OPINION: For the past two weeks, I’ve been testing the Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090 graphics card, the first shipped GPU of the new RTX 4000 series with the Lovelace architecture.
While the raw performance is incredibly impressive, one of the standout features of this giant is the support for cutting edge DLSS 3 technology.
Using incredibly smart AI, DLSS 3 can generate additional frames while you play. This reduces the workload on your GPU and thus enhances the frame rate performance of supported games.
I tested the technology with three games – Cyberpunk 2077, F1 2022 and A Plague Tale: Requiem – at 4K resolution and ray tracing activated. You can check out the results below, and how they compare to DLSS 2 and the original performance:
DLSS 3 resulted in a 249% frame rate increase for Cyberpunk, resulting in an average performance of 143 fps compared to 41 fps with the original settings.
But as much as DLSS 3 is here, it’s hard to get too excited when the RTX 4090 can actually run the vast majority of games at a high frame rate, even with the maximum graphics settings.
My benchmark results show that the RTX 4090 can run Horizon Zero Dawn, Borderlands 3, Total War: Warhammer 3, and Overwatch 2 at frame rates above 100 fps, even when set to 4K.
And as the excellent team at Digital Foundry discovered, DLSS 3 can sometimes cause distractions and latency issues. These are slight compromises to accept if they enable you to play the latest games at a playable frame rate in 4K, but there is no point in making such compromises when your graphics card (like the RTX 4090) is already capable of high-end performance without DLSS.
With all that in mind, I think we won’t really see the true value of DLSS 3 until Nvidia releases its RTX 4060 graphics card.
The xx60 series is one of the most popular Nvidia graphics card options. According to a Steam hardware survey, the Nvidia GTX 1060 was the most used graphics card in September 2022. The RTX 2060 came in third, while the RTX 3060 came in at seventh.
This is likely because the xx60 series generally has an affordable price point. The RTX 2060 and RTX 3060 can both be bought for around $300 / £300, making them much cheaper options than the $1,599/£1679 Nvidia RTX 4090 card.
They also put in a great performance. When testing the RTX 3060 Ti, we were able to run Horizon Zero Dawn at 86 fps at 1440p, and set Borderlands 3 at 68 fps at the same resolution.
The RTX 3060 Ti wasn’t that impressive when asked to play games in 4K. It only managed 15fps performance for the control and 23fps for Battlefield V. The DLSS was able to provide a performance boost for both games, bumping up to 40fps for the control and 41fps for Battlefield V, but that doesn’t Still not loud enough to ensure smooth performance.
If DLSS 3 proves as effective on the RTX 4060 series as it was on the RTX 4090, then an affordable graphics card should – in theory – be able to comfortably cross the 60fps mark when playing these 4K games.
This would be a great achievement, as the xx60 series had never before been considered 4K capable. It will finally allow budget PC gamers to play games in 4K without having to compromise with choppy or unreliable performance.
However, Nvidia still has a lot of work to do to realize this potential. There is no guarantee that DLSS 3 will also work on the RTX 4060 as it does on the RTX 4090 – there could be a significant drop in performance overhead due to watered down specs.
There are only 35 games and apps that support DLSS 3 at the moment. This list needs to expand quite a bit in order to convince players that DLSS 3 is worth upgrading to.
We also can’t rule out a significant price increase for potential RTX 4060 or RTX 4060 Ti graphics cards. Nvidia has increased the cost of both the RTX 4080 and RTX 4090 compared to its 3000-series predecessors, so the company will likely repeat this tactic. Raise the price too high, and Nvidia may lose the main appeal of mid-range cards.
So the potential RTX 4060 is certainly not a guaranteed hit, but if it can make the most of the new DLSS 3 technology, it’s probably the best graphics card on the market by value. Let’s just hope Nvidia sticks it down.
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