Ever wondered “Can AMD GPUs run RTX in games”? You’ve come to the right place! Today, I’ll break down everything you need to know about Nvidia’s RTX technology and if its presence will prevent you from using an AMD GPU. Let’s dive into it!
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A Brief on RTX and Real-Time Ray Tracing
“RTX” refers to Nvidia’s GPU sub-brand for graphics cards that can perform real-time ray tracing operations in supported applications. It stands for “Ray Tracing Texel eXtreme”, if you’re curious.
“Ray tracing” refers to a 3D graphics rendering technique where all individual “rays” of light in a scene and how they bounce/refract/reflect are calculated to a high degree of accuracy. This results in outstanding, realistic reflections, global illumination, and ambient occlusion. Historically, this was too intensive to be done in real-time, and is still quite demanding on any system to do in real-time.
Real-time ray tracing (RT) is not owned by Nvidia, however Nvidia’s RTX hardware did push the industry forward with RT support in GPUs. Nvidia is also definitely the best at producing ray tracing graphics hardware, particularly on the high end.
AMD GPUs support real-time ray tracing, but took longer to adapt the feature than Nvidia. Ray tracing AMD graphics hardware (and CPUs) did make it into the November 2020 launches of the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X, though— meaning modern high-end AMD cards with RT support will still outperform console games in ray tracing scenarios, if not at the margins enjoyed by high-end Nvidia GPUs.
Can AMD GPUs Run RTX In Games?
So, can AMD GPUs run RTX in games?
Usually, yes, though there are exceptions we’ll be discussing throughout the rest of this article. For now, it’s important to know that most games with advertised “RTX” support are actually just using regular old DirectX Ray Tracing, also called DXR. Let’s talk about that, and then the RTX hardware-bound stuff!
How DirectX Ray Tracing Works
Ancient Gameplays on YouTube testing late 2023 AMD GPU driver performance in Ray-Tracing Games
DirectX Ray Tracing, or DXR, is a form of ray tracing that only works through Microsoft’s DirectX12. DXR and Vulkan Ray Tracing are primarily how Ray Tracing is supported in PC games. Linux can also emulate DXR in certain titles to varying degrees of success with VKD3D.
AMD GPUs Definitely Shouldn’t Play RTX Remix or Path Traced Games (Yet)
Most of the time, that “Ray Tracing” setting in a game is going to support your AMD GPU. Most titles with ray tracing should support both AMD and Nvidia, especially since the ray tracing in the current-gen consoles (and games being ported from those consoles) is being done with AMD hardware.
There are some surprising exceptions to this, though, like Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart on PC— which is ported from the AMD-made PlayStation 5, yet doesn’t support ray tracing on AMD graphics cards at PC launch. It’s also leveraging Nvidia’s RTX I/O, which is akin to the DirectStorage introduced by Microsoft to improve NVMe use by modern games.
There are exceptions to even RTX Remix exclusivity though, like Quake II RTX, which I’ve embedded below being played on an AMD GPU:
CozMick on YouTube Running Quake 2 RTX With Path Tracing on an AMD RX 6800—at surprisingly decent framerates!
However, it seems like most RTX Remix titles, especially those pursuing full *path tracing, aren’t going to work well on AMD GPUs at all. This is either due to lacking hardware on AMD’s part or lacking optimization on Nvidia’s part, since performance of Portal with RTX on the RX 7900 XTX is abysmal.
Jansn Benchmarks on Youtube Running Portal With RTX on an RX 7900 XTX. Unfortunately, not a good time for AMD.
Not all path traced gaming experiences are inaccessible to AMD GPU gamers, though. For example, Cyberpunk 2077’s Path Tracing Mode actually can turn around playable framerates on an AMD RX 7900 XTX with FSR enabled.
*Path tracing is an even more intensive implementation of ray tracing and results in near photorealistic lighting at the cost of extreme computational performance.