As a forewarning, we’d like to remind everyone who’s reading this that this pros and cons article is only for Nvidia RTX users. That’s because DLSS is off-limits to AMD Radeon and Intel ARC users. That’s just how it is, sadly. In any case, the DLSS vs FSR conundrum for Nvidia RTX users is what we hope to settle here.
Not too long ago, we would have just recommended Nvidia GPU owners to just pick DLSS, but the release of both DLSS 3.0 from Nvidia and FSR 3 from AMD has made things more complicated, especially for gamers who don’t own an Nvidia RTX 4000-series GPU.
Here are the conditions why each might be better than the other.
Deep learning super sampling is Nvidia’s proprietary tech and they aim to keep it within their ecosystem.
It’s an AI power upscaling algorithm that downgrades the 3D image’s resolution and then upscales it to its original resolution, resulting in practically a free framerate boost.
DLSS has certain advantages over FSR 2 or even FSR 3.
It provides a better performance boost (DLSS 2.x vs FSR 2.x)
You’ll find no shortage of comparisons between DLSS and FSR on YouTube and you don’t even have to watch them for more than 10 seconds. The clear winner in terms of performance boost is still DLSS.
That’s the case mostly for DLSS 2.x which is the most accessible DLSS version right now. We’ll talk about DLSS 3.0 later.
The performance margin can vary from marginal to substantial as the differences between DLSS and FSR’s free framerate boost can easily be a smooth 60 FPS, especially for games sponsored by Nvidia’s tech.
It provides a clearer image reconstruction
For the record, it’s actually now too hard to spot the differences between DLSS and FSR in terms of image clarity– when you’re standing still in-game.
Once you move, that’s where FSR can show its ugly drawbacks. FSR, even the latest version is still notorious for its motion ghosting. It’s way too apparent in moving letters where they get almost smudged when viewed from certain angles or distances.
It’s not just with flat textures though. This motion ghosting is also present in moving polygons like NPCs or birds.
Such ghosting is still present in DLSS but to a much lesser degree. Movement is more graceful in Nvidia’s upscaling solution.
It introduces less latency
All upscaling tech introduces latency but AMD’s FSR, even FSR 3, has it worse than Nvidia’s DLSS. Reports estimate FSR having around 70 percent more latency compared to DLSS, and sadly, FSR 3’s Anti-Lag + tech is only available on the Radeon RX 7000 series. Even then, DLSS is still slightly better.
DLSS provides better responsiveness due to its lower latency. In competitive multiplayer games, this matters a lot.
FSR was the underdog just recently. It didn’t rely on AI but rather on an algorithm to reconstruct the images.
However, FSR 3’s release has significantly changed the scenery. It’s not exactly widely available just yet, but it’s only a matter of time (short time, to be exact) before FSR 3 becomes more ubiquitous.
It provides a better frame-gen performance boost (DLSS 3 vs FSR 3)
Yes, we know this sounds conflicting especially since it’s also a point for DLSS above, but the recent benchmarks and comparison videos between the two surprisingly put FSR 3 ahead by a small margin.
We’re excited to say that AMD is competing well against Nvidia and has put pressure since the tables have now turned and FSR 3 offers a higher performance boost than DLSS 3 now.
The only catch is that FSR 3 is not yet widely available so most gamers can still only compare DLSS 2.x vs FSR 2.x. That will change soon.
It’s more accessible
The funny and annoying thing about Nvidia’s DLSS 3 or 3.x is that it’s only available for RTX 4000-series GPUs.
A huge chunk of gamers still have RTX 2000 and RTX 3000-series cards, meaning Nvidia is inadvertently (or perhaps even intentionally) forcing their customers to upgrade if they want to use DLSS 3 and its nifty frame generation (which can double the framerate compared to the old DLSS 2.x).
Meanwhile, there’s AMD with its FSR 3 which thankfully made the whole upscaling tech available on all DirectX 11 GPUs. However, it’s important to note that frame generation appears to require a Radeon RX 5700 (or better) and an RTX 2000-series GPU or better if you want official support.
Still, nothing is stopping older GPUs from trying it out (results might vary). The general consensus is that it can breathe new life into aging hardware.
It’s a tough call for DLSS vs FSR, but here we are again with the age-old AMD vs Nvidia war.
What’s really working against FSR’s progress is its ghosting and its latency. It also has poorer image reconstruction.
Meanwhile, Nvidia is intent on leaving out a big portion of its user base by making DLSS 3 exclusive to RTX 4000 users.
The answer is conditional here. If you have an RTX 4000 series card and are mostly playing competitive games with upscaling, then you have no choice but to stick with DLSS 3.
However, anyone else who isn’t using an RTX 4000 series GPU might want to give FSR 3 a try especially if they’re not using upscaling while playing competitive games.