May 16, 2022

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Steam Deck’s FSR support adds upscaling, extra battery life on certain games

Playing games on the Steam Deck will appear as pretty as possible, along with the convenience of extended battery life, thanks to the upcoming support for FSR. It is already confirmed that Valve’s gaming handheld will be running with AMD’s FidelityFX Super Resolution (FSR) out-of-the-box. But anyone seeking to take advantage of this amazing feature will have to stick with SteamOS instead of opting for an alternative OS, like Windows. Regardless if you plan to wipe your whole console down with a fresh Windows 10 install or boot it from Steam Deck compatible SD Card, if your device is not running on SteamOS, it will not work.

What is FSR and Why Does it Matter?

FidelityFX Super Resolution (FSR) is AMD’s upscaling technology that makes the visual display appear crisp on the Steam Deck’s native 1280×800 resolution. But more than just making games look as good as possible on the handheld screen, the feature also enhances frames. And recent testing by the YouTuber „The Phawx“ also revealed that games that run on FSR consume less battery and therefore could extend playtime. In other words, FSR is a handy way of experiencing the best of gaming with the Steam Deck, without making compromises.

“FSR is already available for some applications that support it. Games that already include FSR will work as is, but also FSR support will be included as part of an OS future release. Once that happens, games could potentially make use of FSR even if the games themselves don’t natively support it”. – As per the Steam Deck FAQ

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FSR and DLSS

It is hard to speak of FSR’s capability without looking into its major rival’s own technology, DLSS. The reason of which is due to the similar nature of their own unique offering. Whereas AMD has FSR, Nvidia, on the other hand, has Deep Learning Super Sampling (DLSS). Both of which meant for upscaling. Meaning, to improve the image quality from a low resolution to a higher resolution while simultaneously enhancing performance.

But are those two necessarily the same? Aside from the stated functionality, FSR and DLSS actually do the same thing differently. DLSS, which preceded FSR, uses artificial intelligence and deep learning and taps specifically to modern Nvidia GPUs Tensor cores. FSR, meanwhile, is less intensive but makes use of spatial upscaling and sharpening passes, in addition to other embellishments. However, in terms of raw performance, FSR is capable of improving frame rates by 2.4 times.

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Another major disparity between DLSS and FSR is their compatibility. Whereas DLSS is more specific to a particular Nvidia hardware, FSR is not exclusive to AMD’s GPUs, including legacy ones. Consequently, this meant that FSR works with both modern AMD and Nvidia GPUs. Steam Deck’s GPU being AMD’s RDNA2, it comes as no surprise why the technology is in support out-of-the-box.

The Implications

With the FSR kicking in regardless of the title, it bypassed what would have been a limit of just 70+ titles that support it initially. Furthermore, with battery life being a major concern, the extension via FSR certainly alleviates in that regard. But generally, the community is thankful for the upscaling technology for its inherent ability to make the visuals appear amazing on the Steam Deck’s limited display. Graphics quality may not always be the end all and be all of video gaming. But it definitely does help when presented as beautifully as possible.

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