So you're curious about this "RTX" thing but not curious enough to plonk down the money for an RTX-enabled graphics card that may not be a huge upgrade from your existing one. Never fear—Nvidia would like you to know that its latest GeForce driver (version 425.31) adds support for Microsoft DirectX Raytracing (DXR) to ten more graphics cards so you can enjoy the technology without needing an RTX card. You can check out the list of supported cards below. Oh yeah, the new drivers are also "Game Ready" for Anno 1800, in case you're into that.
Here's the short summary of this list: basically every Nvidia GPU released in the last two years that is faster than the GeForce GTX 1060 6 GB model now supports DXR. That includes both desktop and laptop variants of the GPUs. Nvidia is careful to use the term "DXR" rather than "RTX". Obviously, these chips didn't magically sprout the RTX acceleration hardware their newer brethren have. Instead, they perform all the DXR operations on their regular old FP32 functional units.
You're probably already thinking "dang, that must be slow," and you'd be right. The hit isn't as bad as you might be afraid, though. Nvidia's own numbers, as reproduced above, put a GeForce GTX 1080 Ti somewhere around the performance of an RTX 2060 when DXR is set to "Medium" in Battlefield V. That's a pretty big step down in frame rate, but it's still perfectly playable at most resolutions.
Unsurprisingly, in raytracing-focused tech demos such as the Atomic Heart RTX demo, the Pascal cards can't even really produce playable results. GeForce RTX GPUs have the obvious advantage here, but Nvidia notes that Turing-architecture GPUs that lack the specialized RT and Tensor cores (such as the GTX 1660 cards) have an advantage over Pascal chips in DXR thanks to their side-slung INT32 cores. If you'd like see these demos in all their ray-traced glory for yourself, you can grab a few of them from Nvidia.
Still, in actual games, it looks like those of us with properly-puissant Pascal processors can partake in some of the preeminent visuals so-proffered. While we probably wouldn't want to play Shadow of the Tomb Raider at less then an average frame rate of 25 FPS, note that Nvidia's data used the highest in-game settings along with the "high" DXR setting. Cranking those down a bit will probably improve performance to far more pleasant levels.
Besides the exciting proliferation of DXR technology, these drivers fix a few issues, as usual. ARK: Survival Evolved should work properly on RTX GPUs, and Ghost Recon Wildlands should stop crashing when you open the inventory menu. A blue-screen crash in The Witcher 3 has been resolved. Texture artifacting in The Evil Within 2 should be patched over. On the creator side of things, the Fabfilter plugin should no longer crash host applications, and Adobe programs should work correctly with SLI enabled. Finally, in what is surely the most wide-ranging fix of all time, Titan X users playing GTA V in stereo (3D) mode should no longer be greeted by an "out of memory" message.
Persistent issues include a problem with G-Sync refusing to engage when in Surround mode, the "Adaptive Sync (Half Refresh Rate)" 3D settings option not persisting after a reboot, and Ansel crashing in Shadow of the Tomb Raider. There's also still a problem hanging around where some multi-display PCs may suffer random desktop flicker. Similarly, some multi-monitor machines may suffer desktop flickering while playing videos on a secondary monitor. Neither of those issues affect me, thankfully.
Oh yeah, this driver is Game Ready for Anno 1800, too. Good luck on the Epic Store, guys!
Before you get too excited, remember that using DXR in any capacity with any hardware will require Windows 10 update 1803 or later. Hopefully you've been doing your updates. You can read the release notes here, or head over to Nvidia's download site to grab the new package. Be careful when you select your driver, as Nvidia now has the option to pick between standard and DCH driver packages. If you're already on a DCH driver it can be a pain to go back, so be wary of that choice.