Red Dead Redemption 2: DLSS has problems but is better than native

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The PC version of Red Dead Redemption 2 now supports Nvidia DLSS. ComputerBase took a closer look at intelligent AI upsampling. The test shows that in many situations it produces a better image than the native resolution, but also struggles with problems.

Table of contents

  1. 1 The image quality of DLSS in RDR 2
    1. The image sharpness is significantly better with DLSS
    2. The better sharpness has its price
    3. DLSS is preferable to the native resolution – with restrictions
  2. The performance advantages with DLSS
    1. The performance has generally got worse
  3. Assessment
    1. With DLSS there are to see clearly more details

In November 2019, the western epic Red Dead Redemption 2 was released on the PC and was able to score with spectacular graphics. A few days ago it was revealed that the game will also receive support from Nvidia's intelligent AI upsampling DLSS with the next update “Blood Money” for Red Dead Online. And that is what has appeared in the meantime. ComputerBase tests how well DLSS works in Red Dead Redemption 2.

The image quality of DLSS in RDR 2

Red Dead Redemption 2 comes with DLSS in version 2.2.10.0, which reports in the graphics menu with the usual quality options “Quality”, “Balanced”, “Performance” and “Ultra Performance”. During testing, however, two errors that had nothing to do with the quality of DLSS were noticed fairly quickly. The game tends to crash when switching back and forth between the DLSS modes. In addition, it can happen that suddenly extreme graphics errors occur after activating the feature. These then no longer go away, even if DLSS is switched off. In this case, the only thing that helps is to quit the game and restart it.

The image sharpness is significantly better with DLSS

The anti-aliasing used by Red Dead Redemption 2 has a problem. Because the TAA with its temporal component muddles the picture massively. The effect is still limited when the camera is stationary, but the image is automatically very blurred when moving. Many graphic details literally blur into one another and become unrecognizable. And that also applies in combination with high resolutions such as 3,840 × 2,160 – in lower resolutions the effect is even more extreme.

Download the video file (MP4 , 1.129 MB)

Since DLSS replaces the game's anti-aliasing, Nvidia's intelligent AI upsampling has a pretty big leverage and uses it. The image with DLSS is not only much sharper than with the native resolution, fine graphic details are also clearly easier to see, which with the TAA blur at the latest when moving. Be it on posters, houses, the vegetation or the player character himself, the effect can be seen on almost all objects. Screenshots already show the improvement quite well. How great the advantages of DLSS really are in this regard, however, only becomes clear in motion – accordingly, the editorial team recommends a look at the two recorded videos. Since YouTube still compresses the videos heavily in 4K, it is advisable to download the original video for an optimal comparison. This is where the differences can best be seen.

Download the video file (MP4, 1,238 MB)

In addition, DLSS in RDR 2 can boast a good temporal construction that can display fine details such as thin lines better than TAA. There aren't too many such scenarios in the game, but DLSS can score points in the few that are available.

Better sharpness has its price

The TAA destroys a lot of details in Red Dead Redemption 2, but the anti-aliasing works really well in terms of image stability. And that is exactly the weakness when using DLSS, because the feature has surprisingly big problems in the game. Even with DLSS on “Quality”, the optics flicker significantly more even in Ultra HD. And there isn't a special object that flickers either, because a large part of the image is affected. More aggressive DLSS modes or lower resolutions increase the unrest accordingly.

In addition, when using DLSS there are apparently a few problems with the LOD in RDR 2. At least with some objects, even at a medium distance, suddenly significantly fewer details are displayed. So they don't just look worse, but mostly disappear entirely. This only affects some objects, but happens every now and then.

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Ultra HD – native resolution + TAA

< figure> Ultra HD – DLSS quality

Ultra HD – DLSS Performance
Ultra HD – Native resolution + TAA
Ultra HD – DLSS quality
Ultra HD – DLSS Balanced
Ultra HD – DLSS Performance
Ultra HD – native resolution + TAA
Ultra HD – DLSS Balanced
Ultra HD – DLSS Performance
Ultra HD – Native resolution + TAA
Ultra HD – DLSS Balanced
Ultra HD – DLSS Performance
Ultra HD – native resolution + TAA
Ultra HD – DLSS quality
Ultra HD – DLSS Balanced
Ultra HD >

Ultra HD – native resolution + TAA
Ultra HD – DLSS quality
Ultra HD – DLSS Performance

Furthermore, graphic errors suddenly occur on some objects when using DLSS. Some graphics errors that are already present in the game are intensified, while others appear completely new. This also affects the protagonist's hair, which likes to show some artifacts.

Certainly there, but then the “smearing” known from DLSS is fairly problem-free. In RDR 2, too, some objects smear with certain movements, but you rarely see that. In addition, the effect is not very pronounced.

DLSS is preferable to the native resolution – with restrictions

DLSS offers in Red Dead Redemption 2 short said one advantage and several disadvantages. Still, Nvidia's intelligent AI upsampling is preferable to native resolution, including the game's own TAA, in most cases. Simply because this one advantage is very powerful and can outweigh the disadvantages.

However, it should be noted that DLSS also needs a high rendering resolution in Red Dead Redemption 2 in order to look really good. In Ultra HD, DLSS shows by far the best result, in WQHD the result looks visibly worse. Simply, because the image unrest increases significantly. For this reason, more aggressive modes than DLSS on “Quality” should not be used in the first place, not even in 3840 × 2160. In 1,920 × 1,080, neither the native resolution nor DLSS look good – you are spoiled for choice as to which disadvantages you find more acceptable. Here everyone should try for themselves what their preferences are.

The performance advantages with DLSS

Red Dead Redemption 2 does not scale properly between different resolutions despite full GPU load, accordingly the performance increases less than usual at low resolutions or costs less with many pixels. Thus, DLSS in Full HD and WQHD also brings less than in other games. For example, the GeForce RTX 2060 in 1,920 × 1,080 with DLSS on “Quality” only increases speed by 12 percent, with the performance preset it is 20 percent.

The differences become larger in higher resolutions. In 2,560 × 1,440, the GeForce RTX 2070 Super with DLSS on “Quality” gains 17 percent more frames per second, with DLSS on “Performance” it is 29 percent. The Turing model then also achieves 60 frames per second.

«Previous Red Dead Redemption 2 with DLSS – 3,840 × 2,160 Red Dead Redemption 2 with DLSS – 2,560 × 1,440 Red Dead Redemption 2 with DLSS – 1,920 × 1,080 Next »

As usual, the use of DLSS is greatest in 3,840 × 2,160. The GeForce RTX 3080 increases with the quality setting by 21 percent, with the performance preset it is 39 percent. The latter is a value that is already generated in many other games with DLSS on “Quality”.

The performance has generally deteriorated

With the DLSS update, Rockstar has apparently also generally turned the performance screw of Red Dead Redemption 2 – but in the wrong direction. This does not affect the average FPS, because they have remained at a comparable level. However, the percentile FPS are significantly worse after the patch. And if you look at the frame times during the series of measurements, the reason for this becomes clear. These have become much more restless. There are occasional major stutters in the image output that did not exist in this form before the update. The greater the GPU load, the more restless the frame times become. Accordingly, fast graphics cards are significantly more affected than slower ones, which run more or less as before.

In addition, shader caching no longer works as well as it did before. When entering a new region, the game first has to “bump”, which was not the case before. This circumstance affects both DirectX 12 and Vulkan, apparently there is a general problem.

assessment

Red Dead Redemption 2 offers really detailed graphics, but a lot is lost with the game's anti-aliasing. The subtleties literally blur in motion, and Nvidia's newly integrated DLSS does this job much better. Be it vegetation, houses or characters, almost all objects are visibly sharper and in motion can often only be recognized correctly with the intelligent AI upsampling.

With DLSS there are significantly more details to be seen

This is a really big plus, but there are also graphical disadvantages with DLSS. Apparently changed mip-map levels make the details disappear on some objects and in places there are newly added graphic errors. The biggest problem, however, is a significantly higher level of unrest in the image. The anti-aliasing of the game swallows a lot of details, but the image is still very quiet. With DLSS, on the other hand, the graphics flicker visibly more, even in Ultra HD.

Nevertheless, DLSS ultimately offers the best graphics on a GeForce RTX graphics card and should therefore be used – albeit only with the highest quality setting and at least WQHD as resolution. There is a performance plus on top of that for free, even if it turns out less in Red Dead Redemption 2 than in other games.

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