Graphics reinvented. That’s how Nvidia introduced its first RTX graphics cards back in 2018, cards that first went on sale three years ago this week, in fact. And a lot has happened in the intervening time, but do the promises of that new era of Nvidia GPUs still hold up, and what’s changed since then?
Three years is a long time in PC hardware, but somehow it still feels as though the launch of the first RTX series of Nvidia graphics cards is a recent phenomenon. Yet the RTX 30-series has been with us—often in spirit more than in any physically real form—for a full year now. It was the inaugural RTX 20-series, however, which introduced us to the promise of a whole new era of PC gaming GPUs.
And that promise? In a phrase, it all seemed to be about ray tracing, at least that was the piece of the puzzle that felt most tangible when it was first introduced to us jobbing tech journos in an old beer factory in Cologne, Germany. Ray tracing was one of the first things on display that separated the Turing architecture from the older Pascal design.