Nvidia’s DLSS 3.5 Ray Reconstruction Tested in Cyberpunk 2077

While our time with Cyberpunk 2077 update 2.0 and Phantom Liberty was pleasant, it is time to dissect the game’s performance, especially with the addition of DLSS 3.5 support. As you might be aware, the game’s graphics settings received a significant bump with the 2.0 update. With its latest release, Cyberpunk 2077 has partnered with NVIDIA to utilize its latest DLSS 3.5 and ray reconstruction technology on RTX cards. Since we have a 4070 Ti inside my PC already, what better time to test and see the performance changes in Cyberpunk 2077 after the update 2.0 launches? Let’s test DLSS 3.5 support and how it performs in Cyberpunk 2077.

What is DLSS 3.5 Technology? Explained

To explain this tech to people who don’t like extremely technical explanations, DLSS 3.5 is NVIDIA’s new upscaling technology exclusive for the RTX 30 and 40 series cards. While their DLSS 3.0 tech was exclusive to the RTX-40 series card, DLSS 3.5 will come to every RTX GPU without any caveats.

DLSS 3.5 essentially downsamples the image on the screen to a lower resolution and then upscales it to better quality through the power of AI. What happens is that the user experiences a better frame rate without losing out on visual quality. It works like the Dynamic Resolution Scaling (DRS) technology in theory. Except, in the case of DLSS, you gain better image quality. If your GPU has a tensor core, it can run the upscaling tech. We have an extensive explanation for the DLSS 3.5 tech in our guide linked here.

DLSS 3.5 in Cyberpunk 2077: Image Quality

One of the new technologies introduced by NVIDIA is Ray Reconstruction, which utilizes a new AI network to generate higher-quality pixels in between the sampled rays. This new feature touts better ray tracing quality using AI to recreate the reflections and global illumination to look realistic. This tech, along with DLSS 3.5, ensures that users do not lose out on the beauty of raytracing while using DLSS.

In terms of performance, turning Ray Reconstruction on did not affect the frame rate when used with DLSS. However, we saw a slight frame boost when this feature was turned on. This is a phenomenon we have experienced in multiple scenarios. We’ve prepared some comparison shots for you to check below. They show off the new Ray Reconstruction technology in action. In these images, you will see subtle yet prominent differences in the reflections, and with global illumination light scattering.

Car Reflections from a nearby Neon Light | Before (L) and After (R)
Prominent puddle reflections and better global illumination | Before (L) and After (R)
A more natural global illumination. Neon Lights have better light spread | Before (L) and After (R)
Notice improved diffused lighting and reflections on the road | Before (L) and After (R)
A much more natural light scattering in daytime | Before (L) and After (R)

In the above comparison, one thing is clear with Ray Reconstruction. The reflections from puddles and surfaces are prominent, where we can see the images more vividly and clearly. Another thing evident from the new tech is global illumination. The world has a brighter global illumination in raytracing when we don’t turn on the settings. It does not look bad, but Ray Reconstruction makes the illumination so much more natural. Signboards are bright but no more like a glowing ball and more. The differences are subtle yet noticeable when you do a side-by-side comparison.

Cyberpunk 2077 DLSS 3.5 Performance (Tested)

After showcasing the difference in image quality, it’s time to talk about the performance upgrade you see after turning on DLSS 3.5 and ray reconstruction. For our performance tests, we used a system with the following specs:

  • CPU: AMD Ryzen 5600, running at base clocks
  • GPU: Nvidia RTX 4070 Ti, running at factory settings
  • RAM: 16GB DDR4
  • SSD: 512GB Western Digital SN570

As previously mentioned, Cyberpunk 2077 is the first game to utilize the DLSS 3.5 tech, which helps deliver a performance increase. By nature, Cyberpunk 2077 is a system-intensive title and, with the new settings, it requires better performance. We’ve tested Cyberpunk 2077 2.0 in two separate resolutions: 1080p and 1440p.

Since DLSS and frame generation tech don’t allow you to run VSYNC, we have avoided using that altogether, and we turned off motion blur and film grain. Of course, we could force VSYNC through NVIDIA’s control panel, but average users won’t go through that hassle. For both resolutions, we have tested it with DLSS turned on and off.

Our tests also use the new Ray Reconstruction technology introduced by NVIDIA with DLSS 3.5. It improves the light scattering from ray tracing. This results in better reflection, nicer global illumination, and improved image quality. The users of every RTX card will get to use this feature. Furthermore, we used the Frame Generation tech, exclusive to NVIDIA 40-series cards, and all tests were done in Overdrive mode or Ultra graphics settings. With the basics out of our way, let’s see how much improvement DLSS 3.5 brings to the table.

Cyberpunk 2077 2.0 at 1080p

1440p screens

Resource requirement is the first noticeable difference in the game with the new 2.0 update. We first turned off DLSS, and the CPU usage spiked to 56% inside the crowded Japantown and Silk Road areas. The temperature was also affected, spiking over 70 degrees Celsius in certain areas. Plus, it hovered at 98-100% utilization for the GPU, with the temperature sitting at 66 degrees Celsius. Every single fan on the Aorus 4070 Ti Master ran at full speed on our end. The game ran at somewhere between 66-75 frames. Mind you, this is with Frame Generation and Ray Reconstruction turned on.

This performance improved vastly when we turned on the DLSS 3.5 settings. We set the DLSS to Quality settings and kept everything else untouched. Interestingly enough, the CPU utilization spiked from 56% to 88%. On the other hand, GPU utilization dipped from 98% to 86% usage. The frame rate improvements were the focal point, though, and it did not disappoint.

In our testing, the frame rate instantly increased from sub-70 FPS to around 120 FPS. This is with DLSS 3.5, Frame Generation, and Ray Reconstruction turned on. This is a nearly 72% performance boost and something that would make exploring the Night City even more enjoyable. We also ran some numbers using the in-game benchmark, and here are the results.

Average FPS: 42.43Average FPS: 120.38
Minimum: 30.76Minimum: 49.89
Maximum: 56.70Maximum: 149.61

Cyberpunk 2077 2.0 at 1440p

On 1440p, the temperature of the CPU and GPU was constant and identical to our 1080p tests. First, we again did the usual no-DLSS test to check how the game performed in these scenarios. Naturally, we kept ray reconstruction and frame generation turned on. The CPU ran within 76 degrees Celsius in the crowded city area. Similarly, the 4070 Ti ran within the expected temperature of 66 degrees Celsius. No changes on the temperature front.

The CPU utilization clocked at approximately 66% on average, while the GPU pushed itself to the max, clocking in at 97% on average. As for the frame rates, we saw an average of 43 FPS in the Japantown and Heywood districts, with the lowest around 24 FPS.

These numbers doubled when we enabled DLSS 3.5 and enabled quality settings, along with ray reconstruction and frame generation. The one noticeable thing we experienced here, like our 1080p testing, is the CPU utilization spiking to around 86%. GPU utilization did not experience any noticeable changes, sitting at 92% for the most part.

Again, the frame rate is where we experienced major improvements. Once DLSS was set to quality, we saw an average of 86 FPS around the Japantown and Heywood districts. The FPS rarely increased past this number and instead dropped in the denser areas, with a low of 66 FPS. Again, we ran the in-game benchmark to see the difference in quality.

Average FPS: 25.30Average FPS: 86.50
Minimum: 1.90Minimum: 42.13
Maximum: 35.48Maximum: 102.71

Cyberpunk 2077 requires you to enable DLSS 3.5 and frame generation technology to get playable frame rates. It also proves that the game is quite CPU-intensive after the 2.0 update. Since the new systems and mechanics are always running persistently, your CPU has to keep up with it.

DLSS & Ray Tracing Performance on RTX 3060

While our main system is comfortably a premium mid-tier system that can run practically any title out there at its preferred recommended settings and above, we also tested DLSS on our PC with an RTX 3060 card. The following is our test system for the same:

  • CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 3600
  • GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060, running at factory settings
  • RAM: 16GB DDR4 RAM @ 3600MHz
  • SSD: 500GB ADATA S11 Pro NVMe M.2 SSD

In terms of CPU and GPU utilization, we saw a bizarre phenomenon. The game completely relied on the AMD Ryzen 3600 to run the game when the Overdrive setting was turned on. CPU usage clocked in at 60-100% and constant 100% inside structures. GPU utilization sat at a meager 11-15% usage while we ran the benchmark. We couldn’t use the ray reconstruction option with the RTX 3060 graphics card nor the frame generation tech, since frame generation is exclusive to the 40-series card. We, however, had access to the DLSS 3.5.

For the frame rate, we primarily ran the benchmarking tool for this test and saw the following results. This test was done primarily on the 1080p resolution since we didn’t have access to a 1440 display. Furthermore, these were the two settings we tested in Cyberpunk 2077:

WITH DLSS + RT OverdriveWITH DLSS + RT Ultra
Average FPS: 24.04Average FPS: 49.92
Minimum: 13.98Minimum: 33.89
Maximum: 34.98Maximum: 64.24

Ultra raytracing and Overdrive are not kind with the above system, and the best thing to do here is to adjust the ray tracing settings to your needs. The game struggles in RT Overdrive mode, but you can get playable 50-60FPS in Ray Tracing Ultra mode (with ray-traced local shadows). Of course, you can always tweak and get the best experience out of your PC. But remember that Cyberpunk 2077 might struggle to run smoothly using a card like RTX 3060 after update 2.0.

So, Is Nvidia’s DLSS 3.5 Technology Worth It?

Honestly, while all these new technologies are something to enjoy, most of these visual upgrades sometimes feel like a novelty added to the game. Cyberpunk 2077 is a game that might look dull without ray-tracing features. So, we can go ahead and say that the developers utilized the feature for this title perfectly to the point that it has become a good raytracing benchmark system.

With AAA games becoming demanding over time, the introduction of ray reconstruction and DLSS 3.5 makes it a game-changing scenario for gamers. Granted, DLSS artifacts are always going to be there, which is a downside of the technology. However, the image artifacts have become rarer with each update, and this new DLSS 3.5 tech is no different. Similarly, ray reconstruction is a welcome addition to improve the lighting and reflections. If you are going to use ray tracing, why not use it in its full glory? And well, the new feature allows that.

So, should you use the DLSS 3.5 and ray reconstruction? Yes. It is impossible to play Cyberpunk 2077 in playable frame rates in the first place, and NVIDIA users will benefit from this feature. Furthermore, it is also clear that to play this game, you will require a good CPU to keep up with the system. Hence, if you have an older-gen Ryzen or Intel CPU, you might struggle to get playable frame rates without the DLSS 3.5 tech enabled.

Comments 1
  • Joshua J. Slone says:

    A few times when talking about the “DLSS off” side of the comparison, you say something like “Mind you, this is with Frame Generation and Ray Reconstruction turned on.” But looking at the images, it seems like the ones on the left have all DLSS features including frame generation and ray reconstruction turned off?

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