When Nvidia launched the RTX family, it did so with a promise of future ray tracing support in games. That ray tracing support has been slow to materialize — we’re now nearly three months past the GPU family’s launch event, two months past commercial availability, and there’s no support in shipping games. That state of affairs is likely to continue for at least a little while post-launch, with DICE confirming that Battlefield V won’t ship with Day 1 RTX support. The update should be available within a week, if the text below is accurate.
A new note from DICE states:
DirectX Raytracing (DXR) – DXR enables realistic real-time ray traced reflections in Battlefield V for players with NVIDIA GeForce RTX graphics cards including the GeForce RTX 2070, 2080, and 2080 Ti. An early release of DXR will be available in an upcoming patch, near the Battlefield V Deluxe Edition release window. EA, DICE, and NVIDIA will also continue to optimize this implementation and deliver regular updates after its release.
This isn’t necessarily a problem, since the Windows October update also required for RTX support hasn’t been released yet, either, but the fact that RTX owners are waiting for two different companies to drop necessary product updates in order to use features they paid premiums to use isn’t a great look for the GPU family.
There’s no doubt that the RTX effects shown off in Battlefield V and embedded below are amazing — the visuals are a leap beyond anything we’ve seen in shipping titles — but the most critical question on gamers’ minds is whether or not those visuals are going to be attainable by anyone without an RTX 2080 Ti. The performance demos we saw in August (still our sole point of analysis) pointed to the RTX 2080 Ti struggling to maintain 60 FPS in 1080p. They said nothing about the expected performance of the RTX 2070 and 2080, and the rumor referencing continued optimization post-release seems to suggest there are performance concerns on these cards as well.
The silence from Nvidia on this topic is deafening. It’s reminiscent of the company’s silence during the latter part of Maxwell and early Pascal ramps, when Nvidia didn’t want to talk about anything related to asynchronous compute or DirectX 12-related, and therefore didn’t. Even at the Pascal launch event, the references to DX12 were few and far between; Nvidia spent much more time on its new VR demos and showcases than it did on DX12 or async compute. Faced with a situation in which it didn’t have much to say about performance or a specific feature, the company simply didn’t talk about it. But the situation in that case was quite different — async compute was not a feature Nvidia had been pumping and DX12 support was a question that each GPU vendor was free to address as they chose. RTX and ray tracing are features that Nvidia created and is specifically attempting to use to market a GPU family.
With a 7nm GPU refresh almost guaranteed to happen in the next 12-15 months, the 2xxx RTX family is already more likely than not to be a short-lived product. AMD has already stated that Navi is coming in 2019 and Nvidia is unlikely to let AMD sit on a new process node for months without a performance response of its own. It’s possible that the company could lead with a 7nm midrange card and a 12nm high-end stack, but Nvidia’s historic tendency has been top-to-bottom refreshes, not partial ones. All of this suggests the RTX could be a short-lived product family in the first place, with a replacement cycle coming in 2019 or early 2020. That doesn’t automatically mean you shouldn’t buy it, but it does mean Nvidia has a relatively limited window for these chips to prove themselves in the first place. That window closes month by month, and we’re already two months in without a single game to claim for support.
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