Home > News

Steam Deck users now get better performance in older games thanks to Vulkan API upgrade

'Retro' Direct3D 8 games get a boost
Last Updated on July 8, 2024
Steam Deck handheld with performance settings menu open
PC Guide is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Read More
You can trust PC Guide: Our team of experts use a combination of independent consumer research, in-depth testing where appropriate - which will be flagged as such, and market analysis when recommending products, software and services. Find out how we test here.

Direct3D, the real-time 3D rendering API for DirectX, is an integral part of how games are built and run. This is ever-evolving, and as you may know, older games run on older versions of DirectX – and in turn, Direct3D. This can cause compatibility and performance problems for users wanting to play older games on newer hardware, particularly something like the Steam Deck which already has to go through a translation layer to get Windows games running on its Linux-based SteamOS.

However, a recent merging of code will now make it easier to run older Direct3D 8 games, enjoying a similar level of support as Direct3D 9 and newer.

Direct3D 8 being merged into DXVK is a boost for Linux users

The D8VK project provided Direct3D 8 support until now, but now it is being merged into DXVK, a piece of open-source software that is heavily relied on for Direct3D 9/10/11 support in Vulkan. This is via a merge request from Valve developer Joshua Ashton. The recommended Vulkan API is utilized by Valve’s Proton compatibility layer (known as Steam Play) to smoothly run Windows games on Linux, which the Steam Deck uses.

So, now players can look forward to better performance or visual support in these older Direct3D 8-based games on Linux devices such as the Steam Deck. With DXVK now covering Direct3D 8 through 11, it opens up a smoother and more reliable experience for a wider range of games. If you’re wondering about Direct3D 12, this is currently covered by the VKD3D-Proton project.

Direct3D 8 Frontend merged commits, source: GitHub

What games are supported by Direct3D 8?

So what kind of retro games should be better supported now? Not that we like to call some of these retro, but we have to admit they kind of are at this point. Well, since DirectX 8.0 was introduced in November 2000, games such as Grand Theft Auto III, Max Payne, and Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell make the list.

Plenty of popular games are supported by Direct3D 8, all of which you can find on PCGamingWiki. Keep in mind that this list will include many examples that also support the newer 9.0 version, which was already running great before this merge.

At PC Guide, Jack is mostly responsible for reporting on hardware deals. He also specializes in monitors, TVs, and headsets and can be found putting his findings together in a review or best-of guide.