It’s official: ray tracing is now possible on the Steam Deck!
Previously, it required some Linux tinkering, but thanks to Valve’s latest beta OS, the feature is now native. The best part? The Steam Deck is priced lower than the RTX 3050, a graphics card that’s not worth buying at that price.
Ray Tracing for the handheld PC
Valve’s new Steam Deck OS beta, available in the handheld’s Preview channel, updates the device’s operating system to the Mesa 23.1 graphics driver. But let’s cut to the chase: what does this mean for gaming? Firstly, it fixes graphical corruption issues in Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty and prevents GPU crashes in several upcoming titles.
But wait, there’s more! The beta also enables ray tracing in Doom Eternal. And don’t underestimate the Steam Deck’s ability to handle the tech. Developer Pierre-Loup Griffais recently took to Twitter to demonstrate Doom Eternal’s performance with ray tracing enabled. They even shared a screenshot taken on the Deck, showing a solid frame rate of 35 fps.
Sure, Doom Eternal’s ray tracing isn’t the most advanced out there, but it’s a smart use of the technology to enhance lighting and reflections in the game. And the minimum spec required for ray tracing – an RTX 2060 – isn’t too demanding.
Does it enable DirectX Raytracing?
The tech comes directly through the Vulkan graphics API, rather than DXR through a Proton layer, which can impact the frame rate of DirectX games. But Griffais assures us that “DXR is in the pipe, just not quite ready yet.” Imagine being able to enable DirectX Raytracing natively on the Steam Deck. It’s wild to think about.
If you’ve been playing with ray tracing on Linux lately, you’ll know that it can be a hassle to get it running smoothly.
But the Steam Deck removes the need for any Linux-y tweakery, making it an enticing prospect. Of course, running ray tracing on a demanding game like Cyberpunk 2077 may not be super-slick on the Steam Deck’s Aerith APU, but it’s definitely something to look forward to.
With the solid-state cooling system reportedly in development for Steam Deck, it’s the perfect setup to maintain that temperature while bringing out the whole potential.