With high-end graphics cards getting more and more expensive every year – sometimes enough to bankrupt most people – keeping your expensive old GPUs around for a while seems like a great idea more and more. You might not get the most frames per second in your favorite online games, but you’ll get by, right? Now if only there was a way to get better gaming performance without shelling out a ton of cash. Luckily for you, Intel has you covered with XeSS (Xe Super Sampling), which can give a huge boost to FPS and (eventually) image quality.
What is Intel XeSS: Explained (2023)
XeSS, or Xe Super Sampling, is a AI-based scaling technology Engineered by Intel to deliver a better, smoother, and more consistent gaming experience. But how does it work and what jump in performance can you expect? Let’s find out.
How Intel XeSS Works
XeSS renders games in a lower resolution and uses machine learning and artificial intelligence algorithms to scale the image to your native resolution. For example, if you’re playing a game at 1440p resolution, XeSS will render all frames at a lower resolution (900p, 720p, 800p, depending on the quality/mode you choose) and artificially boost the image quality to make it look like 1440p. The scaled image is similar to native rendering, or better in some cases.
Rendering images at lower resolutions also gives you a huge performance boost. Since your GPU doesn’t have to push as many physical pixels, it can instead focus its power on produce more frames per second. If you’ve ever been a low-spec gamer, you know that games run faster at lower resolutions (at the expense of image quality). However, with XeSS enabled, you get more images for free without compromising image quality. It’s a win-win situation, folks.
List of Intel XeSS compatible GPUs
Unlike Nvidia DLSS (Deep Learning Super Sampling, Nvidia’s proprietary scaling technology that only works with RTX-series GPUs), Intel XeSS offers broader compatibility. XeSS is open-source and will run on any GPU that supports the DP4a instruction set. Below we have enlisted Intel XeSS compatible GPUs.
- GTX 10 Series
- GTX 16 Series
- RTX 20 Series
- RTX 30 Series
- RTX 40 Series
- RX5000 Series
- RX6000 Series
- RX7000 Series
Intel graphics processor
- Intel Arc GPUs
- Integrated Intel Xe-LP GPUs (11th Gen mobile processors and newer)
Although XeSS works with all non-legacy graphics cards, its scaling performance is significantly better on the Intel Arc A770 and A750. The functionality of high-end Arc GPUs XMX Cores (Xe Matrix Extension)which are similar to Tensor cores found in Nvidia GPUs and works by providing more compute capacity for AI-accelerated workloads. Thanks to XMX cores, Arc A770 and A750 can perform better with XeSS. If you’re the proud owner of a Team Blue GPU (rhyme, huh?), you’ll be pleased with the performance boost that XeSS offers.
Even if you don’t have an Intel Arc GPU, you’ll still get a decent performance boost. However, I recommend trying both Intel XeSS and AMD FidelityFX Super Resolution (also available for a wide range of GPUs, regardless of brand) to see which offers the best performance. Check out our AMD FidelityFX Super Resolution (FSR) coverage for more.
Games supported by Intel XeSS
Support for XeSS has increased significantly over the past few months, which is a good sign. However, compared to the competition, Nvidia’s DLSS and AMD’s FSR, the list is pretty slim. Hopefully we’ll see more AAA games on the list soon. Until then, find the list of games currently supporting XeSS here:
|Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2|
|Spider-Man: Miles Morales|
|Dying Light 2|
|Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds|
|Shadow of the Tomb Raider|
|Unlimited need for speed|
|Ghostbusters: Spirits Freed|
|Farming Simulator 22|
|The DioField Chronicle|
|Vampire: The Masquerade – Blood Hunt|
|Martha is dead|
|night of the dead|
|myth of empires|
How to Enable XeSS in Supported Games
It’s like flipping a switch (literally). If your game supports XeSS, go to its display/graphics settings and click the “XeSS” toggle to enable it, as shown in the screenshot below. Some games will give you a confirmation prompt with a “Yes/No” option. Select “Yes” in the pop-up window.
When you enable XeSS, you will see another option to adjust the scaling quality. You can set it to:
- Performance: a significant increase in FPS with slightly reduced image quality
- Balance: Solid performance boost with minimal image quality degradation
- Quality: better image quality and a decent (but not huge) increase in performance
- Ultra-Quality: close to native (or sometimes better) image quality, but the FPS increase won’t be as drastic.
Intel XeSS: in-game performance
With XeSS set to Performance mode, games like Hitman III and Ghostwire: Tokyo made 2x better, which is great! Even some graphically demanding games like Shadow of the Tomb Raider saw their performance increase by 1.4x, from 62 FPS to 87 FPS at max settings of 1440p. To call it impressive would be an understatement.
However, not everyone wants to compromise on image quality. Let’s be realistic. If graphics quality didn’t matter, we’d all do well to run 20-year-old games with character models that looked like potatoes. Sometimes you want to enjoy the great visuals of your favorite AAA game.
GOOD, setting XeSS to balanced mode will give you relatively better image quality, but with a slight reduction in FPS. Here, Hitman III and Ghostwire: Tokyo did 1.75x and 1.61x better than native, which is still fantastic! When you choose Quality and Ultra Quality modes, performance suffers and you may not see any improvement in frame rate.
Improve your gameplay with Intel XeSS
In conclusion, Intel XeSS is not as powerful as Nvidia’s DLSS and does not support as many games as AMD’s FSR. So I recommend sticking with DLSS if you have an RTX 20, 30, or 40 GPU. slightly better performance (and game support). However, XeSS is still a new but exceptional scaling technology that will give up to 2x the performance of your existing graphics cards! I highly recommend that you take advantage of it as soon as you can. More frames for free is too good a deal to pass up. Do you already use XeSS in-game? Did this article convince you to try it? Let us know in the comments below.