Anti-Aliasing: What Is It And What Types Are

Whenever we install a game on our computer, before starting to play we should take a look at the graphics options so that we can make it work with the highest possible quality within our possibilities. Apart from the quality of the textures and shadows, in the configuration options, we usually see different sections of post-processing, for example, anti-aliasing.

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The anti-aliasing is a set of techniques used to improve the final quality of the image we see in games. Specifically, this effect seeks to eliminate, or at least blur, as much as possible the “saw teeth” that usually appear in the textures when the different pixels of the images are too large or do not finish processing correctly.

Anti-Aliasing: What Is It And What Types Are

There are several types of anti-aliasing, and each developer usually includes one or the other to provide the game with the best possible quality, as long as the graphic is capable of being able with this technique. Next, we will look at the most commonly used types (there may be more) and the characteristics of each one. These are sometimes considered as the best anti-aliasing

FXAA

This type of anti-aliasing, unlike the old techniques, works directly on the final image, already processed, smoothing its edges. Explained above, this technique “smearing” the image to disguise the edges of the saw, although the result is not the best, but quite the opposite.

According to the benchmarks, this type of post-processing hardly consumes resources and only subtracts one or two frames per second. If our graphics are low-end we should choose this function, although if we can choose other systems like MSAA we will notice it in quality, but also in loss of performance.

SSAA / FSAA

This type of ant-aliasing uses what is known as the brute force method to improve the quality of the images. In this way, we will have a very high image quality, but nevertheless, it needs a very high consumption of resources. This system works in such a way that it renders the image at a much higher resolution and, after applying a series of smoothing filters, this image is rendered again at the resolution of the monitor.

In this way, we obtain a superior quality, although to process an image X times bigger (2 times, 4 times or 8 times, choose SSAA 2x, 4x or 8x), the consumption of resources is exponentially superior.

MSAA

This type of image post-processing, based on SSAA, which uses traditional techniques to generate sharper images with fewer saw edges. However, this system is not completely effective since it is not able to work with alpha textures and the consumption of resources when using it is triggered, losing up to 20 fps if we use a MSAA at 4x.

In summary, the quality of MSAA anti-aliasing is much higher than that of FXAA, however, to be able to use it we must have a high-end graphic capable of dealing with the additional load of this system.

SMAA

SMAA, an acronym for “Enhanced Subpixel Morphological Antialiasing” is another image post-processing filter based on FXAA that tries to eliminate the edges of the saw in games. This type of ant-aliasing has been developed by members of the University of Zaragoza together with the Crytek company. This system offers a better result than FXAA, but the consumption of resources is also superior.

EQAA and CSAA

EQAA for ATI and CSAA graphics for Nvidia graphics are two types of anti-aliasing very similar in operation to MSAA (ie, a high quality, but with a lot of resource consumption) but developed to optimize their operation in their corresponding graphics. In this way, choosing one of these two options we can have a quality superior to FXAA with less loss of FPS than MSAA, although they also require a powerful graph.

QSAA

This is an improved version of the MSAA based on the same concept but offering a similar quality with less resource.