AMD FSR vs Nvidia DLSS vs Intel XeSS

What is the difference between AMD's FSR technology and Nvidia's DLSS technology? Here's the ultimate guide to help you understand.

AMD’s FSR and Nvidia’s DLSS dominate this era of upscaling technologies, making it even harder for PC enthusiasts to decide which GPU they should buy.

But, with another contender in the game, how should you know whether you should go with AMD for FSR, NVIDIA for DLSS, or Intel for XeSS?

Well, to help you make that decision, we will have a look at all the advantages and disadvantages of these two technologies.

Let’s head right into it!

Updates +

  • May 29, 2023: Short update.
  • January 24, 2023: Added Intel’s XeSS technology to the comparison.
  • December 22, 2023: Included new updates to FSR and DLSS.
  • September 20, 2022: Added DLSS 3/Frame Generation

Table of ContentsShow

Nvidia DLSS

DLSS on and off comparison in Fortnite
DLSS on and off comparison in Fortnite

Deep Learning Super Sampling, or DLSS, is Nvidia’s strongest upscaling feature. With this deep learning technology and Tensor Cores in RTX graphics cards, Nvidia can provide native-like image quality while considerably boosting in-game performance numbers.

This upscaling method has proved to be very effective in games like Death Stranding, Cyberpunk 2077, Red Dead Redemption 2, Call of Duty Warzone, Watch Dogs Legion, Fortnite, Rust, and many others.

DLSS in your favorite games

DLSS minimal image quality reduction compared to native resolution is its most substantial advantage. In some cases, Nvidia’s AI delivers better quality for minor details compared to native resolution.

Nvidia believes in this new technology and continuously updates it to improve performance and image quality. The jump from DLSS 1.0 to DLSS 2.0 was especially impressive.

Frame Generation, or DLSS 3, is a brand new method to boost FPS by generating and implementing artificial image frames. In some cases, this can double in-game framerate, although, the latency input remains the same.

DLSS 3 how it works

The only downside to DLSS is the fact that it is proprietary. That makes implementation harder for developers, and it’s also limited to RTX graphics cards (2000, 3000, and 4000 Series).

So, how does FSR fare against NVIDIA’s upscaling technology?

AMD FSR

FSR 2.0 in Deathloop
FSR 2.0 in Deathloop

FidelityFX Super Resolution or FSR is AMD’s best upscaling feature, but its concept differs slightly from Nvidia. Instead of assigning the upscaling method to dedicated hardware (like Tensor Cores), AMD uses software-based spacial upscaling.

Both upscaling technologies come up with similar image quality and both may struggle with various glitches/artifacts like ghosting, shimmering, etc.

However, since DLSS relies on powerful RTX hardware, it usually provides slightly better image fidelity.

But, that’s not the only factor!

FSR is software-centric and open-source, which means it can be used on diverse graphics card series from AMD, Nvidia, and even Intel. So, as long as the GPU supports DX 11, it can utilize FSR.

Even if you do get an Nvidia card, you can still enjoy the benefits of FSR.

You can find FSR in various video games, including God of War, Far Cry 6, Deathloop, Godfall, Dota 2, Dying Light 2 Stay Human, Cyberpunk 2077, Resident Evil: Village, and more.

AMD FSR game support
AMD FSR game support

FSR 3.0 is also on the horizon, which should bring some considerable improvements over FSR 2.0.

Intel XeSS

Intel, for the first time, launched their own graphics cards and needed to include an upscaling feature to compete with AMD and NVIDIA.

XeSS works similarly to NVIDIA’s DLSS because it uses AI/machine learning and dedicated hardware in the GPU to render an image and then upscale it to a higher resolution.

Intel XeSS how it works

Nevertheless, Intel provides two variations of XeSS. One variation is exclusively compatible with Intel Arc GPUs as it depends on their XMX cores. The alternative variation of XeSS does not depend on AI cores, enabling its utilization with NVIDIA and AMD GPUs (including DP4a support).

Of course, the XMX algorithm is faster and offers better quality, so XeSS with Arc graphics cards will always be the better option.

It’s worth noting that only a handful of games have XeSS, with Hitman 3, Spider-Man Remastered, and Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 being the most popular ones.

FSR Vs DLSS Vs XeSS Performance

While there may be some big differences in image fidelity, depending on the implementation and game, performance-wise, FSR and DLSS are quite alike.

XeSS, being the newest of the bunch, doesn’t offer quality and performance as good as its competitors.

Here’s a comparison between all three upscaling technologies, XeSS, FSR, and DLSS:

The distinction here is quite apparent. FSR and DLSS have comparable outcomes, while XeSS is occasionally 30% more sluggish in specific quality presets. During testing, Hardware Unboxed also noted XeSS offering noticeably inferior visual quality.

It seems that the XeSS algorithm for AMD and NVIDIA GPUs simply doesn’t work as well as the one with Arc GPUs.

Here’s an example:

XeSS vs FSR with Arc GPU spider man remastered
Source: Hardware Unboxed

Here, XeSS at 4K with an Arc A770 GPU has identical performance compared to FSR 2.1.

Intel has some work to do and hopefully XeSS will improve in the future with new updates.

For now, let’s observe the comparison between FSR and DLSS.

In Forza Horizon, the RTX 3080 outputs similar FPS with both FSR and DLSS.

At 4K, DLSS Quality preset is only about 2% faster than FSR Quality. When dropping the resolution down to 1440p or 1080p, the performance uplift is identical. Both upscaling options provide around 10 – 15% more FPS.

However, this is where DLSS 3 comes in. At the moment, AMD does not have a response to NVIDIA’s Frame Generation technology. Although FSR 3.0 should release in Q1 of 2023, so be sure to check back to see what it will offer.

DLSS 3 Frame Generation in game performance and latency

In Cyberpunk 2077, at 4K, maximum settings, and ray tracing enabled, the RTX 4090 outputs 42 FPS. With DLSS Quality, the 4090 outputs an additional 71% FPS.

With Frame Generation and DLSS Quality enabled, the 4090 outputs 166% more FPS compared to native resolution. These are some incredible performance gains for free*.

The problem with DLSS 3 is that it is only available to RTX 4000 Series GPUs, leaving RTX 3000 and RTX 2000 behind.

Furthermore, DLSS 3 artificially generates frames, which means that the will look like it is running at a higher framerate, but the input latency will feel slower (like native framerate).

Here’s a deep-down analysis on image quality, latency, pros and cons by Digital Foundry:

AMD FSR, Intel XeSS Or Nvidia DLSS?

Native 4K vs. DLSS vs. AMD FSR in Marvels Avengers
Native 4K, vs. DLSS, vs. AMD FSR in Marvel’s Avengers (Source: Jeff Grubb’s Game Mess)

The ongoing battle between AMD and Nvidia has been going on for decades at a hardware level, and now Intel has joined the party. Features like FSR, XeSS and DLSS significantly impact a user’s GPU purchase.

So, as a user, which one is better for you?

Well, let’s have a look at some factors to determine a winner!

  • Image Quality – Nvidia’s Tensor Cores and deep learning network process a lot more data to deliver high-quality images, outperforming FSR and XeSS.
  • Performance – Both DLSS 2 and FSR 2 deliver similar levels of extra performance, while XeSS lacks behind. It all depends on which upscaling preset you choose (Performance, Balanced, and Quality.) However, RTX 4000 with DLSS 3 is considerably faster than DLSS 2 and FSR 2.
  • Game Support – FSR is open-source and supposedly takes only a few days to be integrated. DLSS is more complicated to integrate, but NVIDIA seems to be pushing it much more aggressively into games. XeSS also lacks in game support.
  • Hardware Support – FSR wins a point here since it can be used with new and old AMD, NVIDIA, and Intel graphics cards. DLSS, on the other hand, works only with RTX 2000, 3000 and 4000 series GPUs. XeSS does support AMD and NVIDIA GPUs, but offers little to no advantage.

In short, it’s a win for NVIDIA! AMD comes in a close second, but it doesn’t have anything similar to Frame Generation, which is huge for RTX 4000 owners, while Intel still has some optimizing to do to catch up.

The conclusion is that if you already have an RTX card, you should stick with DLSS if it is available in-game. In the cases it isn’t, use FSR. The people that have an AMD card should use FSR when needed.

Avoid XeSS if you have an NVIDIA or AMD card and use it only if you have an Arc GPU.

However, if your graphics card is fast enough to provide a smooth gaming experience, for now, it might be best to play without any upscaling technology. Why? Well, neither DLSS nor FSR is perfect at the moment, so native resolution is still the best.

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Branko Gapo

Keeping up with the incredibly fast evolution of computer technology is impossible. That is why Branko will be using his knowledge on this matter to share news and information on all the latest essential technological innovations and advancements.