Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 2080 graphics with ray tracing are coming to laptops

Nvidia first unveiled its GeForce RTX series of graphics cards for desktop PCs last summer. The RTX 2070, RTX 2080, and RTX 2080 Ti were all designed for high-end gaming PCs, and they enabled new ray-tracing capabilities — a groundbreaking graphics technique that models light in real time as it intersects objects in a virtual scene — in games like Battlefield V.

Nvidia held back at the time from announcing any plans to bring RTX beyond desktop machines, but today at CES, the company said it’s finally ready to bring those new graphics chips — including a mobile RTX 2080 — to gaming laptops.

Similar to how the GTX 1000 series made its way to notebook machines, Nvidia is bringing its RTX cards to more than 40 laptops. RTX 2080 through to RTX 2060 cards will be available in these laptops, and Nvidia claims these laptops will be able to run ray-traced games like Battlefield V at 60 fps. CEO Jensen Huang said such chips will let a laptop deliver “twice the performance of a PS4 Pro.”

 Photo: Nvidia

While the desktop RTX GPUs increased their power draw and PSU requirements over the GTX series, laptops are a lot more thermally constrained. It’s not immediately clear how Nvidia is addressing the extra power requirements on laptops, especially for demanding ray-tracing titles.

Nvidia is using its Max-Q tech here to cut power consumption and ensure these RTX chips can fit inside thin, light, and quiet laptops. That means all the manufacturers will have worked closely with Nvidia on thermal and acoustic design to make as many efficiencies as possible, but it doesn’t necessarily mean the performance will be on par with the desktop versions of these GPUs.

But if you’re comparing laptops to laptops, Nvidia tells The Verge that you can expect 20 percent more performance from an Nvidia RTX 2080 Max-Q compared to a GeForce GTX 1080 Max-Q, as well as 40 percent more efficiency. That could actually mean better battery life — Nvidia says the MSI Stealth might get 8 hours now — or thinner gaming laptops.

“Max-Q models with GeForce RTX 2070 deliver up to 20 percent higher performance than the popular GTX 1070 on traditional games; and with GeForce RTX 2060 up to 50 percent higher performance on traditional games compared to GTX 1060,” Nvidia adds.

RTX cards also enable what’s known as deep learning super sampling, or DLSS, which is an artificial intelligence-powered version of anti-aliasing that improves resolution without compromising on performance.

Nvidia announced onstage that EA and studio BioWare are working to bring DLSS support to its upcoming online multiplayer shooter Anthem. In addition to the under-the-hood benefits developers can extract from an RTX card, each new RTX-equipped laptop will also include Nvidia’s G-Sync tech to allow the screen to vary its refresh rate to match the render rate of the GPU, which reduces stuttering and screen tearing.

The first laptops with RTX GPUs will appear on January 29th, from laptop makers like Acer, Asus, Dell, Gigabyte, HP, Lenovo Legion, MSI, Razer, and Samsung. Nvidia is bundling both Battlefield V and Anthem with purchases of an RTX 2080 laptop, or just one of either of the titles for RTX 2070 or RTX 2060 laptops.

Update, 1:15AM ET: With more info about expected performance.

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