Myst-y Business: AMD’s FidelityFX Super Resolution Takes on Nvidia’s DLSS
AMD and Nvidia have both launched their own tools for improving image fidelity, but comparisons between the two have been limited by the fact that most games that support one option do not support the other. This has made it difficult to compare them in more than general terms. The new Myst remake, however, supports both capabilities and our colleagues at PCMag recently took AMD and Nvidia’s latest GPUs out for a test drive.
Both companies perform remarkably well, especially at higher quality levels. Here’s the native 4K image followed by Nvidia’s DLSS at in Quality mode, compared with AMD’s FidelityFX Super Resolution in Ultra Quality mode:
The images here are practically indistinguishable from each other. We might be able to spot some differences in motion, but Mag reports that these game modes look exactly like 4K at high quality. If we bump the quality downwards, it’s possible to see a few differences, and here Nvidia’s DLSS seems to do a bit better. This slider will allow you to compare the two shots most easily.
If you use the magnifying glass icon and zoom in to the comparison linked above, run the filter back and forth across the pillar at the far right of the image. Nvidia’s DLSS is clearly retaining detail better than FSR at the highest performance / lowest quality preset.
PCMag has more details on these comparisons, including a breakdown of how the feature looks on Xbox and a performance comparison, and they praise AMD on the whole for matching DLSS after Nvidia has had multiple years to work on the feature. As far as Myst is concerned, these accolades appear warranted. We’ve known since launch that DLSS had an advantage over FSR at the lowest quality settings. Although that’s relevant, the performance advantage from enabling DLSS / FSR is large enough that even gamers that benefit from these settings shouldn’t need the lowest quality settings to enable faster performance.
There’s a significant technical difference between DLSS and FSR. DLSS is based on both temporal and spatial data, while FSR only uses spatial information and a modified, faster Lanczos filter to reduce ringing. This is not to downplay AMD’s work on FSR, but to emphasize that AMD and Nvidia have not developed two different implementations of the same technology. They’re using two different approaches to image improvement to arrive at a result that approaches target native resolution without paying the performance penalty native resolution requires.
This difference in approach is anchored in hardware differences between AMD and Nvidia GPUs. Nvidia’s DLSS requires specialized tensor cores and therefore is only supported on RTX 2000 and RTX 3000 GPUs. AMD’s FSR is supported on a wider range of cards from both Nvidia and AMD, and may be supported on Intel GPUs as well when those launch. Intel’s upcoming XeSS solution will be supported on its own hardware at peak quality and (we think) on Nvidia hardware using the DP4a instruction when available. Whether Radeon cards can run XeSS in any fashion has not been confirmed.
FSR does have a significant advantage over DLSS in at least one respect, however. GPU prices are bad and have now been bad for an entire year. They may stay lousy until a year or more from now. Given these objective facts, customers who can’t afford to upgrade may need FSR support to run newer games smoothly on the older cards they can’t stop using. Of course, this depends on games adding FSR support in the first place, so we’ll have to see how adoption plays out over the longer term. But it’s good to see AMD and Nvidia trading blows in the first title to support both features.