While it isn’t always sensible to pigeonhole consoles and PC together, NVIDIA newly-announced Ampere architecture-based GeForce RTX 30-Series GPUs blur the line more than ever before.
What’s clear from yesterday’s GeForce Special Event is that NVIDIA is no longer content competing with AMD, but has made clear strides to bring the fight to the next-gen PS5 and Xbox Series X. The format and style of the event felt arguably more streamlined and compelling than anything from Sony and Microsoft’s respective next-gen promotional campaign and events. You can watch it below if you missed it the first time around.
It’s something that also extends to the hardware – the Ampere GPUs are exceptional pieces of kit that ironically ooze far more next-gen appeal that what console platform holders have managed to conjure up so far.
These aren’t just the most powerful commercially available GPUs ever; their pricing is surprisingly competitive, notably the $499 GeForce RTX 3070. If there’s any substance to rumors and speculation, this is within the next-gen consoles’ expected price range. As Sony and Microsoft continue to dilly-dally in their ongoing pricing game of chicken, NVIDIA has dispensed with the frustrating secrecy and drawn a no-nonsense line in the sand.
As for raw performance and the hotly-debated Teraflop count, the RTX 3070 far outclasses the 12 TFLOPS and 10.28 of the Xbox Series X and PS5, thanks to a comparatively meaty 20 TFLOPS. For those with an existing gaming rig, upgrading to a 3070 for the same price as a next-gen console for substantially better performance free of the limitations inherent to closed console eco-systems is an appealing proposition. And with that comes the open PC platform, the upgrade potential, and a broader range of games.
Furthermore, it will arrive in October before the expected launch of the PS5 and Xbox Series X in November. While this isn’t necessarily by design – the September/October window is historically favored for GPU launches – it certainly plays in NVIDIA’s favor: a month head start on the next-gen.
One area the consoles, or at least the PS5, should retain the upper hand is the blisteringly fast bespoke SSD solution. Yet, even here, NVIDIA has an answer that echos much of what Sony is promising from the PS5’s SSD – RTX IO . Over to NVIDIA for a brief overview:
“Leveraging the advanced architecture of our new GeForce RTX 30 Series graphics cards, we’ve created NVIDIA RTX IO, a suite of technologies that enable rapid GPU-based loading and game asset decompression, accelerating I/O performance by up to 100x compared to hard drives and traditional storage APIs. When used with Microsoft’s new DirectStorage for Windows API, RTX IO offloads dozens of CPU cores’ worth of work to your GeForce RTX GPU, improving frame rates, enabling near-instantaneous game loading, and opening the door to a new era of large, incredibly detailed open world games.”
Even one of the most long-standing arguments working in favor of consoles no longer carries the same weight. The concept of exclusives is slowly eroding. No longer are these calcified to a specific console as both Xbox and Sony, to varying degrees, expand their portfolio to PC.
In its efforts to ease the transition to the next-gen, Microsoft is bringing virtually all its games to both the Xbox family and PC under the guise of Game Pass.
Sony is tentatively edging in the same direction, albeit favoring an initial timed PlayStation exclusivity before porting to PC, as we saw most recently with Horizon Zero Dawn. Despite its fair share of technical issues, the port sold well, prompting Sony to announce last week in a corporate report that it is exploring ‘expanding our first-party titles to the PC platform, in order to promote further growth in our profitability.’
There’s no denying Sony’s first-party slate was instrumental in the PS4’s dominance this generation and widely contributed to hardware sales. With future exclusives eventually making their way to PC, presumably with the better performance to match, there’s less incentive to fork out for a PS5. Indeed, patience totes a much lower price tag.
As gamers weigh up each platform’s merits – the price tags, prospective performance, games, release date, upgrade potential, and so on – NVIDIA’s GeForce RTX 30-Series may have coolly stolen the PS5 and Xbox Series X’s thunder.