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What is Anti-Aliasing?

Anti-aliasing is a technique used in digital imaging and graphics production to reduce visual artifacts – called aliasing, that occurs when high-resolution images are displayed at a lower resolution. Various algorithms are utilized to apply different methods of anti-aliasing, depending on the specific application.


Aliasing occurs when the display resolution cannot accurately render a smooth line, resulting in jagged or stair-stepped lines (referred to as “jaggies“) on edges and objects that are meant to be smooth.

Anti-aliasing smooths curved or slanting lines by introducing a subtle discoloration along their edges, causing jagged edges to blend and appear smoother. When the image is zoomed out, the slight discoloration introduced by anti-aliasing becomes imperceptible to the human eye.

Techopedia Explains the Anti-Aliasing Meaning

Techopedia Explains the Anti-Aliasing Meaning

The meaning of anti-aliasing is a technique used in computer graphics to produce a more realistic image by reducing the distortion caused by aliasing, a common occurrence when viewing images or playing games on lower-resolution display screens.

Aliasing produces jagged edges in diagonal lines or curves. Anti-aliasing smoothes out these jagged edges by blending colors along the edges.

How Anti-Aliasing Works

Jaggies occur when a display screen lacks the necessary resolution to render smooth lines accurately. This is common in digital displays where pixels typically have rectangular or square shapes. Because illuminating only part of a pixel is impossible, jagged lines inevitably appear as a result.

Increasing display resolution reduces jagged lines, making pixels too small for individual distinction. However, this isn’t always effective, as images are displayed based on resolution. High resolution doesn’t necessarily mask jagged edges, as single image pixels may span multiple display pixels. Anti-aliasing becomes necessary in such cases.

Anti-aliasing removes jaggies by adding subtle color changes around the lines, helping the line blend around curves. These color changes are made on a very small scale that the human eye cannot detect under normal circumstances.

What Does Anti-Aliasing Do?

Anti-aliasing improves the visual appearance of computer graphics by smoothing out jagged edges that occur when displaying images at lower resolutions. By reducing the pixelation that can occur, particularly in diagonal lines or curves, it makes graphics more visually pleasing.

Types of Anti-Aliasing

CSSA (Coverage Sampling)
Advanced anti-aliasing technique for improved coverage.

DLSS (Deep Learning Super Sampling)
NVIDIA’s machine learning (ML) upscaling.

EQAA (Enhanced Quality)
Improved quality with enhanced sampling.
FXAA (Fast Approximate)
Post-processing technique for overall smoothing.
MSAA (Multisampling)
Samples points on edges for smoother rendering.
SMAA (Subpixel Morphological)
Edge detection with minimal performance impact.
SSAA (Supersampling)
Higher resolution rendering before downsampling.
TAA (Temporal)
Utilizes previous frames for smoother motion and quality.

Which Anti-Aliasing is Best?

Determining the “best” anti-aliasing technique depends on various factors such as the specific application, hardware capabilities, performance considerations, and personal preference. For gaming, it comes down to your personal preferences for image quality and performance.

For example:

  • DLSS: High-quality anti-aliasing with minimal performance impact. Requires NVIDIA-compatible hardware and DLSS-enabled games.
  • FXAA: Better for lower-end systems or when performance is a priority. Offers fast anti-aliasing with minimal impact on frame rates, with slightly blurrier images.
  • MSAA: Balances image quality and performance with decent anti-aliasing and manageable impact on frame rates.
  • SMAA: Suitable for mid-range to high-end gaming systems where image quality is a priority. Offers good image quality with minimal performance impact.

Anti-Aliasing vs. No Anti-Aliasing

The Evolution of Anti-Aliasing in Gaming

The evolution of anti-aliasing in gaming, driven by demands for immersive experiences and industry competition, has progressed from early techniques like supersampling and multisampling to more advanced methods like TAA and DLSS.

Anti-aliasing can improve your gaming experience by enhancing visual clarity and contributing to smoother gameplay. These advancements prioritize both image quality and their impact on frames per second (FPS) to balance high-quality graphics and optimal frame rates.

Anti-Aliasing Pros and Cons


  • Compatible with various hardware configurations
  • Enhanced realism, immersive experience
  • Improved texture clarity
  • Reduction of visual artifacts
  • Smoother graphics, fewer jagged edges


  • Limited support in some games
  • Performance impact, lower frame rates
  • Potential for blurry textures
  • Requires computational resources
  • Trade-off between quality and performance

The Bottom Line

The definition of anti-aliasing is a technique used in computer graphics to minimize aliasing artifacts that occur when displaying images or rendering objects at lower resolutions than the source material.

Anti-aliasing is essential for delivering high-quality visuals. However, different anti-aliasing methods exist, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. The best anti-aliasing method to use depends on your preferences when balancing game performance and image quality with hardware needs to enhance your gaming experience.


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Vangie Beal
Technology Expert
Vangie Beal
Technology Expert

Vangie Beal is a digital literacy instructor based in Nova Scotia, Canada, who has recently joined Techopedia. She’s an award-winning business and technology writer with 20 years of experience in the technology and web publishing industry.  Since the late ’90s, her byline has appeared in dozens of publications, including CIO, Webopedia, Computerworld, InternetNews, Small Business Computing, and many other tech and business publications.  She is an avid gamer with deep roots in the female gaming community and a former Internet TV gaming host and games journalist.