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Is Anti Aliasing Good or Bad for FPS?

TL;DR, Anti Aliasing almost always has a negative impact on frames per second (FPS) in video games.

But Is There a Reason You Should Keep Anti Aliasing On, Even at the Expense of Lower FPS?

Yes, Many of Them.

1. The Main Reason to Keep Anti Aliasing Turned On

  • Anti Aliasing improves image quality by reducing jagged edges (aliasing) in graphics.
  • It makes edges appear smoother and more realistic. This will be especially felt in games like Fortnite that use the Unreal Engine.

2. Impact on Performance

  • Anti Aliasing requires more processing power both from the CPU and the Graphics card.
  • This extra workload almost always reduces FPS.

3. Types of Anti Aliasing

  • Different Anti Aliasing methods have widely different impacts on performance.
  • The more modern anti aliasing techniques like FXAA and TAA have a lower performance cost.

4. Trade Off

  • You can balance visual quality with performance.
  • If you have a more expensive PC with a newer graphics card and newer CPU you can definitely maintain a fantastic FPS with Anti Aliasing enabled.

5. Game and Hardware Dependent

  • The impact is almost purely based on the specific game you want to play and your PC components.
  • Some games implement Anti Aliasing more efficiently than others.

6. Other Options

  • Many games allow you to change between Anti Aliasing levels or turn it off completely.
  • This lets you find the right balance for your system instead of just getting rid of it completely.

Different Types of Anti Aliasing and What Do They Mean for Your FPS

1. Temporal Anti Aliasing (TAA)

  • Uses information from previous frames to reduce aliasing.
  • Generally less performance intensive than traditional methods.
  • Can introduce some motion blur or ghosting artifacts.

2. Supersampling Anti Aliasing (SSAA)

  • Renders the image at a higher resolution and then downscales.
  • Highest quality but most performance intensive method.
  • Rarely used in modern games because of the high performance cost.

3. Multisample Anti Aliasing (MSAA)

  • Only applies to polygon edges not textures.
  • Less performance impact than SSAA but still significant.
  • Becoming less common in modern games.

4. Fast Approximate Anti Aliasing (FXAA)

  • Post processing technique that’s very fast.
  • Lower quality than other methods but small performance impact.
  • Can blur textures slightly.

5. Deep Learning Super Sampling (DLSS)

  • NVIDIA’s AI powered upscaling technology.
  • Can improve both image quality and FPS simultaneously.
  • Requires specific and obviously expensive NVIDIA GPUs.

6. FidelityFX Super Resolution (FSR)

  • AMD’s open source alternative to DLSS.
  • Can improve FPS while maintaining image quality.
  • Works on a wider range of hardware than DLSS.

7. Anti Aliasing and Input Lag

  • Some Anti Aliasing techniques can introduce a slight input lag.
  • This is particularly noticeable in fast paced competitive games like Fortnite or Apex Legends.

8. Resolution Scaling

  • Some games use dynamic resolution scaling as an alternative to traditional Anti Aliasing.
  • Adjusts render resolution on the fly to maintain a target FPS.

9. Texture Filtering and Anti Aliasing

  • Anisotropic filtering helps reduce aliasing on textures.
  • It has a lower performance impact than full scene Anti Aliasing.

10. Anti Aliasing in VR

  • VR applications usually require specialized Anti Aliasing techniques. We can see that implemented through Meta’s Quest VR headsets.
  • Performance is even more critical because of the high refresh rates needed.

11. Shader Based AA

  • Some games implement custom Anti Aliasing solutions in shaders.
  • Can be more efficient for specific game engines or art styles.

12. Temporal Upsampling

  • Technique that combines temporal AA with resolution upscaling
  • Can improve both image quality and performance

13. Anti Aliasing and HDR

  • Some Anti Aliasing techniques can interact poorly with HDR rendering.
  • It will require specialized solutions for the best levels of quality.

14. Driver Level Anti Aliasing

  • Some graphics drivers allow forcing Anti Aliasing at the driver level.
  • Can work for games that don’t natively support AA, but might cause some very specific issues.

15. Anti Aliasing in Ray Tracing

  • Ray tracing can reduce the need for traditional Anti Aliasing in some cases.
  • But the problem is that it usually requires its own specialized denoising techniques.

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