Anti Aliasing Compared
Anti Aliasing Compared

Anti-aliasing is a vital technique in modern computer graphics. It’s what keeps the edges of objects in your games looking smooth, not pixelated. Let’s break down two popular anti-aliasing options, SMAA and FXAA, to help you pick the right one for your gaming needs.

Choosing the Right Anti-Aliasing Technique

What is anti-aliasing?

In a nutshell, digital images are made of pixels, little squares of color. When you have a diagonal or curved line, the edges look rough and jagged due to these squares. That’s where anti-aliasing steps in – it blends the pixels at the edges, making lines and curves appear much smoother.

What is SMAA?

SMAA stands for Subpixel Morphological Anti-Aliasing. It’s a more advanced form of post-processing anti-aliasing. Here’s how it operates:

  • Edge detection: SMAA finds the sharp edges in an image.
  • Blending: It calculates the blend needed to smoothen the edge, going beyond single pixels to make finer adjustments.
  • Less blurring: Compared to some other techniques, SMAA tends to produce less image blurring overall.

What is FXAA?

FXAA (Fast Approximate Anti-Aliasing) is another post-processing technique. This one takes a different approach:

  • Speed: FXAA works incredibly fast, focusing on efficiency.
  • Edge smoothing: It detects and smooths edges in an image.
  • Some potential blur: FXAA can sometimes soften the image slightly more than SMAA.

SMAA vs FXAA – Which to use?

Here’s a table to help you compare these two anti-aliasing techniques:

MethodSubpixel-based edge detectionSingle-pass pixel-based
QualityGenerally sharper visualsCan appear slightly blurry
PerformanceA bit more demanding than FXAAVery fast, low performance impact

In a nutshell:

  • SMAA: If you want the sharpest image possible and have some GPU power to spare, SMAA is often preferred.
  • FXAA: If your main concern is frame rate and you need a low-performance-impact solution, FXAA is a great choice.

It’s worth experimenting with both SMAA and FXAA in your favorite games to find your preferred balance between smooth edges and performance.

SMAA vs FXAA: Anti-Aliasing Showdown

Both SMAA and FXAA are anti-aliasing (AA) techniques used to smooth out jagged edges in games, but they achieve it in different ways and with different results. Here’s a breakdown:

MethodEdge-detection and reconstructionBlurs entire image slightly
Image QualityGenerally preserves more detail and sharpnessCan introduce slight blurriness, especially at lower resolutions
Performance ImpactHigher than FXAA, but lower than MSAAVery low, almost negligible
Supported GamesMore widely supported than FXAAAlmost universally supported
Aliasing ReductionExcellent for most aliasing typesEffective for basic aliasing, but struggles with complex textures
ProsGood balance between image quality and performance, reduces aliasing without excessive blurMinimal performance impact, works in almost any game
ConsHigher performance cost than FXAA, can occasionally miss some aliasingIntroduces slight blur, may not be ideal for detail-heavy games

Key Takeaways

  • SMAA and FXAA are both anti-aliasing techniques used to smooth jagged edges in games.
  • SMAA (Enhanced Subpixel Morphological Anti-Aliasing) offers a balance between performance and visual quality.
  • FXAA (Fast Approximate Anti-Aliasing) is known for its low performance impact but provides lower image quality.
  • User Preferences: Gamers have varied preferences; some prioritize image stability and smoothness, while others focus on minimal performance impact.
  • Game Type Consideration: The choice between SMAA and FXAA can depend on the game genre.

Additional Notes:

  • SMAA comes in multiple variations, with SMAA T2x offering the best balance of quality and performance.
  • FXAA can be tuned for different strengths and weaknesses with adjustable settings.
  • The “best” choice depends on your priorities: balance for SMAA, performance for FXAA, and image quality for MSAA (although with higher performance cost).

Ultimately, the best way to decide is to try both SMAA and FXAA in the games you play and see which one you prefer!

SMAA: Enhanced Clarity with a Performance Trade-off

SMAA, or Enhanced Subpixel Morphological Anti-Aliasing, is a technique that detects edges and smoothes them out. It’s an advanced post-process filter praised for its ability to balance performance and visual quality. Users on platforms like Reddit have noted its effectiveness, especially at higher resolutions like 1440p and above. SMAA is often compared to 8x MSAA in terms of quality, with a significantly lower performance impact.


  • Superior edge smoothing
  • Less blurring compared to FXAA
  • Better for higher resolutions


  • More resource-intensive than FXAA
  • May omit minor jaggies

FXAA: Quick and Efficient for Fast-Paced Gaming

FXAA stands for Fast Approximate Anti-Aliasing. It’s a post-process filter that quickly smooths out edges. Its main advantage is the minimal impact on performance, making it a go-to option for gamers who need high frame rates, such as in competitive multiplayer games. However, it’s known for causing a slight blur in the scene, which can be a downside for those seeking crystal-clear graphics.


  • Minimal performance impact
  • Suitable for lower resolutions
  • Ideal for fast-paced games


  • Lower image quality
  • Notable blurring effect

Real-World Applications and User Experiences

Gamers have shared various experiences on platforms like Reddit, highlighting the practical differences between SMAA and FXAA. For instance, in games with 720p internal resolution, both SMAA and FXAA work wonders, but SMAA is slightly more preferred for its clarity. In contrast, FXAA’s blurring effect can be beneficial in reducing shimmering in lower resolution games.


just cause 3 anti aliasing 001 fxaa1


just cause 3 anti aliasing 001 smaa t2x1

Technical Insights

  • Performance vs. Quality: SMAA offers better quality at a higher performance cost, while FXAA is less demanding but at the expense of image clarity.
  • Resolution Consideration: SMAA shines at higher resolutions, whereas FXAA is more suited for lower resolutions.
  • Combination Techniques: Some users prefer combining SMAA with FXAA or other techniques like CAS (Contrast Adaptive Sharpening) for a balanced outcome.

Practical Scenarios

  • High-Resolution Gaming: For gamers playing at resolutions like 1440p, SMAA is often the preferred choice due to its superior edge smoothing and minimal blurring.
  • Competitive Gaming: In fast-paced games where frame rate is crucial, FXAA’s low performance impact makes it a better choice.
  • Mixed Preferences: Some users opt for a combination of both, using SMAA for its quality and supplementing it with FXAA to handle any shimmering or minor jaggies.


Choosing between SMAA and FXAA largely depends on individual preferences and the specific requirements of the games being played. While SMAA offers superior quality, it does so at a higher performance cost. FXAA, on the other hand, is less demanding but may compromise image clarity.


Q: What is the main difference between SMAA and FXAA? A: SMAA provides better edge smoothing and clarity but is more resource-intensive. FXAA is less demanding on performance but can cause blurring in the image.

Q: Is SMAA or FXAA better for high-resolution gaming? A: SMAA is generally better for high-resolution gaming due to its superior edge smoothing and minimal blurring effects.

Q: Can I use both SMAA and FXAA together? A: Yes, some users combine SMAA and FXAA to balance image quality and performance, especially in scenarios where each technique compensates for the other’s weaknesses.

Q: Is FXAA suitable for competitive gaming? A: Yes, due to its minimal impact on performance, FXAA is often preferred in fast-paced, competitive gaming environments.

Q: Does SMAA have a significant impact on game performance? A: SMAA can have a noticeable impact on performance, especially compared to FXAA, but it is generally less demanding than traditional methods like MSAA.

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