What is Anti Aliasing in games?

Confused about the “smoothing” feature in your video game settings? Learn what anti-aliasing is and how it can improve graphics and fonts in the games you play.

Have you ever wondered what is the meaning of the term “polishing” we see all the time in games, and whether we should enable it or not? What is the point of enabling or disabling it? Today, we will explain in detail what anti-aliasing is, how it works, and other related questions.

Read also: What is ray tracing and how does it work?

What is Anti Aliasing?

You may notice refinement for the first time when you open the options menu for your favorite video game. They are usually labeled in vague and hard-to-understand terms such as MSAA X5 or CSAA X8. You may leave it at the default settings because you don’t know the functionality of the feature.

Anti-aliasing is a way to make your PC play well with all those pixels in computer games and turn them into century-worthy graphics. In short, it’s a graphical setup that helps get rid of jags.

Anti-aliasing is usually used to make games look less boxy. This is a technique for smoothing the edges of jazz by blending adjacent pixels of the same color. This results in clearer, more realistic images.

How does Anti Aliasing work?


Anti-aliasing aims to remove edge jaggies that we’ve sometimes seen occur when playing at lower graphics settings. Unlike the real world where we have round objects, the number one reason to get these jaggies is the fact that everything we see on the screen is in pixels, which are of course squares.

To get around the jaggies effect that we see in every tilted or rounded image, we can use anti-aliasing. This setting reduces the alias effect on the image by essentially blending the colors, creating a subtle illusion. These mixed effects sacrifice computing power and can often result in lower frames per second in games, especially if the user has a low-quality computer architecture.

Types of polishing?

Below are the different types of polishing techniques you can use with a brief explanation of each type.

Multi-Sampling Anti-Aliasing (MSAA)

One type of polishing is what is commonly known as “multi-sample polishing” (MSAA). This is the most common type of polishing these days that balances performance and optical fidelity.

This type of anti-aliasing creates a high-resolution image using multiple “samples” of at least two pixels. The higher the number of samples, the better the image quality. But it does require more GPU power, fortunately MSAA excels in eight samples and does not go beyond that.

Supersample Anti-Aliasing (SSAA)

Supersample Anti-Aliasing is one of the best and most effective polishing techniques available today. It makes your GPU load the game at a higher resolution, then downsamples the image. A higher resolution increases the number of pixels, which makes images look sharper. But again, the downside is that it requires a high-quality and powerful GPU with additional video memory.

Fast Approximate Anti-aliasing (FXAA)

FXAA is one of the least resource intensive anti-aliasing technologies. So if you want anti-aliasing but don’t own or want to buy a high-end PC, FXAA is the way to go. It blurs the shapes of the edges of the image instead of running all the computations and uses the power of the GPU to do so, resulting in much faster results with minimal performance impact on your PC.

Temporal Refinement (TXAA)

TXAA is a relatively new type of anti-aliasing that only appears on newer GPUs. It integrates several anti-aliasing techniques to smooth the edges of an image. It is not as demanding as some other anti-aliasing techniques but produces better quality images than FXAA. However, you may still see some blurry photos.

Morphological Anti-aliasing (MLAA)

TXAA’s anti-aliasing technology improves edges by identifying differences between pixels. Unlike TXAA, which focuses more on quality than performance, MLAA doesn’t overwhelm your PC. It is more efficient and balances quality and performance over what is required. However, the downside to this method is that it can go wrong sometimes, distorting the text when blending the background and foreground parts of the image.

Nvidia and AMD Anti-Aliasing

AMD also has its own anti-aliasing technology called CSAA, and Nvidia has CFAA anti-aliasing. Nvidia’s CSAA is more efficient and reduces the load on your GPU by sampling fewer colors, but produces images with less accurate colors because of it. While AMD CFAA uses edge detection algorithms to better filter lines without losing color, it comes with higher GPU power requirements than Nvidia anti-aliasing.

What type of Anti-Aliasing should I use?

There are many different types/anti-aliasing techniques available, but you may only see one or two depending on the game you’re using. So what polishing should we choose/use?

SSAA is the best option if your computer can handle the load it puts out. But if your computer can’t stand it, AMD anti-aliasing and NVIDIA EQAA or CSAA technologies are the best options.

On mid-range PCs that don’t have AMD and NVIDIA EQAA or CSAA, you have the option to use MSAA. And those with lower quality PCs, you should stick with FXAA if you want to keep anti-aliasing without upgrading your PC.

Screen size certainly has an effect on aliasing, too. For example, if you’re playing a game with a 21 inch HD 1080p screen, you probably won’t see a lot of nicknames. But if your screen is a 40-inch 1080p TV, you’ll feel even more of a difference.

Should I enable or disable Anti Aliasing?

There are benefits to both. If you are playing a game and want to see the best look of the game then turn on anti-aliasing. What anti-aliasing does is smooth the edges of the image.

Jaggedness is the same alias, so by enabling anti aliasing you get a smoother game. What you don’t get is smoother gameplay, as enabling anti-aliasing means having your GPU do more calculations per frame to achieve smoothness. This means that it can reduce the FPS in your game.

When you’re playing a game, you might feel like sacrificing a bit of a nice screen for a faster gameplay speed. This is the real question, do you want to spoil your eyes or do you want to play faster? It all depends on your choice.


So what is anti-aliasing? To put it simply, anti-aliasing is a technique used to remove jags or effects such as “ladders” on the edges of a video game graphic to make it appear somewhat smoother. But the truth is that modern games do not even require anti-aliasing in some cases.

But it’s still a good idea, you understand what anti-aliasing is and how it works, as I explain in this article. Knowing about them helps you make the right decision whether it is to focus on quality or performance in computer games.

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