How Much Does DLSS Increase GPU Usage?

how much does dlss increase gpu usage

Deep Learning Super Sampling (DLSS), a technology by Nvidia, has become a game-changer for PC gamers. By utilizing artificial intelligence, DLSS boosts frame rates while maintaining sharp visuals. But there’s a common misconception: does DLSS actually increase how hard your graphics card (GPU) works? The answer might surprise you. We will look at the inner workings of DLSS and explore how it impacts your GPU usage.

What is DLSS and Why Does Everyone Talk About It?

DLSS stands for Deep Learning Super Sampling. It’s a cutting-edge technology developed by Nvidia that utilizes artificial intelligence (AI) to boost image quality and frame rates in games. Here’s the gist: instead of rendering the entire game at your monitor’s native resolution (like 1080p or 1440p), DLSS renders it internally at a lower resolution. Then, an AI model upscales the image to match your native resolution, producing a visually stunning and high-performance experience.

Does DLSS Push Your GPU Harder?

Contrary to popular belief, DLSS actually reduces the workload on your graphics card. Since the game is rendered internally at a lower resolution, it demands less processing power from your GPU. This translates to a significant decrease in GPU usage, freeing up resources for other tasks and ultimately leading to smoother gameplay.

How Does DLSS Work?

The first step in the DLSS process is downscaling. The game engine renders the scene at a lower resolution than your display’s native resolution. This could be anything from 720p to 1440p, depending on the chosen DLSS quality setting (we’ll discuss these settings later). By rendering at a lower resolution, DLSS significantly reduces the number of pixels the GPU needs to process, resulting in lower workload.

Here’s where things get interesting. Nvidia’s RTX graphics cards come equipped with specialized AI processing units called Tensor Cores. These powerful cores are specifically designed to handle complex AI tasks, and DLSS leverages their muscle. Once the scene is downscaled, it’s fed into the Tensor Cores, where a pre-trained AI model analyzes the image and gathers information about shapes, textures, and details.

how much does dlss increase gpu usage
Nvidia’s RTX graphics cards come equipped with specialized AI processing units called Tensor Cores

Finally, the AI model takes the information gathered from the downscaled image and uses it to reconstruct a high-resolution version. This upscaled image is then displayed on your monitor.

Imagine an artist who meticulously analyzes a small sketch and then uses that knowledge to recreate the scene on a larger canvas. That’s essentially what the AI model does in DLSS, only way faster and more precise.

So, Does DLSS Actually Decrease GPU Usage?

Absolutely! As we’ve seen, DLSS significantly reduces the workload on your GPU by rendering the scene internally at a lower resolution. This translates to lower GPU usage, freeing up resources and allowing the GPU to focus on delivering higher frame rates.

A Balancing Act: Quality vs. Performance Modes

DLSS offers a range of quality settings, each with a different impact on performance and image quality. Here’s a quick breakdown.

  • Quality: Prioritizes image fidelity. Renders at a lower resolution but applies a stronger AI filter for the most visually appealing results. This setting might see slightly higher GPU usage compared to others.
  • Balanced: Offers a sweet spot between image quality and performance. Renders at a moderately lower resolution and uses an AI filter to maintain a sharp and detailed image. This setting typically results in a good balance between GPU usage and performance gains.
  • Performance: Prioritizes frame rates above all else. Renders at the lowest resolution and applies a lighter AI filter to maximize performance gains. This setting will have the lowest GPU usage but might introduce some minor visual artifacts.
how much does dlss increase gpu usage
If a game is heavily CPU-bound, DLSS might not fully utilize the GPU’s potential

Remember, the ideal DLSS setting depends on your specific needs and hardware. If you prioritize pristine image quality, quality might be your choice. But if high frame rates are your top priority, performance could be the way to go.

Factors Affecting GPU Usage

While DLSS is a powerful tool, it’s important to consider other factors that can influence GPU usage.

  • Game Engine Limitations: Even with DLSS, certain games might be limited by their engine’s capabilities. If a game is heavily CPU-bound (meaning it relies more on your processor), DLSS might not fully utilize the GPU’s potential, even with lower workload. This can lead to situations where overall GPU usage remains moderate despite using DLSS.
  • CPU Bottlenecks: If your CPU isn’t powerful enough to keep up with the GPU, even with DLSS’s reduced workload, it can create a bottleneck. In such scenarios, the GPU might not be fully utilized even with lower rendering resolution. Upgrading your CPU or finding a good balance between CPU and GPU power can help alleviate bottlenecks and maximize the benefits of DLSS.

Does RTX 2060 Have DLSS 3?

Why Choose DLSS?

Here are benefits of DLSS.

Unleashing Smooth Gameplay

By reducing the workload on your GPU, DLSS frees up resources, allowing it to render frames faster. This translates to smoother gameplay with minimal stuttering and tearing, especially in graphically demanding games. Imagine the difference between a slideshow and a buttery-smooth animation – that’s the power of DLSS in action!

Enjoying High-Res Without the Lag

Ever craved the stunning visuals of high-resolution gaming but worried about performance dips? DLSS is your answer. By rendering internally at a lower resolution and then upscaling it with AI, DLSS allows you to enjoy the crispness and detail of high resolutions like 1440p or even 4K without sacrificing frame rates. It’s like having your cake and eating it too – stunning visuals paired with smooth, responsive gameplay.

Alternative Technologies

While DLSS is exclusive to Nvidia RTX graphics cards, AMD offers a similar technology called FidelityFX Super Resolution (FSR). FSR utilizes a different approach compared to DLSS, leveraging a spatial upscaling technique to improve image quality and performance. Although generally less demanding on hardware compared to DLSS, FSR might not always achieve the same level of visual fidelity.

Final Thoughts

Here’s the takeaway: DLSS is a game-changer for PC gamers, not a burden on your GPU. By reducing workload and freeing up resources, DLSS unlocks the potential for higher frame rates and smoother gameplay. Whether you prioritize pristine visuals or blazing-fast performance, DLSS offers a range of quality settings to cater to your needs. Remember, other factors like game engine limitations and CPU bottlenecks can influence overall GPU usage, but DLSS remains a powerful tool for boosting performance in modern games.


Q. Does DLSS affect image quality?
A. While DLSS aims to maintain image quality, there can be minor visual artifacts in some scenarios, especially with the Performance setting. However, the trade-off for significantly higher frame rates is often worth it for many gamers.

Q. How much performance improvement can I expect with DLSS?
A. The performance boost with DLSS varies depending on the game, graphics card, and chosen DLSS quality setting. In some cases, you might see frame rate increases of 50% or even more!

Q. Is DLSS worth it for older Nvidia GPUs?
A. While DLSS works on some GTX series cards, it’s generally recommended for RTX series cards equipped with dedicated Tensor Cores for optimal performance.

Q. Can DLSS be used with other software besides games?
A. Currently, DLSS is primarily used in games. However, there’s ongoing development for potential applications in other software that leverage image processing.

Q. How do I enable DLSS in a game?
A. The option to enable DLSS will typically be found in the game’s graphics settings menu. Look for options related to DLSS or image upscaling.