With the introduction of real-time ray tracing in gaming released to consumers in 2018. The improved graphical potential and immersion of ray tracing was an exciting thought for everyone, but there was one concern that turned a lot of individuals and studios away from the idea.
Ray tracing uses a lot of graphical power which in turn will reduce the FPS and performance of whatever game you are using ray tracing in.
So, in this article, we will go through how ray tracing affects your FPS and the pros and cons of using it.
If you aren’t sure exactly what ray tracing is and how it works I have also written an in-depth article on how ray tracing works.
How Does Ray Tracing Lower FPS?
Short answer: Yes, ray tracing does lower your FPS and performance even if you have a powerful graphics card.
Long answer: Ray tracing affects your FPS because it needs a lot of computing power to work. The reason for this is that ray tracing determines how light affects the objects around you. Showing and improving reflections, shadows, and lighting around.
Therefore, your computer is constantly processing where the light is on your screen and how it is interacting with the objects around you. (You can see how this can take a lot of processing power.)
If there are events such as explosions or gunshots, your graphics has to adjust to the amount of light affected and the shadows that are being generated.
Moreover, if you take a game like Battlefield V, one of the main advertising points for its ray tracing feature is how it uses reflections on puddles, glass, and other glossy surfaces. When you have players and CPUs running through the rainy trenches your computer will have to process how the light will reflect off of those surfaces onto your screen, which yes makes the graphics hyper-realistic, but will also affect performance a lot.
So, now you can see why ray tracing is so hard on your computer and why it lowers your FPS so much even if you have a powerful pc.
However, if this turned you away from using ray tracing to gaming, hopefully, some of the benefits we will talk about next will lighten the mood and bring back your dreams of super immersive gameplay!
Pros and Cons of Ray Tracing
Although ray tracing does affect the performance of whatever game you are playing, there is a reason why ray tracing is still being used today, so I will go through the pros and cons of using ray tracing when gaming.
Pros – Benefits of Ray Tracing
- Lifelike visuals that make your game very immersive. Gives you the closest feeling to a real-life experience in a game that has never been seen before.
- Ray tracing is only provided on the newest GPUs and is improving its graphical potential and performance every year, with the increase of RT cores that benefit ray tracing.
- More and more games are adopting the use of ray tracing, which means getting the full experience of what the game is trying to give you means using ray tracing.
- Future-proofing your gaming experience. As more games are being developed the technology and understanding of ray tracing are improving.
Cons – Disadvantages of Ray Tracing
- Currently very expensive to get reliable ray tracing hardware. Most GPUs that support ray tracing are very expensive top-of-the-line cards, and the ones that aren’t will have trouble performing at playable speed when gaming.
- Cuts your performance drastically. We already know this, but if you don’t have a top-of-the-line GPU you can see a cut in performance of up to 90% with ray tracing turned on. Even if you own a high-end graphics card that on average let’s say you get 120 FPS gaming normally, that will probably drop to around 60-70 FPS which is the bare minimum for gaming.
- You might have to reduce your graphics settings in order to play. If the cut on your FPS is too much when you turn on ray tracing then you might have to lower your graphics settings, which defeats the purpose of having an immersive experience with ray tracing turned on.
What Types of Games Benefit From Ray Tracing The Most?
The games that will benefit the most from ray tracing are open-world RPGs. the reason for this is that these games tend to give a lot of pride in their visuals as it is a big part of their game.
This also might be a turn-on for many people because these types of games don’t really get affected by higher FPS as much.
Esports games on the other hand like Battlefield, or Fortnite benefit the least from ray tracing. First of all, these games are more benefited by higher frame rates, and less on graphics and visuals because you are competing in a multiplayer situation.
To be honest I am not really sure why these games implemented ray tracing in the first place because their player base is more focused on how much FPS they can get rather than how good the game looks
Also, games like Fortnite are more cartoonish which means the effects of ray tracing don’t work as well in this type of environment.
Games like Cyberpunk which already give off a semi-realistic experience will just be complemented with a higher level of realism with ray tracing involved.
Is it Worth Using Ray Tracing With if it Lower FPS?
Again, this really depends on your goals when gaming. If you are more of a visual person who likes to play single-player open-world or RPG-type games, then my guess is that you would love the effects of ray tracing.
If you are more of a competitive gamer who pushes performance over anything (like myself). Then you shouldn’t use ray tracing. The reason for this is that you are just putting yourself at a disadvantage. When playing Esports you want as much FPS as you can that way you have an edge over your opponents.