Increasing the performance of modern video cards and the popularization of high-resolution monitors are gradually encouraging players to switch to these resolutions. In parallel, the process of improving the quality of graphics and the introduction of ray tracing is underway. Gaming in 4K has become more affordable, but is still expensive entertainment because it requires top-end PCs. At the same time, it can be extremely difficult to get a stable 60 frames in projects with tracing. To solve this problem, NVIDIA implemented DLSS technology based on intelligent scaling using neural networks and hardware acceleration. Now we have an alternative from AMD. After a long wait, AMD FidelityFX Super Resolution (FSR) technology is now available and can be tested in several games. This is what we will do in this review.
First, let’s talk about the key features of the technology, and then move on to a practical comparison of graphics and testing in different modes.
AMD FidelityFX Super Resolution
The technology was designed to accelerate performance at high resolutions with cross-platform capability and easy integration for developers. AMD sees FSR as the most promising cross-platform scaling option.
FSR is part of the open platform GPUOpen, which has already implemented several technologies with optimizations for AMD graphics accelerators. The FidelityFX Contrast Adaptive Sharpening (CAS) filter is most commonly used in modern games. This is true with aggressive TAA algorithms that give a certain blurring of small details.
It is obvious that the development of CAS has greatly helped in the implementation of FSR. But we are not talking about simple scaling with an additional sharpening filter, since AMD has been working on new technology for a long time to provide good results in image quality. Conventional scaling methods result in jagged or blurry edges. FSR algorithms create smoother and more regular contours closer to the original image.
In the graphics pipeline, FSR runs after the anti-aliasing and tone mapping steps. After scaling and overlaying the sharpening filter, the rest of the image post-processing effects are applied.
AMD FidelityFX Super Resolution provides four profiles for the user to choose between quality and performance:
- Ultra Quality — provides the best image quality, close to the original resolution. 4K (3840×2160) output resolution uses 2954×1662 input resolution, 2560×1440 uses 1970×1108 input resolution.
- Quality — Delivers high image quality with greater performance acceleration. 4K output resolution uses 2560×1440 input resolution, 2560×1440 uses 1706×960 input resolution.
- Balanced — Balanced mode for high performance. For 4K, an input resolution of 2259×1270 is used, for 2560×1440, an input resolution of 1506×847 is used.
- Performance — maximum performance. 4K uses 1920×1080 input resolution, 2560×1440 uses 1280×720 input resolution.
Depending on the level of personal comfort, you select the mode that is best for you. If you want to get a picture with minimal differences from the original resolution, use Ultra Quality. If you are ready to put up with loss of detail and blurring for the sake of a high frame rate, turn on the Performance mode.
FSR will speed up demanding ray-traced games. So far it’s available in Godfall and The Riftbreaker, providing a nice boost for the newer Radeon RX 6000 series graphics cards.
But an important advantage of AMD FidelityFX Super Resolution is compatibility with all modern video cards of recent years. As an example, even results are given in Terminator: Resistance on the GeForce GTX 1060.
Graphics cards based on the AMD RDNA and RDNA 2 architecture are supported, and even older GCN models, starting with the Radeon RX 480/470/460. FSR can also work on the integrated graphics of the Vega family. From the NVIDIA side, all models are compatible, starting with the GeForce GTX 10 series and later. The full list of compatible solutions is listed on the slide:
Currently, AMD FSR works in seven games:
- 22 Racing Series;
- Anno 1800;
- Evil Genius 2;
- Terminator: Resistance;
- The Riftbreaker.
Soon the technology will be added to Resident Evil Village, Necromunda: Hired Gun, Baldur’s Gate 3, DOTA 2 and other projects. FSR will be supported in Far Cry 6, Farming Simulator 22 and Vampire: The Masquerade — Bloodhunt.
AMD is talking about partnerships with 44 game companies and developers who plan to use FSR technology in their products. Among them are Electronic Arts with the Frostbite engine, Gearbox, Ubisoft, Warner Bros. Games and other industry giants.
We will explore AMD FSR features in Godfall by making a detailed comparison of graphics and performance at two resolutions. We’ll also talk a little about Anno 1800 in 4K. The results of testing in different modes are given at the end of the review.
Fantasy Action/RPG powered by Unreal Engine 4. The game pleases with colorful graphics and supports ray tracing, having the appropriate system requirements. AMD FSR will help you achieve comfortable gaming performance.
Visual comparison of different modes in 4K video comparison:
Below are some comparison screenshots in 4K.
Comparison of identical fragments in original resolution:
Comparison of fragments enlarged twice:
Certain changes are already visible when moving from native 4K to Ultra Quality mode, but they are minor. Decreased clarity of textures near the surface of the earth, armor and other objects is not critical for such a high resolution. Further, the changes become more pronounced.
Here is another comparison in original resolution and doubled.
The last slide shows the difference between the original resolution and Ultra Quality well, even without zooming in on the fragments.
In this game, along with the usual modes, it is possible to activate only the AMD FidelityFX Sharper sharpening filter without scaling. Also in the Russian version, instead of the names of the modes, the scaling value is reflected with a slightly wrong scale, but this will obviously be fixed in the updates.
We will limit ourselves to comparing native 4K with Ultra Quality and Quality modes. Below are fragments in original resolution based on 4K screenshots.
Comparison of fragments enlarged twice:
The test bench configuration is as follows:
- Processor: Intel Core i9-9900K;
- cooling system: be quiet! Silent Loop 280mm;
- AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT graphics card;
- motherboard: ASUS ROG Maximus XI Formula;
- Memory: Kingston HyperX HX434C16FB3K2/32 (DDR4-3466@3600);
- system disk: Kingston SSDNow UV400 480GB;
- Optional Drive #1: Kingston A2000 NVMe PCIe 1000GB;
- Optional Drive #2: Kingston KC2000 NVMe PCIe 1000GB;
- case: Antec NX800;
- power supply: Antec HCG850 Gold;
- monitor: ASUS PB278Q (2560×1440, 27″);
- operating system: Windows 10 Pro x64;
- AMD Radeon Adrenalin Edition driver 21.6.1.
Testing was carried out on the basis of the reference video card Radeon RX 6800 XT.
Godfall has been tested in two resolutions: 3840×2160 and 2560×1440. Maximum graphics quality, ray tracing enabled.
At 4K, the Radeon RX 6800 XT initially delivers about 50 frames, FSR Ultra Quality increases the average frame rate by 38%, the 1% low gain is even greater. Quality mode is 66% faster than the initial results in terms of average fps, 1% low speeds up twice.
At lower resolutions, the acceleration from FSR is slightly lower, but the overall increase is also impressive.
Anno 1800 has only been tested in 4K.
Activating FSR Ultra Quality increases the average frame rate by 29%, Quality speeds up by 41%, Balanced mode speeds up by 56%.
AMD FidelityFX Super Resolution is a forward-thinking scaling technology that can dramatically improve performance at high resolutions. The combination of special upscaling algorithms and a quality sharpening filter provides good results and minimal differences from the original image when the Ultra Quality profile is selected. This mode provides decent acceleration, especially in heavy ray-traced games. An example of this is the test results in Godfall. Other AMD FSR modes give a more noticeable drop in image quality with a more serious increase in fps. Performance mode provides acceleration twice or more, but the picture will suffer from a clear decrease in clarity and detail. This is an expected compromise, and NVIDIA DLSS’s high-performance mode also results in a clear reduction in detail.
The main advantage of the technology is its compatibility with all AMD and NVIDIA video cards released over the past few years. In a volatile market, many users have postponed the upgrade, and any software acceleration will increase the comfort of gaming on an old video card. The ability to get good acceleration on the Radeon RX 580 and GeForce GTX 1060 will certainly please their owners.
So far, only seven games with AMD FSR are available, but the number will continue to grow. The wide list of gaming companies that AMD is partnering with gives hope that many potential hits will be FSR compatible.