Benchmark Results: AMD Graphics Cards, Post-Process And MSAA
In AMD’s Battlefield 3 documentation, the company makes a big deal about the difference between the Anti-Aliasing Post and Anti-Aliasing Deferred options, which toggle on and off Fast Approximate Anti-Aliasing and Multi-Sample Anti-Aliasing, respectively. Both features do different things, but have very disparate effects on performance.
It’s easy to see why AMD is so concerned with the use of Anti-Aliasing Deferred: it imparts a massive frame rate drop, which takes a card like the Radeon HD 6970 that might be playable at 2560x1600, or a Radeon HD 5850 at 1920x1080, and beats performance back quite a bit. Anti-Aliasing Post, on the other hand, though not always an effective approach, barely touches speed.
Perhaps more worrying for AMD is that, while the GeForce cards are also hit pretty hard by MSAA, the impact is far less detrimental. At no point does the addition of 4x MSAA take an Nvidia board from playable to unplayable (aside from maybe the GeForce GTX 285 at 1680x1050). AMD can’t say the same.
You’re at least safe turning Anti-Aliasing Post to High on AMD’s cards. Whether you want to mess with MSAA depends on how much performance you have “in reserve” to throw at eye candy.