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Intel XeSS Demo Flaunts Superb Results Compared to Nvidia DLSS

Intel XeSS Deep Dive
(Image credit: Intel)

YouTube channel Digital Foundry 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 potent competitor to slightly older versions of DLSS version 2, featuring similar or better gaming performance and image quality than the Nvidia counterpart.

For a deep-dive explanation of XeSS, check out our previous coverage here. But to briefly explain: XeSS is Intel's answer to Nvidia's DLSS and AMD's FSR intelligent upscaling technologies. XeSS upscales images from a lower native resolution to a higher resolution with as little degradation as possible to image detail.

Internally, XeSS functions very similarly to Nvidia DLSS; upscaling relies on the help of a temporal AI algorithm that intelligently adds detail into the upscaled image, where there is none, with the help of previously recorded image data. However, unlike DLSS, Intel's counterpart has three different variations to support all types of GPUs. These include Arc Alchemist Intel GPUs, Intel integrated graphics, and non-Intel GPUs (yes, this means XeSS will work on Nvidia and AMD GPUs).

For testing, Digital Foundry uses an Arc Alchemist A770 GPU running a specialized Shadow of the Tomb Raider build that supports Intel's new AI upscaler. Resolutions tested include 1080p, 1440p, and 4K resolutions.

Performance was very good with XeSS with its implementation in Shadow of the Tomb Raider. In a best-case scenario, Digital Foundry saw a 88% frame rate improvement with the A770 at 4K resolution in XeSS' performance mode. The gains weren't as significant in other modes, but they were still very good. Balanced sees a 66% performance improvement, Quality mode 47%, and Ultra Quality 23%.

But it's worth noting that these tremendous gains mainly apply to higher resolution targets such as 4K, which puts more load on the GPU. For example, when testing a less demanding resolution such as 1440P, the maximum performance benefit Digital Foundry saw was 52% in XeSS' performance mode. Nonetheless, a 52% performance boost still deserves attention.

Image quality was just as impressive as the performance metrics. Compared to DLSS version 2.3.2, which ships with Shadow of the Tomb Raider right now, XeSS can go toe to toe with the Nvidia counterpart in all aspects. XeSS outperformed Shadow of the Tomb Raider's TAA implementation in some scenarios, despite the TAA test running at native resolution.

If you were to put XeSS and DLSS side by side without zooming in, you wouldn't be able to tell the difference. You can only notice the differences in image quality when zooming into the images. But even then, both AI upscalers look identical, with DLSS winning out only in a couple of situations. Images with motion also share an excellent quality with XeSS, with no actual ghosting or artifacting.

The only exceptions to XeSS's excellent image quality revolve around a couple of bugs that need to be ironed out by Intel. First, it includes unusual flickering with vegetation and clothing, which can sometimes be intense. Some areas with water and mud can also be problematic with intense jittering that is very distracting.

Besides these apparent bugs, Digital Foundry's review shows that Intel is now a serious contender in the AI upscaling market. But Intel is not out of the woods just yet; it will need to garner as much adoption as possible if it hopes to compete against DLSS and FSR, both widely adopted in the video game industry today.

Aaron Klotz
Freelance News Writer

Aaron Klotz is a freelance writer for Tom’s Hardware US, covering news topics related to computer hardware such as CPUs, and graphics cards.

  • peachpuff
    Intel cherry picking games? Lets see how it performs in others too... wait it has to come out first lol
    Reply
  • -Fran-
    In here you can clearly tell DLSS is better. I have no idea how XeSS is being touted as "equal to DLSS" here. The texture grid shimmer and the problem with the transparent textures is really noticeable and worse than ghosting.

    Also, this will run using shader grunt in other GPUs, so I'm pretty sure it won't perform as good as DLSS or FSR in their respective cards. I wonder how the Intel GPUs run FSR though and vice versa. Specially, I'd think FSR would solve some of the problems from XeSS while losing in performance a bit. Well, this is assuming the Intel GPU doesn't crash xD

    Regards.
    Reply
  • thisisaname
    Shame the rest of their driver software is not as good.
    Reply
  • rluker5
    -Fran- said:
    In here you can clearly tell DLSS is better. I have no idea how XeSS is being touted as "equal to DLSS" here. The texture grid shimmer and the problem with the transparent textures is really noticeable and worse than ghosting.

    Also, this will run using shader grunt in other GPUs, so I'm pretty sure it won't perform as good as DLSS or FSR in their respective cards. I wonder how the Intel GPUs run FSR though and vice versa. Specially, I'd think FSR would solve some of the problems from XeSS while losing in performance a bit. Well, this is assuming the Intel GPU doesn't crash xD

    Regards.
    Do you think DLSS will hold the lead for long?
    They may, but Intel is catching up pretty fast. XeSS being the best upscaler by this time next year doesn't look impossible anymore. If nothing else there is competition.
    Reply
  • d0x360
    I feel like you watched a different video and heard different words than I did. First I watched the lossless 4k version of the video from Patreon and I definitely noticed a difference.

    Second Alex literally talked about differences.

    Of course it's going to end up better than DLSS 1.x & FSR 1.x. All they did was copy nVidia and what they did with DLSS 2.x but obviously wrote their own algorithm. Still DLSS has better image quality and more of a performance gain.

    FSR 2 is obviously going to be the worst variant because RDNA2 doesn't have the dedicated hardware and we don't know if RDNA3 will yet but I do know RDNA4 will. Despite that FSR 2 is still good and they are all the best gaming upscaling and aa methods we have available.

    There is one major issue... Intel is leaving the consumer gpu market. Arc is dead. They MIGHT release their 2nd chip next year... For mobile devices like laptops.

    After that they are done. Giving up because they listened to Raj who only had 1 good idea which he apparently repeated and made GCN again but this time they forgot how to make it work on dx11 and below. So they are going to focus on data center and that's it. Done. So XeSS is pointless now. The only potential benefit would be if they open sourced it.
    Reply
  • -Fran-
    rluker5 said:
    Do you think DLSS will hold the lead for long?
    They may, but Intel is catching up pretty fast. XeSS being the best upscaler by this time next year doesn't look impossible anymore. If nothing else there is competition.
    I don't know, but more importantly: I don't care.

    I've always found working on upscaling techniques is such a Console-thing I don't know why they need to dedicate hardware resources to it. Where it makes the most sense (lower end hardware) nVidia does not offer it and AMD's version is too heavy to give tangible benefits. The other "normal" upscaling looks like garbage.

    Regards.
    Reply
  • evdjj3j
    The author must be living in a different reality, I watched the same video and Intel didn't flaunt superb results compared to DLSS. They were really close and Alex, the guy in the video, talks about how surprised he is they're so close in image quality. Why all the click bait Tom's? I've been reading since the turn of the century and the reporting on this site is barely Inquirer level quality anymore.
    Reply
  • evdjj3j
    Admin said:
    Digital Foundry tested Intel's XeSS upscaler in Shadow of the Tomb Raider with stellar results. It showcases performance and image quality that is on par with DLSS.

    Intel XeSS Demo Flaunts Superb Results Compared to Nvidia DLSS : Read more

    Is it superb or on par, it can't be both? Your title says superb, the first paragraph says on par. Which is it?
    Reply
  • zipspyder
    Watched the demo. Overall Nvidia's is a little better but dang Intel did a good job on its first version.
    Reply
  • eye4bear
    All the people at Intel who were working on this should have been working on the ARC drivers first, once they are good then they could work on the high-end stuff.
    Reply