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Cyberpunk 2077 RT Overdrive: a closer look at the path tracing upgrade

Updated with a spectacular Night City video tour.

Update: We've just added to our Cyberpunk 2077 RT Overdrive video coverage with a new Night City tour captured entirely with the new upgrade at 4K, 60 frames per second, using an RTX 4090 at 4K resolution with DLSS performance mode. Check it out!

We've opted not to use frame generation here, mainly because it requires v-sync to be disabled, which would add some ugly tearing to the captures. V-sync can be forced at the control panel level, but the RT Overdrive upgrade really doesn't like it. Thankfully, for much of the game - especially the exteriors - the RTX 4090 has enough brute force grunt to sustain 60 frames per second.

We'll be adding further reporting based on in-depth testing of the new upgrade, along with a range of graphics card benchmarks, but what I can share now is that while the game obviously runs best on RTX 40-series cards, 30-series GPUs can still produce a decent experience. For example, the RTX 3080 10GB can run it at between 40-60 frames per second at 1440p resolution using the DLSS balanced mode. More to come then, but in the meantime, we hope you enjoy the new video.

With so much RT Overdrive capture to hand, John Linneman put together this Night City Tour for you.Watch on YouTube

Original Story: This isn't the first path-traced video game we've ever seen. Nvidia - and even modders - have revisited legacy PC titles from decades ago, revamping their lighting with full path tracing. Quake 2, Portal, Half-Life 2 and several others have received the upgrade - but Cyberpunk 2077's RT Overdrive is something quite different.

It's the most ambitious RT implementation ever created, adding path tracing to one of the most visually impressive PC games currently on the market. We've never seen anything like it - and you'll be able to play a technology preview tomorrow as a free upgrade to the existing PC release.

We received an early preview of the upgrade and put together a video to demonstrate what path tracing is and how it works in Cyberpunk 2077, stacking it up against the ultra settings rendition, devoid of all RT features. Then we compared it once again against the existing 'Psycho' RT option built into the current version of the game. You can check that out in the video below, where we've also included some benchmarks showing how well Cyberpunk 2077 operates on an RTX 4090.

This is just the start of our path-traced Cyberpunk 2077 RT Overdrive coverage. Here, Alex Battaglia explains how path tracing operates, stacking up the game against the standard rasterised version - along with the already taxing psycho RT mode.Watch on YouTube

So, the idea of a path traced version of an already challenging-to-run triple-A title sounds like a performance nightmare for anything other than best-of-the-best hardware - and yes, obviously it's going to require some seriously capable graphics hardware.

That said, it's worth noting that the tests we've done were at reconstructed 4K resolution aided by DLSS 3 frame generation - and it's delivering some really impressive frame-rates. By comparing and contrasting with existing benchmarks, you should be able to get some idea of how the game scales onto less capable GPUs than the RTX 4090. Yes, it's challenging, but it's also scalable and once we're back from our extended weekend, we'll be showing you how the upgrade runs on 40-series cards lower down the stack - and even how it runs on 30-series cards too (yes, it can be done). In the meantime, enjoy the preview embedded above.

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