When Nvidia unveiled their Ampere 3000-series RTX cards earlier over the last few weeks, they also added in a new performance mode for DLSS, their neural network-powered upscaling algorithm for video games. The idea was to enable gaming at 8K resolutions via AI reconstruction.
But what it also allowed was gaming at supremely low-spec resolutions … with a difference.
YouTuber 2kliksphilip has done a great experiment with this, taking Nvidia’s upgraded DLSS algorithm and putting it to task at … the lowest resolution humanly possible. Forget playing in 8K, this is all about playing Control at 1080p. When the image is being upscaled from 240p. Or worse.
Astonishingly, the game is actually kind of playable. Just watching something at 240p, let alone 160p, would generally fill the screen with pixels the size of dinner plates. Character models are unrecognisable. The whole thing looks like an 8-bit slideshow. But the updated DLSS algorithm is good enough to upscale details to so much that the game is perfectly playable and identifiable, which is impressive.
To be sure, there’s caveats. It’s not as good as a native 720p or 1080p image, and it’s also wholly unnecessary. If you’re capable of running DLSS in the first place, chances are you have a rig that already gets perfectly smooth frame rates at 720p or 1080p without even needing DLSS, let alone having to upscale from such an absurdly low resolution.
The video below goes even further too — you can upscale Control from 180p all the way to 1440p, which is completely ridiculous. You’d never seriously play a game at settings like these, nor would you ever want to, but sometimes it can be funny to just turn everything off to see how it handles things. Like in Horizon: Zero Dawn.
However, it does make me wonder about a future possibility. Games like Wolfenstein and Death Stranding weren’t ever meant to run at 360p, 240p or lower natively, so upscaling them from those resolutions is more of a “let’s do it because we can”.
But what about retro games? What about classic PC games that originally only ran in DOS? FMV games running in Windows 3.1?
What happens when you apply DLSS to those? Is that even possible?
That’s an upscaling test I want to see. Make it happen, Nvidia.