DirectX 12 Ultimate Getting Started Guide


So, you’re a developer sold on the next-gen features in DirectX 12 Ultimate?

Look no further than this little guide!

1) OS

The complete set of DirectX 12 Ultimate features will be available in the next retail version of Windows 10, version 2004 (also called or 20H1).

Until then, anyone can get pre-released builds of Windows using the Windows Insider Program (WIP). WIP is how Microsoft gets pre-release builds out to people who want to get a peek of what’s coming. There are two ways you can get started with developing on WIP builds:

a) Installing a WIP build directly onto your dev machine

The easiest way to get preview builds is by signing up for the Windows Insider Program and installing preview builds directly onto your machine – just follow these instructions and be sure to choose the WIP Fast ring.

b) Using a VHD (Virtual Hard Disk)

This more advanced option is for developers who can’t upgrade their main dev machines but still want to develop on WIP builds.

You can download a WIP OS version into a VHD file, then boot a computer directly from the mounted VHD (running natively, not inside a VM). We recommend using this approach on a second machine, which you deploy and test your code on using remote debugging, while the SDK and Visual Studio remain installed on your primary dev system which is running a non-WIP OS.

Using a VHD allows easily setting up temporary OS versions to test new features on, which can then easily be thrown away or replaced as needed, kind of like the PC equivalent of an Xbox devkit. Check out this blog to get detailed instructions.

Once Windows 10 version 2004 ships this spring, getting a WIP build won’t be necessary – you’ll just have to get the latest version of the OS. We’ll update this part of the guide when it happens.

2) Visual Studio

Once you have the latest WIP Fast build, install Visual Studio 2019 onto it (Note that the free Community Edition will work if you don’t already have the Professional or Enterprise editions)

3) Windows Insider Preview SDK

Download and install the Windows Insider Preview SDK – look out for build 19582 or higher.  The SDK provides headers for all the DirectX 12 Ultimate features, and also the latest version of the HLSL shader compiler, dxc.exe.

4) Drivers and hardware

Today, you can get started developing with DirectX 12 Ultimate features with NVIDIA GeForce 20 Series hardware. Driver version 450.56 has support for Mesh Shaders, VRS, DXR 1.0 and Sampler Feedback. DXR 1.1 support is coming very soon – we’ll update this blog with the correct driver version to look for and where to find it soon!

We’ll also update this part of the guide once more DirectX 12 Ultimate hardware is publicly available.

5) PIX

The March 2020 release of PIX has initial support for DirectX 12 Ultimate features – go here to download our very own DirectX 12 debugger.

We’re constantly adding features to PIX so be sure to check out the PIX blog to get the latest.

6) Samples

Check out the DirectX 12 Samples Repo to see samples of DirectX 12 Ultimate features.

We’ll be updating this repo with more samples over time, but we already have samples for VRS, DXR 1.0 and Mesh Shaders to get you started!

7) Specs

The DirectX Spec Repo is where we publish our specs; head here to find the specs for DXR 1.0 and DXR 1.1, Variable Rate Shading, Mesh Shaders and Sampler Feedback

8) Links and Questions

Here’s a list of other useful links to check out:

We highly encourage developers of all skill levels to join our Discord server if they have any questions:

1 comment

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    M C

    Hi Jacques,

    I want to start developing with this except I don’t know where to find the 450.56 driver. I setup a 20H1 build and ran Windows Update thinking that would do it, but it didn’t. Any suggestions? Thanks.

    EDIT: nvm, I saw a comment in Discord that you’re working to get the driver out!