Intel Arc GPUs may have stumbled – but the XeSS frame rate booster looks like a triumph

Intel’s XeSS frame rate boost technology – Nvidia’s rival DLSS and AMD FSR – has been put to the test and proven to be an excellent performer, which must be a relief for Team Blue, after having a tough time lately with its Arc graphics cards.

Digital foundry (opens in a new tab) (as discovered by Tom’s gear (opens in a new tab)) performed the XeSS tests using an Arc Alchemist A770 GPU, which is the flagship model of the first generation of Intel boards.

It was a thorough affair using a bespoke version of Shadow of the Tomb Raider that supports XeSS, with huge frame rate jumps in some scenarios, and more modest but still valid increases in others.

For example, an 88% increase in frame rate was seen at 4K resolution with XeSS “performance” mode – the setting that favors frames per second (fps) over image quality. This means that compared to the game running at native 4K, XeSS-enhanced 4K was almost twice as fast, a staggering increase (with the caveat that by using performance mode the graphics quality is obviously reduced compared to the native 4K).

However, using the ‘quality’ mode, which aims to keep image quality similar to native 4K, there was still a 47 per cent increase in frame rate, which is very impressive. Even the “ultra quality” that pushes the hardest to get a near-native 4K image still saw a 23% performance boost, which is well worth it.

At 1440p, less of a benefit was seen – not surprising given that 4K is obviously much more stressful on the graphics card – but performance mode still ushered in a 52% boost in framerates. images, which is pretty neat. In quality mode, a 26% increase in fps was observed.

So what about the other side of XeSS, the resulting image quality versus native quality? Well, Digital Foundry found that Intel’s upscaling technology worked admirably, and was indeed a worthy match – give or take – for Nvidia DLSS (both running in quality mode, of course).

The odd glitch has been noted in some modes when looking at static images, such as shimmering artifacts, but hopefully these types of small glitches will be fixed by Intel before too long. Sometimes this can also happen with DLSS, but Digital Foundry has clearly shown it to be more prevalent with XeSS, and when it has happened with both it has been to a lesser extent with DLSS.

When the game was in motion, remember, XeSS delivered impressive clarity on par with DLSS, and with fast moving scenes – which can be difficult for upscaling tech to follow – XeSS performed well too. . And that’s in marked contrast to FSR 2.0, which struggled more in those respects with motion compared to DLSS.

Review: The best of DLSS and FSR in one?

The result is that this is quite an achievement for Intel with its first run at XeSS. Much like DLSS, it’s a time-scaling solution, using AI for refinement (whereas FSR 2.0 doesn’t use those machine learning chops – although that may change over time). future, if the rumors are correct). Given this, we were hoping to see similar results to DLSS, but it was far from certain that Intel could pull it off. However, from this first in-depth review of XeSS, it appears to be the case; which is great news.

Especially since the big advantage of XeSS is that it not only works with Intel’s Arc graphics cards, but also with the company’s integrated graphics, as well as competing GPUs, i.e. ie AMD and Nvidia products. That’s because Intel has taken the laudable route of being an open standard (like AMD, laudable for both companies, but not Nvidia, with DLSS being proprietary, only working with its own GPUs).

There are caveats about supporting other graphics cards, of course, in that they’re only relevant for more modern GPUs (which support HLSL Shader Model 6), and there has some downsides elsewhere. Namely the results aren’t quite up to par in terms of quality with 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 isn’t a huge impact in this regard, anyway). Admittedly, even with some downsides, it’s still nice to have the ability to increase the frame rate for those with non-RTX Nvidia graphics cards (or even AMD GPUs).

In short, Intel XeSS already seems like a worthy rival for DLSS, and with further sophistication – and the fact that it applies to a much wider range of GPUs – it just might be the secret weapon of DLSS. ‘Intel. Although we’ll have to assess how it performs in other games, naturally – and we’ll also want to see those Arc A7 graphics cards hit shelves soon. Not to mention, Team Blue is doubling down and working to nail the Arc graphics driver at a faster pace.

About Debra D. Johnson

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