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Free ray-tracing update will overhaul Portal’s graphics on December 8

Valve’s first-person puzzle-platformer Portal was a genuine phenomenon when it was released back in 2007, and its core gameplay mechanics—solving puzzles and thwarting enemies by shooting interconnected portals onto various surfaces—still hold up today. But the game’s visuals haven’t aged as well, particularly its low-resolution textures; it was built using the same game engine and some of the same assets as 2004’s Half-Life 2, and there’s only so much that a modern GPU can do to spruce it up.

Enter Portal with RTX, a remastering of the game with ray-tracing effects and other improvements that Nvidia says will be available for free to all Portal owners starting on December 8. The update was originally announced in September alongside the RTX 4000-series GPUs. Developed by Lightspeed Studios, Portal with RTX doesn’t just add fancy lighting effects to the original but also includes “hand-crafted hi-res physically-based textures” and “enhanced high-poly models” that substantially overhaul the aging game’s visuals for the modern era.

As a DirectX 9 game from early in the Xbox 360 lifespan, the original Portal runs well on just about anything, including old Intel-integrated GPUs. But Portal RTX‘s system requirements are a lot higher; Nvidia lists the RTX 3060 as the minimum recommended GPU and says it can achieve “playable” 30 FPS frame rates at 1080p with DLSS enabled. Jumping to 60 FPS at 1080p requires an RTX 3080 with DLSS enabled, while hitting 60 FPS at 4K will require at least an RTX 4080 with DLSS 3 enabled. The CPU and RAM requirements also climb along with the GPU requirements (check the Nvidia-provided system requirements table below).

Enlarge / Portal with RTX has substantially higher system requirements than the original version of Portal.


That said, the game can run on “all ray-tracing compatible GPUs,” including the older RTX 2000-series, AMD’s RX 6000 and RX 7000 series, and Intel’s recently launched Arc A-series GPUs. But the generally high requirements and the reliance on proprietary DLSS upscaling to achieve playable framerates may make it difficult to run on anything other than a modern GeForce GPU.

For anyone who can satisfy the hardware requirements, though, the revamped lighting and textures are a great excuse to revisit (or discover!) the weird world of Portal without also needing to revisit 15-year-old textures, character models, and lighting effects. The Nvidia RTX Remix modding platform used to remaster Portal will also be released to the general public at some point, making it easier to create updated versions of old DirectX 8 and DirectX 9 games with AI-upscaled textures and modern lighting effects.

Listing image by Nvidia

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