Your games are going to look better, and you won't even need a hardware upgrade first.
Right now, if you want to take advantage of AI upscaling on Windows, you need to lay out some cash for it. Companies like Nvidia offer AI upscaling as part of their graphics cards, and without one, you're stuck with the resolutions your PC can handle natively. However, it looks like Microsoft is is changing that. Soon, you should be able to upscale your games natively in Windows 11, without needing a proprietary GPU.
Twitter user PhantomOcean3 showed off the new AI upscaler feature in a tweet. If you're running Windows 11 version 24H2, currently in testing in the Insider Preview, you'll find the option under Settings > System > Displays > Graphics. Windows calls the feature "Automatic super resolution," and says it uses AI to "make supported games play more smoothly with enhanced details." While the feature doesn't seem active yet, it indicates built-in AI upscaling is on its way.
As The Verge's Tom Warren points out, this feature is reminiscent of AI upscalers from companies like AMD (FidelityFX), Intel (XeSS), and, in particular, Nvidia's DLSS (Deep Learning Super Sampling). If Windows' built-in AI upscaling feature works close to how Nvidia, AMD, and Intel's upscalers do, that could remove the need to have hardware from one of these companies in your rig in order to take advantage.
What's so great about AI upscalers?
The main benefit of native AI upscaling is the ability to render games in a higher resolution without the need for more advanced hardware. For example, if you're running Windows 11 24H2 on your PC, you could use this feature to upscale a 1440p game to 4K, rather than natively running the game in the 4K resolution. The latter would typically be more demanding on your GPU, and if your hardware isn't quite powerful enough, you could run into slowdowns.
Upscaling from 1440p, however, can allow you to see enhanced details without the strain on your system. And if Microsoft really wants to compete with upscalers like DLSS, they'll implement other perks, too. DLSS not only upscales from 1440p to 4K, it also adds details that aren't there when playing games at 4K with DLSS disabled, and increases frame rates using AI to "guess" what the additional frames should look like. Hopefully, Windows 11's AI upscaler will offer similar benefits, but at the very least, it's cool to see Microsoft lowering the bar for entry for this kind of technology.
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