Quake 2 RTX at minimum settings - running ray tracing on older AMD Radeons

Quake 2 RTX – Running Ray Tracing on older AMD Radeons

I decided to try the possibilities of ray tracing here at my leisure, but in 2020, even before the deep crisis of the video card market, a difficult one forced me to buy the first video card from AMD – the Radeon RX580 8 GB (instead of supporting at least software DXR GeForce 1060). The lack of support for this very RTX upset me a little – so I began to study the capabilities of old AMD a little deeper in this regard.

At the moment there are 3 options to try ray tracing on RX580 (and similar old AMD vids without RTX hardware cores):

1. Crysis Remastered. CryEngine turns out to be able to programmatically emulate ray tracing effects with fairly good performance (see an example in the video from YouTube).

2. Benchmark Neon Noir on the same CryEngine. In Full HD, it works (and looks) great even on ULTRA settings.

3. The notorious Quake 2 RTX with the experimental Vulkan RADV driver for Linux (included in the MESA package). We’ll talk about him today.

Quake 2 RTX is definitely the benchmark icon for the entire RTX gaming market. In a remake of this old game from 1997, NVIDIA went all out and rolled out a riot of colors, dynamic lighting, and other RTX whistles.

And so, in September 2021, news appeared in a number of blogs that one of the enthusiastic developers of the AMD alternative RADV driver for Linux managed to file software support for ray tracing for AMD video cards, even with support for older generations of video cards (Polaris, Vega, RDNA) without hardware cores RTX. As a result, some users managed to successfully launch Q2RTX with this driver (however, no one had any illusions about the performance of such a solution).

Six months have passed, but I still haven’t found a step-by-step guide online on how to repeat such a setup, so I decided to try it myself. Perhaps someone will find my experiment useful, especially since the script for Ubuntu 20.04 LTS familiar to many is published at the end of the article.

Actually, the process itself and the dependencies are pretty well described on the Q2RTX github, so for a better understanding of the process, I recommend starting reading from it before installation:


So, you will need:

1. Distribution Ubuntu 20.04 LTS x64 from the official site

2. Flash drive 4+ GB to install it as a second system

3. The key is direct hands and a willingness to google errors/problems

I had an old HDD as a second disk, on which I successfully rolled Ubuntu without the hassle of dual-boot (Windows remained on the SSD).

After installing the system, go to the terminal and smoothly install everything you need: build dependencies, Vulkan driver. Next – building q2rtx from the sources from GitHub and activating the experimental support for RT in the driver. After that, you can run quake and it won’t even swear that you don’t have hardware that supports ray tracing 🙂

Results: ~10 FPS with no full HD resolution scaling (100%). Absolutely unplayable, but very beautiful. Or 25+ FPS at 35% scaling, which will take you back to 1997, because the picture quality will be at the resolution level of 800×600 or even lower – FUCKING pixels, yeah. But playable with t.z. gameplay, if, of course, you can see something.

And finally, the vids:

Q2RTX AMD Linux RADV Driver RX580 35% scaling

PS As promised, the installation script with comments. I recommend that you first read the Q2RTX GitHub and execute it line by line.