What is Anti-Aliasing and how does it help PC Gaming

PC Gaming in all its glory is fundamentally great gameplay coupled with astonishing graphics. Now you may be wondering what the option in the video settings bar called Anti Aliasing is. We see a lot of people turning it on at some point. Only to not notice any difference in graphics but instead, a decrease in performance.

So what is Anti-Aliasing and how does it help with PC gaming? As you know, your monitor screen is composed of tiny pixels. Each individual pixel is a rectangular shape. This leads to jagged edges for rounded shapes – this is called Aliasing. Anti-Aliasing, on the other hand, is the complete opposite, go figure. Anti-Aliasing strives to reduce the effects of Aliasing wherever possible.

PC gaming has multiple types of Anti-Aliasing, so what are they?

Anti-Aliasing, as you’d expect, is quite demanding on your performance. Each type of Anti-Aliasing varies in terms of performance impacting and also quality.

MSAA

MSAA stands for Multi-sampling Anti-Aliasing, which is the most common type of anti-aliasing that’s a balance of both quality and performance. MSAA essentially relies on geometric shapes and color manipulation to produce a smoothness effect on images. There are multiple stages of MSAA that use either two, four or eight samples. With the latter being the highest quality and demanding to set.

In addition to MSAA, there are also two others that function very similar. TXAA (temporal anti-aliasing) and MLAA (morphological anti-aliasing) are very much the same as MSAA – although more efficient. These choices, however, belong to AMD and Nvidia – which is why they perform better on each companies GPUs.

SSAA

By far the most efficient way of anti-aliasing, but also the most demanding one, is super-sampling anti-aliasing. What it does is actually make your GPU render a game at a higher resolution and then downsamples it. That way, it increases the overall pixel density of your display and renders a much sharper image.

FXAA

FXAA is the least demanding anti-aliasing type. FXAA “Fast-approximate anti-aliasing” simply applies extensive blurring to obscure the jagged edges of rounded objects. Instead of complex geometry and color calculations that many other Anti-Aliasing options use. This is great performance-wise, however, you’re stuck with a blurrier image.

Which type of Anti-Aliasing is best to use?

There is no general answer to what type of Anti-Aliasing you should use. It’s depending on what you’re playing and the GPUs processing power. FXAA will have the least impact on your performance, and SSAA is the most demanding. MSAA is a balance of the two so is generally the most used type of Anti-Aliasing.

  • SSAA for high-end PC
  • MSAA for mid-range PC
  • FXAA for low-end PC

In addition to your GPU processing power capabilities on deciding which Anti-Aliasing to use. The resolution and size of your display will also dictate how much of a performance impact anti-aliasing will be. The larger the screen size and resolution, the more power your PC will demand to maintain smooth edges with Anti-Aliasing.

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