RTX Laptops 2019 – Is it worth to Buy?

Ty Arthur – March 5, 2019

The pace of technology can be unforgiving for PC gamers, with the latest and greatest technology steadily arriving at extremely high prices.

As soon as you’ve got a killer graphics card or the most RAM, something newer comes along to make your hardware obsolete.

Graphics card giant NVIDIA just launched the new lineup of RTX cards to replace the old 10X0 line, and those cards are starting to hit the portable market with laptop versions now available.

As with any cutting edge tech, you’ve probably got one major question — is an RTX laptop even worth it in 2019?

Below we lay out the case for and against buying an RTX laptop based on performance, pricing, availability, and the advent of new features like ray tracing.

Short Answer: In most cases, the answer is a very clear and very solid “no, not yet.” Simply put, the cost is too high, the performance gains are too low, and there aren’t enough games that utilize ray tracing for RTX laptops to be worth the price.There’s really only one exception to that answer. If you have a large amount of disposable income and want to future proof your machine while upgrading from an older card, RTX will eventually be worth the investment.

RTX Laptops 2019 - Is It Worth To Buy?

RAYTRACING

If there’s one feature that has been hyped as the reason to switch to newer graphics technology, it’s ray tracing, which has the potential to revolutionize video game graphics.

While NVIDIA is clearly hoping that DirectX ray tracing (DXR) will dominate the industry, unfortunately this is a tech that isn’t really even fully here yet, as there aren’t many widely available games that actually utilize this feature.

1. It Is really Demanding

First off, we have to admit that the ray tracing demos look simply amazing. Those fireworks reflected in the eyes in the Battlefield video are jaw-dropping.

Ray tracing Intro

DigitalTrends recently showed a side by side video of the same scene in Battlefield V, with frame rates dropping to an unacceptable (and nearly unplayable) chug with the DXR feature turned up to Ultra.

It’s also worth noting those side by side comparisons are showcasing desktop machines. The laptop versions of RTX cards offer 20 – 30% less performance, so that problem will be even worse on mobile systems.

It’s also worth noting those side by side comparisons are showcasing desktop machines. The laptop versions of RTX cards offer 20 – 30% less performance, so that problem will be even worse on mobile systems

2. It is too brand-new

Aside from the huge performance demands, there just simply aren’t enough games that implement or are properly optimized for ray tracing to be remotely worth the investment You really only have two main options for DXR effects right now:

  • Battlefield V
  • Metro Exodus (Epic games store exclusive title)

That isn’t to say more games aren’t on the horizon with ray tracing effects, however. Most notably we have these games to look forward to by the end of the year:

  • MechWarrior V:
  • Mercenaries (releasing in
  • September of 2019)
  • Atomic Heart (shooter)
  • Enlisted (shooter)
  • Control (third person adventure
  • JX3 (Chinese MMO)

PERFORMANCE

While ray tracing leaves something to be desired at the moment, there’s no question that the RTX line has better overall performance than older cards. Even on that front, however, the gains are somewhat disappointing.

1. Performance on RTX did not increase theoretically

Here’s the big issue on why RTX doesn’t quite deserve your money just yet — the speed and r endering improvements on the lower end just barely beat out the current high end 10 series cards.
YouTuber Dave Lee highlighted this clearly with a series of performance benchmarks that reveal the RTX 2060 card has nearly identical performance to the two-year-old GTX 1070 Max-Q card.

That means you’re paying hundreds of dollars more for only the most minor of improvements. To get noticeable gains, you need to bump up to the even more expensive 2070, 2080, or 2080Ti edition.

2. GTX still serves very well for the majority

At the moment, there isn’t much reason to use those extremely high end, cutting edge cards.

Right now, the 1060 and 1070 cards will still run nearly any game at solid frame rates on high to ultra settings. No matter what kind of games you play, those cards will do the job.

GTX 1060 Laptop Average FPS (1080p / High Graphics)

Fortnite 91
PUBG 62
Battlefield 77
Call of Duty Black Ops 4 65
Shadow of the Tomb Raider 56

At this point, even the previously cutting edge GTX 1080 is overkill that isn’t needed to get the best graphics available.

There’s simply no avoiding the conclusion here the GTX 10 line of cards have enough horsepow- er to run every game on the market and most of the upcoming games for the foreseeable future.

3. Future proofing and upgrading

While the current generation of games don’t fully take advantage of what the RTX cards have to offer, there are two compelling reasons to consider upgrading.

First and foremost, buying now means you are future proofed against the pace of technology. When the next generation of games starts taking advantage of features like ray tracing, you won’t be behind the curve.

Second, if you have the money available and are needing to upgrade from an older card that no longer runs new games well, there’s no reason not to get the latest model.

When upgrading from obsolete cards like the 950, you really do get the most bang for your buck by early adopting the RTX series.

GTX 950
GTX 950 is now antiquated for the various recent graphic-hungry games

PRICE

We can throw frame rate numbers and benchmark figures at you all day, but we know the real barrier to adopting new tech is always going to be the price tag. Right now, the price to value ratio just isn’t lining up on the side of the RTX series.

 

1. Price bump doesn't deserve performance upgrade

We won’t sugar coat this — the RTX series is ludicrously priced at launch, especially on the lap- top side of the industry.

The bottom end for an RTX laptop is $1,500 – $1,700 with most models currently available land- ing in the ludicrous $2,500 – $4,000 range.

GTX 1060 Laptop Average FPS (1080p / High Graphics)

Specs Specs Price
MSI GS65 Stealth 15.6” 144Hz GTX 1060 6G, i7-8750H (6 Core), 16GB RAM, 256GB SSD, RGB KB VR Ready, Metal 1699$
MSI GS65 Stealth 007 15.6” 144HzRTX 2060 6G, i7-8750H (6 cores), 16GB RAM, 256GB NVMe SSD 2099$

That price disparity becomes very clear when comparing models like the MSI G65 Stealth that are available in both GTX 1060 and RTX 2060 versions. For relatively minor gains, the price bumps up by an unbelievable $400, from $1,699 to $2,099.

To actual see worthwhile gains, you need to go with the 2070 to 2080 models, which sees an even bigger price bump.

2. The price doesn’t reflect standards like ultrathin designs

When buying a $3,000 laptop, you typically get enhanced design features, but here we are still seeing incredibly heavy models.
The typical RTX laptop will start at 6.5 pounds, with some systems upwards of a whopping 10 pounds! At that point, why not just go with a desktop instead?
The main slim Max-Q design option on the market is the ASUS ROG Zephyrus S GX701… which runs $3,300 and still weighs a full 6 pounds.

Gaming laptop is dominant with 1080p display, even with high-end laptops
Gaming laptop is dominant with 1080p display, even with high-end laptops

3. Solutions to best price for value problems

As with all tech, eventually, the prices will go down as these cars are adopted on a wider scale and manufacturing costs decrease. That expected price drop is still at least a year away, if not longer, however.

In the meantime, there is another option for budget-conscious gamers who want to adopt the latest graphics technology.

While the big names like ASUS and MSI come with premium pricing, some of the lesser known brands have less expensive models available.

Eluktronics for example currently has a $1,400 model available. While it comes with less RAM than most laptops at that price, it does sport a GTX 2060 card.

We expect more budget models of that variety to become available shortly, offering different configurations where you can make trade-offs to save a few hundred dollars.

DRAWBACK

We can throw frame rate numbers and benchmark figures at you all day, but we know the real barrier to adopting new tech is always going to be the price tag. Right now, the price to value ratio just isn’t lining up on the side of the RTX series.

1. Screen resolution

While you get appreciable performance gains with the RTX 2070 and 2080 cards over the aging 10 series, you need more than just a card upgrade to fully utilize their features. In particular, be aware of these issues:
  • The average 1080p gaming laptop screen doesn’t fully utilize the hardware of the RTX cards
  • Without a much more expensive full 4k screen, you are losing out on a huge chunk of what makes the RTX cards worth buying
The bottom line is that you need the funds to get a machine that has both an RTX card and a 4k display if you truly want to utilize this technology as it is meant to be seen.
Gaming Laptop is Domaint wit 1080 display

2. RTX eGPUs + gaming > RTX gaming laptop

While they haven’t taken off to a huge degree like external hard drives, external GPUs may offer a better all-around solution for mobile gamers right now than outright buying a new machine.

The options are very limited at the moment, but a more economical way to upgrade may to be buy an RTX enabled eGPU and hook it up your existing machine.

Not only will be that significantly less expensive than buying a new RTX gaming laptop that doesn’t have huge performance gains anyway, but it also means less heat generated by these new cards inside your machine.

RTX WORTH CONCLUSION - NOT NOW BUT PERHAPS SOON

After looking at all the performance comparisons, price fluctuations, and the current lineup of ray tracing supported games, we’ve got one inescapable conclusion — this tech just isn’t worth it quite yet for most buyers.

Early adopters flush with cash may want to consider an RTX 2080 setup with a 4k screen for future proofing purposes, but the cost will be outrageous.

If you currently own a laptop with a GTX 1070 card, there’s almost no reason at all to upgrade now or in the near future, however.

Your best bet is to wait a year until the prices have come down and the number of games that actually need this level of hardware has significantly increased.

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