After what feels like ages of waiting, Minecraft RTX is here. First teased in August 2019 at Gamescom 2019, if you’ve wondered what exactly was taking so long, you’re not alone. Our bet is that Nvidia and Microsoft have spent a lot of time trying to get Minecraft RTX running as good as possible on the widest selection of the best graphics cards before the public release. If you’re thinking Minecraft with ray tracing effects tacked on shouldn’t be too complex, think again.
With the beta in hand for the past week, we can say that you’re going to need a powerful rig to run it well. And that’s with DLSS 2.0 enabled—the Deep Learning Super Sampling algorithm that upscales lower rendering resolutions to help boost performance by 70% or more. Turn off DLSS and framerates will plummet, particularly at higher resolutions. You’ll need something from the very top of the GPU hierarchy to do 1440p or 4K at 60 fps, in other words.
We’ve tested Minecraft RTX across all the GeForce RTX graphics cards, as well as with some of the best CPUs for gaming using the RTX 2080 Ti. We’ve also checked system memory to determine the minimum amount of RAM that you’ll want. Not surprisingly, the GPU will be the biggest hurdle.
Ray Tracing vs. Path Tracing
To understand why Minecraft RTX is so demanding, we need to briefly describe how it differs from other RTX enabled games. Nvidia says that Minecraft RTX uses ‘path tracing,’ similar to what it did with Quake II RTX, where other games like Battlefield 5 and Metro Exodus have only used ‘ray tracing.’ For anyone who fully understands the difference between ray tracing and path tracing, you probably just rolled your eyes hard. That’s because Nvidia has co-opted the terms to mean something new and different. In short, Nvidia’s ‘path tracing’ just means doing more ray tracing calculations—bouncing more rays—to provide a more…