The enduring potential of Steam Deck is confirmed by ray-tracing tests

<em>Quake II RTX</em> and other ray-traced-supported games have finally been confirmed to run on the Steam Deck, with frame rates of 30 and 60 fps.  But the fancy option might be better, if Valve steps forward to finish the job for its default SteamOS. “Title =” Steam Deck’s future-proof potential confirmed by ray-tracing testing 1 “src =” https://cdn.arstechnica.net/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/steamdeck-rt-listing-800×450.png “/><noscript>Quake II RTX</em> and other ray-traced-supported games have finally been confirmed to run on the Steam Deck, with frame rates of 30 and 60 fps.  But the fancy option might be better, if Valve steps forward to finish the job for its default SteamOS. “Title =” Steam Deck’s future-proof potential confirmed by ray-tracing testing 1 “/></noscript><figcaption class=

Zoom in / Earthquake II RTX and other games that support ray tracing have finally been confirmed to run on the Steam Deck, with refresh rates of 30 and 60 fps. But the fancy option might be better, if Valve steps forward to get the job done for its default SteamOS.

Valve / Sam Machkovech

In the weeks following Valve’s Steam Deck release, fans and critics alike have scrutinized the device’s capabilities, hampered in part by near-daily software and operating system updates. I previously postulated in my review that the Steam Deck wasn’t “finished” and while the device has become much more stable, its full potential remains unclear.

Maybe that’s why the latest Steam Deck analysis of Digital Foundry hardware geniuses hit gold. On Tuesday, site founder Richard Leadbetter discovered something the community at large seems to have missed so far: the 15W max portable Steam Deck is capable of ray-tracing.

(R) DNA was always on the Steam Deck

The proof, as seen in a video on DF’s YouTube channel, required a hype test scenario. Leadbetter wiped the system’s default operating system, installed Windows 10, and retested the ray tracing-enabled software before wiping the system again to re-enter SteamOS. This hateful process was necessary during Leadbetter’s testing period because Steam Deck doesn’t officially support a dual boot option for multiple OS installations, although fans have more recently come up with methods for doing so. .

The four games in question (Earthquake II RTX, Check, Improved edition of Metro Exodus, Eternal destiny) greyed out their ray-tracing menu activates when loaded via the default SteamOS implementation, which translates Windows versions of games to Linux via the Proton compatibility layer. These same four games, using official Windows 10 drivers from Valve and AMD, recognize the 2-core RDNA built into the custom Steam Deck APU and unlock all ray-tracing options, as if PC gamers were using a GPU from the AMD’s recent RX 6000 series.

Their ray tracing implementations include varying amounts of glare effects that take into account light reflection and material properties, which generally results in more realistic and ingrained light and shadow. Unsurprisingly, all tested games need visual downgrades to reach near-stable 30fps with ray-tracing features enabled, and these mostly come in the form of a pixel resolution downgrade to around 540p.

Una risoluzione di base di 252p sembra assolutamente sfocata sotto forma di screenshot, ma per <em>Quake II RTX</em> on the Steam Deck, this unlocks a smooth ray-tracing experience, which includes dramatic visual effects such as tempered glass from this opening scene by distorting the passing rays of light.  Digital Foundry’s revealing analytics interface can be seen plotting near solid 60fps performance at these settings, but for now only in Windows 10. “width =” 980 “height =” 551 “title =” Steam Deck future confirmed by ray tracing tests 2 “src =” https://cdn.arstechnica.net/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/df-deckrtx-980×551.png “/><noscript><img alt=Quake II RTX on the Steam Deck, this unlocks a smooth ray-tracing experience, which includes dramatic visual effects such as tempered glass from this opening scene by distorting the passing rays of light. Digital Foundry’s revealing analytics interface can be seen plotting near solid 60fps performance at these settings, but for now only in Windows 10. “src =” https://cdn.arstechnica.net/wp-content/uploads /2022/04/df-deckrtx-980×551.png “width =” 980 “height =” 551 “title =” The future-proof potential of Steam Deck confirmed by ray-tracing 2 tests “/>
Zoom in / A base resolution of 252p looks absolutely blurry in the form of screenshots, but for Earthquake II RTX on the Steam Deck, this unlocks a smooth ray-tracing experience, which includes spectacular visuals like tempered glass in the opening scene that distorts passing rays of light. Digital Foundry’s revealing analytics interface can be seen plotting near solid 60fps performance at these settings, but for now only in Windows 10.

Digital foundry

Pixel-wise, it’s on par with the blurry Switch ports of the Damn (2016) or The Witcher 3. But Leadbetter points out Metropolitan exodusImplementation of Temporal Anti-Aliasing (TAAU) upscaling, which makes a 504p pixel resolution sharper at Deck’s full 800p resolution – and looks even better on Steam Deck’s 7-inch screen than on a web browser. Earthquake II RTX is a particular narcotic due to its addiction to a full path tracking model, as opposed to any pre-cooked lighting. Reduce the resolution to 252p w in the late 90’s with full ray tracing enabled, and the Steam Deck can run the game at anything close to 60fps. Cry. (It’s hilarious in part because the ray-tracing mode in question was developed by Nvidia, even though it’s no longer an “RTX” hardware exclusive.)

TAAU has grown significantly as an option in video games in recent years, along with upscaling options like Nvidia’s proprietary DLSS and AMD’s open source FidelityFX Super Resolution (FSR). The latter already works on Deck in its 1.0 implementation, but FSR 2.0 appears to be taking the best ideas from existing TAAU implementations and augmenting them when it launches later this year. on a variety of GPUs. AMD hasn’t announced any Steam Deck-specific plans for FSR 2.0 yet, but it’s hard to imagine the Valve-AMD partnership not being leveraged here.

This week’s testing suggests the Steam Deck may match Xbox Series S ray tracing results.

All of this to say: lower base resolutions, smarter upscaling, and RDNA 2 silicon could make handheld and ray-traced gaming on Steam Deck a legitimate option in the near future, based on Leadbetter’s testing. And as Leadbetter reminds viewers, purchasing a Steam Deck is an easier proposition if they don’t feel trapped in a “next generation” 3D gaming universe.

We’re likely to see more games emphasizing RDNA 2-based ray-tracing effects on AMD consoles like the Xbox Series X / S and PlayStation 5 in a gameplay-critical way, rather than simple lighting adjustments. If games include reduced ray-tracing effects on the weaker Series S console, this week’s testing suggests the Steam Deck may match the results, and to some extent it already does with Metropolitan exodus.

No Steam Deck? This gaming laptop is ideal for gaming on Linux or OS Steam!

It is possible to play games in 4K with the Steam Deck … but you have to be an all-rounder