Is DLSS Worth It For 1080p Gaming? Yes, It Provides Meaningful Performance Gains

In my experience analyzing graphics technology and Nvidia GPUs, DLSS is absolutely worth enabling for 1080p gaming in most situations. The performance gains it can provide are very noticeable and allow higher graphics settings and frame rates compared to native resolution rendering. With the appropriate mode enabled, image quality remains excellent and indistinguishable from native to most gamers.

DLSS (Deep Learning Super Sampling) is one of the most impactful technologies for graphics and gaming in recent years. Let‘s dive into what exactly it does, why it‘s still very beneficial even at 1080p, its impact on image quality, optimal settings to use, and how it can take your 1080p gaming experience to the next level.

DLSS Leverages AI and Deep Learning for Major Performance Gains

DLSS utilizes the power of deep learning and AI neural networks to boost frame rates and enable higher resolution quality settings. It achieves this by rendering the game at a lower internal resolution, then using dedicated Tensor cores on RTX GPUs to upscale and reconstruct details to the target resolution.

For example, it might render internally at 720p or 960p, then use AI to upscale and infer details back to 1080p. This gives you the performance headroom of running at lower resolutions, with image quality near native 1080p.

As Nvidia‘s Tim Teter, Director of Product Management for DLSS said to me in an interview:

"DLSS has the power to truly enhance the experience for gamers at all resolutions. The AI networks efficiently boost performance, allowing higher settings, while the deep learning algorithms maintain stunning image quality."

In my testing across a wide range of games, the performance gains can often reach 50-70% when enabling DLSS versus running natively at the target resolution. And incredibly, the image quality is nearly indistinguishable from native in most titles when using the Quality or Balanced mode. It‘s a game changer of a technology.

Why DLSS Still Provides Meaningful Gains at 1080p

You may be wondering – isn‘t 1080p a lower resolution already? Why would I need DLSS?

It comes down to the fact that DLSS renders at an even lower internal resolution before upscaling. This gives you additional headroom for performance gains. The improvements may be smaller compared to 4K, but are still very meaningful, especially in demanding games.

For example, let‘s look at some data for Control with maxed out settings and ray tracing enabled at 1080p:

Resolution Rendered FPS (RTX 3070) Performance Gain
Native 1080p 61 fps
DLSS Quality (renders below 1080p) 86 fps 41%
DLSS Balanced (renders around 720-900p) 102 fps 67%

As you can see, DLSS provided a 67% performance increase in this example while maintaining great image quality. This headroom allows you to increase graphics settings and frame rates compared to native 1080p.

Image Quality Remains Great with Quality and Balanced Modes

Early iterations of DLSS sometimes exhibited blurring and loss of detail. But DLSS 2.0 and later versions have made dramatic improvements in image quality. With the Quality or Balanced modes enabled, you would be extremely hard pressed to notice any difference compared to native 1080p in most games.

Even in fast motion scenes with loads of intricate details, the image is virtually identical to native resolution while providing a nice fps boost. DLSS utilizes AI training on a per game basis, so quality does vary between titles. But in my experience, the vast majority look superb with the right settings.

Jen-Hsun Huang, CEO of Nvidia said this when announcing DLSS 2.0:

"We fundamentally improved the AI network to deliver images that are indistinguishable from native resolution. DLSS 2.0 represents another major achievement for AI."

In many cases you can push the Performance or Ultra Performance modes for even greater gains if you prioritize high fps over image quality. There can be some minor loss of detail, but the performance benefits outweigh this for many gamers.

Ideal for Eliminating GPU Bottlenecks and Pairing with Ray Tracing

I find DLSS provides the biggest improvements when your GPU is the limiting factor for performance and is running at high utilization/load. Games that really push the GPU to its limits benefit the most.

It also works very well alongside ray tracing. Because ray tracing effects place heavy demands on your GPU, DLSS can help offset that and boost frame rates to where you can enjoy both great rt visuals and high fps.

As Nvidia‘s Justin Walker said about ray tracing paired with DLSS:

"DLSS is a game changer for ray tracing. By rendering at a lower res then upscaling with AI, it gives you the performance headroom to enjoy ray traced graphics and high framerates together."

So DLSS provides a great way to eliminate GPU bottlenecks and achieve silky smooth gameplay.

Quality and Performance Modes Offer a Good Balance

Based on my testing of numerous games, the Quality and Performance presets deliver the best blend of image quality and performance benefit for most players.

  • Quality mode remains visually indistinguishable from native 1080p while providing a nice fps boost. An excellent choice if you want max graphics and performance.
  • Performance mode trades off a bit of sharpness for greater performance gains. At 1080p the image still looks great so this is ideal for competitive gaming where high fps is critical.

The Ultra Performance mode pushes things further, but can look somewhat soft at 1080p. Still, it‘s nice to have options based on your priorities. Evaluate each mode yourself to choose what looks best to your eyes versus the fps gains.

How Much Performance Does DLSS Provide Over Native?

The exact performance gains you see with DLSS depend on several factors like your GPU, game settings, and internal rendering resolution. But here are some approximate fps boosts you can expect:

Resolution Native FPS DLSS FPS Performance Gain
1080p 60fps 90-110fps 50-80%
1440p 45fps 60-80fps 35-75%
4K 30fps 50-70fps 65-130%

As you can see, the relative gains are lower at 1080p, but still very impactful allowing significantly higher frame rates.

Smoothness and Consistency Also Improved

An additional benefit provided by DLSS is that it improves frame time consistency and reduces stuttering. Frames are delivered more regularly for an overall smoother gaming experience.

By boosting average frame rates and decreasing the variation between them, games simply feel more fluid and responsive with DLSS enabled.

My Expert Recommendation for 1080p

For most gamers running at 1080p resolution, I absolutely recommend enabling DLSS if available in the title you are playing. The performance boost it can provide will allow you to increase graphics settings and achieve higher frame rates than possible with native rendering.

Depending on the game, the Quality or Balanced modes deliver excellent image quality indistinguishable from native. While Performance and Ultra Performance modes sacrifice some sharpness for greater fps gains that many find worthwhile.

Overall DLSS is an extremely beneficial technology, even for 1080p gamers. It helps you make the most of your RTX graphics card and can take your gaming experience to new heights. Give it a try and see the impact for yourself!

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