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What Is Nvidia DLSS? A Basic Definition


DLSS stands for deep learning super sampling. It’s a type of video rendering technique that looks to boost framerates by rendering frames at a lower resolution than displayed and using deep learning, a type of AI, to upscale the frames so that they look as sharp as expected at the native resolution. For example, with DLSS, a game’s frames could be rendered at 1080p resolution, making higher framerates more attainable, then upscaled and output at 4K resolution, bringing sharper image quality over 1080p. 

This is an alternative to other rendering techniques — like temporal anti-aliasing (TAA), a post-processing algorithm — that requires an RTX graphics card and game support (see the DLSS Games section below). Games that run at lower frame rates or higher resolutions benefit the most from DLSS.  

Nvidia’s chart shows RTX 3080 performance at 4K with max graphics settings and DLSS 2.0 Performance Mode and ray tracing on. (Image credit: Nvidia)

According to Nvidia, DLSS 2.0, the most common version, can boost framerates by 200-300% (see the DLSS 2.0 section below for more). The original DLSS is in far fewer games and we’ve found it to be less effective, but Nvidia says it can boost framerates “by over 70%.” DLSS can really come in handy, even with the best graphics cards, when gaming at a high resolution or with ray tracing, both of which can cause framerates to drop substantially compared to 1080p.


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