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Can you use ray tracing without RTX? Yes, but with limitations

Last Updated on March 27, 2024
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Yes, it is possible to use ray tracing without an RTX graphics card. Ray tracing is a rendering technique that can be implemented using hardware with any GPU above the Nvidia 20-Series. Or with software in older GPUs, no matter what the hardware setup is.

However, the performance of ray tracing will depend on the hardware capabilities of the system. It may not be practical to use ray tracing on a system without a dedicated graphics card or other specialized hardware. That being said, NVIDIA’s RTX graphics cards are specifically designed to accelerate ray tracing calculations. Most consider it the best choice for real-time ray tracing.

✓ Quick Answer

A form of ray tracing is possible on older hardware

This is thanks to a Game Ready Driver released back in April 2019, which allowd those with GTX cards to experience basic ray tracing features

If you are wanting to use ray tracing for real-time rendering, an RTX graphics card would likely be the best choice. If you are only hoping to use ray tracing for offline renderings: For example for creating pre-rendered graphics or animations. Then you may be able to use ray tracing on a system without an RTX graphics card. Although the rendering times may be longer.

Can I use ray tracing with GTX?

Yes, it is possible to use ray tracing with a GeForce GTX graphics card. NVIDIA released a Game Ready Driver back in April 2019. This allows gamers with GeForce GTX 1060 6GB and higher GPUs to test drive basic DirectX Raytracing (DXR) effects.

These effects are not as fully featured as those available on GeForce RTX graphics cards, which are specifically designed to accelerate ray tracing calculations. They do, however, allow users with GeForce GTX graphics cards to experience some of the benefits of ray tracing. If you are wanting a decent, cost effective card that is a fantastic entry into ray tracing at 1080p, we recommend the RTX 4060, which we have tested extensively in our RTX 4060 review.

ASUS ROG Strix GeForce RTX 4060 OC

The powerful Asus Radeon RTX 480 delivers exceptional performance and stunning visuals, making it an excellent choice for gaming enthusiasts. With its advanced features and top-of-the-line technology, this graphics card


AD107 die

CUDA cores





272 GB/s

Memory bus width

128-bit memory bus

Base clock speed

1830 MHz

Boost clock speed

2670 MHz

Does Ray Tracing hurt FPS?

It can do yes. When a game demands ray tracing it adds quite a load on your graphics card, which is why Nvidia’s cards are specifically engineered (with RTX) to deal with it in an efficient way.

It’s also why AMD graphics cards aren’t as good as Nvidia cards in situations where Ray Tracing is in use. However, ray tracing isn’t a widespread requirement in games, and AMD is closing the gap in terms of capabilities for this particular technology.

PC Guide Expert view

Keep in mind that the performance of ray tracing on a GeForce GTX graphics card will depend on the specific model and the hardware capabilities of the system. It may not be practical to use ray tracing on a system with a lower-end GTX graphics card or on a system with limited hardware resources.

In conclusion, you don’t need ray tracing to experience the beautiful design of ray tracing-optimized video games. However, to enjoy it at its best, you would need at least an RTX 20-series or above. However, we would advise opting for the 40 Series so you can benefit from the improved Tensor cores and Ada Architecture. If you’re wanting to take a look at other new GPUs, check out our best graphics card guide.

Camilo is a contributor for PC Guide. He's been into tech since he was a teen, surfing through the web and local stores trying to find the cheapest way to play the latest Half-Life on his old Windows