What's Anti-Aliasing?

Discussion in 'Technology Discussion' started by Hary, Jul 9, 2019.

  1. Hary

    Hary Imagine,Believe,Achieve. Staff Member Co-Leader Kombat Syndicate Recruitment Team IT News Team

    May 15, 2016
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    I'm making this thread just to give some idea about how to optimize games for best quality and performance depending on what you choose as I've been experimenting with Anti-Aliasing(AA) for some time now and I've come to a conclusion and learned a lot in the process which I'll share with y'all. And in conclusion I'll tell you which is the best AA and the worst.

    So to start with the basic question, what's AA? It's a processing effect that reduces jaggies or shimmering/flickering around objects when in motion which makes it look sharp edged.
    There's various types of AAs each of them have their own positive and negative effects.
    Here's a list of few modern AAs used in games,

    TAA(Temporal Anti-Aliasing)
    SMAA(Subpixel Morphological Anti-Aliasing)
    SMAAT(a combo of TAA and SMAA)
    FXAA(Fast approximate Anti-Aliasing)
    TXAA(Temporal Anti-Aliasing with nvidia custom filters only for nvidia gpus)
    SSAA(Super Sampling Anti-Aliasing)
    MSAA(Multi Sample Anti Aliasing)

    The Anti-Aliasing works in 2 different ways. One is post processing Anti-Aliasing and geometry based Anti-Aliasing. And some AA combines both.
    Post processing Anti-Aliasing is a filter that's applied to the game which blurs out the sharp edges and flickering across the scene. It's the most performance friendly and has a playable image quality. (Example - TAA, SMAA, TXAA). Even reshades offer the post processing filter AAs for games.

    Geometry based Anti-Aliasing is something that's more in depth as it examines each object in the 3d scene and processes the Anti-Aliasing based on the number of edges on the objects and the amount of objects in the scene. It does NOT use a filter as in the post process Anti-Aliasing. (Example - MSAA)

    TAA is the most commonly used AA in modern games and even on consoles. It's the most performance friendly as well. TAA is a post processing based. Usually when you're using TAA you'll get 0 aliasing issues and the edges will be really smooth.
    But the downside is the whole scene would be a blur fest. This technique is mostly used in consoles as it has the lowest effect on killing frames and gives the best image quality possible without any sharp edges. Its best suited when you're on a distant screen and playing the game.
    At the same time this AA is the worst AA for PC gaming as it just washes the screen out completely.

    Why do consoles use TAA? Because its a post processing filter AA that's friendly on performance and gives a "cinematic" blurry image quality that people generally have started to like nowadays in console games and other games in general.
    Consoles CANNOT handle MSAA regardless if its a PS4, XBOX or even a PS5 as its a purely geometry based Anti-Aliasing and has a huge hit on performance and at the same time giving you mind blowing clarity and visuals. So as of now, consoles cannot introduce MSAA in any game. That's why you see TAA being used in consoles which gives that "cinematic" feel(as they say)..I call it blurry feel.
    So, what's the AA best suited for you? Most people tend to go with FXAA as it gives a balance between performance, image quality and clear image with a few sharp edges.

    FXAA is recommended for you if you have a low end PC and just want to game with good image quality without sacrificing too much. FXAA doesn't reduce the aliasing when in movement so you'll see either a blur or sharp edges.
    If you feel like FXAA has too many sharp edges and don't want that but at the same time you need the best performance, TAA is the option for you as it gives the balance with both. But be warned the image quality will be blurred.

    SMAA is another post processing style AA which gives good clarity but there are a few sharp edges visible here and there. And sometimes when its poorly implemented, its too blurred as well.

    SMAAT(2X) this is a great and a balanced Anti-Aliasing which gives good clarity without any sharp edges and at the same time has good performance. But keep in mind this isn't as clear as MSAA is.
    SMAAT2X is a great option in games now as its performance friendly.

    And finally the monster MSAA. This is by far the best AA in terms of image quality and this Anti-Aliasing does justice to what the devs did with the textures, geometries and the in game environments. Everything is crystal clear and smooth edged. As i said before MSAA is a geometry based Anti-Aliasing and hence you'll loose anywhere about 10-25 fps in a game or less depending on the GPU and VRAM amount. But with this, you'll get the best ever image quality that you can get from the game. The texture details will be just amazing without any loss to the other blur filter Anti-Aliasing options. BUT as i said, it has a huge performance hit.

    If you feel like you need MSAA but you don't want to loose much fps then there is a way.
    Disable any nvidia game work effects in the graphics settings as they take in too much power for less to no difference in most cases.

    And finally one more,

    Super sampling is another beast Anti-Aliasing technique that scales the resolution in game to give a clear picture and reduces jaggies from the screen. In other words, it scales the in game resolution to double the size from your native resolution. For example if a game has resolution scale from 100% to 200%, the 100% is your native res 1920x1080 or what ever the res you got. 200% of that would be 2 x 1920x1080 which would be 4k resolution achieved through supersampling. In layman's terms, you "kinda" experience 4k resolution on your 1080p monitor without a 4k monitor. But its not 100% similar to a native 4k monitor's results. This in turn produces sharp and clear image where you can completely disable any AA and get no jagged edges at all. Don't be stupid and turn on MSAA after scaling the resolution to 200%...

    I'm not posting any screenshot comparison because of compression. Quality of Anti-Aliasing is meant to be judged personally by each individual in the game. You'll see the vast difference between AA in game than in screenshots.
    Feel free to ask any doubts.

    P.S. @CntrlAltDel Examine this when you can and make any changes if you feel necessary. Or add more details.
    Chan, cika8, CntrlAltDel and 4 others like this.
  2. TheOnlyObelix

    TheOnlyObelix Aimbot? Councillor Kombat Syndicate War Team Donating Member

    Nov 30, 2016
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    Nice work on this Hary! I can't say much as i literally knew nothing about this subject before reading this, but this has given me a good understanding of it!
    Hary likes this.
  3. OMGItsDarky

    OMGItsDarky OMG >> Its Darky Councillor Kombat Syndicate Recruitment Team War Team

    May 14, 2016
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    Same as obelix, now I know alot about it Thx so much
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  4. CntrlAltDel

    CntrlAltDel Aegis of the Kombat Syndicate High Councillor Kombat Syndicate Recruitment Team IT News Team Ban & Unban Team

    May 15, 2016
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    @Hary I think a good explanation on the effect of TAA would be that it blurs the frame to the point images in the foreground contrast less with images in the background. At times it can cause literal ocular headaches because your eyes are trying to focus on an image that isn't clearing up.

    Couldn't agree more on MSAA. MSAA employs super sampling downscaling a higher res texture to native res mitigating most (if not all) jaggies in a frame and most importantly preserving colour and scenic occlusion.

    If whenever you're building a balls to the wall gaming rig you have to take anti-aliasing methods into consideration for an optimal experience while gaming. Unless you have a native 4k (or above) monitor then in most titles you wont need any sort of AA unless that game has overly sharp textures then FXAA will be enough.

    Great thread mate.
    Hary likes this.

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