RTX and DLSS
Being an RTX card I also like checking out the performance of some of Nvidia’s features. Namely the ray tracing performance and the performance improvements you can see by using DLSS combined with the tensor cores. My first test goes back to our synthetic benchmarks with 3DMark where I check out their Port Royal benchmark. This is the one test that does also have AMD Ray Tracing support which is great to get a look at how different cards including older non-RTX cards perform. The RTX 4080 Founders Edition scored 17748 in Port Royal which is 8000 points less than its bigger brother the RTX 4090 but is still enough to keep a heavy lead ahead of the RTX 3090 Ti.
3DMark also has added in a few feature tests, one being a look at DLSS performance. For this one, I have the resolution set to 1440p and DLSS 2.0 turned on. I then have run the test on every card supported to get a comparison of how their test performs with and without DLSS. With DLSS 3 on, and with this being 1440p the gap between the RTX 4080 Founders Edition and the RTX 4090 is smaller here than in previous tests. I did a second set of tests at 4K across all three versions of DLSS and twice with the new DLSS 3 to test the performance and quality settings. This was less to compare the 4080 and 4090 against each other and more to show the performance differences between the versions. With the performance setting DLSS 3 puts a big lead on the other two DLSS versions but more importantly is over three times faster than running without DLSS on at all which is crazy!
I then jumped into game tests, this time with Watch Dogs: Legion. For this one, I wanted to get an idea of the performance you will see when taking advantage of Nvidia’s RTX and DLSS features. I tested at 4k with the ultra detail setting and with ultra being the setting for DLSS and RTX when they are on as well. I then test with no RTX or DLSS on and then with RTX DLSS on and off and on together. Here the RTX 4080 Founders Edition was able to reach over 120 FPS when using DLSS at 4K at the ultra detail preset which could be huge for high refresh monitor users. More importantly though in my opinion is the jump from 47 FPS to 89 when using RTX which shows how it can help you gain the performance needed to make RTX gameplay smooth.
Next, I wanted to check out the performance in Metro Exodus which we have used for testing for a long time now. This test is similar as well with it set to 4K and Ultra detail, I use the included benchmark to test DLSS and RTX individually and then with them both on and both off to give us a look at overall frame rates depending on which direction you go. Running RTX on the RTX 4080 Founders Edition dropped the frame rate from 71 down to 63 FPS but running DLSS was able to nearly double that and the performance gap between RTX or no-RTX was nearly nothing when running DLSS.
Next, I tested using a benchmark based on the game Boundary. For this one, I wanted to see how all of the different DLSS settings would perform, including turning it off completely. This is run using the free benchmark and with the resolution set to 4k and RTX on. While the RTX 4080 Founders Edition performed much better than any of the older cards, it didn’t have the performance to get to nearly smooth performance here without DLSS on at all like the 4090 was. But turning DLSS on, even on the highest detail was enough to get close to the 60 FPS range. The ultra performance setting on the other handle doubled those numbers and some.
The last tests were done in a benchmark based on the game Bright Memory with their free steam benchmark. This is similar to the previous Boundary test only it is looking at RTX settings individually with the resolution set to 4K and DLSS is set to the balanced setting. The RTX 4080 Founders Edition came in at 68 FPS at the highest RTX preset but it is interesting to see how changing the RTX detail improved performance. It wasn’t enough, in this case, to bump the frame rate up into the next category like how in the past it was able to bump things up over 60 FPS but this does show how sometimes playing with this setting when available can get you a little more smoothness when needed.
I also wanted to take a look at DLSS 3 performance as well a little more than my initial look at it with 3DMark’s benchmark. For this, I put Nvidias Frameview to the test to run a few benchmarks using the games that currently support DLSS 3. For games with a built-in benchmark I ran the benchmark but used frameview so we could get the FPS and 1% lows and because with some of the games frame generation is messing up their in game FPS readouts. V-Sync was turned off on all of the tests because it currently causes problems with frame generation and all of the tests were done at 4K with the highest detail settings including the highest RTX settings. DLSS 3 when there is an option was set to performance which is the setting Nvidia suggests when using it at 4K.
The first game tested was Cyberpunk 2077 and this one shows how big of a difference DLSS 3 can make. With it off the game averaged 29 FPS but with everything turned on it was nearly 4 times as fast at 112 FPS. 1% lows did have a bigger gap but weren’t too bad as well. I tested Cyberpunk with the detail turned down and at 1080p as well to move things to be CPU limited and the game went from 90 FPS up to 227 FPS, being CPU limited although it does show more in the 1% lows.
In F1 2022 I ran three tests. I tested with full DLSS, I did it again but turned off frame generation, and then tested with DLSS off and TAA on. Frame generation here was good for another 36 FPS but DLSS 3 as a whole went from 69 FPS to 177 FPS, a 156% improvement.
In A Plague Tale turning frame generation showed how much it can help a lot more with DLSS 3 without it improving from 58 FPS to 87 FPS but jumping up to 143 with it on.
In the side scroller Forged in Shadow Torch DLSS, 3 made a huge difference once again but you do trade off a lot on the 1% lows. Without it, the 4080 was running at 79 FPS and improved 132% to 184 FPS with DLSS 3 on.
Next up was Destroy All Humans! 2 – Reprobed. The RTX 4080 Founders Edition did well here even without DLSS with it averaging 102 FPS but turning it on did jump it up to 188 FPS. The 1% lows here did get worse with DLSS 3 on.
Last I took a look at Microsoft Flight Simulator and this is an interesting case because this is a well-known CPU-limited game. With DLSS off the RTX 4080 Founders Edition averaged 60 FPS on our landing test run over Sydney. Turning DLSS 3 on including frame generation doubled that averaging 123 FPS which is a huge improvement. Being CPU limited the 1% lows did go up from the 41 Frames without DLSS but the gap between the 1% low and the average FPS with DLSS 3 on was a lot wider.
When doing my Cyberpunk 2077 DLSS 3 testing I did also run through the benchmark with DLSS 3 on and again with it off while recording video to get a few side y side images using Nvidia’s iCat tool for comparison. Recording at the highest possible detail levels with OBS at the same time as running the benchmark slowed things down significantly, especially on the non-DLSS 3 side so don’t pay much attention to the frame rates indicated. For some reason, iCat didn’t integrate the labels I put on the images as well when I created these but for the record DLSS 3 is on the left and no DLSS at all is on the right. In the first image of an alleyway at full-screen, everything looks amazing with just a few small details like the lights in the reflection being a little less crisp. Zooming into the trash cans through the smoke we can see that the colors on a few things are a little more toned down in the DLSS 3 image and if anything the trash bags are a little crisper.
Going inside I found that the DLSS 3 on image things like the papers on the walls were crisper and easier to read. The neon lights are a little brighter on the DLSS 3 side as well.
Going outside again into the street I found that the DLSS 3 image is a little sharper in details like the signing and when I zoom in on the post and shadows. There are a few colors that are richer with DLSS off but overall in all three of the examples, I found that the running DLSS 3 looks great. This was especially true when playing at speed, I couldn’t tell the difference between them at all until I had side-by-side images paused.
As of this launch, Nvidia has 10 games with full DLSS 3 support and that doesn’t count WRC Generations, Need for Speed Unbound, and Warhammer 40,000: Darktide which all have support coming before the end of the month. DLSS 3 will live or die by the games that support it and it is good to see support being added to older games as well as new games. This is especially true with games like Microsoft Flight Simulator where you can see performance gains on CPU-limited games without a CPU upgrade. Here is the full list of current DLSS 3 games.
A Plague Tale: Requiem
Bright Memory: Infinite
Destroy All Humans! 2 - Reprobed
F.I.S.T.: Forged in Shadow Torch
F1 ® 22
Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered
Microsoft Flight Simulator