AMD officially launched FidelityFX Super Resolution or “FSR” in short and everyone rushed analyzing and reviewing it. However, after watching several reviews, I’ve noticed a trend of how everyone missed the entire point of FSR. Let me explain why and how…
What everyone did was to grab a very high end graphic card aka Radeon RX 6800XT, strapped 4K rendered games to it and fired away into pixel hunting mode. And that’s the whole problem. Granted, there are scenarios where you need extra horsepower for 4K in games like Cyberpunk 2077 with every setting maxed out, but where FSR is most welcome and wanted is on the other end of the spectrum. People running Radeon RX 580’s for example.
When you have a low(er) end card, your options are very limited. To make framerate higher you need to lower resolution or start lowering graphics settings. And this has two issues. Lowering resolution means it’ll really look like turd because the upscaling monitor does is probably one of the worst methods available which is why everyone recommends using native monitor resolution and lowering resolution without FSR also turns HUD elements into a complete poop. Just imagine how HUD elements looked like at 720p or even less on a 1080p monitor? And lowering graphics settings means you’re effectively removing visual elements. Disabling HBAO or shadows has huge visual degradation involved. Also problem with these settings is that they may give you a 20fps boost or 1fps boost. You almost can’t be sure unless you trial and error and watch framerate. Changing resolution is very linear thing. The amount of pixels you take away or add pretty much linearly scales in either direction.
Not even going crazy, using 1440p which is very common resolution these days, RX580 has the following performance (estimated because TechPowerUps graphs aren’t super exact).
Native: 23 fps
FSR Performance: 48 fps
Native: 36 fps
FSR Performance: 65 fps
Native: 40 fps
FSR Performance: 65 fps
Native: 45 fps
FSR Performance: 95 fps
You may notice I skipped Riftbreaker entirely. That’s because the game runs at 100fps at native 1440p resolution. There is no point in using FSR here.
So, when you can preserve all the effects, crisp HUD and turn framerate from barely playable to very much playable, you’re much easier to forgive some shimmering or loss of general detail. You know, opposed to not having shadows where they should be or shading and lighting just not being there entirely opposed to being a bit more fuzzy. I still need to try it myself in motion opposed to side by side screenshots, but even Performance mode which is the worst possible doesn’t look that bad when you’re desperate.
Or you can even combine some stuff. Maybe drop settings you know don’t make much visual difference but do with performance. And pair it with FSR Ultra Quality. You might create good gains with minimal loss in quality. And when you need to pixel hunt differences, it means FSR is doing its job quite well.
FSR is no magic bullet, but given how simple it’s apparently to incorporate into games (someone did it in 2 hours from what I heard), it’s a nice addition I’d say and it’ll give people more options to enjoy games when not having enough horsepower, but don’t quite want to sacrifice graphic effects in their entirety. I think it’s great.