Cyberpunk 2077 RT Overdrive Preview: RTX 4090 Can Only Achieve 16 FPS

Cyberpunk 2077 RT Overdrive Preview

Cyberpunk 2077 RT Overdrive Preview: RTX 4090 Gets Just 16 FPS in Cyberpunk 2077’s RT Overdrive Preview, Upscaling or DLSS 3 Frame Generation are practically mandatory.

Nvidia released a new YouTube video this morning detailing the improvements made by the GeForce RTX 4090 in Cyberpunk 2077’s new RT Overdrive mode (opens in a new tab). The RTX 4090’s performance takes a significant hit due to its stunning visuals. When using the native mode, the RTX 4090 could only manage 16 frames per second due to the fully path-traced renderer. Frame generation and upscaling from DLSS 3 were necessary to reach playable frame rates. But let’s back up for a second and break down exactly what it is that we’re discussing.

Cyberpunk 2077 RT Overdrive Preview
(Image credit: NVIDIA)

 On April 11th, Cyberpunk 2077 will receive a brand new rendering mode called RT Overdrive mode. In this new window: The new graphics mode completely overhauls the game’s rendering engine by switching from the current ray-tracing pipeline to a unified path-tracing solution. Only ray traced pixels are used; no hybrid rendering is available. When comparing this mode to Battlefield V, one of the original launch games for RTX ray tracing, Nvidia notes that on average it requires 635 ray calculations per pixel.

The regular ray tracing modes in Cyberpunk 2077 were a hybrid rendering method that combined rasterization with ray-traced reflections, global lighting, and other effects. The most accurate lighting, shadows, and reflections can be achieved with the fully path-traced solution by simulating all of the game’s light sources. 

The game’s lighting is path-traced with the help of Nvidia technologies like NVIDIA Real-Time Denoisers (NRD) (opens in new tab), NVIDIA RTX Direct Illumination (RTXDI), and Shader Execution Reordering (SER) (opens in new tab), which all work together to boost visual quality and frame rate. Nvidia’s Portal RTX underwent a similar refresh, and now the same treatment is being applied to a much more advanced and demanding game engine.

Overdrive is the new Crysis – Cyberpunk 2077 RT Overdrive

Cyberpunk 2077 RT Overdrive Preview
(Image credit: NVIDIA)

According to a video Nvidia posted on YouTube, using full-fledged path tracing in a AAA game like Cyberpunk 2077 results in an absurd performance penalty. The Overdrive tech demo ran at 4K resolution on a GeForce RTX 4090, but the GPU couldn’t even reach 30 frames per second at its native resolution. In order to get frame rates back into the triple digits, Nvidia used DLSS 3 frame generation in conjunction with image upscaling (DLSS 2 Performance mode). A fully path-traced game like Portal RTX, which required DLSS 3 frame generation and/or upscaling to run smoothly on the RTX 4090, is a good analogy. 

This should help put into context how much more difficult it is to simulate 3D light than to simply fake it. The good news is that high-quality real-time light simulation is now possible, although it usually requires upscaling to achieve playable frame rates. 

At this time, we don’t know what hardware Overdrive mode needs, but we can guess that it will need at least an Nvidia graphics processing unit (GPU) from the RTX 30-series or RTX 40-series. Cyberpunk 2077 supports DLSS 2 and AMD FSR 2.1 upscaling, and given that Nvidia was running at 4K, you can probably get decent performance at 1080p with far less powerful GPUs than the RTX 4090.

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