Anti-Aliasing Analysis, Part 2: Performance

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 artefacts. 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.