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

(Pocket-lint) – For those who’re a gamer, then the probabilities are you have heard of ray tracing, however you won’t know precisely what it means or why it is a huge deal. We’re right here that can assist you discover out.

Nvidia has been pushing ray tracing because it first introduced its RTX 20-series graphics playing cards in 2018, however ray tracing is rather more than only a advertising ploy to assist promote graphics playing cards for high-end gaming PCs and {hardware}.

It is a growing expertise for enhancing the visuals of video games that ends in a way more immersive, eye-catching and visually pleasing gaming expertise. 

What’s ray tracing?

Ray tracing is definitely nothing new. It has been round for years now, but it surely’s solely lately that PC {hardware} and expertise has bought to a degree the place ray tracing could be applied in a manner the place it might make an actual distinction to your video games. In real-time. 

In its easiest kind, ray tracing is a system that is used to boost the lighting in video games. That is executed in quite a lot of other ways. It is utilized in every little thing from reflections to shadows each within the gaming atmosphere and on gadgets inside it. This contains issues like atmospheric results, reflections on surfaces (water, metallic, glass) and even subtle lighting. 

Subtle lighting is very attention-grabbing as that features gentle bouncing off of surfaces and reflecting onto others. This, in impact, is an oblique lighting supply which then helps create a extra lifelike expertise. Think about how daylight falls right into a room, then bounces off partitions and flooring and naturally makes your complete room brighter. That is one a part of how ray tracing works. 


When ray tracing is totally applied, you usually will not even discover what’s taking place except you are paying actually shut consideration because it’s a part of the entire image of a graphically gorgeous atmosphere. It is solely if you see a side-by-side comparability of the video games with ray tracing on and off that you’re going to see what a distinction it might make. 

With the most recent and biggest Nvidia graphics processors, all this occurs in real-time. This helps generate “high-resolution, real-time reflections that mirror particulars in entrance of, behind, above and beneath the participant or digital camera; particulars the participant could not see with earlier methods.”

In addition to reflecting gentle, shadows and environmental highlights, the ray tracing system may add spectacular visible results to characters throughout the recreation and even the gadgets they’re carrying.

Take into consideration the reflections of a sword’s blade or participant’s metallic armour displaying the encompassing world with a mirror-like impact, however realistically mirrored and in real-time – altering because the character strikes and passes by means of the sport world.

Reflections, shadow lighting and immersive visuals

This demo created in the Unreal engine reveals most of the next-generation rendering options doable with the tech. The results on this demo embody:

  • Textured space lights
  • Ray-traced space gentle shadows
  • Ray-traced reflections
  • Ray-traced ambient occlusion
  • Cinematic depth of area (DOF)
  • Nvidia GameWorks ray tracing denoising 

Utilizing this new expertise in rendering lighting and creating visuals, builders are in a position to create uber-realistic gaming experiences.

It is going to definitely be attention-grabbing to see how this tech progresses within the close to future. We have already had a style of what the way forward for gaming would possibly appear like and ray tracing is one more stepping stone in the correct course.  


What {hardware} do you want?

When ray tracing was first introduced it was solely open to players with the most recent Nvidia graphics playing cards of their gaming machines. Solely the RTX 20-series cards have been able to supporting ray tracing and DLSS. Though that listing included the Nvidia Geforce RTX 2060/2070/2080 and 2080Ti, it was hardly an intensive one.

These graphics playing cards are additionally costly and put ray tracing out of vary of most players except they have been prepared to splash out for innovative tech. 

This all modified in April 2019 when the company announced that older GPUs would assist ray tracing with the most recent game-ready drivers. And so the present listing of older ray tracing succesful graphics playing cards contains:

  • GeForce GTX 1660 Ti
  • GeForce GTX 1660
  • Nvidia Titan Xp (2017)
  • Nvidia Titan X (2016)
  • GeForce GTX 1080 Ti
  • GeForce GTX 1080
  • GeForce GTX 1070 Ti
  • GeForce GTX 1070
  • GeForce GTX 1060 6GB

It isn’t simply gaming desktops that assist ray tracing both, laptops with equal Pascal and Turing-architecture GPUs are additionally included within the listing. There’s additionally fairly a list of gaming laptops with RTX GPUs included as a specification choice. That listing is continually rising too. 

Ray tracing is not restricted to PC both. ThXbox Collection X and PlayStation 5 are stated to assist Ray Tracing. 

All that stated, it is price noting that if you need the very best experiences with ray tracing, you then’ll want the very best {hardware}. Though older graphics playing cards now assist ray tracing, they are going to wrestle with efficiency. Previous GTX GPUs can solely provide fundamental ray tracing results with a low ray rely. Whereas RTX graphics processors can handle rather more advanced results with a number of results being introduced with a better ray rely. 


Ray tracing can be a graphically intensive course of. With it turned on and settings maxed out, even the highest-specced gaming PCs can see a dip in efficiency when it comes to frames per second displayed on the display screen.

You will get a visually gorgeous gaming expertise, but it surely will not essentially be an uber-smooth one. Nvidia even reveals the influence most settings can have on common FPS at varied resolutions and even at 1920 x 1080 these figures are round 30FPS on older GTX GPUs. So it is price forking out for RTX graphics playing cards when you can afford it. 

The newer RTX 3000 series graphics cards see notable enhancements in efficiency even with ray tracing turned on.

Present video games that assist ray tracing

Help for ray tracing relies upon drastically on builders implementing the results and visible enhancements as they’re crafting their video games. 

Most of the primary ray traced video games are triple-A titles which have additionally appeared on console however with out the identical visuals. The unique listing of video games that supported ray tracing was pretty brief, but it surely’s continually being added to. 

It helps that Nvidia and Intel have been working to standardise the Vulkan API as a way to make it simpler for recreation builders so as to add ray tracing assist to their video games sooner or later. This can even imply that ray traced video games ought to extra simply make their option to the brand new consoles with the identical assist in future. 

Cyberpunk 2077

Cyberpunk 2077 may need had a tough begin and a little bit of a tough launch, however when you have the correct {hardware}, you possibly can benefit from the excellent ray-tracing capabilities for some significantly superior views in Evening Metropolis. 


Fortnite now has ray tracing assist together with DLSS to assist with efficiency enhancements. This implies Fortnite gamers can now take pleasure in ray-traced reflections, shadows, world illumination and ambient occlusion too.

Battlefield V

The newest Battlefield recreation was the primary to launch with ray tracing assist – providing improved visuals and enhanced reflections on a variety of surfaces to make the sport way more immersive for PC gamers. 

Minecraft RTX

That is proper, even Minecraft is profiting from enhanced lighting due to Nvidia’s RTX expertise. It is stunning what the updates have executed to the sport too. 

MechWarrior 5

In 3015, Humankind has colonised hundreds of programs in area. MechWarriors dominate the battlefields and ray-traced visuals assist promote the story and immerse you within the battle. 

Shadow of the Tomb Raider

Though it did not launch with ray tracing assist, Shadow of the Tomb Raider was up to date with enhanced visuals shortly afterwards. Improved shadows, subtle lighting and extra added further depth to an already stunning recreation. 

Quake II

To indicate off the unbelievable powers of ray tracing tech, Nvidia’s Lightspeed Studios set out to re-engineer gaming traditional Quake II. Now rejuvenated with all of the gorgeous visible results and dynamic lighting ray tracing can provide, Quake II is a pleasure to behold. Particularly for players sufficiently old to recollect taking part in it the primary time round. 

Quake II RTX is a free download to provide you a taster of the ray-tracing goodness and baddy blasting enjoyable. 

Metro Exodus

Battlefield V may need been the primary recreation to assist ray tracing, however Metro Exodus was the primary recreation to combine real-time ray-traced world illumination expertise. This meant the sport may use more-realistic not directly subtle lighting in addition to adjusting in real-time because the world atmosphere modified and day turns to nighttime. 

Name of Responsibility: Fashionable Warfare

Name of Responsibility: Fashionable Warfare contains “an epic reimagining of the long-lasting Fashionable Warfare collection from the bottom up” with ray tracing goodness as standard. As such, it is among the finest wanting COD video games to this point and an superior visible expertise in addition. 


Management is one other sturdy favorite of ours. It is also among the finest examples of Nvidia’s ray tracing tech in any new recreation with loads of gorgeous visible highlights due to ray tracing assist.  

Wolfenstein: Youngblood

It could be set within the Nineteen Eighties, however this recreation options some futuristic graphics with ray tracing enhancements. Slaying Nazis won’t ever have regarded so gorgeous. 


Ghostrunner is a fast-paced, violent single-player with a science-fiction vibe. As you’d anticipate, this action-packed, cyberpunk styled recreation appears wonderful due to the ray-tracing enhancement.  

Name of Responsibility: Black Ops Chilly Warfare

Alongside the ray tracing tech getting used within the subsequent outing of Black Ops is using DLSS to offer enhanced body charges and smoother gameplay too. 

Name of Responsibility: Black Ops Chilly Warfare additionally options Nvidia Ansel permitting gamers to take superior high-resolution screenshots too. 

Watch Canine: Legion

The newest outing of Watch Canine is about to incorporate real-time ray tracing which ought to definitely make London look that little bit extra magnificent. Simply you should definitely take all of it in as you sprint concerning the streets attempting to avoid wasting the capital and recruiting your military of hackers and resistance fighters. 

World of Warcraft: Shadowlands

The following chapter of the World of Warcraft saga is getting the ray traced overhaul too. Which means not solely a delightful launch for World of Warcraft followers, however a phenomenal one too. 

Future video games with ray tracing assist

For those who’re considering whether or not ray tracing is for you and whether or not it’s best to splash out on a brand new graphics card or gaming machine, then there’s excellent news because the listing of upcoming PC video games that can assist ray tracing is fairly superior. That listing contains the next:

Pumpkin Jack

This “Spooky Scary 3D platformer” is about to be enhanced with ray tracing and DLSS, including to the vibe and the Halloween goodness. 

Keep within the Gentle

It appears becoming that one of many upcoming video games on our listing is all about staying within the gentle. That is an indie horror recreation that helps real-time ray tracing all through randomly generated dungeons. Ray traced lighting and shadow results are sure to make this one eerie and horribly atmospheric. 

Prepared or Not

Kick within the door, throw a flashbang and admire the ray-traced lighting because it explodes blinding the unhealthy guys. Appears to be like like a number of enjoyable. Prepared or Not guarantees an genuine expertise that is sure to be enhanced by the visible tech right here. 

Atomic Coronary heart

At first look, it is laborious to not mistake Atomic Coronary heart for one more Metro recreation, particularly with the ray tracing assist the sport is about to come back with. That is additionally partly as a result of it is set in an alternate universe within the coronary heart of the Soviet Union. However this needs to be an excellent recreation in its personal proper. Bizarre creatures, robots and a mess of customisable weapons definitely make this one seem intriguing if nothing else. The lighting enhancements being proven off on this one are actually gorgeous as effectively. 


Enlisted is a WWII-themed, MMO, squad-based FPS being developed by the identical crew behind Cuisine Royale. This new shooter promised ray tracing assist and a few pretty superior visuals which ought to add an excellent environment to the WWII period. 


Justice is a brand new recreation hailing from Chinese language shores. This recreation is about to characteristic some nifty ray traced reflections, shadows and Nvidia DLSS expertise too. 

Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2

The long-awaited comply with as much as 2004’s superior Vampire: The Masquerade – The Bloodlines is coming in 2020. It is also arriving with ray tracing assist which ought to actually assist add some atmosphere to darkish alleyways and environments stuffed filled with vampires. We will not wait to sink our enamel into this one!

Sword and Fairy 7

Sword and Fairy 7 is the most recent within the collection of Chinese language RPGs – a collection that initially began life again within the Nineties however is now getting some significantly pleasing visible updates with ray tracing assist. That is additionally one of many coolest video samples of ray tracing in motion because it reveals off reflections on varied surfaces together with shiny rock faces, puddles and the character’s sword too. 

Dying Gentle 2

The comply with as much as among the finest zombie shooters we have ever performed guarantees to be even higher than the unique with the addition of ray tracing and enhanced visuals too. 


Outriders is a co-op RPG shooter set in a “darkish and determined sci-fi universe” this recreation is about to get the ray tracing therapy to make sure it is visually gorgeous and totally immersive. 

5 Nights at Freddy’s: Safety Breach

5 Nights at Freddy’s is again with one other outing. This time enhanced with gorgeous visuals which might be sure so as to add to the terrifying environment due to ray traced lighting. 

F.I.S.T.: Solid In Shadow Torch

F.I.S.T.: Solid In Shadow Torch is an uncommon addition to this listing because it’s an action-adventure recreation in traditional platformer fashion which has been given a snazzy make-over due to ray traced goodness. 

Different upcoming video games with ray tracing assist embody:

Writing by Adrian Willings.