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Ryan B.

The PC vs Console Gaming Debate

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Introduction

Since their inception and introduction into the mainstream populous nearly 4 decades ago, video games have become one of the most popular forms of entertainment within the industry. Over the course of their history, video games – and the companies that produce them – have diversified in their uniqueness and creativity. Gamers presently have a multitude of options to consider when selecting the best platform on which they can enjoy their favorite games: Playstation, Xbox, Nintendo, & more. In addition to the more traditional home-entertainment consoles, PC gaming has grown significantly over the years. All of this has led to very passionate debate among the gaming community as to which of these platforms is the “best” medium for enjoying the plethora of amazing games available today. In this article I will discuss some of the similarities and differences that makes PC and console gaming truly unique experiences.

Graphics

We’ve come a long way in video game graphics over the years. Gone are the days of block-y pixelated landscapes and textures and in are the hyper-realistic real world simulations. Most modern gaming platforms are capable of outputting amazing graphics, but what sets them apart? While the Nintendo Switch can produce some very good-looking games, the Xbox One X & the Playstation 4 Pro are the most powerful machines out of the big 3. Both consoles produce high quality texture details at high resolutions with both being capable of outputting in 4K. The Xbox One X is the more powerful machine of the two. It doesn’t suffer from the dynamic scaling issues that the PS4 Pro suffers from, and it often runs the same games at higher resolutions. So it would seem that the Xbox One X has the highest graphical capability, right? Not so fast.

With the announcement of NVIDIA’s 20-series GPUs, video game graphics have reached never before seen heights. Real-time ray tracing allows for the most realistic simulations of light in video games to date. The new cards also support DLSS: an edge-smoothing technology that uses AI to boost performance and outputs the highest possible resolutions. If you want the best graphics gaming has to offer, PC gaming edges out consoles.

Price

PC gaming may have the edge in graphical capability, but it comes dead last in affordability. The Nintendo Switch is the most affordable gaming console and typically retails around $300. The PS4 Pro retails for around $399.99 and the Xbox One X follows at around $499.99. The problem with PC gaming is that one of NVIDIA’s new gpus will run you upwards of $1,000 – and then you need the rest of the PC!

Customization

You might like the Xbox. You might like the PS4. But maybe you prefer either consoles controller over the other. Maybe you prefer the Xbox’s playability but prefer the content exclusives that come on the PS4. With PC, you have many more options when it comes to customization. You can use a wide array of different controllers (including Xbox and Playstation), keyboard and mouse, joystick, etc. You can play games available on Steam, Origin, Epic, etc. Not to mention you can customize the PC itself far more than the consoles. Simply put, PC gaming offers more diversity and customization. Of course there are console exclusives that aren’t available on the PC too, however. At the end of the day, like all things your gaming selection will come down to comfortability and preference.

Ray Tracing: The Power Behind NVIDIA’s 20-Series GPUs

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What Is Ray Tracing?

Remember in August of last year when NVIDIA announced the launch of the brand new RTX 20 series graphics cards – the successor to the incredibly popular Geforce 10 series – and the internet exploded with speculation and mass hysteria? I do. That’s because the announcement of a new line of graphics cards from NVIDIA was a big deal.

Boasting unprecedented graphical capabilities and pc gaming performance,  the anticipation for the RTX 20 series cards was so high that NVIDIA faced extreme difficulty fulfilling initial orders for the cards during the immediate months proceeding the launch. Feeding into the anticipation was the announcement that the new RTX cards would have the compute capability to perform ray tracing in real time. Now if you’re like me, you probably asked yourself, “Well, what the hell is ray tracing?” I wouldn’t blame you for not understanding, especially after NVIDIA’s meme-able RTX ON/RTX OFF video. Dubbed “the holy grail of gaming graphics” by NVIDIA, ray tracing – simply put – is a rendering technique that “traces” a path or paths of light in a digital image to create a realistic simulation of the interaction between the light and a virtual object. Still sounds confusing, right? Let’s look at the example below.

RTX ON/RTX OFF

Here we have two screenshots from EA’s Battlefield V game running on our testing rig using an EVGA RTX 2080 Ti FTW3 GAMING card. Both images have impressive graphics, but have subtle differences that set the RTX cards apart from previous graphics cards. In both images, there is some sort of explosion happening in the background. In the first image, you can see the explosion near my character, but notice how the foreground of the scene remains dark. Now look at the second image. Notice how the light from the fire illuminates the gun my character is holding and how it reflects of the puddles of water on the ground? That’s ray tracing. Any way I decide to have my character move throughout the scene, the light from the fire will reflect off of surfaces that it normally would in real life, and adjust accordingly in real time. In the first image you can see the fire, but you cannot see how the light from the fire illuminates and reflects off the metal on my character’s gun or the water puddles. The comparison below further illustrates the effects of ray tracing on virtual objects.

Enabling Ray Tracing

Alright so now that you know what ray tracing is, you’ll need to know how to turn it on. Unfortunately, activating ray tracing isn’t as simple as having a RTX gpu and playing a ray tracing enabled game. You’ll have to make sure you’ve completed a couple of steps first:

  1. Make sure that the GPU drivers are up to date.
  2. Update Windows 10 to at least version 1089 (You may have to manually download this update).
  3. Go to the video settings in your ray tracing enabled game (Battlefield V is under “Advanced” video settings) and enable DX12.
  4. You’ll have to then restart the game for the changes to take effect.

Once you’ve completed these steps, you’ll be able to experience ray tracing in all its glory!

Conclusion

Look, I know what you’re thinking. Improved lighting effects and renderings? Really? It might seem like a trivial upgrade, but real-time ray tracing is a big deal and an enormous step forward in terms of what pc gaming graphics are capable of. There aren’t many games currently available that utilize NVIDIA’s ray tracing feature (Battlefield V, Shadow of the Tomb Raider, Metro Exodues, etc.), but if you find yourself playing one that does, remember to turn ray tracing on!