Steam Deck’s future-proofed potential borne out by ray-tracing tests

<em>Quake II RTX</em> and other games that support ray tracing have finally been confirmed as working on Steam Deck, both at 30 and 60 fps refresh rates. But the fancy-looking option could be better—if Valve steps up to finish the job for its default SteamOS.

Enlarge / Quake II RTX and other games that support ray tracing have finally been confirmed as working on Steam Deck, both at 30 and 60 fps refresh rates. But the fancy-looking option could be better—if Valve steps up to finish the job for its default SteamOS. (credit: Valve / Sam Machkovech)

In the weeks since Valve’s Steam Deck release, fans and critics alike have been poring through the device’s possibilities, stymied in part by near-daily software and OS updates. I previously posited in my review that Steam Deck was not “finished,” and while the device has become much more stable, its full potential remains unclear.

Perhaps that’s why the latest Steam Deck analysis from the hardware geniuses at Digital Foundry has struck gold. On Tuesday, site founder Richard Leadbetter unearthed something that the community at large appears to have missed up until now: The portable, 15 W-maximum Steam Deck is capable of ray tracing.

The (R)DNA was in Steam Deck the whole time

The proof, as seen in a video on DF’s YouTube channel, required an overkill testing scenario. Leadbetter wiped the system’s default OS, installed Windows 10, and retested ray tracing-compatible software before wiping the system again to get SteamOS back on there. This obnoxious process was required during Leadbetter’s testing period because Steam Deck does not officially support a dual-boot option for multiple OS installs, even though fans have more recently come up with methods to do that.

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