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CES 2019: Nvidia's GeForce RTX 2060 graphics card brings better gaming to cheaper hardware

The card goes on sale Jan. 15 for $349.

Watch live video from NVIDIA on www.twitch.tv

Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang showed off his company's gaming chops at his CES 2019 presentation Sunday.

Before a packed crowd at the MGM Grand Conference Center, Huang unveiled the GeForce RTX 2060, the chipmaker's new, lower-priced graphics card. The card costs $349 (about £270 or AU$490) and will go on sale Jan. 15. In comparison, the more powerful RTX 2070 is $599 and the RTX 2080 is $799.

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Huang also said 40 new laptops in over 100 configurations will be powered by laptop versions of the 2060, 2070 and 2080 RTX graphics cards and available Jan. 29. Seventeen of these laptops will offer a Max-Q design, which allows for a thinner body but at the expense of a slightly less powerful machine.

"I think we have redefined mobile gaming," Huang said on stage.

The new RTX cards should help Nvidia bring its newest graphics technologies to cheaper devices and therefore more gamers. That should help Nvidia keep supporting its gaming business, which is its primary source of sales. While the chipmaker has expanded into data centers and automotive, those businesses aren't nearly as big as gaming.

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Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang shows off the new RTX 2060 graphics card.

James Martin/CNET

Huang said Nvidia will expand its G-Sync monitor program, which certifies gaming monitors that reach Nvidia's standards for smooth gameplay and sharpness of picture. The company said Sunday it's starting a new validation program to test hundreds of non-G-Sync monitors and certifying a handful of them G-Sync compatible.

The RTX cards have offered a big boost in computer graphics with the help of ray tracing, a subject Huang called a fundamental piece of graphics technology and spent a considerable amount of time describing.

Ray tracing simulates what lighting looks like in the real world when it reflects off objects. It doesn't only mean mirrors look more real; all forms of light behave more realistically, giving a much more true-to-life experience when gaming.

Using a series of videos, Huang showed how ray tracing can create the reflection of fireworks in street puddles or bright lights reflecting off of a shiny, futuristic metal suit.

"You look at the course of the last 15 years and the technology has advanced tremendously, and yet it looks largely like a cartoon," he said, blaming much of that issue on poor lighting effects.

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