AMD graphics cards ready up for ray tracing in Cyberpunk 2077

Cyberpunk 2077 boss fight scene of enemy breaking through LED sign
(Image credit: CD Projekt Red)

Three months since Cyberpunk 2077 released and it's set to finally offer real-time ray tracing on AMD RDNA 2 graphics cards. After initially launching with support for Nvidia's graphics cards alone, with the game's upcoming patch 1.2 it'll be possible to enable real-time ray tracing on AMD's lot, too.

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That means we'll soon have a chance to give AMD's Radeon RX 6900 XT a run for its money, because I suspect you'll require AMD's top card to play at anything close to speedy framerates with ray tracing enabled. Cyberpunk 2077 is awfully demanding at the best of times and, with ray tracing enabled, it can bring anything less than the best to its knees.

One potential salve for sluggish performance in the game (once you've whacked everything up to max), at least on Nvidia's GPUs, has been DLSS upscaling. Taking the load off the silicon at high resolutions, DLSS has been the key to smooth framerates in-game for low-end GPUs and for enabling ray tracing with the best graphics cards going, such as the RTX 3080 and RTX 3090.

The RX 6900 XT is a close match for the pair in rasterised rendering, meaning it'll play the game sans ray tracing with near-enough performance parity, but the red team's ray tracing silicon, known as Ray Accelerators, haven't proven themselves quite as handy for ray tracing as Nvidia's RT Cores. 

3DMark Port Royal ray tracing benchmark

Performance in 3DMark's ray tracing benchmark. This is not the purely ray-traced DXR Feature Test, and as such will take into account the rasterised performance of these cards. (Image credit: Future)

With no DLSS alternative just yet, it's looking even less rosy for the red team when ray tracing in Cyberpunk 2077. AMD is promising a DLSS analogue for its FidelityFX suite of GPU features, although we've no firm date for when that will arrive nor which games it will support.

Cyberpunk does, however, support FidelityFX CAS, which integrates a sharpening function over dynamic render resolutions for a more steady framerate.

AMD ray tracing performance will certainly be top of our list to try out in-game when the patch drops, which is still arriving "soon", according to the official patch notes released today.

There's been no official word on why ray tracing wasn't ready on AMD's GPUs for the game's much-delayed December release, but I would suspect it has something to do with the lack of AMD compatible ray tracing silicon up until November, when the Radeon RX 6800 XT and Radeon RX 6800 released.

Jacob Ridley
Senior Hardware Editor

Jacob earned his first byline writing for his own tech blog. From there, he graduated to professionally breaking things as hardware writer at PCGamesN, and would go on to run the team as hardware editor. Since then he's joined PC Gamer's top staff as senior hardware editor, where he spends his days reporting on the latest developments in the technology and gaming industries and testing the newest PC components.