Cyberpunk 2077 is a revelation with Nvidia’s new DLSS 3.0 technology

It is as if DLSS has been becoming an irreplaceable feature of the graphical presentation of video games for quite some time now. As more games adopt the feature and its similar equivalents from other companies, it becomes increasingly difficult to justify disabling it – and with some tasty demos for its latest iteration, Nvidia seems to really up the ante.

DLSS stands for Deep Learning Super Sampling, and it’s a smart AI-assisted feature that essentially lets you get higher frame rates in games without having to sacrifice their visual fidelity. A game that could only run at 30fps under normal settings could previously often reach over 60fps with DLSS enabled – and with DLSS 3.0, Nvidia aims to increase the gains even further.

The operation of DLSS is quite simple. AI models are trained on game visuals, which means the AI ​​can effectively scale a game with such precision in its fidelity that it’s nearly indistinguishable from the game running natively at much higher resolution. Running at a lower initial resolution is helpful for settings, however, letting you max out all those delicious PC gaming graphics toggles, including ray tracing, the transforming lighting feature that also has the habit of reducing frame rates.

At this point, a game like Cyberpunk 2077 will work with all those bells and whistles enabled, but at a reduced resolution. DLSS then takes over, upgrading the image the game produces to a crisp, clean 4K image that’s almost indistinguishable from a native 4K image that would be running at a much lower frame rate. It’s genius.

DLSS has been around for a while, as has AMD’s rival FidelityFX – but this latest tech update is big enough for Nvidia to call it a full incremental improvement – ​​and it lives up to the hype. this designation during testing.

More beautiful than reality?

First, some raw numbers. If you dial Cyberpunk 2077 maxed out on everything, using the new high-end and mega-expensive RTX 4090, the game will manage 60 frames per second with ray tracing enabled. That’s a pretty good result, but that’s on a graphics card that costs well over $1000.

Still, let’s stick with the 4090 for a second. What happens if you enable DLSS 3? Well, Cyberpunk sees its average frame rate skyrocket to well over 120fps, often approaching 200fps. These exorbitant frame rates have limited utility without the corresponding high-end displays, but regardless of the display, DLSS 3’s frame rate increases lead to much smoother gaming on virtually any screen. . With the raw power of the 4090, that might seem like overkill – but on other incoming cards, like the two advertised forms of the 4080, it will help get Cyberpunk 4K gaming with everything maxed out well beyond a stable 60fps.

You just want this world to be as beautiful as possible, right?

In Cyberpunk, enabling DLSS 3 also enables Nvidia Reflex, which means the smooth frame rate combines with lag reduction technology to make shooting extremely fast and responsive. Some of this, it has to be said, seems to be deliberate lag – DLSS 3 seems more likely to introduce additional lag than its predecessor, but pairing it with Reflex, a lag reducer, the end result is an improvement global compared to native. to play.

It’s a similar story in Flight Simulator, and that’s despite being a game that’s generally a bit more CPU bound than Cyberpunk. The frame rate benefits of DLSS are huge – and generally speaking, DLSS 3 seems to deliver nearly twice the results of its direct predecessor, the DLSS 2 configuration found on Nvidia GeForce 20 and 30 series GPUs. .

The superiority of this new third version of the technology comes from the fact that it can now generate entirely new images on its own. DLSS 1 & 2 could only scale existing frames – but now the technology is advanced enough to be able to generate additional new frames between existing frames. This basically means that even if the game is only outputting, say, 90 frames per second, the Nvidia card can extrapolate the visual data and create additional frames, inserting them into the sequence to create an even smoother look. It’s an extremely ambitious use of AI technology, and it’s honestly pretty amazing.

You can practically feel the sun.

The technology behind it all runs deep. It’s probably better for someone with a bigger brain than I’m explaining; our buddies at Digital Foundry have a video on the subject, of course. These are the neural network, motion vectors and what is called an optical flow accelerator. I get it, but only after going through pages and pages of Nvidia’s technical documentation – and I don’t know how to sum it up – other than just playing games on it. Doing this gives the words.

Playing Cyberpunk like this is hugely transformative. I quite liked the game at launch, because even back then I was playing on a high-end PC where the bugs were the least intrusive. But here, this game looks like the future – and not just in terms of setting. Ray-traced lighting shows how this lighting technology isn’t just a hot trend right now – it’s clearly the future of realistic worlds and continuous graphical improvements. Just a few years ago, ray tracing came at the cost of performance, but now DLSS lets you turn it on and achieve even higher frame rates than if you had both turned off. It’s amazing.

The catch, of course, is that this feature isn’t readily available everywhere. Developers must engage with DLSS and manually add it to their games, either during development or through a patch. But the tools to do so are now built into Unreal Engine and Unity, two of the most common in the industry, so it seems a given that this will soon become a fairly standard PC version feature, alongside AMD’s equivalent. Even the unsuccessful ‘Switch Pro’ rumors have consistently suggested that its graphics card – which is of course provided by Nvidia – will support DLSS. He’s here to stay, and with a damn good reason.

Nvidia would of course like to sell DLSS 3 as a new must-have, especially since it’s only compatible with the newer 40-series graphics cards. In a sense, it’s a killer app to let you to pull out your wallet and spend a relatively large amount of money on their new tools. However, it’s also an iteration rather than a revolution – a big step up from what DLSS 2 could offer on last-gen cards, but an anticipated improvement nonetheless.

But it all makes, you know, common sense. There’s no sense playing a game like Cyberpunk to the max with visuals like that. It feels like you’ve traveled back in time, Cyberpunk running with a breeze and speed usually reserved for games that have been massively technically outclassed for decades. I feel like it shouldn’t even be legal. It led me headfirst into a brand new Cyberpunk game, something I hadn’t expected until the DLC was ready.

Welcome Johnny.

Increasingly with Nvidia’s releases, each new generation of hardware isn’t just about the physical cards and the hardware enhancement they provide – it’s about the suite of software and tools that hardware unlocks for be used. More graphics is good and all, more power never goes wrong, but it’s in features like Nvidia Broadcast, Reflex and even diagnostic tools like Frameview that the graphics giant is making the case to remain the market leader. DLSS 3 is another great string to this bow – and I will now use it wherever it is available.

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