This week Nvidia released the latest GeForce driver, 344.48 WHQL, for GeForce cards of the 400 series and above. As usual, the driver adds better compatibility with recently released games. The exciting part, however, is the inclusion of Dynamic Super Resolution (DSR), an Nvidia feature available only on the 900 series of cards until this driver update.
DSR is the simplest way to increase game clarity without getting a new, higher resolution monitor. Effectively, this gives your computer the capability to display games at resolutions higher than your monitor’s max native resolution. In short, this is a streamlined downsampling process. For example, you can increase a game’s display resolution, from the in-game graphics menu as normal or through the Nvidia GeForce Experience tool, to 4K. A graphics card with the new driver will then render the game at that resolution, and then downscale it back to your monitor’s resolution, such as 1920×1080. You will notice a much sharper image than before.
Of course, this process is incredibly demanding on a system. Using DSR on my monitor, which is at 2560×1440, I was given the option to increase the resolution of nearly all my games to 5120×2880, a clean 100% increase, doubling the resolution displayed on my monitor. However, few games ran beyond 20 FPS, making the latest games unplayable. Even older games, such as World of Warcraft, slowed down to 30-45 FPS. Granted, World of Warcraft is not the best test of a PC’s capabilities, especially at such high resolutions. However, it was reflective of the general results, with nearly all games running at half my normal FPS with DSR activated. The PC that this feature was tested on had the following relevant specifications:
- GeForce GTX 680 2GB Video Card
- Intel i5-3570K Quad Core 3.4GHz CPU
- G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 8GB DDR3 1600 RAM
- ASUS 2560×1440 60Hz Monitor
While these are not the most powerful components available on the market for PC gaming, they are well above the demands of most recent games. The results, however, are to be expected. A doubling of a resolution of 2560×1440 is an incredible amount of data to process. It is noticeably more than 4K (3840×2160) resolution, which most systems cannot run at acceptable frame rates without the latest hardware, and usually more than one graphics card. Additionally, there were some slight issues with certain games. Skyrim, for example, ran about as well as World of Warcraft, but its UI elements were slightly out of place. The compass and health bars were too close to the center, and the “LEVEL UP” UI notification was inexplicably displayed permanently in the lower right-hand corner. Of course, these issues could be fixed by users in a game such as Skyrim. However, it is an important reminder that this is new technology that current games may not have been built for.
So what is the point of DSR? For future graphics cards, such as the 900 series, it makes wonderful sense as components become powerful enough to run such resolutions. Even better, this means gamers can keep lower resolution monitors and invest in better components to make that reality come about much more quickly. The few kinks with UI elements are easy enough to fix, if not by users then certainly by developers, as DSR becomes more widely used. For older graphics cards, such as the GTX 680, it feels like somewhat of a tease. It shows you just how easy the process is, and how effective it could be, but reminds you that, yes, you still need a new graphics card to actually enjoy it.