Introduction

Need for Speed Unbound was released on December 2nd and on launch day the PC game has support for NVIDIA’s DLSS Super Resolution (DLSS 2.4), NVIDIA’s DLSS Frame Generation (also known as DLSS 3) and AMD’s FidelityFX Super Resolution 2.1 (FSR 2.1). In order to run this game at maximum graphics settings and reasonable framerates at native resolution, quite a powerful GPU is required, which is why upscaling solutions are so important. But depending on the game, there are subtle differences in the implementation of NVIDIA’s DLSS Super Resolution (DLSS 2.4), NVIDIA’s DLSS Frame Generation (DLSS 3) and AMD’s FidelityFX Super Resolution 2.1 (FSR 2.1), so we are keen to have a look at these temporal upscalers in this game.

need for speed unbound: fsr 2.1 vs. dlss 2 vs. dlss 3 comparison review
Below, you will find comparison screenshots at 4K, 1440p, 1080p, and in different DLSS and FSR 2.1 quality modes; the TAA and DLSS Frame Generation screenshots are also available in the dropdown menu. For those who want to see how DLSS Super Resolution, DLSS Frame Generation and FSR 2.1 perform in motion, watch our side-by-side comparison video. The video can help uncover issues like shimmering or temporal instability, which are not visible in the screenshots. All tests were made using a GeForce RTX 4080 GPU at Ultra graphics settings; motion blur, chromatic aberration and depth of field were disabled for better image viewing. DLSS Super Resolution in this game shipped with version 2.4.12.

Screenshots

Side-by-Side Comparison Video

Conclusion

In Need for Speed Unbound, the in-game TAA solution, DLSS and FSR 2.1 implementations all use a sharpening filter in the render path, and the game has the ability to tweak the sharpening values through separate sliders. We used the default value of 5 for all sharpening filter values in our testing. The inclusion of a separate sharpening filter for each upscaling and temporal anti-aliasing solution is a great option to have, but there is one important issue of note. At lower internal resolutions, such as 1080p DLSS/FSR 2.1 Quality mode for example, the default value of 5 for sharpening filters can cause negative side effects in this game, such as excessive shimmering in motion, so we recommend to set the sharpening filter value to 0 for 1080p resolution, when using upscaling. Need for Speed Unbound is a fast paced racing game, so when using any temporal upscaling solutions, the temporal stability of the image is key to enjoyable gameplay. When using DLSS, the image was stable in motion in Quality modes, the level of detail rendered in vegetation and tree leaves is improved in comparison to the in-game TAA solution, and small details in the distance, such as wires or thin steel objects, are rendered more correctly and completely. The FSR 2.1 implementation comes with noticeable compromises in image quality—in favor of performance in most sequences of the game. We spotted excessive shimmering and flickering on thin objects, like wires, and especially thin steel objects; they are shimmering even when standing still. Speaking of the ghosting issues, both DLSS and FSR 2.1 has these issues, but only at extreme angles and you can notice the ghosting only for a few miliseconds, which isn’t very distracting during normal gameplay. Speaking of DLSS Frame Generation implementation, the overall image quality is quite impressive, even small flying particle effects, such as rain, are rendered correctly in a fast movement scenario during races. However, there are also a few important issues of note. We spotted excessive shimmering and flickering on wires when driving through the city, the DLSS Frame Generation algorithms just can’t manage to make it stable enough during very fast driving at the current state of implementation—these shimmering issues are visible even at 4K resolution. The second-most-noticeable issue is how DLSS Frame Generation deals with the in-game on-screen UI such as player names above cars, and when it happens, the in-game on-screen UI can have a very jittery look, which can be quite distracting for some players.
Speaking of performance, Need for Speed Unbound is a very CPU intensive game on PC, and high-powered GPUs such as the GeForce RTX 4080 can end up CPU bottlenecked in some sequences of the game, even at 4K. In a such CPU limited scenario, comes a very welcome help from the DLSS Frame Generation technology, which has the ability to bypass CPU limitations and provide additional frames. With DLSS Super Resolution in Quality mode and DLSS Frame Generation enabled, you can expect almost doubled performance at 4K and slightly more than doubled performance at 1440p, and during our testing, overall gameplay felt very smooth and responsive, we haven’t spotted any issues with the input latency.

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