Nvidia Unveils Minecraft RTX Public Beta, Releasing April 16

(Image credit: Nvidia)

Nvidia and Microsoft have announced that the Minecraft RTX public beta will be landing on April 16th, two days from now—so be ready to give it a go. And since we're now past the launch day, we've tested Minecraft RTX performance on all of Nvidia's GeForce RTX graphics cards as well as a bunch of the best CPUs to see what sort of hardware you'll need to run it well.

No More Half-Tracing: Minecraft RTX Features Full Path Traced Render

When it comes to the ray tracing capabilities, Minecraft RTX will be one of the most encompassing titles out there with the full whammy of Nvidia's RTX features. It will come with full path-based ray tracing in lighting, reflections, shadows, and more. Most RTX titles up till today often featured only a few raytracing features, mostly because a full path traced render with all features enabled was simply too demanding in addition to their advanced graphics—in that way, it makes sense that of all games, Minecraft is one to get the full RTX treatment.

With the addition of RTX, the developers also had to build material properties beyond the two values that standard Minecraft works with: Color, and Opacity. In the RTX version of the game, blocks gain 4 new additional properties: metallic, normal, (light) emissiveness, and roughness. It looks like those making textures for Minecraft will have their work cut out for them.

Of course, all that ray tracing is bound to create quite a performance hit, which is why Nvidia also added DLSS (Deep Learning Super-Sampling) 2.0 support to the building game. DLSS 2.0 is Nvidia's latest version of its AI-based upscaling technology. 

Nvidia notes that DLSS 2.0 grants Minecraft RTX a 1.7x increase in performance when playing at 1080p, with higher resolutions offering even greater performance benefits. Minecraft RTX will automatically choose whether to run DLSS 2.0 at the quality, balanced, or performance preset based on the resolution you're playing at—1080p will run at the quality setting, whereas at 4K, DLSS 2.0 will run at the performance preset that upscales the game from 1080p to 4K. DLSS 2.0 will only run when you have ray tracing enabled.

How and When Do I Get Access?

To run Minecraft RTX you'll need a few things. This includes a copy of Minecraft for Windows 10 'Bedrock' edition, an RTX graphics card, and the Game-ready driver that will be published on the 16th.

Yes, RTX hardware is required—while Nvidia supports DXR on select GTX GPUs via drivers, path tracing is too demanding to provide a decent experience and so GTX cards are locked out of using ray tracing in the beta. For what it's worth, Quake II RTX also uses 'path-tracing' and runs at around 25 fps at 1280 x 720 on a GTX 1080 Ti, compared to 85 fps on an RTX 2060.

Unfortunately, RTX won't be supported on the Java version of the game. There will be a tool ready that you can use to port your Java worlds to RTX, though chances are you'll want to start fresh as many materials will behave differently anyway.

Meanwhile, mutliplayer, realms, and cross-platform play will also be limited if you're running the RTX beta. To play with other players while enjoying RTX, you'll need to ensure all players (including those without RTX GPUs) are on the same Minecraft RTX beta release, which sadly rules out crossplay with non-Windows systems for the time being.

The release of the final (non-beta) version of Minecraft RTX is slated for later this year—nobody has quoted an exact release date just yet.

Niels Broekhuijsen

Niels Broekhuijsen is a Contributing Writer for Tom's Hardware US. He reviews cases, water cooling and pc builds.

  • TheTerk
    I'm sitting here hitting refresh like crazy! I got a video using PTGI shaders (software-based ray tracing) that might tide people over a couple more hours