Portal: Prelude RTX Can Tap into DLSS 3 On RTX 20/30-Series GPUs, with Not-Great Results [Update from NVIDIA]

[UPDATE] NVIDIA has now commented on the topic, revealing that it’s merely a bug and no actual frame generation is going on.

We’ve noticed that some members of the PC gaming community, like Discord Communities before it, have encountered a bug in an old v1.0.1.0 DLSS DLL that falsely appears to generate frames on 20/30-series hardware. There is no DLSS Frame Generation occurring—just raw duplication of existing frames. Frame counters show a higher FPS, but there is no improvement in smoothness or experience. This can be verified by evaluating the duplicated frames using tools like NVIDIA ICAT, or viewing the error message in the Remix logs indicating an error with frame generation.

DLSS frame generation DLLs have since fixed this bug, and NVIDIA will be issuing an update to RTX Remix in the future to prevent further confusion when frame generation is behaving incorrectly.

[ORIGINAL STORY] If you want to take advantage of NVIDIA’s latest DLSS 3 tech and its frame-generation performance boosting, you need to have an RTX 40-series GPU and above… or do you? Could you run DLSS on, say, an RTX 20-series or 30-series GPU, and what would that look like? Well, it turns out we have an answer!

You actually can run DLSS 3 on a GeForce RTX 20- or 30-series GPU in Portal: Prelude RTX, the new version of the classic Portal mod used to showcase NVIDIA’s latest tech like DLSS, path tracing, and, of course, ray tracing. This can be done by downloading the NVIDIA DLSS 3 Frame Generation DLL (grab it for yourself here) and replacing the usual DLSS DLL. A couple of caveats here – only the “1.01” version of this DLL works and it only seems to work on Portal: Prelude RTX, no other DLSS 3 compatible titles. Why this particular loophole exists, I’m not exactly sure, but it does seem to work. You can check out Portal: Prelude RTX running on a GeForce RTX 3060, below.

As you can see, while DLSS 3 on a 30-series GPU works in theory, the results are very stuttery due to poor frame pacing, making the whole endeavor a bit of a lost cause. The whole point of DLSS 3 is to smooth out performance so a bunch of stuttering kind of defeats the purpose. But still, it does technically work.

Of course, this just leads to an obvious line of speculation – is DLSS 3 being restricted to RTX 40-series cards just an artificial thing done by NVIDIA to boost sales of the newer GPUs? Is there a possibility they could enable it on 20 and 30-series GPUs with a firmware update? Or is there a more fundamental hardware limitation that simply makes it unworkable? Hey, don’t look at me, I’m not an engineer. I don’t have the answers.

What do you think about this? Is there some fantasy world where DLSS 3 on lower-spec cards is a thing? Or is it just not possible?

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