the moment do a great job of simulating the way rays of light bounce of stuff and enter our eyes. There are, however, compromises, and as gamers, we subconsciously tolerate these compromises. Reflective surfaces and shadows are limited to what is visible on the screen, unless specifically scripted.

With ray-tracing, virtual protons are fired from the scene’s light-sources, bouncing of all the objects and those hitting the camera, our virtual eye, create the image. Traditionally, this has been a complex task, reserved for high-end animated movies, with eachtaking hours or a super-computing powerhouse to create.

Nvidia RTX cards are going to have to do this at least thirty frames-per-second, and hopefully 60fps, to give us decent real-time ray-tracing performance.

The real challenge, though, is that developers have become so good at simulating ray-tracing it may be a while before we actually get to really notice the effects. The reflections in the Star Wars demo, and those demonstrated in the upcoming Battlefield V, really show off the power of ray-tracing and the realism that it can be used to achieve. 

But not all games are going to be packed with polished, highly reflective surfaces. And if they are, we are so used to the cheats, it might be a while before we actually notice them.

At the Nvidia PAX AUS demo, I played a bit of 4A Games’ upcoming Metro Exodus. With a touch of a button I could switch between RTX and non-RTX visuals. Honestly, and this may disappoint Nvidia, there was not much in it. Yes, the RTX-enabled visuals were better, but not exactly $2,500 worth of better.

Developers can choose how they integrate the RTX-exclusive elements into their games. Balls-to-the-wall all out ray-traced environments may have to wait. The likes of Shadow of the Tomb Raider will only exploit the ray-tracing of shadows. 

It’s the RTX’s DLSS (Deep Learning Super-sampling) technology, powered by those AI Tensor Cores that is likely to make the biggest impact in the immediate future. DLSS works by Nvidia running the game through their super-computers. As the game runs the computer is taught what the anti-aliased (that’s the removal of the jagged edges) images should look like. 

Once it is finished the data is packaged up as an algorithm for the RTX Tensor cores to use to adjust the game’s frames on the fly. The result is, apparently, anti-aliasing with little impact on performance. A game that switches this technology on is going to get an instant performance boost.

But, right now we have nothing using these RTX features. The mooted ray-tracing in Shadow of the Tomb Raider and Battlefield V has not yet arrived. And I fear the worst.

For starters, ray-tracing is a Direct X 12 feature. DICE’s Frostbite Engine, which powers Battlefield V is a dog when it comes to DX12 implementation with Nvidia cards. The likes of Battlefield 1 and even Madden NFL 19 suffer from stuttering in game and during cut-scenes in DX12. Switching back to DX11 removes all the stuttering.

Nvidia’s RTX 20-series GPUs are going to be a game-changer, but not right now. At this moment in time you are paying twice the price of a GTX 1080ti for about 30% of extra performance.

VR gamers are, nevertheless, going to enjoy that 30% extra performance as it gives them a performance boost that they even won’t get from two 1080ti GPUs running together in SLI. VR games, generally do not utilise two GPUs plugged together in a PC.

Nvidia’s RTX technology is very exciting, but, some two months since launch, there’s still nothing really justifying the huge cost of these RTX cards.

Look out for my RTX 2080ti/RTX 2080ti x2 SLI review very soon.

Related stories
Top stories
Story image
Mobility
Tyson Beckford partners with Element Case on new AppleWatch band
Celebrity Tyson Beckford has collaborated with STM Brands' Element Case brand to create a rugged new accessory.
Story image
Wireless Nation
Wireless Nation, N4L provide 4G network to remote NZ schools
Wireless Nation and Network for Learning (N4L) have rolled out the Rural Connectivity Group’s (RCG) new 4G network to better connect three Chatham Islands schools.
Story image
First Table
First Table set to revive restaurant commerce in NZ with platform launch
A new restaurant booking platform has launched in New Zealand, giving Kiwi diners the opportunity to save and book at a variety of restaurants around the country.
Story image
Apple
Apple previews new features for users with disabilities
Apple says new software features that offer users with disabilities new tools for navigation, health and communication, are set to come out later this year.
Story image
Sustainability
The AI Forum helps NZ pave the way with AI sustainability practices
Non-profit organisation The AI Forum is helping Kiwis learn about addressing climate change issues through the use of AI technology.
Story image
Microsoft
Microsoft unveils adaptive accessories for disability access
Microsoft is introducing an expansive Inclusive Tech Lab to give people with disabilities greater access to technology through new software features and adaptive accessories.
Story image
D-Link
D-Link launches new G415 Smart Router as part of EAGLE PRO AI range
D-Link A/NZ has announced the launch of its new G415 AX1500 4G Smart Router as part of the new EAGLE PRO AI Series.
Story image
Norton
Hands-on review: Norton Anti Track 19 software
We get hands on with Norton's new privacy tool that was introduced in March 2022.
Story image
Wireless
Hands-on review: Steelseries Aerox 9 Wireless and Aerox 5 gaming mice
Steelseries offered two interesting mice for review, the Aerox 9 Wireless, aimed at MMO/MOBA players, and the Aerox 5, a wired mouse for multi-genre use.
Story image
Microsoft
Microsoft backing Māori and Pacific wāhine in tech industry
A new initiative focused on getting Māori and Pacific wāhine into the tech industry and backed by Microsoft, NZTech and the government is calling for tech companies to get involved.
Story image
Sustainability
Can bots succeed where humans have failed in sustainability?
People want businesses to turn talk into action, and believe technology can help businesses succeed where people have failed.  
Story image
Poly
Poly introduces new smart devices and announces Amazon e-store in Australia
Poly is introducing two new pro-grade devices to the market and announcing its first official Australian e-store on Amazon.
Story image
Online shopping
A/NZ shoppers plan to spend less, be more selective
For retailers, 2022 is set to be a year of introspection as shoppers across Australia and New Zealand indicate they plan to spend less.
Story image
Design
Dynabook launches new Tecra A40-K and A50-K models
Dynabook has announced two new additions to its Tecra range, with both said to help promote flexible working solutions while also reducing the strain on IT managers.
Story image
Wireless
Sony to bring new 1000X series WH-1000XM5 headphones to the market
Sony has announced the newest edition of its award-winning wireless headphones, with the 1000X series WH-1000XM5 noise-cancelling model.
Story image
Corsair
Hands-on review: Corsair 32GB Vengeance 5200MHz DDR5 DRAM kit
Corsair’s Vengeance 5200MHz DDR5 DRAM offers PC users an entry-level upgrade to the new memory standard allowing them to get a little bit more out of their new Alder Lake CPUs.
Story image
Music
Hands-on review: JBL Partybox 110 Bluetooth speaker
My first review in a long time is sure to create a lot of noise, if the experience in my household has been anything to go by.
Story image
Gaming
Game review: Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga (Xbox Series X)
The Lego Star Wars games have always been popular with both kids and adults as they are a cute way to relive the famous movies.
Story image
Gaming
Mastercard users can now use rewards points in gaming
Mastercard has launched Mastercard Gamer Xchange (MGX), allowing APAC consumers to convert their rewards points into gaming currency.
Story image
Mobility
Hands-on review: STM laptop bags
The advent of hybrid working has meant we need laptop bags. We got our hands on two of the most popular laptop bags from STM.
Story image
Gaming
Hands-on review: Intel Core i7-12700 CPU
Intel’s middle-of-the-road 12th generation Core i7-12700 offers performance at a lower price than the pricey Core i9 for users that are not fussed by overclocking.
Story image
Jabra
Jabra reveals its latest portable headset Engage 55
Jabra has launched the Engage 55, the newest product in Jabra's Engage series designed for ultimate call security and quality.
Story image
Gaming
Hands-on review: The A500 Mini Retro Gaming Console
Retro Games, the UK outfit responsible for a range of retro gaming devices from joystick to full-sized Vic-20s and C64 emulators, have launched their A500 Mini Retro Gaming Console.
Story image
Review
Hands-on-review: Creative Outlier Air V3
Creative is back with the third version of its affordable Outlier Air wireless earbuds range - aptly named the ‘V3’. And this time, they come boasting ambient mode and active noise reduction.
Story image
Review
Hands-on review: Amazon Kindle Paperwhite Signature Edition
In almost every respect it works like a book, apart from the fact that it weighs next to nothing, fits in my hand perfectly, and is soothing on my eyes.
Story image
i-PRO
i-Pro announces newest solutions as rebranded enterprise
i-PRO APAC Oceania has introduced its newest high-resolution mid-range cameras, with combined edge AI analytics and resolutions of up to 4K.
Story image
Collaboration
TikTok launches community-inspired effect capability
TikTok has announced the launch of its Effect House feature to allow its users to create and share Community Effects.
Story image
Review
Hands-on review: MSI MPG Z690 Carbon WIFI motherboard
It’s all change with Intel’s 12th generation CPUs. We have a new chipset in the 600-series, a new socket with the LGA 1700, and new DDR5 memory.
Story image
Wireless
Hands-on review: Technics EAH-A800 Noise Cancelling Wireless Headphones
Designed in Osaka, Japan, these headphones just exude quality. They aren’t heavy, but they feel well built and solid.
Story image
Review
Hands-on-review: GoPro Hero 10
I have a long history with GoPro; I still remember getting my first camera when I was 16, using it to film Parkour and the day I lost it down a dingey crag. 
Story image
E-waste
NZ’s first and only e-waste sorting machine launched
Computer Recycling launches e-waste shredder and MSS optical sorting machine BLUBOX, which is able to sort out a tonne of e-waste per hour
Booster
Booster Innovation Fund. A fund of Kiwi ingenuity – for Kiwi investors.
Link image
Story image
Gaming
Game review: MLB The Show 22 (PS5)
Historically the MLB The Show series has been exclusive to PlayStation consoles, but now the franchise is expanding.
Story image
PaaS
New digital traffic light system to tackle construction defects
Smarter Defects Management launches its PaaS digital system and says it will revolutionise managing defects in the construction industry.
Story image
Gaming
PNY launches XLR8 Gaming EPIX memory products in A/NZ
PNY has launched its XLR8 Gaming EPIC-X RGB™ DDR4 Silver 3200MHz and 3600MHz memory products in Australia and New Zealand.
Story image
Dynabook
Dynabook A/NZ announces new Portégé X40L-K hyperlight laptop
Dynabook A/NZ has unveiled the all-new Portégé X40L-K, a hyperlight 14.0" modern laptop utilising cutting-edge, high-performance computing power.
Story image
WolfVision
WolfVision announces new range of visualisers
WolfVision has announced a new range of visualisers to help meet multiple industry demands for remote learning and educational solutions.
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
Tell-tale hints before volcanic eruptions found using AI
Researchers have pinpointed precursors to volcanic eruptions, in data collected before explosions including the deadly 2019 Whakaari surge that killed 22 people.
Story image
NFT
Emirates to launch NFTs and experiences in the metaverse
"Emirates has embraced advanced technologies to improve business processes, enhance our customer offering, and enrich our employees' skills and experiences."
Story image
IDC
IDC finds 3.9% decline in worldwide tablet shipments
Preliminary data from IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Personal Computing Device Tracker has found tablet shipments reached 38.4 million units during Q1 2022, a year-over-year decline of 3.9%.
Story image
Malware
Vulnerabilities in Lenovo laptops expose users to UEFI malware
Researchers at ESET have discovered three vulnerabilities affecting various Lenovo consumer laptop models.
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
Google to enter the smartwatch market with the Google Pixel Watch
Google has provided a first look at its new Google Pixel Watch, which is set to make an entry into the competitive smartwatch market.
Story image
Logitech
Logitech releases new mouse with ergonomic and sustainable focus
Logitech has announced the Logitech Signature M650 Mouse and the Signature M650 for Business Wireless Mouse, both with new ergonomic features and capabilities.
Story image
Gaming
Hands-on review: Ghostwire Tokyo (PS5)
Although a bit of a tonal departure for Bethesda, Ghostwire Toyko is a good-looking and eerie action game that is aimed at a very select audience.