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Nvidia RTX 4090 needs DLSS to run Portal RTX max settings at 4K 60fps

The amount of ray tracing in Portal RTX can cause even the GeForce RTX 4090 to buckle under performance pressure, with DLSS helping to salvage fps at 4K

Portal RTX, in which the player is overlooking a pool of reflective water, with an orange (left) and blue (right) portal above it

In just a few days, Portal RTX launches as free DLC, giving the beloved Valve FPS a fresh coat of ray tracing paint. You’ll need a powerful pixel pusher in order to get it looking and running at its best, but it seems the new graphics features can bring the very best GPU to its knees. Even the mighty Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090 can struggle to run the game at max settings without the aid of DLSS.

Unless you have the best graphics card models on the market today, the ability to run games at 4K with ray tracing enabled is something of a rarity. The Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090 is normally capable of such feats, but the Portal RTX system requirements are an altogether different beast with fully ray-traced lighting.

According to benchmarks conducted by TechPowerUp, the Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090 achieved an average frame rate of just 26fps while running Portal RTX at 4K max settings. This sounds like a terrible showing until you look at its performance relative to other graphics cards, with the RTX 3090 Ti turning in just 13fps, and the AMD Radeon RX 6900 XT taking things to the lowest of the low with 1fps.

Things improve dramatically when Nvidia DLSS is enabled, with team green’s most powerful graphics card managing 64 frames per second with the upscaling technology set to ‘Balanced’. Performance is naturally higher at lower resolutions, but we don’t imagine many people buying this GPU and gaming at anything less than 4K.