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RTX Theater: Fortnite real-time-ray tracing with an NVIDIA RTX 3080

By November 16, 2020November 18th, 2020No Comments

Fortnite got a glow-up recently with the help of new visual improvements made available on Nvidia RTX GPUs.  Players with graphics cards that support Nvidia’s real-time ray tracing can play Fortnite in a whole new light. We checked it out ourselves using a RTX 3080 Founders Edition graphics card and a 1440p monitor, and logged several hours of remarkably immersive gameplay – at least when it comes to the visuals. 

It’s immediately noticeable that the familiar island has a new luster about it — variable sunlight shines through the clouds and fog, creating new colors and reflecting off the water. You see objects reflect in glass panes and windshields, and might even catch the glint of a sniper scope off in the distance.  

To experience this yourself your rig needs an NVIDIA graphics card with real-time ray tracing capabilities.  So far, all of Nvidia RTX graphics cards support ray tracing — all 20- and 30-series RTX cards, and certain GeForce GTX 10-series GPUs do as well — 1660 and 1660ti, and GeForce GTX 1060 with six GB of VRAM, and higher.  

What is Real-time Ray-tracing?

So how does this all work? Real-time Ray-tracing as experienced in Fortnite and other games is an example of hardware assisted graphics acceleration. While ray-tracing without dedicated hardware is possible, the latest advancements happen by way of dedicated cores built into your GPU. 

Tensor cores — which Nvidia has been building into GPUs for the last few years — process mathematical calculations that had previously been more in the realm of physics and engineering applications, and more commonly run by supercomputers used in scientific modeling and design. The Turing architecture that Nvidia introduced with their 20-series RTX cards features Tensor cores that were added alongside the CUDA cores that traditionally handle the graphics load in gaming systems. Adding tensor cores into the mix allows graphics cards to handle more advanced workloads, most notably crunching number sets that are involved in machine learning. 

Why is machine learning important to your gameplay? Nvidia’s Deep Learning Super Sampling — DLSS 2.0 — helps your PC render images at a lower resolution initially, and then increase the resolution so it matches the native dimensions on your screen. For example, say you want to play games on a 1440p monitor — DLSS 2.0 does some of the processing for you — with the help of Nvidia’s supercomputers pushing some of your pixels. Your system assumes a 1080p workload while you play on a 1440p image. 

How does RTX affect FPS?

Enabling DLSS 2.0 in the “Performance” setting allowed us to view all the shimmer and shine at “Epic, with RTX features on, and still get between 65 to 85 frames per second in most areas of the map. We did capture a dip in frames in places with heavy ray tracing effects — most notably Nvidia’s creative island designed to push the envelope with spectacular light visuals and object reflections 

If you are a competitive Fortnite player that needs more frames, you will probably need to dial back the ray tracing effects a touch. Fortnite graphics settings — including DLSS 2.0 and each of the Ray Tracing functions — have four levels to play with, so you are able to fine tune the settings to achieve the performance that matches your preferences,  taking advantage of new visual features while still riding high, steady FPS numbers. 

Check out the links below for graphics cards from Nvidia that support the latest ray tracing technology.   

Shop NVIDIA RTX 20 Series and 30 Series cards on Newegg

Browse NVIDIA RTX 3080 GPUs

Notes: 30 Series GPU supplies are limited. For more information, check out Newegg’s RTX 30 Series FAQs  

Author Adam Lovinus

A tech writer and Raspberry Pi enthusiast from Orange County, California.

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