How to use ray tracing on Steam Deck

Joel Loynds
doom slayer from doom eternal in a steam deck sparkling

A new update for the Steam Deck has landed that brings ray tracing to Doom Eternal. We’ll guide you through the process of how to use ray tracing on Steam Deck.

The Steam Deck houses a quite powerful APU, a combination of both CPU and graphics card. Dubbed ‘Van Gogh’, it’s a custom chip built on RDNA 2, providing a surprising punch to most modern AAA games.

One of the titles that seem to be getting extra special treatment is Doom Eternal, taking over its DOOM 2016 sibling as the current benchmark darling. It’s been given some additional help in the latest Steam Deck update to bring its ray tracing support to the device.

How to enable ray tracing on Steam Deck

To get access to the ray tracing options in Doom Eternal, you’ll need to switch to the Beta channel of updates. These updates are, as the label implies, still a work in progress. If your Steam Deck starts to act up, it might be worth switching back.

It’s a quick settings change, where you’ll need to follow this path: Settings > System > Steam Update Channel. You’ll be prompted to update, which will then download and apply the beta update for you to test.

After this, you’ll want to load up Doom Eternal and in the settings menu, find the ray tracing options.

Game performance will probably take a hit, so expect some hiccups as this is clearly a work in progress. As for other games that support ray tracing, it might be on a case-by-case basis. Some users have found ways to get it half-working in Control, but Cyberpunk 2077 crashes on launch.

What is ray tracing?

All ray tracing is the rendering of light to realistically fall where it would in reality, but in a virtual space. It’s been challenging for video games to do this until the last couple of years, as rendering light in real-time is taxing on the hardware.

Nvidia might have co-opted Ray tracing for their last four generations of graphics cards, but the tech has been around for quite some time. It originally appeared in demos dating back to the 1970s, where the realistic rendering of light was shown on two spheres.

AMD’s ray tracing efforts haven’t been especially successful, with even the latest GPUs from the 7000 series don’t match up to Nvidia’s efforts. However, ray tracing has finally come to the Steam Deck for people to attempt to fiddle with.