What Is Anti- Aliasing In Games? | One PC Panda

What Is Anti- Aliasing In Games?

If you’re a video gamer or gaming enthusiast, you probably encountered the term anti-aliasing. You probably even found yourself having this option in your gaming settings - aliased or anti-aliased? But what exactly is anti-aliasing in games and why is it important? Should you enable it? How does it affect your gaming experience? Learn about the different anti-aliasing (AA) techniques available in most GPUs.

What Is Anti-Aliasing?

In a simplified definition, anti-aliasing in games is the method of reducing the jagged edges appearing in your gaming images. An image is made up of thousands of squared blended colors called pixels. Anti-aliasing is software that basically smooths out the jagged appearance of these blocky pixels to make them more realistic. It works by filling the empty spaces in the blocks to give them smoother lines and curves. Since video games have moving pictures, anti-aliasing reduces these edgy lines and makes the images and movements more fluid.

Anti-Aliasing classification

There are many types of anti-aliasing software, although there are mainly 2 groups that have been developed over the years. Thus, the difference in techniques and technologies they offer.

Spatial anti-aliasing

The first group is the type that blends more pixels that down-samples the resolution. It results in a higher resolution, smoother, softer look and enhances more details in the frame during graphic rendering. Spatial anti-aliasing techniques includes SSAA, MSAA, CSAA and EQAA.

Post-process anti-aliasing

The second group blurs the round edges and contrasting pixels called Post-process anti-aliasing. This technique applies smoothening of the images only after the frame was rendered. The software determines which edges and colors are contrasting before making the necessary adjustments, which often leads to the blurring of images to eliminate the jaggies. Examples of Post-process anti-aliasing are the FXAA, MLAA, TXAA, and SMAA. Regardless, they all serve the same purpose - to smooth out the edges of the image. Learn the most common types of anti-aliasing options and understand their functions.

Common Types Of Anti-Aliasing

Super Sampling Anti-aliasing ( SSAA)

SSAA or sometimes also referred to as Full-scene Anti-aliasing (FSAA) is the first version of anti-aliasing in games. It is in fact the oldest method. However, there is no denying that it is one of the best to improve the quality of images. It is considered to be an anti-aliasing system that is visually appealing when compared to other methods. The downside is that because it renders good quality images, it requires a lot of power to run as well. This takes a negative effect on your PC performance when gaming.

Multi-Sampling Anti-Aliasing (MSAA)

Another method of anti-aliasing in games is MSAA. This type however does not work on the entire image. It uses multiple samples per pixel both for color and depth which only smooths out jaggies in certain parts, and only when necessary. MSAA speeds up the process of improving blocky edges without compromising the GPU performance. Depending on the GPU, you will find MSAA is optimized from x2, x4, and x8 samples per pixel. The higher the level, the more it consumes processing power to make clearer images.

Temporal Anti-Aliasing (TXAA)/ TAA

TXAA is a more advanced anti-aliasing method. It is commonly found in newer graphics cards or high-end computers. It works by combining different techniques that are similar to MSAA and temporal filter that is generally similar to what’s being used in CG films. This complex method reduces jaggies and renders images with film-grade quality. By combining techniques TXAA strikes a balance of eliminating jaggies better than 4xMSAA without affecting or exhausting your GPU’s performance.

Subpixel Morphological Anti-aliasing (SMAA)

This AA method is an enhanced version of MLAA. It combines both the techniques of spatial and post-processing anti-aliasing which creates smooth but sharper frames. Despite the dual methods, it does consume less computing power compared to its predecessors MLAA and FXAA.

Nvidia’s And AMD's Anti-Aliasing Techniques

When it comes to gaming, Nvidia and AMD also have their own take on anti-aliasing techniques. Nvidia And AMD over the years have introduced anti-aliasing (AA) methods and upgraded versions that are only available on each respective card.

Nvidia’s Anti- Aliasing techniques:

Fast Approximate Anti-Aliasing (FXAA)

FXAA is a more developed and advanced type of MSAA and also a type of shader-based anti-aliasing technique. It smooths out jaggies by blending pixels which results in blurring. Unlike other AA techniques, FXAA however, smooths out ALL pixels on the screen and not just the edges. Although it does not affect PC performance, it does, however, reduce the sharpness of the image. As its name suggests, this technique is fast; with newer version even works on 1 millisecond per frame. It is one of the most recommended anti-aliasing in games.

Multi-Frame Sampled Anti-Aliasing (MFAA)

Another take of Nvidia to anti-aliasing and an enhanced version of MSAA. While MSAA removes jaggies and improves image quality, it does however affects your system performance. MFAA on the other hand is a good combination between smooth edges and performance boost. MFAA offers increased graphic resolution while boosting your GPU’s performance.

Coverage Sampling Anti-Aliasing (CSAA)

CSAA is a feature and anti-aliasing technique found in Nvidia cards starting off with the GPUs of GeForce 8 series. It is a more developed and optimized version of MSAA and similar to AMD’s EQAA but takes less performance cost. CSAA is an efficient version of MSAA and delivers a much more advanced quality that equates to 16x MSAA while taking less hit on the GPU performance than your typical 4x MSAA.

AMD Anti-Aliasing Techniques

Enhanced Quality Anti-Aliasing (EQAA)

EQAA is an exclusive AMD anti-aliasing technique. It was first introduced in AMD 6900 Series Graphics Cards. As mentioned, it does perform similarly to Nvidia’s CSAA but doesn’t strain the GPU when processing. EQAA works by increasing the coverage of samples per pixel while maintaining the number of colors, stencil samples, depth, and a number of colors.

Morphological Anti-Aliasing (MLAA)

AMD’s post-process anti-aliasing in games is MLAA. This technique also works similarly to Nvidia’s FXAA. It detects the borders of images and patterns and then blends the pixels to remove jaggies. One advantage of MLAA is that it detects patterns in the entire frame which also includes inside textures which the previous versions of anti-aliasing do not cover.

Should I Enable Anti-Aliasing In Games?

Depending on the quality of the display’s resolution, you may opt to enable or not anti-aliasing in games. But if you’re trying to get the best of your gaming experience and get the best possible displays frame by frame, then turning on your anti-aliasing is a good option. Anti-aliasing mostly benefits gamers who are using large screens, especially those who are playing graphically demanding modern games or 3D games. The larger the screen, the more pixels you notice on display. AA gives displays a smoother and more life-like appearance. However, it may not work the same with other activities. Since the two categories of AA is all about blurring and averaging display quality, it may not serve the same purpose if you are photo editing or drafting. Anti-aliasing can cause inaccuracies in colors, depth, and the actual image.

What Is The Best Anti Aliasing Setting For Gaming?

With the number of anti-aliasing techniques used today, you can always choose what’s the best method for your game display. There are 3 things to consider before choosing the right AA for your computer - graphic demands, gaming hardware, and image quality preference - averaged or blurry.


These anti-aliasing methods are always best for computers with low-tier gaming hardware. Simply put, it’s for computers that are not meant for gaming. If you have less than 8GB RAM, it is best to use SMAA or CSAA to prevent your GPU and CPU from overheating.


If your specs are on average or standard-setting or higher than the low-tier hardware, these anti-aliasing techniques are more than okay for gaming hardware. What these AA methods require are dedicated graphics 8GB RAM or higher and at least the standard ventilation components. Depending on your GPU maker, you can test out which techniques suit your PC better. If you are running MSAA, try to test which one you can run at better graphics and decent speed.


If your computer is built and optimized for heavy gaming, then these AA methods can be run without affecting so much of your performance cost. Dedicated gaming-optimized GPU, 8GB RAM or higher, gaming-optimized ventilation, and CPU with overclocking capability are some of the requirements to run these AA techniques. With these computer specs, you can these AA techniques with no issues. You can test out their settings from lowest to highest to see which one gives you better graphics at decent speeds.

Anti-aliasing in games settings has puzzled many gamers. Should you enable it or not? This option shouldn’t really stress you out. Better display of graphics at higher resolution is what most gamers after nowadays. However, with today’s gaming technologies and advances in displays, you might no longer need to enable anti-aliasing and enjoy every frame as it is.