What is AMD FSR? (FidelityFX Super Resolution)
AMD FSR has the potential to breathe new life into aging graphics cards and make it easier to balance gaming performance and visual quality. But what exactly is FSR, and how does it work?
What is FSR?
FSR, which stands for FidelityFX Super Resolution, is one of the latest additions to AMD’s FidelityFX imaging toolkit. It is an upscaling technology, designed to improve game performance without loss of image quality and graphical detail.
Playing a game at high resolutions like 4K will often result in a noticeable drop in frame rate, even if you’re using a decent graphics card. This is especially true if the game uses demanding effects like Ray Tracing. FSR can scale down the input resolution to 1080p and then scale up the output to appear close to 4K. You get the performance of a lower resolution but with the visual detail of a much higher resolution.
It works by lowering the render quality of a game, then analyzing the image, detecting edges and reconstructing them at the highest target resolution using a spatial scaling algorithm. . A sharpening process is also performed to further smooth out details. This is all done in a single pass during the rendering process, with GUI elements and text added to the frame afterwards.
FSR is similar to NVIDIA’s DLSS or Deep Learning Super-Sampling. Although they are not strictly comparable, the same end result is achieved: a higher resolution image for a lower performance cost. An important difference is that FSR is open source and potentially available on any graphics card. While DLSS depends on using an NVIDIA GPU.
Which FSR scaling mode should I use?
FSR offers four different quality modes. Performance mode applies the most scaling at 2x the input resolution, and Ultra Quality mode applies the least at 1.3x the input. The four modes and their scaling levels are:
- Performance mode = 2x scaling
- Balanced mode = 1.7x scaling
- Quality mode = 1.5x scaling
- Ultra Quality mode = 1.3x scaling
So, for example, to achieve near 4K using Quality mode, the graphics card only needs to render 2650×1440 pixels instead of 3840×2160. FSR then enlarges the image by 1.5x.
Scaling, even the smart spatial scaling used by FSR, is not a perfect process. The more scaling is applied to an image, the more graphical errors are likely to occur on screen. AMD itself states that “Performance mode has a visible impact on image quality and should only be selected in situations where the need for ultimate performance is critical”.
It’s a problem that AMD at least partially solved with the release of FSR 2.0.
What is FSR 2.0 and how is it different?
The first version of FidelityFX Super Resolution was released in mid-2021, supported by several top games including Cyberpunk 2077 and Godfall. FSR 2.0 was released in May 2022, not as a replacement for 1.0, but in addition to it. This means that game developers can offer users a choice between the two, potentially making FSR available for a wider range of hardware.
The main difference between version 1.0 and 2.0 is the change from spatial scaling to temporal scaling. Spatial scaling uses data from the current image to scale the image itself. Time scaling can use data from the current frame and previous frames, which improves image quality and reduces unexpected visual artifacts.
FSR 2.0 also allows game developers to change the different scaling modes. This means games that use 2.0 may only have three modes available, or may include Ultra Performance mode rather than Ultra Quality mode.
One downside of this improved scaling quality is that FSR 2.0 is more demanding on the graphics card. Because of this, the number of graphics cards AMD recommends using to achieve certain resolutions, especially 4K, has decreased.
How to use FSR?
If the game and your graphics card support FSR, you usually don’t have to do much except choose between the four FSR modes. If your card and game support multiple scaling technologies, you may need to select FSR before setting the mode.
FSR modes are found in the graphics settings of every game that supports it, usually in the resolution section but sometimes in a separate scaling section. Exactly how the different modes work will depend on several factors, including the graphics card you’re using and the game you’re playing.
You may need to update your graphics drivers to the latest version before you can apply FSR to your game. If the setting is still not available after updating, it means your card is not capable of use it.
RELATED: How to Update Your Graphics Drivers for Maximum Gaming Performance
Games supporting AMD FSR
There are over 110 games supporting FSR at the time of writing, with more being added all the time. FSR 2.0 support is still quite limited, but the list is sure to expand quickly, either through patches for existing games or as new games are released.
FidelityFX Super Resolution was made available to PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S game developers in mid-2021. Few games currently support it, Arcademageddon being one, but you can expect more to come.
Here are some of the games supporting one or more of the FSR versions:
- Year 1800
- Assassin’s Creed Valhalla
- black desert
- Death Loop
- Call of Duty: Vanguard
- Cyberpunk 2077
- Century: the age of the ashes
- DEATH STRANDING DIRECTOR’S CUT
- Dota 2
- Dying Light 2 Stay Human
- far cry 6
- God of the war
- Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice
- Horizon Zero Dawn
- No Man’s Sky
- Resident Evil 7
- Resident Evil Village
- Elite Sniper 5
- Terminator: Resistance
- The Riftbreaker
- World War Z: Aftermath
- Resident Evil 2
- Resident Evil 3
- Tiny Tina’s Wonderland
- V rising
- war bastards
- World of Warcraft: Shadow Lands
You can find a full list of FSR compatible games on AMD’s website. If your favorite game isn’t listed, you can even tell AMD which games you want added.
RELATED: AMD FreeSync, FreeSync Premium and FreeSync Premium Pro: what’s the difference?