What Is Anti-Aliasing?

playing a game with high anti-aliasing

You have likely heard about anti-aliasing or seen it somewhere if you are a fan of quality images and games. However, you get stuck since you need help understanding what it is and why it is necessary for your experience.

Knowing what anti-aliasing is will help your experience, so here is the first thing you should know about anti-aliasing:

The term “Anti-Aliasing” is a technique that you can implement to enjoy a better experience when gaming on a PC. Its existence is to help you reduce the defects you encounter in high-resolution images and renders for better visuals. However, it’s more complicated to implement with a simple explanation than there are technicalities involved in using anti-aliasing. 

It would help if you had a guide to anti-aliasing and how to get the best technique for your gaming hardware. Let’s go on with the details and get you the best anti-aliasing technique to improve your experience.

H2: How Does Anti-Aliasing Affect PC

Anti-aliasing helps you enjoy a better experience with high-resolution images by removing what people call “the staircase effect” from your display.

The staircase effect is a defect that becomes visible with improper replication of irregular dimensions like curves and diagonals. You will see these defects as rough edges, and is common when running games or similar renders on a lower resolution.

Anti-aliasing acts as the vigilante to help correct this with some settings included in the games you play. So, if you want to remove these rough edges, let’s learn about getting anti-aliasing.

Getting Anti-Aliasing For PC

You know that anti-aliasing is excellent for a better experience and are considering it, but it’s time to learn the technicalities.

The easy part is that modern graphics cards and games include anti-aliasing support; examples are AMD and Nvidia. However, you need to consider your current hardware, especially if you run most of your games on higher resolution.

Specific anti-aliasing settings and hardware combinations give you the best experience you can enjoy.

It’s essential to know how to match them up based on your hardware but let’s learn the anti-aliasing techniques first.

Anti-Aliasing Categories to Use

There exist several anti-aliasing techniques that you can implement to get the best experience while gaming. However, they all still fall under two categories to narrow their functional processes. Here are the two major categories that host all other anti-aliasing options for you to choose from:

Post Process Anti-Aliasing

The first category is the Post Process technique for anti-aliasing prioritizes the use of blur to even out the defects. It works by moderately blurring every pixel after the render is completed and lets the GPU locate the edges.

It distinguishes the polygon edges with every contrast in color comparison and blurs them based on their distinctions. The even-out sections you see are that way since the GPU detected similar differences, counting them as the same polygon.

Post-process anti-aliasing techniques are effective since they make the defective display look more appealing. However, the images get somewhat blurry, especially with games having more details in each texture. Nevertheless, it’s quick to complete and doesn’t demand high processing power to implement it successfully. 

Below are the options you can select from in the post-process category:


The FXAA and MLAA are common post-process anti-aliasing methods, as AMD and Nvidia use them. FXAA, the fast approximate anti-aliasing technique, is what Nvidia uses for its graphics cards to correct the staircase effect.

On the other hand, MLAA, which is the morphological anti-aliasing, is used by AMD and works similarly. Both use the blurring method described above, and their fame comes from the low computing power demand.


The subpixel morphological anti-aliasing technique takes the post-process category further with its dual foundation. It works by implementing the blurring procedure similar to the two above while sharpening the images with the spatial method.

It’s an option you can consider if you want image quality that stands above those of Nvidia and AMD. However, it comes at the cost of your hardware since it demands computing power.


Temporal anti-aliasing tends to be more complex than the first options but also gives better results. It gives you a film-style experience to improve images rendered during movement while gaming.

However, it also demands more processing power, similar to the SMAA but gives better results than MLAA and FXAA. It’s on the same level or even higher than the SMAA technique when comparing the results.

Spatial Anti-Aliasing

The Spatial anti-aliasing technique works differently compared to the post-process techniques of anti-aliasing. Unlike the post-process technique that prioritizes blurring, the spatial technique works with the dimension of your display resolution.

Good monitors usually have a minimum resolution of 1920 x 1080, representing the horizontal and vertical dimensions. The spatial method considers this and improves the defective image you have in the following steps:

Step 1: Your low-resolution image is marked

Step 2: The process takes the image to a higher resolution

Step 3: Excess pixels provide specific color samples and this resolution

Step 4: The image gets resized to the original resolution distributing new colors throughout the image

The process leverages the extra pixels from higher resolutions to enhance a low-resolution image. Resizing the image to its original resolution brings out more detail, making it clearer than before it was processed. So, you get a low-resolution image that retains the color accuracy of a high-res image despite maintaining its original size. 

Below are anti-aliasing options that implement the spatial procedure to remove the staircase effect:


The full-scene anti-aliasing technique is also commonly termed the super sampling technique and is pretty old. Its effectiveness lies in that it helps attain a realistic look that everyone, including you, wants from games.

Using FSAA gives an image a softer appearance making it close to the real thing, but there are cons to consider. 

It makes horizontal and vertical sections appear softer since it leverages the dimensions to even the images. You should also be concerned about your computing power as this option demands more to render better images.

The high demand is the necessity to render the entire game in real-time. Its fame has dropped in modern times due to these cons, so you might not necessarily use it for anti-aliasing. 


The multisampling technique works slightly differently from the super-sampling technique despite being in the same category. This option differentiates between the textures of the image and the polygons for more accuracy.

Once it gets the difference, it projects the polygon and fills it with texture without smoothening it. This option sometimes gives you pixelated displays but uses less processing power. 


The dominators of the GPU industry (AMD and Nvidia) also created spatial anti-aliasing techniques along with the post-process counterpart.

AMD uses Enhanced quality anti-aliasing, while Nvidia uses coverage sampling anti-aliasing. Both options holds are similar and hold fame that doesn’t come from the brand names alone. 

The two anti-aliasing methods work by checking polygons’ presence in the image and defective sections. It picks out those sections and super-samples them without including other parts of the image. The perk about these two options is that it doesn’t soften the entire image and demands less processing power.

Choosing the Best Anti-Aliasing Technique

You know the two categories of anti-aliasing and the options you can select under them, but which is best? Knowing the answer to this question helps you get the most out of your current hardware or PC build. It would be best if you also considered how graphically demanding your games are and your preference for sharp images.

So here are three hardware categories and the best options to consider when selecting an anti-aliasing technique:

Low-Grade Build

Computers termed “Low Grade” are those that aren’t initially made for gaming and would have low specifications. You can recognize this category of computers if they have the following:

The best options to select for this category are SMAA and CSAA since they only demand a little processing power.

Mid-Grade Build

The Mid-Grade category is pretty common since they are affordable and give you what you need. They aren’t necessarily made for gaming but can handle more demands than the low-grade tier. Your computer falls into the Mid-Grade category if it has the following:

This category works best with FXAA, MLAA, SMAA, or MSAA, but you might need to test each out. The experiment is because they aren’t gaming computers but could be doing better at gaming too. You may need to tweak the setting to get the one that matches your preference. 

High-Grade Build

The High-grade category stands at the pinnacle since they handle peak demands due to its higher specifications. These computers are made for gaming and offer you the best experience you can get from your games. Your computer falls into the high-grade category if it has the following:

  • Dedicated Graphics memory
  • Gaming-based GPU and CPU
  • CPU with Overclocking support
  • Optimized ventilation or liquid cooling system
  • Above 8GB RAM

Your best option would be to run MSAA since it would work without problems. Selecting TXAA and SSAA would also work at their lowest settings without many issues. You can also try running them at the highest settings, but you might need to sacrifice some graphic details.

Reasons and Guide to Testing Graphic Settings

Testing your setting is essential to getting the best quality and experience out of your hardware. It helps you know what your computer can handle and the best custom settings to use for your games. Here is a list of graphic settings that you should always consider when trying to tweak your settings for optimal gaming:

  • Texture
  • Resolution
  • Distance View
  • Field of View
  • Shadow quality
  • Anti-aliasing

Final Thoughts on Anti-Aliasing?

If you get ticked off by irregular image quality and love the realistic display, you should prioritize anti-aliasing. It’s essential to consider It before the pc building process as it helps you note the components you need.

You can always look back at this article to reference what you will need to be able to use anti-aliasing on your computer.

Lucas Coulson

I first got into building my own computer when I was around 12 or 13. The first computer I had ever built didn't work. So I kept researching to figure what I did wrong. I really enjoyed researching, learning, and building computers, so I decided to turn it into an online business, and here I am.

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