Games have certain system requirements that must be met in order for them to run. These requirements are for both hardware and software. You need a specific GPU model or newer, a specific OS, and additional frameworks and libraries installed on your system in order to play a game. Each game has its own requirements and it will clearly state them.
A small subset of games need something called the Vulkan RunTime or VulkanRT. Generally speaking, if you have a GPU that can run the game in question then that GPU probably also has support for VulkanRT but, there’s a way to check and getting the Vulkan RunTime on your system is easy.
What is Vulkan RunTime or VulkanRT
Vulkan RunTime or VulkanRT is a gaming API that’s used to control the GPU. It allows games, particularly 3D games to run more smoothly by balancing how power is used between the CPU and GPU, and making sure the GPU’s usage is managed such that it only needs to work hard when the game needs it to.
VulkanRT isn’t the only gaming API of its kind. A far more popular gaming API that’s used is DirectX. You’ll find plenty of games that need DirectX because that’s what they’ve been built to run with. VulkanRT isn’t nearly as popular as DirectX but some popular games do still use it e.g. Doom, No Man’s Sky, and The Talos Principle.
If a game needs VulkanRT to run, you cannot make do with using the latest version of DirectX because the two are not interchangeable.
Check VulkanRT on your system
There are four different methods for checking if you have VulkanRT on your system.
GPU-Z is a free app that gives you extensive information about your GPU. It is the simplest method you can use to check if you have VulkanRT.
- Download GPU-Z.
- Run the app, or install and run it.
- On the Graphics Card tab, look at the Technologies section. If Vulkan is listed and checked, your GPU supports it, and it is installed. If Vulkan is listed but not checked, your GPU supports it but it isn’t installed.
2. Control Panel
This method works on older systems. It is almost obsolete but we’re mentioning it in case you’re running older hardware.
- Open Control Panel and go to Programs>Uninstall a program.
- Go through the list of installed apps and check if Vulkan is listed there. If it is, you have the RunTime installed on your system.
3. Settings app
Like the Control Panel method, this method is also old and almost obsolete. It will work on older systems that run earlier versions of Vulkan.
- Open the Settings app.
- Go to the Apps group of settings.
- Go through the list of installed apps and check for Vulkan.
4. System32 Folder
This method is for newer systems that run newer versions of Vulkan. The newer version no longer appears in the Control Panel or the Settings app. It goes to an entirely different folder.
- Open File Explorer.
- Click inside the location bar, and enter the following.
- Search inside this folder for Vulkan and you’ll be able to find it. The folder it resides in depends on the GPU that you have, and which driver version is installed so we can’t point you to the exact folder but it should be there.
How to install Vulkan Runtime or VulkanRT
If your GPU supports VulkanRT, but the runtime isn’t installed on your system, it’s easy to install it. All you have to do is update your graphics drivers.
1. Device Manager driver update
- Open Device Manager.
- Expand Display Adapters.
- Right-click your GPU, and select Update Driver.
- Install any available updates, and restart your system.
- Use one of the methods listed above to check if Vulkan has been installed.
2. Direct driver download
If Control Panel fails to find new drivers for your GPU, you can check if the manufacturer of the chip has released new drivers on their website.
- For an AMD GPU, visit this page and select your GPU model. For an Nvidia GPU, visit this page, and select your GPU model.
- Download the EXE that is the driver, and run it like you would any app. You only need to install display drivers so feel free to opt-out of anything else the app may offer to install.
- When the installation is complete, restart your system and confirm using one of the above methods whether or not you have Vulkan on your system.
Removing VulkanRT on older systems was easy. On newer systems, it is less so but may still be possible.
1. Control Panel
This works on older systems only and not newer ones.
- Open Control Panel.
- Go to Programs>Uninstall a program.
- Look for and select Vulkan, and click Uninstall.
2. Newer systems
Removing Vullkan from newer systems may mean you have to roll back your graphics driver to an older version though we cannot tell you which version to roll back to. You will need to figure that out for your particular GPU model. Once you know which driver to use download it and, follow these steps.
- Open Device Manager.
- Expand Display Adapters.
- Select your GPU, and right-click it.
- Select Uninstall device.
- Restart the system and turn off internet access.
- Install the driver that you downloaded, and restart the system again.
Is VulkanRT bad?
The VulkanRT has an unusual name and it is not as well known as DirectX which is why some might think it’s a malicious app. It isn’t. It’s there to help games run smoothly and nothing more.
It may take up some space on your disk but it’s not a lot. Leaving it on your system won’t do any harm. In fact, if you happen to find a game that needs VulkanRT, you won’t have to go hunting for the right display driver to get it.
Vulkan is an API that, at one point, appeared in the Control Panel and Settings app, announcing its presence.
User who found it were concerned about where the app had come from since and why it had such an odd name. Perhaps that’s why it’s been relocated on newer systems. It may still show up if you search your system files but a simple Google search tells you that it is as safe as anything and really not that big a deal to have on your system.