Up For Debate – How much of a priority is a ray tracing GPU for you?

Everywhere you look these days you’ve got developers and tech evangelists shouting about the benefits of ray-tracing from the rooftops. Quantic Dreams president David Cage has said the future of graphics tech is not pixels, textures, or polygons, but lighting. An Nvidia representative has said GPUs without ray-tracing could be completely phased out by 2023. Both Microsoft and Sony are claiming their next-gen consoles can do it, in however gimped a form. 

It’s happening, basically, whether you like or not. Nvidia and AMD are going to take ray-tracing and force it down your throat like a gull feeding its young. You either upgrade or you get left behind, all the big question is going be ‘when’. 

Personally, I’m all for it. PC gaming is all about pushing technology forward. We aren’t hindered by fixed console designs. There is no rest in PC gaming hardware. We get dozens of new graphics cards and processors every year; higher-speed memory, ultra-fast SSDs, and the sort of refresh rates on monitors which make an 8K telly look like a very pretty slug. The choice is ours and the momentum is relentless. 

Ray-tracing is just another one of these technologies which was pioneered on PC and will look best on PC. While the performance hit on the early GeForce RTX GPUs is a little hard to swallow for some, I think we can all get behind the idea that making games look better is a good thing, surely? Ray-tracing is going to become an industry standard; it improves gaming visuals dramatically and, sooner or later, we’re all going be enjoying the benefits.

Every game with confirmed Nvidia RTX ray-tracing and DLSS support

But, and it’s a big but, so to speak, enjoying ray-tracing right now means splashing a fair chunk of cash as well as taking an even larger hit on frame rates. Each game tends to only focus on just a single facet of ray-tracing as well, whether that’s Battlefield V’s reflections or Shadow of the Tomb Raider’s shadows. The performance just isn’t there yet to do it all, so what we’ve ended up with is an expensive, embryonic version of what will become an industry standard.

With all that said, it becomes difficult to judge whether upgrading for ray-tracing technology is actually worth it. Those who buy an RTX graphics card are getting on the ground floor yet paying a price premium and enjoying a fairly rudimentary version of the tech. But, it’s admittedly exciting to try it out first hand and see where it’s all head.

So, what are your thoughts, is a graphics card capable of ray-tracing a top priority for your next upgrade? Or do you just think it’s not worth the extra cash? Let us know your thoughts below!