NVIDIA's new RTX features are nowhere to be found on launch day

Team Green spent the last month hyping RTX while failing to mention that there are no RTX-enabled games to play right now.

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After months of rumors and speculation, all is now known about NVIDIA’s newest series of gaming GPUs. The official press embargoes for the GeForce RTX 2080 and GeForce RTX 2080 Ti ended today and we have loads of benchmarks and hot takes from across the PC hardware press. While it is true that the RTX 2080 Ti is insanely fast, there is no consensus opinion on the value of the cards. The only thing that all the reviews agree on is that the complete lack of RTX-enabled games for the Turing GPU launch is a bummer.

NVIDIA spent the majority of its pre-release marketing focused on the power of the GeForce RTX’s ability to accelerate ray tracing features. Many demos were shown at Gamescom in Cologne, Germany during the official product unveiling, several of which were incredibly impressive. Games such as Battlefield 5, Metro: Exodus, and Shadow of the Tomb Raider were used to showcase the future of real-time graphics rendering. While we can’t fault NVIDIA for Battlefield 5 and Metro: Exodus not yet being released, Shadow of the Tomb Raider has been on digital shelves for a week and still lacks RTX support.

Developer Nixxes was upfront about adding RTX support to the game at a later date, but the truth is that NVIDIA has no other software ready for launch that can help buyers justify the inflated pricing of these new GPUs. There is also no firm date on when this support will be made available because no games can use RTX acceleration until Microsoft pushes out its DirectX Ray Tracing support (DXR) with the upcoming Windows 10 Fall Creators Update.

Despite some assumptions that ray tracing features in games will be NVIDIA exclusive, the new GeForce RTX GPUs work with Microsoft’s new DXR API to juice up the graphics in your games. It is possible for future AMD and Intel GPUs to offer DXR acceleration. Until the Fall Creators Update is deployed to the world, no one is going to be ray tracing anything.

Another sore spot for NVIDIA’s GPU launch is a lack of games that support DLSS. DLSS uses information gleaned from the power of neural networks and AI to provide an alternative to supersampling or other expensive forms of anti-aliasing. Games that make use of DLSS can offer comparable image quality at higher framerates than native rendering. Where one game may get 30fps at native 4K, DLSS can offer comparable image quality at 60fps.

As of today’s launch, the only software that is making use of DLSS is the Final Fantasy XV Benchmark Tool. Early testing shows that DLSS appears to be the real deal and not at all a gimmick, but no one can play a benchmark tool. There is some good news on the DLSS front, though. Some were worried that NVIDIA would lock DLSS support behind its GeForce Experience app/service, but it appears that DLSS profiles will be added into the GeForce driver package on a game-by-game basis to all NVIDIA RTX GPU users.

While the GeForce RTX 2080 Ti is benchmarking anywhere from 25-60% faster than the GTX 1080 Ti (depending on the game and resolution), its astronomical pricing is too big of a pill to swallow if the much-hyped RTX and DLSS features can’t be used by owners. Unless you have the need to play your games at 4K resolution at 60Hz or more with HDR enabled, spending that kind of money on these new GPUs is ill-advised.

Contributing Tech Editor

Chris Jarrard likes playing games, crankin' tunes, and looking for fights on obscure online message boards. He understands that breakfast food is the only true food. Don't @ him.

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