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A new system requirements tier just popped up on Steam

Valve has added a new ultra system requirements section to the Portal RTX store page on Steam. Is this the dawning of a new standard?

Portal RTX screenshot showing glowing orange refelctions

We’re no strangers to the delights of system requirements and the sometimes stressful nature of meeting a developer’s demands. Well, for those on the other end of the hardware spectrum who want to know how many frames per second they will get from their Nvidia RTX 4090, Steam appears to be testing the waters for ultra system requirements.

You’ve never needed the best graphics card to simply get a game running, but in the world of PC gaming, we often want to know what hardware we need to get a game running at the very top settings, while still achieving a solid frame rate. This endless pursuit of performance is often ignored by game developers when they reveal system requirements, leaving gamers without an expectation of the hardware they’ll need to enable the absolute best graphics settings at anywhere from 1080p to 4K.

Valve may be helping with this situation, however, as a new ultra tier of system requirements has appeared on the Portal with RTX store page. With Portal being a Valve property, we did some due diligence and checked other Valve titles to see if the ultra tier had been added, but it appears that Portal is the only game to receive this treatment so far.

It’s entirely possible that this is a one-off for Portal with RTX, given that this game’s system requirements already start far higher than many modern games, due to its need for a powerful graphics card with ray tracing capabilities.

However, this all raises the question of why we don’t see more developers revealing high-level system requirements before a game’s release. We understand that one reason for this is late-stage optimization where, until optimization is complete, which can be late in the development cycle, it’s hard to pinpoint the exact level of hardware needed for 4K/60fps gameplay.

Beyond this, gamers still often rely on Steam store pages and social media posts to know when a game’s system requirements are confirmed, and even then, it’s typically only the minimum and recommended levels.

We would love to think that Valve is about to take system requirements to the next level, but it is more likely that this is an exception to the rule, and these ultra specs may only feature on RTX Remix re-releases.

If you want to build a rig that’s future-proofed for years to come, we can show you how to do it with our handy guide on how to build a gaming PC in 2024.