The impossible has happened: Steam Deck gets real-time Ray Tracing.
And not only is it amazing... it's playable, too.
SteamOS 3.4.6 preview has fixes for ray tracing in Doom Eternal. This is is pretty incredible since the RDNA2-based GPU of the Steam Deck has been decried by some as being too weak to perform real time ray tracing.
Yet, here we are: the Steam Deck running Doom Eternal with real time RT enabled. And I have to say: it looks impressive.
Valve’s Pierre-Loup Griffais tweeted a screenshot of the game running with ray tracing enabled and it looks amazing.
In the same tweet, he said, quote:
And this is a screenshot of the game running on Deck, too. This is running at native Deck resolution (1280x800) with RT on. The reflections in the floor immediately jump out at me, but taking a look at the super shotgun reveals environmental reflections as well as bounce and fill lighting. Similarly, the candle wax seems to be providing subsurface scattering and the other lights in the scene are helping to fill out the environment.
So the next logical question is: is real time ray tracing even playable on Deck? The answer is “yes.” At least in Doom Eternal.
Keep in mind that Doom Eternal is an incredibly optimized game. On my Deck I can play this game with uncapped frame rates in the triple digits.
So when you introduce the notoriously taxing RT process, the framerate drops to 35 FPS.
While that number is under 40 FPS–which is my absolute minimum framerate nowadays–the fact remains: the Steam Deck’s hardware is capable of 35 FPS. For a 15w APU, this should be impossible. Yet, here it is.
Keep in mind, too, that this is a rudimentary implementation of RT that could become more optimized as time goes on. That’s the nice thing about the Deck’s hardware. SteamOS has got deep access to it. They can release drivers that increase performance, reduce background overhead, and push releases of Proton that enable new and novel software fixes for the device.