Portal RTX to Put Suitable GPUs to the Test This December, for Free

Portal RTX
(Image credit: Valve Software / Nvidia)

Nvidia has announced (opens in new tab) that Portal RTX will be available for free on December 8 this year on Steam (opens in new tab). This is a free DLC for anyone with a compatible graphics card who owns the original physics puzzle game, released way back in 2007. Portal RTX makes use of ray-tracing and Nvidia DLSS 3 (opens in new tab) to bring the game's visuals up to date.

Following in the big metal footsteps of Quake 2’s RTX update, which is also free on Steam, Portal RTX has been developed by Nvidia’s Lightspeed Studios as a ‘reimagining’ of the short puzzle game that originally shipped with Half-Life 2 as part of the Orange Box bundle. The new version uses ray-tracing for global illumination, volumetric scattering, and shadows, and the textures and models have been remade at higher resolutions than the original.

In the game, you play as Chell, a test subject trapped in the Aperture Science Enrichment Center, issued with a portal gun that creates portals linked by a wormhole through which you, and other objects, can pass. It’s a spiritual successor to Narbacular Drop, a game created by a team of students who were hired by Valve Software, and Portal holds a nebulous place in the Half-Life universe thanks to its reuse of Half-Life 2 art assets to create its austere test chambers.

A computer AI, GlaDOS, guides the player through the maze of chambers, offering a cake as a reward, but it soon becomes clear that not everything is precisely as it seems. It’s a short but sweet game, which won Game of the Year and Best Game Design awards at the 2008 Game Developers Choice Awards, and the concept was fleshed out in 2011’s Portal 2, which also added co-op multiplayer. A film adaptation is said to have languished in development hell since 2013, with a script written but little other progress made.

“Updating much-loved games requires a balance of applying new, bleeding-edge techniques, while staying true to the original spirit of the game. The experience Nvidia's Lightspeed Studios gained working on RTX versions of renowned games such as Minecraft and Quake II gave Valve the confidence to entrust us to bring modern graphics techniques to their legendary game, and Nvidia RTX Remix gave us the perfect tool to complete the task,” said John Spitzer, head of Lightspeed Studios.

The upgraded game is compatible with all ray-tracing graphics cards (opens in new tab). Nvidia recommends its own RTX 30-series for playable framerates using DLSS 2, while 40-series owners benefit from DLSS 3 (opens in new tab) and its Frame Generation technology. It’s not yet known how the game plays on AMD or Intel (opens in new tab) GPUs, but the fact that RTX 20-series GPUs aren't mentioned suggests the processing cost will be rather high. The system requirements on the game’s Steam page only mention that your GPU needs to support Vulkan or DirectX 12, and ray-tracing under those APIs. Given the Windows 10/11 requirement, we suspect the game will not be Steam Deck compatible.

If you somehow missed the original, or if it's simply been 15 years since you last played the game, this should be a perfect time to revisit the world of Aperture Science — cake memes and all.

Ian Evenden
Freelance News Writer

Ian Evenden is a UK-based news writer for Tom’s Hardware US. He’ll write about anything, but stories about Raspberry Pi and DIY robots seem to find their way to him.

  • -Fran-
    This here: "The game is not Steam Deck compatible" is a huge red flag to me.

    It reads as if nVidia is using some form of proprietary implementation via their own libraries or API that is not portable, or at least is not yet portable to neither Linux (big surprise) or that can run natively in AMD hardware. Like it or not, the APU in the Steam Deck DOES support RayTracing, so I see no reason why it can't run there, at all.

    Regards.
    Reply
  • USAFRet
    Maybe I should break down and buy an RTX GPU.

    Portal is in my top 3 games, along with Quake and Unreal Tournament.
    Reply
  • Nolonar
    -Fran- said:
    This here: "The game is not Steam Deck compatible" is a huge red flag to me.

    It reads as if nVidia is using some form of proprietary implementation via their own libraries or API that is not portable, or at least is not yet portable to neither Linux (big surprise) or that can run natively in AMD hardware. Like it or not, the APU in the Steam Deck DOES support RayTracing, so I see no reason why it can't run there, at all.

    Regards.
    The Steam store page does not mention the Steam Deck at all, so this reads more like "Tom's interpretation" to me than some "nefarious Nvidia ploy".

    The only reason I see why it would not be Steam Deck compatible, is because it lists "partial controller support" and only mentions Windows as supported OS. To be fair, though, the same applies to the original Portal (except the original Portal also lists macOS).

    I believe it's more likely that if the Steam Deck can run Portal (which I'm sure it can) and supports DXR or Vulkan Ray Tracing, then it can run Portal RTX. In other words, Tom's interpretation may very well be premature.
    We'll know by next week anyway.
    Reply
  • Devoteicon
    USAFRet said:
    Maybe I should break down and buy an RTX GPU.
    I've been looking in the secondhand market for one myself but the premiums for RT are pretty high. In some cases with similar performing nvidia and amd cards the cost of the nvidia card is like $50+ more.
    Reply
  • JarredWaltonGPU
    Nolonar said:
    The Steam store page does not mention the Steam Deck at all, so this reads more like "Tom's interpretation" to me than some "nefarious Nvidia ploy".

    The only reason I see why it would not be Steam Deck compatible, is because it lists "partial controller support" and only mentions Windows as supported OS. To be fair, though, the same applies to the original Portal (except the original Portal also lists macOS).

    I believe it's more likely that if the Steam Deck can run Portal (which I'm sure it can) and supports DXR or Vulkan Ray Tracing, then it can run Portal RTX. In other words, Tom's interpretation may very well be premature.
    We'll know by next week anyway.
    I've tweaked the text, but given the Windows requirement and the likely hardware demands of Portal RTX, plus the fact that this is a specialized "DLC" of sorts, I'd be surprised if it runs at all on a Steam Deck at launch.
    Reply
  • -Fran-
    Nolonar said:
    The Steam store page does not mention the Steam Deck at all, so this reads more like "Tom's interpretation" to me than some "nefarious Nvidia ploy".

    The only reason I see why it would not be Steam Deck compatible, is because it lists "partial controller support" and only mentions Windows as supported OS. To be fair, though, the same applies to the original Portal (except the original Portal also lists macOS).

    I believe it's more likely that if the Steam Deck can run Portal (which I'm sure it can) and supports DXR or Vulkan Ray Tracing, then it can run Portal RTX. In other words, Tom's interpretation may very well be premature.
    We'll know by next week anyway.
    I have a Deck and I run Portal in it. It runs it with no issues at all. Steam's policy is to list "native support" for all games and then throw them into the "Proton compatibility list" for non-native Linux games.

    I do agree with Tom's interpretation, but you're not wrong either. I hope I'm overreacting, but this is nVidia we're talking about.

    Regards.
    Reply
  • oofdragon
    Ive seen the trailer showcasing DLSS3 scoring 100fps vs 20fps native..... I mean rally, is that on a RTX4090 at 4K? Let's hope not, it would be TOO MUCH IN YOUR FACE "we tanked this game performance on purpose just so you think you need DLSS3 and *** AMD".
    Reply
  • JarredWaltonGPU
    oofdragon said:
    Ive seen the trailer showcasing DLSS3 scoring 100fps vs 20fps native..... I mean rally, is that on a RTX4090 at 4K? Let's hope not, it would be TOO MUCH IN YOUR FACE "we tanked this game performance on purpose just so you think you need DLSS3 and *** AMD".
    Keep in mind that 20 fps result is at 4K. Native 4K with complex ray tracing is always going to be demanding. So, upscaling 1080p to 4K probably runs at 60 fps or so, and then DLSS3 Frame Generation gets the game up to 100 fps — and yes, very possibly that's on an RTX 4090. That's my guess, anyway.
    Reply
  • oofdragon
    JarredWaltonGPU said:
    Keep in mind that 20 fps result is at 4K. Native 4K with complex ray tracing is always going to be demanding. So, upscaling 1080p to 4K probably runs at 60 fps or so, and then DLSS3 Frame Generation gets the game up to 100 fps — and yes, very possibly that's on an RTX 4090. That's my guess, anyway.

    You call it "complex ray tracing" I call it "marketing", aka "tanking performance on purpose" to sell your new product and sabotage competition; Nvidia did this so many times we lost the count. The Portal RTX trailers are really underwhelming graphic wise but you expect me to believe it's actually more demanding than open world games like Minecraft RTX or Cyberpunk Psycho ? C'mon.. no need to be naive here.

    Everybody likes Portal, it's an instant sell as a remaster with pretty lights, they took it and stamped on it "only on RTX4000 series". If 20fps is all a 4090 can do then the 3080 can do what, 10? The 3060 gets 5? Lol. Ok lower the resolution to 1080p, now the 3060 can maybe get into the 30s with DLSS2? You kidding me? I'm all in for a game like TES6 show up with such high graphical blings that a 4060 runs it 30fps average, the new Crysis of this generation. But a old old old game that plays inside a room??? C'mon.. if this game can't run 60fps on a 3060 maxed out at 1080p native you should know something is fishy. It's. Inside. A. Room. FGS
    Reply
  • mhmarefat
    This is very sad that some people are actually falling for corporate greed masquerading as "cool new game" being imposed upon them and fooling themselves into believing they NEED Ray-Tracing BS in their gaming lives and need to pay $1k to greedy moron corporations to achieve it. Actually very sad times that we're living. Money has become god and those who disagree are being deceived into acceptance.
    Reply