Ray tracing has been one of the most exciting graphics card features in recent years, allowing supported games to take advantage of hyper-realistic lighting and shadow effects for enhanced immersion.
But how do you actually enable ray tracing? We’ve created this guide to help you out. The process will be slightly different for each game, but not so much that this guide isn’t useful for enabling the technology.
It is important to note that ray tracing is not supported by every computer. You will need to check online whether your graphics card is compatible or not, requiring at least an Nvidia RTX 2000 or AMD Radeon RX 5000 Series GPU.
Without further ado, here’s how to enable ray tracing.
What will you need?
- A graphics card that supports ray tracing
- Compatible game
The short version
- Update your graphics card driver
- Check if your game of choice supports ray tracing
- Start your game
- Open Settings
- Click on Graphics Settings
- Enable ray tracing
- Start playing
Update your graphics card driver
The first step is more of a precaution than an essential part of the process. Updating your graphics drivers will ensure you have the latest firmware. Failure to do so may prevent you from enabling ray tracing for your selected game.
If you have an Nvidia GPU, you can do this using the GeForce Experience app. And for AMD Radeon users, you’ll need AMD Software: Adrenalin Edition instead. Both apps will prompt you to download drivers if your computer lacks the latest iteration.
Check if your game of choice supports ray tracing
Ray tracing is not supported by every game, especially if it was launched a few years ago or doesn’t have a major publisher associated with it. You can check if a game is supported by Nvidia’s ray tracing technology by clicking this relationship.
Unfortunately, it’s a bit more difficult to determine if ray tracing is supported by your AMD GPU, but you should be able to check via each game’s official website.
Start your game
Once you’ve confirmed that your game supports ray tracing on your PC’s graphics card, launch the game as normal.
When you see the in-game menu, press the Settings button or tab. Some games require you to press the Escape key instead.
Click on Graphics Settings
Next, you’ll need to go to Graphics Settings.
Enable ray tracing
If you scroll down, you should eventually find a ray tracing switch. Some games, like Cyberpunk 2077, allow you to get even more detailed with options to enable ray-traced reflections, sun shadows, and local shadows.
You also sometimes get the option to choose the level of ray tracing, with the more advanced setting being more taxing on your GPU but resulting in more realistic renderings.
If you make sure you apply the settings, then you should be able to see the benefits of ray tracing the next time you launch a game. You should be able to change the settings by opening the start menu, just in case you need to change the balance between performance and visual effects.
The ray tracing option may be listed under “Nvidia RTX” if you are using a GeForce video card. If you still can’t find the option, check if your graphics card and game really support the technology and make sure your graphics drivers are up to date.
Yes, enabling ray tracing will affect performance and you will see a drop in frame rate. Both Nvidia’s DLSS and AMD’s FSR are useful to counteract this performance loss. Otherwise, you may need to lower your graphics settings or resolution to ensure stable performance.