Everything You Need to Know About Anti-Aliasing
When you view your computer monitor, the image, you see consists of small pixels. These pixels are essentially tiny rectangular lights, which is why all pixels rendered on the screen tend to look made up of tiny rectangles.
That problem could get worse if you’re a PC gamer because the objects rendered in a game are more shaped together to resemble something they’re not. If you’re not familiar with PC gaming, you may be confused about the different graphics settings in the options menus of PC games.
If your PC’s GPU is old or not built for gaming, you may not achieve higher resolutions without experiencing a severe slowdown on the game. Then, at some point, your graphics card may be a little too skinny for your favourite games.
Anti-aliasing is a way to remove jaggies occurring in objects in PC games.
Pixels are rectangular, so they form small jagged edges when used to display round edges. And anti-aliasing is a software-based approach that attempts to smooth the shape and produce perfect round edges.
There’s an in-game window in most PC games where you can adjust graphics settings, including anti-aliasing. Other computer games require to enable anti-aliasing the first time you launch the game. When selecting GPU, you can adjust anti-aliasing settings in the GPU control panel.
We can see smooth curves in the real world. As mentioned above, these smooth curves are challenging to render on a monitor made of rectangular pixels. As a result, curves in the game tend to have a jagged appearance.
Anti-aliasing works to fix this problem by smoothing rough edges to make them more eye-appealing. Instead of its large edges, you’ll see a blurry version of the sample pixel. It might blur irregular edges until the image looks smoother, and the jagged edges disappear.
That’s why some people notice that the edges of the game image have a slight blur effect. Anti-aliasing works hard to make the jagged edges as smooth as possible.
Anti-aliasing doesn’t stop there. It also samples pixels around fuzzy and blurred pixels, which helps the pixels adopt newer colours so that the final image looks better, and the blurred pixels are blended.
But this illusion of smoothing or mixing comes at a price: computing power. If you’re going to sacrifice a little computing power, you’re going to be involved in a lot of work. Once you have a realistic look, your game will perform much better.
There are different types of anti-aliasing methods, each with its advantages and disadvantages.
SSAA (Super Sample Anti-Aliasing)
SSAA is one of the first anti-aliasing techniques. It is also the most effective in combating jagged edges.
It forces the graphics card to render high-resolution graphics and then downsamples the image. Though SSAA is an excellent choice, it requires a high-end graphics card and usually extra video memory.
MSAA (Multi-Sample Anti-Aliasing)
SSAA is the most effective but used rarely. MSAA is more common and straightforward.
MSAA attempts to sample only certain parts of the image, namely polygons. Because it only aims to analyze and blend polygons, resource usage is lesser. But the image quality doesn’t get that good on some textures because it doesn’t run across the screen.
CSAA (Coverage Sampling Anti-Aliasing)
CSAA succeeds in previous technology. And it tries to gather more information about a particular pixel and its surroundings without using the system’s resources. Developed by NVIDIA, it seems to have a slight advantage over MSAA.
EQAA (Enhanced Quality Anti-Aliasing)
AMD developed the solution to counter NVIDIA’s approach with CSAA.
EQAA was originally released using Radeon graphics cards and relies on MSAA technology to grow with little or no performance overhead.
FXAA (Fast Approximate Anti-Aliasing)
FXAA is the least demanding anti-aliasing technology. This technique is much simpler than trying to calculate edges or sample areas around jagged edges.
It only tries to blur out the edges of the whole screen, so the jaggedness disappeared. However, performance has barely improved, and the result is more blurry than others.
TXAA (Temporal Anti-Aliasing)
As one of the latest anti-aliasing technologies, TXAA attempts to improve MSAA.
Sampling is perfect but at the cost of more computing power. The result is smooth edges and clear graphics. However, the technology is not available on all graphics cards, but the latest ones.
With higher resolution displays and better graphics, anti-aliasing is no longer a big deal. It’s a good idea to understand anti-aliasing better so you can make informed decisions to balance the PC game’s performance and visuals.
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