Nvidia has adopted a new tactic for selling its higher-end graphics products: the claim that having a better GPU will improve your kill-to-death ratio (K/D) in popular games including Fortnite Battle Royale and PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds.
In modern gaming, having a powerful graphics card can be the difference between running a title at minimum settings and being able to turn on all the shinies. Nvidia, though, claims that upgrading to a more powerful graphics card - in particular one from its recently-launched and high-priced GeForce RTX family - can actually improve your skills in games, boosting kill-to-death ratios (K/D) by 53 percent over the company's older GeForce GTX 600-series cards.
'We were curious to understand how hardware and frame rates affect overall competitiveness in Battle Royale games for everyday gamers - while better hardware can't replace practice and training, it should assist gamers in getting closer to their maximum potential,' Nvidia's Gerardo Delgado explains. 'One of the common metrics of player performance in Battle Royales is kill-to-death (K/D) ratio - how many times you killed another player divided by how many times another player killed you. Using anonymised GeForce Experience Highlights data on K/D events for PUBG and Fortnite, we found some interesting insights on player performance and wanted to share this information with the community.
'In the first slice of our data, we charted the K/D performance in Fortnite and PUBG of the median player for each GPU generation. We used the GeForce GTX 600-Series as a baseline, and calculated the relative increase in kill/death ratio as it corresponds to each successive GPU generation. As the chart above shows, the median player using new GeForce RTX 20-Series graphics cards had a 53% higher K/D ratio compared to a player using the older GTX 600-Series cards.'
In the piece, Delgado does address the most obvious elephant in the room i.e. that skilled gamers are likely to spend more money on their hardware, creating a potentially false correlation between the cost of the graphics card and the skill of the player. 'We know that improving at Battle Royale games is a matter of practice, so we then looked at the data based on how many hours per week a gamer played,' Delgado explains.
'What’s interesting here is that having a better graphics card helped at all levels of play time, whether you only play a few hours a week, or are a Battle Royale veteran. In fact, in the chart we see that the gap between GeForce GTX 1050/Ti users and GeForce GTX 1080/Ti users expands as hours played per week increase, which means that players with more hours played appear to benefit even more from having a better GPU. This data aligned with what we observed in our lab research - the higher the skill level, the more that players are attuned to the game and can benefit from differences in hardware.'
Nvidia's conclusion from all this: To get the most out of your skills, you need to be running at 144 frames per second - and that to do so, in Apex Legends at least, you'll need a GeForce RTX 2070 or higher graphics card. Those playing Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 - Blackout, meanwhile, can get away with a GeForce GTX 1660 Ti, as can Fortnite Battle Royale players, while a PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds player will need an RTX 2070 again.
The reasoning behind Nvidia's arguments: 'Higher FPS means that you see the next frame more quickly and can respond to it; higher FPS on a high Hz monitor makes the image appear smoother, and moving targets easier to aim at. You are also less likely to see microstutters or "skip pixels" from one frame to the next as you pan your crosshair across the screen; higher FPS combined with G-SYNC technologies like Ultra Low Motion Blur (ULMB) makes objects and text sharper and easier to comprehend in fast moving scenes.'
Delgado's full write-up of the study is available on the Nvidia blog.
February 17 2020 | 09:00