Path tracing on the Steam Deck is possible, as video of Portal RTX running at 30 FPS shows

Portal with RTX with path tracing running on a Steam Deck is impressive, especially when you consider that we're talking about mobile GPU hardware.

1 minute & 7 seconds read time

Path tracing requires powerful hardware to run, even with tools like DLSS and Frame Generation. Rendering fully path-traced environments shouldn't be possible yet, but here we are - with the path-tracing transforming games like Cyberpunk 2077, Alan Wake II, and Portal with RTX. The latter is a mod created by NVIDIA using its new and powerful RTX Remix platform - and when it debuted, you needed a GeForce RTX 4080 or RTX 4090 for it to be playable.

At a higher resolution with 'ultra' settings, that is, because someone managed to get a playable version of Portal RTX running on a Steam Deck - Valve's portable gaming PC handheld powered by a custom AMD mobile SoC.

The video demonstration by NightSightProductions is a great reminder that when you can tweak settings, you can get a demanding game to run on a wide range of hardware. However, in the case of Portal with RTX, there's some serious tweaking going on alongside the resolution being dropped to 864 x 486 to hit a playable 30 FPS.

In addition, secondary bounces for the path-traced lighting are turned off (by default, multiple bounces are required to give the game its impressive visuals) - the full 'ultra' version has four bounces per ray. So, the lighting isn't up there with a version running on a GeForce RTX 4090. Or even a GeForce RTX 4060.

This darker, low-res version of Portal with RTX still looks good, which is a testament to what path tracing brings to the table. When it comes to ray-tracing and path tracing, lowering the resolution and pairing the tech with upscaling tools like DLSS and FSR is the key to unlocking performance.

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Kosta is a veteran gaming journalist that cut his teeth on well-respected Aussie publications like PC PowerPlay and HYPER back when articles were printed on paper. A lifelong gamer since the 8-bit Nintendo era, it was the CD-ROM-powered 90s that cemented his love for all things games and technology. From point-and-click adventure games to RTS games with full-motion video cut-scenes and FPS titles referred to as Doom clones. Genres he still loves to this day. Kosta is also a musician, releasing dreamy electronic jams under the name Kbit.

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