YouTube channel Digital Foundry has published a new exclusive video with an in-depth review of Intel’s new XeSS AI image reconstruction upscaler. In the review XeSS was a surprisingly strong competitor to the slightly older version of DLSS version 2, with game performance and image quality that matched or exceeded Nvidia’s.
For a detailed explanation of XeSS, see our previous article here. In a nutshell, XeSS is Intel’s answer to Nvidia’s DLSS and AMD’s FSR intelligent upscaling technology. XeSS upscales images from lower native resolutions to higher resolutions with as little image detail loss as possible.
Internally, XeSS works very similarly to Nvidia DLSS. Upscaling is aided by temporal AI algorithms that intelligently add detail to the upscaled image with the help of previously recorded image data. However, unlike DLSS, Intel’s counterpart has three different variants that support all types of GPUs. These include Arc Alchemist Intel GPUs, Intel integrated graphics, and non-Intel GPUs (yes, this means XeSS works with his Nvidia and AMD GPUs).
For testing, Digital Foundry uses a special Shadow of the Tomb Raider A build that supports Intel’s new AI upscaler. Tested resolutions include 1080p, 1440p and 4K resolutions.
The performance of XeSS implemented in was very good. Shadow of the Tomb RaiderIn a best-case scenario, Digital Foundry saw an 88% frame rate boost using the A770 at 4K resolution in XeSS performance mode. Gain wasn’t as important in the other modes, but it was still very good, with a 66% performance improvement in Balanced, a 47% improvement in Quality mode, and a 23% improvement in Ultra Quality.
Note, however, that these significant improvements primarily apply to higher resolution targets such as 4K, which puts more pressure on the GPU. For example, when testing less demanding resolutions such as 1440P, the biggest performance benefit Digital Foundry saw was 52% in XeSS performance mode. That said, it’s worth noting that the performance improved by 52%.
Image quality was just as impressive as the performance metrics.Comparison with included DLSS version 2.3.2 Shadow of the Tomb Raider Now XeSS can stand shoulder to shoulder with Nvidia on all fronts. XeSS outperformed his TAA implementation of Shadow of the Tomb Raider in some scenarios, despite his TAA tests running at native resolution.
If you put XeSS and DLSS side by side without zooming in, you can’t tell the difference. If you zoom in on the image, you will only notice the difference in image quality. But still, both AI upscalers look the same and DLSS wins only in some situations. Images in motion also share the same excellent quality he has with the XeSS, with no real ghosting or artifacts.
The only exception to XeSS’ excellent image quality are a few bugs that need to be resolved by Intel. First, it includes unusual flickering of vegetation and clothing, which can be intense. In some areas with water or mud, very distracting and severe jittering can be a problem.
In addition to these obvious bugs, Digital Foundry’s review shows that Intel is currently a serious competitor in the AI upscaling market. But Intel isn’t out of the woods yet. To compete with DLSS and FSR, which are widely adopted in today’s video game industry, we need to gain as much adoption as possible.