Supersampling Anti-Aliasing Benchmarks
Supersampling is the granddaddy of all anti-aliasing modes. For all intents and purposes, this method essentially renders the output at a higher resolution and down-samples (averages out) the result. It yields the highest-quality anti-aliasing available, and even works on transparent texture artifacts. Unfortunately, it’s so taxing on graphics hardware that it's considered by many to be obsolete. For more information on supersampling, see our Anti-Aliasing Analysis, Part 1 article on the Generic Anti-Aliasing Implementations page.
Although Nvidia removed supersampling from its GeForce driver due to the huge performance hit, AMD’s Catalyst driver still offers it. It doesn’t work with many games, but we found a couple and benchmarked them to demonstrate how demanding the technology really is.
Even at 1280x1024, 8x supersampling AA often reduces frame rates to less than a quarter of 8x MSAA performance. At 1080p, the results are even more dismal.
Having said that, 4x supersampling AA can run well on powerful graphics hardware, and in rare cases where the game engine supports it, you might enjoy using this old (but still beautiful) anti-aliasing mode.
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This series is one of the best. The first article was most illuminating, and the second keeps it coming. Before the first article I was clueless to nVidia's AA nomenclature. Now it makes much more sense, and I applaud nVidia for not making the situation worse (though nVidia and AMD need nomenclature help in other areas still).Reply
I'm not a huge gamer and the games I do play mostly run awesome with my 2500K + GTX460. I decided that if it's going to be a while before the next generation of GPUs drop, I'd get another 460. So that's what I did, should be here in a few days. I was worried that even at 1920x1200 I'd have problems with AA and the lack of VRAM, but it's good to see that two 460s work pretty admirably.
As an aside, I'm totally on an efficiency kick, and I don't relish the thought of needing two cards to get decent performance, but the GTX 460 is one of the most efficient cards around well over a year after it's release.
What happened to Morphological AA? When the 6000 series was released, Morph AA showed an impressively low demand on hardware - about 2 or 3 fps lost -, and now it's cutting frame rates in half?Reply
Seriously, what is it?
Great article! Very ilustrating!Reply
This article is going to have me diving into my settings tonight, I've basically set my aged 5770 to run as poorly as possible given I game at 1920x1200 :/ Learn something new every day ;)Reply
ZehWhat happened to Morphological AA? When the 6000 series was released, Morph AA showed an impressively low demand on hardware - about 2 or 3 fps lost -, and now it's cutting frame rates in half?Reply
Was thinking the same thing....part 1 and part 2 are contradicting each other hear...if i'm remembering part 1 correctly...
btw there's a typo at the start of page 2,
This is because the GT 420 is not DirectX 11-capable
ZehWhat happened to Morphological AA? When the 6000 series was released, Morph AA showed an impressively low demand on hardware - about 2 or 3 fps lost -, and now it's cutting frame rates in half?Seriously, what is it?Reply
On release we tested StarCraft II because that was a game that choked with MSAA on Radeons. It turns out, that game is severely CPU limited, so it wasn't the best test subject for Morphological AA
I don't like these animated gifs for comparing anti-aliasing modes, because 1. gifs are limited to 256 colors, 2. moving around in a game will affect how noticeable the differences in quality between different anti-aliasing modes are. (so will the physical size of the pixels, but that would probably be impractical to represent when viewed on other monitors). Would it be possible to get some animations that show antialiasing modes side-by-side (or half and half) while moving around in some of these games, instead of just fixed-position images that cycle between anti-aliasing modes?Reply
MauveCloudI don't like these animated gifs for comparing anti-aliasing modes, because 1. gifs are limited to 256 colors, 2. moving around in a game will affect how noticeable the differences in quality between different anti-aliasing modes are.Reply
As for #2, there's no worries as the Half Life 2 engine in Lost Coast that we used for the majority of comparison shots doesn't move the camera during idle times. We used a save game and reloaded the scene at exactly the same position, so its not an issue here.
As for your first concern, I was worried about that, too, at first. But I carefully scrutinize the uncompressed TIFF files before exporting them to GIF and in these cases there's no practical difference, it does an excellent job of demonstrating the result with different AA modes.
Very interesting article! Although I'm a tad confused by your nomeclature of the Radeon AA settings. There's MSAA, AMSAA, SSAA, and within those you can choose box, narrow tent, wide tent, and edge detect types (edge being the only one AFAIK to increase demand), and then on top of that you can enable Morphological. So, I'm not sure what "EQ" means as it is not at all a term used by Radeon (or at least CCC).Reply
Also, as the first poster said, why is morphological so demanding all of a sudden? When I first tried using it, I barely saw an impact on performance and in a couple games it made everything look blurry. I just tried enabling it in Skyrim (a game that really needs better AA) and my performance plummeted - which these results confirm. What changed?
wolfram23 So, I'm not sure what "EQ" means as it is not at all a term used by Radeon (or at least CCC).Reply
As it says in the article, EQAA is Radeon HD 6900-series exclusive. You probably don't have a 6900 card.
wolfram23Also, as the first poster said, why is morphological so demanding all of a sudden?
The answer is 5 posts above this comment. :) Depends on the game, you may have been using a CPU-bottlenecked title.