My DSR Review

Discussion in 'Videocards - NVIDIA GeForce' started by whitespider, Oct 11, 2014.

  1. whitespider

    whitespider Member Guru

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    Hey all, I have been using dsr with a large range of games since it snuck into the latest notebook drivers. And I have mixed feelings about it. I thought I would share those feelings with you now.


    In the latest games we often have a few post processing options for games, smaa, fxaa and the like, however things like traditional MSAA are mostly a thing of the past. In a sense nvidia gamesworks games that support things like TXAA, HBAO, and MSAA are, while annoyingly exclusive to nvidia, the only true thing we have to make our DX11 games look incredible while still being in the realm of playable on high end hardware. DSR unfortunately does not replace these features. DSR does not look better than hardware AA, be that TXAA, or even MSAA. It will make your textures extra detailed, so in a sense I call one of DSR's best features -An unofficial Anistropic filtering 32x/64x. Naturally that would translate to pixel detail on a 4k screen, however we won't get anything near 4k picture quality on a downsampled image.

    Before DSR was released, we had gedosato, a dx9 software tool designed by the guy that made the dark souls fix. It allowed most dx9 games to downscale using three different filering qualities. In terms of performance, gedosato has DSR beat hands down. Games suffer a 40% performance hit by simply enabling DSR. Even if it's only downsampling by 1.2x, the reason for this is that DSR uses a higher end smoothness filter than gedosato. And in some games, namely the witcher 2, that smoothness filter set to the right amount can make a game look incredible.

    It's times like these that DSR becomes a viable "thing to use". However in most games with lot's of sharp edges, DSR won't make a game look great. It will take upping the DSR resolution to 4k to start to make those kind of games looking good. And even then if you set the smoothness filter to 0%, you will still get edge antialaising everywhere. Remember DSR does not remove aliasing, it just loads more grids of information into what's displayed, which makes the aliasing finer. Also, while increasing the smoothness filter does make the majority of games more cinematic, it also smooths text, and while that might be good at 40%, because it creates less harsh fonts, at 100% it makes a rpg game with lot's of menu's and text reading, not really something you would want to play.

    So in order to get DSR to give us a smooth looking image, we need to combine it with something like FXAA or SMAA. The combined cost of 4k, plus fxaa, plus the 13-tap Gaussian filter can often be 200-400% on a 1920x1080 screen. And still look worse on games with a lot of fine angular geometry than older dx9 Supersampling techniques.

    So then, DSR should not be the goto for people that want the easy thing to use. Because they are paying 400% performance price, a huge part of which is an framerate expensive filter that probably won't make the game look incredible.

    There is merit to the smoothness filter however, at 35%-50% is that it can make some games with a lot of depth of field, foliage, shaders, and the like look a lot more cinematic. The witcher 2 being an excellent example, with sparse grid supersampling, the game is a blurry mess. With fxaa or smaa, the game shimmers and does not look that much more dense and pretty, however when you activate that nividia DSR filter with a 1.2x resolution bump, and then set smoothness to 30-50% (depending on taste), then that enhances the depth of field, bloom, light shafts, the whole lot. At the game feels very consistent and smooth. In my opinion it looks better than any other alternative for that game out there. Bar none.

    So DSR does have it's place for some game engines. You need to remember though, you are paying a lot of performance price for simply activating it. Even if your native screen resolution is only a tiny fraction lower than the DSR resolution. So in a sense, DSR should be used for it's soft filtering more than it's ability to anti alias. Remember that DSR uses a 13-tap Gaussian filter - if you are not aware, that is a similar technique to what brokeh depth of field uses. http://www.nextwavedv.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/bokeh.jpg

    And that's what eats up a lot of the DSR performance, and makes it a LOT more expensive than gedosato and driver downsampling. I would like an option to disable the filter entirely so we don't get the hit, as I get exactly the same performance with sharpness set to 0% compared to 50%.

    Unfortunately, gedosato does not support dx11 games, and driver downsampling is impossible on a lot of rigs, and has refresh rate limitations. Making DSR a very tempting option for those dx11 games that simply support no kind of AA (Like shadows of mordor) or rather average post processing AA (Alien isolation comes to mind. Personally I would still rather alien isolation with smaa tx2 and ultra settings at 70fps, than alien isolation at 4k/20fps using a fancy smoothing filter and still leaving aliasing behind.

    My final verdict is, DSR is a great addition, however I find the filter a little too expensive, and i also think it's the most expensive form of AA by about 400%. So only use it as a last resort, or if a specific game engine embraces it. Which 90% do not.

    If a game has any kind of AA at all, i would suggest you try that out first. Or even give the new MFAA a shot once it's fully released and confirmed to be working. And if you are still not happy, then enable DSR at your own performance peril. Your game will look better, but not by THAT much. Unfortunately.
     
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2014
  2. stevevnicks

    stevevnicks Maha Guru

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    handy info thanks
     
  3. whitespider

    whitespider Member Guru

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    Also worth mentioning is that forcing HBAO+ flags and AA flags often does not work when combined with DSR, much like gedosato. Which means you are going to have to choose between HBAO+, sparse grid supersampling, and DSR. And I think the former two are vastly superior to DSR in terms of image quality. Making DSR something you should only really use in games that already have good enough SSAO in dx9, or they run in dx11. Since HBAO+ and sparse grid supersampling don't really work with dx11 due to a lack of flags and dx11 being more complex.
     
  4. fantaskarsef

    fantaskarsef Ancient Guru

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    Thanks for the intel, helps save others some time ;)
     

  5. whitespider

    whitespider Member Guru

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    From best to worst in terms of image quality for me (Do take into consideration that I have a bias for temporal anti aliasing, and would rather a smooth edge and a less shimmering texture than a super sharp texture)


    Txaa x4 >>Sparse Grid Supersampling 8x >>Txaa x2 >> Sparse Grid Supersampling 4x >> Sparse Grid Supersampling 2x >> Supersampling 8x + FXAA >> Supersampling 4x + FXAA >> MSAA 8x + FXAA >> Supersampling 2x + Fxaa >> DSR 4x + Fxaa >>MSAA 2x + FXAA >> CSAA 8x + FXAA >> Temporal SMAA >> DSR 4x >> SMAA TX2 >> FXAA >> SMAA >> Cheap Edge Filtering >> MLAA
     
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2014
  6. -Tj-

    -Tj- Ancient Guru

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    Normal downsamling is just fine, i also don't like extra perf. impact vs regular downsampling at much higher resolution.

    Ie 2540x1440 DSR crawled Wolfenstein NWO to 3-4fps, no problems with std downsampling 1440p or even 3200x1800..

    Although it can be handy for quick custom resolutions.
     
  7. whitespider

    whitespider Member Guru

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    I think normal downsampling uses bilinear resizing, whereas this uses the fancy 13tap brokeh inherited filter. Which can, in some cases, make a game look a little better than traditional driver level bilener downsampling. At the cost you speak of.

    The bilinear traditional downsampling creates a kind of wall-blur effect, whereas DSR has more of a "dense cluster of slightly fogged pixels" effect. Which, as I mentioned in my epic original post, can look better in some games. Sometimes.Plus the smoothing that comes with it can be used to make those higher downsamples resolutions a little more like high quality aa (Although not all the way there)
     
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2014
  8. slickric21

    slickric21 Ancient Guru

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    Interesting thoughts.

    I'll have to check this out myself when I get time. Still using standard downsampling in many games.

    On the performance hit of DSR vs Downsampling, I remember seeing a review which showed that DSR had the same performance of that resolution.
    (Eg a DSR res of 1440p had the same performance more or less as native 1440p)
    See if I can dig it out.
     
  9. Emille

    Emille Master Guru

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    So it's blurry, overrated and incompatible with certain effects.

    Good to know it's not worth the effort.
     
  10. slickric21

    slickric21 Ancient Guru

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    ^^ effort ?? What ticking 2 boxes.

    I'd really recommend you try it yourself to make your own conclusions. Overall IQ can sometime be greatly enhanced.
     

  11. whitespider

    whitespider Member Guru

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    I was not purely negative with my viewpoint on it, i think it's a valuable option, and something we can use as either a shader enhancing feature (thinking the witcher 2, or similarly dense games) or quality downsampling on games that absolutely support nothing else.

    However I would never use it in place of a functional hardware AA method, be that driver forced, or as part of the game's options. You are sacrificing far too much performance. Perhaps once dsr is made sli compatible, people with insanely overpowered rigs (Trisli 980's, for example) will be able to set 4k for games that otherwise would use a poor mans post aa, however everyone with a single graphics card might be better off getting four times more framerate and just force fxaa or smaa though radeon pro or sweetfx.

    It's more positive than negative though, we have options we can explore now. Options are great. It's a huge reason why I have never regretted a second since I moved from AMD to nividia. They have a ton of things we can do to enhance our games. From the ability to force an extremely high quality and performance friendly HBAO+ in games that otherwise would never support it, to downsampling, sparse grid supersampling, TXAA/MFAA, it's all stuff we have that can make 95% of existing games look way better than they where ever intended to. And DSR takes care of 'some' of the 'stubborn dx11 games that won't accept AA' puzzle. I would personally prefer some way for us to force sparse grid supersampling with dx11, but that's just my personal preference speaking. (Oh, and sparse grid supersampling is pretty much the best form of AA ever if you combine it with -3.000 lod)
     
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2014
  12. Anarion

    Anarion Ancient Guru

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    It's not blurry at all unless you use 100% smoothness. 0% is way too sharp imo.

    It can look really great when combined with post process aa.
     
  13. harkinsteven

    harkinsteven Ancient Guru

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    DSR is working with SLI for me.
     
  14. SLI-756

    SLI-756 Banned

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    me too, i like to set my desktop to 4k and imagine how it would be like with a real 4k monitor.
    switching back to 1080 is almost jarring :p

    Edit: wow you got another? :D
    waw :p
     
  15. harkinsteven

    harkinsteven Ancient Guru

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    Yeah my brother sold me his. He is going 970 SLI instead. These cards have insane power. 4k Aliens @ 100fps :)

    Rome 2 Total War @ 4k/60fps on campaign map.
     

  16. broke

    broke Member

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    a question i am trying to figure out which looks better 1920x1080 with 4xAA/SMAA/FXAA or 2880x1620 with no AA

    after taking a screenshots is resizing the 1620p to 1080p with photoshop for comparisons a valid and acceptable method

    if not what does reviewers like anandtech in this Gallery use to resize
     
  17. Calmmo

    Calmmo Ancient Guru

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    DSR is 16:9 only. Big massive - for nvidia and their dsr
     
  18. whitespider

    whitespider Member Guru

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    Oh really? I think it's not mainstream SLI support though. A lot of people don't seem to be able to get it to work properly in sli - yet. Obviously people in sli are going to be the people that most want to use it and will gain the most from it. So it's a no brainer to make it as sli compatible as possible.

    Depends on the game, 4xAA in some games is pretty impressive. You need to also take into consideration how much the image and edges shimmer when you are moving around, and that's not something you can capture in screenshots as well as playing the game.

    For example, I would rather skyrim with 4x AA plus inbuilt fxaa anyday over running it at 2880x1620 or higher DSR. Perhaps 4k DSR plus inbuilt fxaa would look better, however the cost would three times more expensive. Not to mention the vram cost.

    16:9 only? Makes sense. Only divisibles of my resolution are dsr supported.
     
  19. whitespider

    whitespider Member Guru

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    Another small benefit of DSR is that certain ingame post processing effects tend to scale up, things like godrays, HBAO (Only supported though gameworks), and all kinds of post process AA all tend become more dense looking effects at a higher resolution. Which can create a nicer image. Although that's also true for sparse grid supersampling.
     
  20. Calmmo

    Calmmo Ancient Guru

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    no, it doesnt even do anything other than 16:9
    Get a 16:10 or any other ar monitor and try
     

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