RTX vs GTX

Deyan G.
Deyan G.

Updated · May 10, 2022

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If you’re building a new PC or upgrading your own, choosing a good GPU is crucial. The right one will boost your performance and improve your overall experience more than all else. 

When picking a new graphics card, NVIDIA is the popular choice. Their selection comes in two distinct types: the GTX and RTX product lines. 

But what’s the difference, and which one is right for you? The GTX vs. RTX debate is real.

It’s also a complex area to navigate, full of technical jargon and confusing abbreviations. Maybe you’re looking at GTX 1650 vs. RTX 2060 and wondering what the whole thing’s even about.

Allow me to explain. 

What Does RTX Stand for

Before we get into the nitty-gritty details, what does RTX mean

It means “Ray Tracing Texel eXtreme.” It’s a line of graphic cards by NVIDIA, introduced in 2018 with the GeForce 20 series. It was later continued by the GeForce 30XX. 

What’s RTX’s biggest claim to fame? 

Ray tracing is a unique method of visual rendering that simulates light and shadows. The way previous generations handle that isn’t anywhere near the detail RTX offers. 

Real-time ray tracing was thought to be years away from reality until NVIDIA pioneered it. Though this is an incredibly massive breakthrough in gaming, the technology also has applications in:

  • Film 
  • Architecture 
  • Engineering 
  • Design 

The original RTX 20 cards used Turing microarchitecture. That’s a proprietary multi-core processor model that combines RT (ray tracing) and AI (Tensor) cores. 

The RT cores use advanced techniques to augment reflections and shadows. The Tensors, on the other hand, accelerate image generation through an approach called de-noising. They also let the card use new technology such as DLSS. Deep Learning Super Sampling lets your GPU upscale your resolution while maintaining performance, all thanks to machine learning

In 2020, NVIDIA announced Turing’s successor, Ampere. The 2nd generation RTX architecture powers GPUs of the 30XX series. A radical improvement over the previous hardware, this new line is reportedly up to twice as fast as its 1st gen counterpart. 

What Does GTX Stand for?

What is GTX

A simple GTX definition is RTX’s older brother.

The line started in 2005 with the GTX 7800. NVIDIA initially attached the GT prefix to GPUs that passed the “giga texel” render threshold. Then they added the X for “extreme” so their higher-performance cards could be more distinguishable.  

GTX stands for “Giga Texel Shader eXtreme.” Its introduction marked an important moment in NVIDIA history by changing their naming scheme to the one we know today. 

Since then and up until the release of RTX, NVIDIA has generally attached the GTX moniker to its higher-end cards. The company kept releasing new GPU series, using a different architecture for every second release. GTX 200 and 300 were Tesla-based, while 400 and 500 were based on the Fermi microarchitecture set. And so on. 

Simply put, the NVIDIA GTX is your traditional GPU without all the RTX-specific features we mentioned above. 

One exception is the latest GTX 16XX series. Technically, they’re based on Turing architecture. That makes them more similar to the RTX line than the rest of the GTX family. 

What’s the Difference Between RTX and GTX? 

Being products from different generations, there are notable differences relevant to the GTX vs. RTX discussion. 

Let’s compare the two:

 

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 

NVIDIA RTX 

Most Popular Use

GTX is a gaming-oriented graphics processing unit. It’s mainly marketed as a way for gamers to achieve a high-quality experience.

RTX is a powerful GeForce GPU built around improved graphics performance, real-life ray tracing, and AI technologies. 

Generations & Life Cycle

The NVIDIA GTX has been around for a while and consists of different series. The first installment dates back to 2005. The last one, 16XX, was released in 2019. GTX cards are no longer produced, though you can still find plenty in stock. 

The RTX family consists of next-gen cards. There have been two generations of products since the line’s release in 2018, the 20XX and 30XX. Fans expect a 4000 series in the future, though there’s no official information yet. 

Performance

Due to the wide range of products, you’ll get different results depending on which GTX series you’re exploring. The newer ones give you fast GDDR6 RAM to boost performance while reducing energy costs. The 1600 series even use shared Turing architecture to offer you an optimal experience. 

RTX is much newer and shows less variance in its performance. All models use top-of-the-line hardware to provide high performance, immersive graphics, and accelerated AI processing. 

NVIDIA Adaptive Shading

Only 16 series

Yes

VR Ready

GTX 1060 or higher; GTX 1660 or higher

Yes

Concurrent Floating Point & Integer Operations

Only 16 series

Yes

Turing NVIDIA Encoder (NVENC)

Only 16 series

Yes

Ray-Tracing (RT) Cores

No

Yes

Tensor (AI) Cores

No

Yes

NVIDIA DLSS

No

Yes

As you can see, RTX is the technologically superior product. Cards bearing the RTX moniker are the most powerful GPUs currently available on the market.

They’re also the most expensive ones.

It’s not just that they’re newer. We’re in the middle of a global chip shortage, causing the price of RTX GPUs to skyrocket (even when they’re in stock). 

GTX cards, on the other hand, offer a decent balance between price and performance. While they may lack some of the latest bells and whistles, they’re still great pieces of hardware in their own right. Realistically, they might be the only thing many hobbyist PC builders can afford. 

RTX vs. GTX – Which Is Better? 

Is RTX better than GTX? RTX or GTX? This completely depends on you and your goals. RTX is the new kid on the block, doing everything GTX does and more. It’s also more expensive and harder to get.

Are you a heavy-duty gamer or graphic designer/editor? Do you value mind-blowing performance at all costs? Then a 30-series RTX is right up your alley - the new 3080 might be perfect for you.

On the other hand, if you want decent performance on a reasonable budget, a GeForce GTX graphics card still has a lot to offer. The GTX 16XX Super series reliably runs most modern games at 1080p resolution and 60FPS. Even older cards like GTX 1070 or 1080 still hold their own and can make for a respectable budget gaming PC. 

Wrap Up 

When you’re picking the perfect GPU, there’s a lot to consider. 

Ultimately, your RTX vs. GTX winner depends on your priorities. Either one brings a variety of benefits to the table. It’s up to you to decide whether you want adequate performance on a budget or a high-priced powerhouse. Now that you know your options, you’re ready to make the right choice. 

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Deyan G.

Deyan G.

Techjury.net's manager. Deyan has been fascinated by technology his whole life. From the first Tetris game all the way to Falcon Heavy. Working for TechJury is like a dream come true, combining both his passions – writing and technology. In his free time (which is pretty scarce, thanks to his three kids), Deyan enjoys traveling and exploring new places. Always with a few chargers and a couple of gadgets in the backpack. He makes mean dizzying Island Paradise cocktails too.

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