Souped-up graphics cards aren’t just for playing video games, you know. They can also play…videos. Sans games. Or more accurately, they can enhance them, at least with powerful software like Nvidia’s RTX Video Super Resolution. This tool uses an extra bit of GPU oomph to upscale and clean low-res videos. But if you prefer something a little more agnostic, Microsoft just released its own version in Edge…and it plays nice with the newer cards from both Nvidia and AMD.
Video Super Resolution is the latest feature baked into the experimental Canary release of Microsoft’s Edge browser. It can examine web video running at 720p resolution or lower and automatically upscale it using your GPU. The tool will work on any streaming video that’s not copyright protected (so most of YouTube, but not streaming services like Netflix or Disney+), sharpening and cleaning the look in real-time. It’s not as good as actual high-quality video, but in the right circumstances it’s a dramatic improvement.
For the initial release, Video Super Resolution works on machines with Nvidia GeForce RTX 20-series cards or newer, or AMD Radeon RX 5700 cards or newer. Laptop users will also need to be plugged into AC power, because spinning up that graphics card in addition to the high CPU usage of streaming video is going to go through your battery like a bull charging through a Pamplona tourist. Even so, Microsoft says it’s only enabling the feature for 50 percent of users at the start, so it’s a coin flip on whether you’ll actually see it.
Typically new features in the Edge Canary build take a couple of months to get to the release build installed on hundreds of millions of Windows machines. Video Super Resolution might be an exception, because it’s much more complex than the usual engine tweak or user interface adjustment. It could take Microsoft a bit longer to iron out the kinks.
If you have an RTX 30- or 40-series GPU, you can already try out Nvidia’s awesome RTX Video Super Resolution, which works on any web video—including copyright protected ones. In fact, RTX VSR works best with high-quality streams from the likes of Netflix and Disney+.