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How to try Minecraft’s ray-tracing magic via the RTX beta

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Microsoft’s ongoing partnership with NVIDIA brings the power ray tracing to Minecraft, via its GeForce RTX platform. Headed to Minecraft for Windows 10 in beta on April 16, the update enables official real-time ray tracing, promising advances to lighting, shadows, and more. We’ve wrapped up what you need to know about the Minecraft RTX beta and how to play.

Products used in this guide

What is the Minecraft RTX ray tracing beta?

Minecraft’s upcoming ray tracing support hooks into NVIDIA’s RTX platform, promising substantial improvements in lighting and shadows for heightened visual fidelity. While those enhancements may contrast with the simple, voxel stylization of Minecraft, the leap in light, shadows, and reflections upgrade its appearance while retaining the hallmarks. It’s a new look for Minecraft, introducing a new way to experience the bestseller on Windows 10 PCs.

Minecraft RTX launches exclusively via the Windows 10 client (the Microsoft Store version) and tied to NVIDIA hardware compatible with its RTX platform. While Microsoft has demonstrated ray tracing on prototype Xbox Series X hardware, the NVIDIA-backed solution is the first official, public-facing solution available. It’s exclusive to Minecraft for Windows 10, over the legacy Java client, due to the requirement of the new Bedrock engine.

We went hands-on with Minecraft RTX support back in 2019, demonstrating sizeable improvements over the vanilla experience. Those upgrades introduce an all-new tone to the Minecraft sandbox, with an added sense of depth and context throughout the world. It also looks astounding, representing Minecraft in its best form yet.

If your PC is capable of handling it, RTX is a must-try for Minecraft fans.

How to play the Minecraft RTX beta

Minecraft RTX requires Minecraft for Windows 10, its latest PC client available exclusively via the integrated Microsoft Store within Windows 10. While starting at $27 for the base Minecraft game, existing Java users can also leverage a limited-time upgrade program for an opportunity to secure the latest Minecraft fork for free.

Microsoft has announced the open Minecraft RTX beta will be hosted via the Xbox Insider Hub application for PC, its in-house platform for flighting pre-release Windows 10 gaming applications. The formal step-by-step process for installing the Minecraft RTX beta remains unclear, with additional context likely supplied on April 16.

Does my PC run Minecraft RTX ray tracing?

The upcoming Minecraft ray tracing support leverages NVIDIA’s RTX platform, designed specifically around RTX-capable graphics cards. Its latest 20-series cards feature dedicated hardware to accelerate ray tracing, ensuring enabling the feature doesn’t tank your framerate.

NVIDIA states users should use GeForce RTX 2060 graphics card or newer, encompassing the full 20-series lineup. While desktop-class RTX graphics cards lead in performance, a vast range of laptops also feature RTX capabilities. Here’s the full list of RTX-compatible graphics cards that work with Minecraft’s RTX beta.

  • GeForce RTX 2060
  • GeForce RTX 2060 Super
  • GeForce RTX 2070
  • GeForce RTX 2070 Super
  • GeForce RTX 2080
  • GeForce RTX 2080 Super
  • GeForce RTX 2080 Ti
  • Nvidia Titan RTX

When in the market for a 20-series upgrade today, NVIDIA’s GeForce RTX 2060 Super is our recommended pick for high performance while on a budget. It surpasses the baseline for Minecraft and other RTX-enabled titles while providing additional overhead compared to entry-level 2060 cards. Opting for RTX makes Minecraft significantly harder on the GPU, but this card handles the next generation of ray tracing like a champ.

The mobile work demands on-the-go solutions, with this Dell G5 15 our preferred RTX laptop for Minecraft. The option of robust hardware configurations and topped out with the RTX 2060, it covers all gaming essentials, with the added benefit of an RTX-compatible card. That includes ray tracing and deep learning super sampling (DLSS) compatibility, both supported by the Minecraft beta.
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