Intel’s XeSS frame rate boosting technology – rivals Nvidia’s DLSS and AMD FSR – has been tested and proved excellent performance, which should be a relief to Team Blue after having a rough time lately with their Arc cards. graphics.
Digital Foundry (opens in new tab) (how stumbled across Tom’s Hardware (opens in new tab)) performed the XeSS test using an Arc Alchemist A770 GPU, which is the flagship model for Intel’s first generation boards.
This was a complete case using a custom version of Shadow of the Tomb Raider that supports XeSS, with some huge framerate jumps in certain scenarios and some more modest but still valid increases in others.
For example, an 88% frame rate increase was found at 4K resolution with the XeSS ‘performance’ mode – the setting that favors frames per second (fps) over image quality. This means that compared to the game running in native 4K, 4K upscaled with XeSS was almost twice as fast, an impressive increase (with the exception that using performance mode, the graphics quality is obviously reduced compared to native 4K) .
Using the ‘quality’ mode though, which aims to keep the image quality at a level similar to native 4K, there was still a 47% increase in frame rate, which is pretty impressive. Even the ‘ultra quality’, which is harder to get a near-native 4K image, still witnessed a 23% performance boost, which is well worth having.
At 1440p, less benefit was registered – not surprising, given that 4K is obviously much more stressful on the graphics card – but the performance mode still brought a 52% increase in frame rate, which is pretty cool. In quality mode, a 26% increase in fps was observed.
So what about the other facet of XeSS, achieved versus native image quality? Well, Digital Foundry found that Intel’s upscaling technology performed admirably and, in fact, was a worthy match – more or less – for the Nvidia DLSS (with both running in quality mode, of course).
The strange glitch has been observed in certain modes when examining still images such as flickering artifacts, but we expect these types of small glitches to be resolved by Intel in no time. This can sometimes happen with DLSS as well, but Digital Foundry clearly illustrated that it was more prevalent with XeSS, and when it happened with both, it was noticeably lower with DLSS.
When the game was in motion, mind you, XeSS offered impressive clarity on par with DLSS, and with fast-moving scenes – which can be difficult to track for upscaling technology – XeSS performed well too. And that’s in marked contrast to FSR 2.0, which struggled more in these aspects with motion compared to DLSS.
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The result is that this is a real achievement for Intel with its first run on XeSS. Like DLSS, it’s a temporal upscaling solution, using AI for refinement (whereas FSR 2.0 doesn’t employ these machine learning capabilities – although that could change in the future, if the rumors are right). Given that, we expected to see similar results to DLSS, but it was far from certain that Intel would be able to pull this off. However, from this first in-depth analysis of XeSS, it appears that this is the case; which is great news.
In particular, the big advantage of XeSS is that it works not only with Intel’s Arc graphics cards, but with the company’s integrated graphics as well as rival GPUs, which means AMD and Nvidia products. That’s because Intel has taken the commendable path of being an open standard (like AMD, commendable for both companies, but not Nvidia, with DLSS being proprietary, working only with their own GPUs).
There are caveats about support for other graphics cards, of course, in terms of it only being relevant to more modern GPUs (which support HLSL Shader Model 6), and there are some downsides elsewhere. Namely, the results aren’t very good in terms of quality using an Arc graphics card, and Digital Foundry shows an example of an RTX 3070 that has a slightly slower frame time with XeSS (but there’s no a big impact in that regard, by any means). Certainly, even with some downsides, it’s still great to have the option to increase the framerate for those with non-RTX Nvidia graphics cards (or even AMD GPUs).
The bottom line is that Intel XeSS already appears to be a worthy rival to DLSS, and with more refinement – and the fact that it applies to a much wider range of GPUs – it might just be Intel’s secret weapon. Although we need to gauge how it performs in other games, naturally – and we also want to see those Arc A7 graphics cards hitting shelves soon. Not to mention that Team Blue redoubled their efforts and worked to get the Arc graphics driver right at a faster pace.