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(Pocket-lint) - If you've been looking at the latest and greatest Nvidia RTX graphics cards, then you might have heard mention of DLSS. If you're not quite sure what it is, we have the answers. 

Nvidia clearly has some serious gaming hardware in the form of various different graphics cards, but the company has also been working on a number of different software technologies in recent years designed to make the most of that hardware.

The company has been making a big push on the powers of ray tracing and the experience that can add to games. This technology adds enhanced visuals through realistic lighting, accurate shadows and diffused light sources. But it also can put pressure on your gaming PC and lower your FPS count, which is miserable for any PC gamer. 

That's where DLSS comes in. This is a technology that's designed to let you make the most of awesome visual fidelity while improving performance and keeping your frame rates high so you can make the most of your fancy gaming monitor

What is DLSS and how does it work? 

Deep Learning Super Sampling (aka DLSS) is an artificial intelligence technology that Nvidia has developed in order to help improve the performance of your gaming machine even while you're running higher settings. 

The idea is to put less pressure on your GPU by rendering the original image at a lower resolution, then using artificial intelligence to upscale that image to give the impression it's being run at a higher resolution.

Imagine you're playing a visually stunning triple-A title on maximum settings on a 4K monitor but the game is actually running at 1080p, then being upscaled by the AI to 4K using DLSS. This means the game can run faster and smoother giving you large FPS gains but without the visuals suffering. 

The DLSS artificial intelligence is essentially adding in the extra pixels to result in a fantastic view but one that's smooth and won't leave you crying over the FPS counter dropping. 

DLSS isn't perfect, but it has improved over time and now Nvidia has multiple DLSS settings that include performance, balanced and quality mode. You can swap between these based on your experience with quality offering the best visual enhancements while performance can help to up your FPS if it looks like it's dropping. 

Pocket-lintWhat is DLSS? Nvidia's AI-powered graphics tech explained photo 2

Supporting ray tracing

We mentioned how ray tracing can add to the overall visual effects in the game but it can have a negative impact on the game's performance. DLSS counters this and allows you to keep settings like that on but works some serious graphics magic to improve overall performance. 

We've seen this in action in a number of games. In some, it makes a more significant difference than others. On max settings, Cyberpunk 2077 was particularly taxing when it first launched. Even with a beefy PC and an RTX 3080 we were getting 20-30 FPS with DLSS off but everything else maxed out. Turning DLSS on resulted in almost double that frame rate and a much smoother experience. 

It is, however, not perfect yet. When set to performance mode you may well notice some degradation in overall visual quality depending on what you're playing. A slight blurriness may occur when compared to running at 4K with DLSS off. For the most part though the technology works well and the trade-off is well worth playing with.  

Which games support DLSS?

Initially when DLSS first launched only a handful of games supported it and you couldn't just run it on anything. Since then DLSS has been improved and released in the form of DLSS 2.0. The company has also tried to make it more accessible to developers so that it doesn't need to be trained on particular games in order to give the best performance but instead could be more widely integrated into as many games as possible. 

DLSS is also supported by Unreal Engine 4 and will work with  Unity 2021.2 as well, meaning it'll work with the most commonly used game engines and a wide range of games. 

Still, DLSS implementation depends on the developers, but we have seen it in a number of games. Nvidia also has some bold claims about the performance improvements DLSS offers to the following titles:

  • Outriders - with DLSS, every GeForce RTX GPU can hit 60 frames per second at 1440p with NVIDIA DLSS enabled, and the scaling at 4K is up to 73%, turning every GPU from GeForce RTX 3060 Ti and up into a 4K GPU.
  • DEATH STRANDING - DLSS enables 100+ FPS at 1440p for all RTX GPUs, and can
    provide a smooth 60+ FPS at 4K.
  • F1 2020 - DLSS enables 100+ FPS at 1080p for all RTX GPUs and smooth 60+ FPS at 4K with maximum settings for RTX 2060 Super and higher GPUs.
  • Control - DLSS allows gamers to achieve 1440p 60+ FPS with maximum settings and ray tracing enabled on RTX 2070 Super and higher GPUs.
  • MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries - DLSS enables 60+ FPS at 4K resolutions for the RTX 2070 Super and higher GPUs, and ensures a smooth 80+ FPS at 1440p for all RTX GPUs.
  • Deliver Us the Moon - DLSS allows the RTX 2060 and RTX 2060 Super to be played at maximum settings with ray tracing enabled at up to 1440p.
  • Wolfenstein: Youngblood - DLSS allows the RTX GPUs see up to a 2X performance boost at 4K, enabling a much smoother experience.
  • Red Dead Redemption 2 - DLSS allows gamers to get over 60 FPS in Red Dead with max settings. Nvidia claims that with a 3060 Ti you can get over 60 FPS at 1440p and if you have a 3070 or better you can get the same high FPS counts at 4K as well. 
  • Back 4 Blood - DLSS can improve gaming performance by as much as 46% with this title Nvidia claims. This enables virtually every GeForce RTX gamer to max out the graphics and get 4K resolution with 60FPS
  • Baldur's Gate 3 - the latest update to Baldur's Gate 3 has bought DLSS to the game and boosted performance by up to 88% at 4K. Nvidia says if you have an RTX 3060 Ti you'll get 4K at 60FPS with this game. 

The official list of games that support DLSS is ever-expanding but currently includes:

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  • Amid Evil
  • Alan Wake Remastered
  • Anthem
  • Aron's Adventure
  • Back 4 Blood
  • Baldur's Gate 3
  • Battlefield V
  • Bright Memory
  • Call Of Duty: Black Ops Cold War
  • Call of Duty: Modern Warfare
  • Call of Duty: Warzone
  • Control
  • Crysis Remastered and Crysis Remastered Trilogy 
  • Cyberpunk 2077
  • Death Stranding
  • Deliver Us The Moon
  • DOOM Eternal
  • Enlisted
  • Everspace 2
  • F1 2020
  • Final Fantasy XV
  • Fortnite
  • Ghostrunner
  • Into The Radius VR
  • Iron Conflict
  • Justice
  • Lego Builders’s Journey
  • Marvel's Avengers
  • Mechwarrior V: Mercenaries
  • Metro Exodus
  • Metro Exodus PC Enhanced Edition
  • Minecraft
  • Monster Hunter: World
  • Mount & Blade II Bannerlord
  • Mortal Shell 
  • Naraka: Bladepoint
  • Nioh 2: The Complete Edition
  • No Man's Sky
  • Outriders
  • Rainbow Six Siege
  • Red Dead Redemption 2
  • Ready or Not
  • Redout: Space Assult
  • Rust
  • Severed Steel
  • Scavengers
  • Shadow of the Tomb Raider
  • System Shock Demo
  • The Medium
  • The Fabled Woods
  • War Thunder
  • Watch Dogs Legion
  • Wolfenstein Youngblood
  • Wrench

Nvidia says that with DLSS enabled in Rainbow Six Siege you can get a performance boost of up to 50% while playing at 4K. The company says you can get over 100 FPS even with the graphics maxed out.  

DLSS is also coming to the following games in the near future:

  • Icarus
  • Industria
  • LEGO Builder’s Journey
  • DYING : 1983
  • The Ascent
  • The Persistence

It's not just the big gaming titles that have DLSS support either. There are also numerous indie titles that have DLSS capabilities including:

  • Anatomy Of Fear
  • Apocalypse: 2.0 Edition
  • Beyond Enemy Lines 2
  • Bodies of Water VR
  • Chivalry 2
  • ChronoTecture: The Eprologue
  • Cions of Vega
  • Death Realm
  • DeepStates [VR]
  • Exit From
  • Fall Balance Ball
  • F.I.S.T.: Forged In Shadow Torch
  • Frozenheim
  • Helios
  • Höll Space 5D6
  • Last Hope On Earth
  • Loverowind
  • Mortal Online 2
  • Powerslide Legends
  • RAZE 2070
  • Recall
  • REFICUL 666
  • Severed Steel
  • Soul Dossier
  • Sword and Fairy 7
  • Swords of Legends Online
  • To Hell With It
  • Twin Stones: The Journey of Bukka
  • Uncrashed: FPV Drone Simulator
  • Unknown Woods
  • Wakamarina Valley, New Zealand
  • Yag

DLSS in VR

With more recent updates Nvidia has enabled DLSS support for virtual reality games including No Man's Sky, Into The Radius and Wrench. 

If you're keen to find out more about DLSS, you can read about it over on Nvidia's official site

Writing by Adrian Willings. Originally published on 3 March 2021.