Portal was one of the best gaming experiences ever, and the most enjoyable in terms of concept and execution, I vividly remember finishing the first and second part of the game more than 6 times and each time the amazing experience was the same, and it quickly came to my mind how The game will be with an improved version and ray tracing support as well?
As much as the NVIDIA conference two months ago was interesting after the green camp revealed the new RTX 40 family of cards and accompanying technologies such as DLSS 3 and others, the thing that really excited me was the reveal of the iconic game Portal, this time with support for ray tracing, RTX lighting and learning technologies Deep DLSS 3, its third version, which includes new frame generation technology, and more, which we explore together throughout the article.
Fortunately, the time passed quickly to find myself getting my hands on the game and here I am to tell you about it as I brought back to my reader friend in the graphical analysis series.
Portal RTX specs
Portal, first released in 2007 with average ratings of 10/10, is one of the highest rated games on Steam in history , so it was exciting to see a remake of a game that was over 15 years old.
Watching the specifications of running the game, it seems - and as a prior judgment - that it will be very demanding. You can imagine a game issued from 2007 and with the current hardware you could easily skip the 300 frames, now the frames may drop below 60 only in order to enable ray tracing and watch " Literally a new game.
The game requires at least an RTX 3060 to ensure it runs at 1080p resolution at 30 frames! Is this an exaggerated specification and warns that the development process has encountered some problems? No, that's not true, and you'll find out why later in the article.
What is also interesting about the specifications of running the game is its size, the original Portal did not exceed 2.3 GB, while the new game required me about 37 GB to install it, let's not get ahead of the conversation.
The graphics settings in Portal RTX depend on two main factors. The first is to enable DLSS artificial intelligence upscaling techniques, which the game supports in its latest versions up to DLSS 3 on RTX 40 cards, as follows:
DLSS 3 Deep Learning Technology: You will find this setting only activable if you own a new generation NVIDIA card, specifically the RTX 4090 or RTX 4080, and it is the most important setting if you want to enjoy ray tracing in the game while maintaining the frame rate. The four usual options are:
• Quality: where the visual quality is minimally affected and the frame rate does not increase much.
• Balanced mode: in which the amount of loss in visual quality is balanced to improve the frame rate.
• Performance mode: in which the frame rate is preferred over the graphical quality, and you will notice that the image has become somewhat blurry, but in exchange for that, the frames will rise significantly for those who want to enjoy ray tracing techniques with a slight loss in performance.
• Finally, the Ultra Performance mode: It is a mode dedicated to high resolutions 4K or so and aims to give the best performance with clear losses in the graphical appearance, but this is compensated by the resolution.
Frame Generation technology: Also, this setting is related to RTX 40 cards only, in the games that I previously tried, this option was like a tire rocket that could push it to a full 100 frames … with Portal RTX the matter is repeated as it is inevitable to run the game without it .
The reason is that the frames really stopped at number 19 and with a card such as the RTX 4090, during my experience I found that it is impossible to play the game without the DLSS because it is essentially unplayable. This is why the game struggles with first and second generation RTX cards.
Reduce response time Reflax: NVIDIA's "Reflex" technology is a process that speeds up the graphics card's response to commands reached by the user's keyboard or mouse, while synchronizing the work of the processor and the graphics card together to avoid any delay. It is not a graphic technology in the first place. This has no effect on the frame rate.
Image Quality Settings
While the second part includes the Image Quality Settings, and in fact, I will not talk about it in detail because it explains itself, as it includes the settings known as Texture Quality, Motion Blur settings, and others.
But I will talk in detail about the most complex part that appears in the ray tracing settings that you access via the Developer menu, as the game uses the RTX Remix toolkit , which is very complex, and to simplify it for you, dear reader - although the matter is far from simple - the Portal RTX game uses all Ray tracing techniques are all at the same time, and although it is not an open world game or has many elements like Cyberpunk 2077, it has nevertheless become the most demanding game on the PC at the present time.
Path Tracing Technology
For the first time, we're seeing NVIDIA's Path Tracing technology, which is a more accurate description of Full Ray Tracing.
It's the way Camp Green uses path tracing to track all the lights throughout the scene, as well as the shadows, reflections, and refractions that those lights provide, and it's more complex than the light tracing we've seen in all of the bigger AAA games that have come out over the past couple of years.
This path tracing works by tracing a line off the camera and moving in a straight line until it hits an M object and then bounces back eventually back to the original light source, this process is done in turn with complications in how the different elements in the scene interact with the light.
Some of them absorb this light and some are cut off in the form of refraction. All of these processes take place in real time, which is what Portal RTX does without others. Imagine that your graphics processor is in front of a complex series of algorithms that will make the graphics card inspect the damage.
RTX Direct Illumination technology
Surely you have seen one of the shows showing the features of the RTX Remix, which includes the RTX Direct Illumination technology, which is known as RTXDI.
Portal RTX has been designed on the RTX Remix modification toolkit, allowing it to access features that were not available in games that supported previous ray tracing technology, that technology allows any light in the scene to cast highlights and shadows that follow the path, which is also a demanding technology that increased "Weight" the game on even the hardest cards.
In the next scene you'll notice four areas highlighted with RTXDI running: the yellow switch on the ground, the orange glow from the stairs, the red glow from the button, and the blue light from the window.
Because it is an old game, the screen settings here are limited to a limited number of options, which are as follows:
Resolution: It is the resolution used for the game and is often automatically determined according to your screen resolution, whether it is 1080p, 2K or 4K, from my experience I can confirm that the game requires a large amount of VRAM even with low resolutions such as 1080p - compared to even higher resolutions Don't get me wrong baby - the game clocked in at around 7.5GB of graphic memory and went all the way up to 23GB with 4K! This means that the game needs at least an 8 GB card in order to work.
Display Mode: This option includes three settings, the first is the Full Screen mode, the other is the window mode (not preferred), and the last is the Exclusive Full Screen mode, which I personally prefer, with the application of this setting there will be difficulty in minimizing Game or ALT+TAB action while playing compared to full screen mode, but gives you access to control your own resolution and refresh rate.
Vertical sync Wait for Vsync: If you don't know, the technology fixes the frame rate so that it does not exceed the refresh rate of your screen in order to prevent image chopping or what is known as Screen Tearing, if you have a screen with a refresh rate of 60 Hz and you have a device that can run the game on 90 frames, with vertical sync enabled, the frames will stop at 60, run it only if your screen is still 60 Hz, if you have 144 or above, I advise you to close it as usual because it increases the response time ms, and in fact there is no need for this in Portal RTX because if If you're lucky, the game will run at framerates below 60 anyway.
As usual in game graphic reviews articles, we were supposed to include in this part of the article a list of the performance of the different graphics cards with the game, but while Portal RTX uses technologies that may be ahead of their time at the moment, there are only devices that carry RTX cards 4090, RTX 4080 and even the capable RTX 3080 achieve a satisfactory frame rate here "with trajectory tracking enabled of course"
So, during my experience with a computer carrying the giant RTX 4090 inside it with the i9-12900K processor from Intel, I was able to achieve the following:
110 frames with the highest settings using DLSS 3 and Frame Generation technology on 4K resolution, with DLSS closed I only got 19 frames and the gaming experience became invalid, so I confirm once again that the game Native with high display resolution and using ray tracing will not It works and you must use DLSS.
When trying the game without ray tracing at 4K resolution, the frames ranged from 267 to 320 frames, depending on the scene.
PORTAL RTX is like a new game, even though it is 15 years old but ray tracing has brought it to life and turned it into a completely different experience, yet Portal RTX is one of the most demanding ray tracing games right now on PC.
Unfortunately, you will have to buy a card no less than an RTX 3080 to guarantee access to 60 frames with PORTAL RTX (this is with DLSS deep learning enabled), while the game due to its support for DLSS 3 can reach 100 frames with the RTX 4090 and for this a few Computers are able to run the game.
The reason for this is due to the application of advanced technologies such as "Path Tracing" and RTXDI direct lighting technology, which were the direct cause of the performance drop even with a card such as the RTX 4090. In addition, due to the poor performance of AMD and Intel cards when it comes to ray tracing, the game will be impossible With all these technologies.
Portal RTX is a glimpse of what may be possible in the future in games, but we will need more time to see that all these technologies can be enabled in one game and obtain a satisfactory frame rate, especially on medium cards.