How much does FXAA take from you? A little tests…(warninglots of pics)

walkingdog

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We all know that FXAA plays am important role as a hero against in-game jaggies,
especially for those using deferred shading features. It’s a good start to fight those
ugly jaggies, but FXAA also blurs the images and textures, details lost due to FXAA
in charge. So, FXAA is not so perfect as everybody knows, and its side effect is what
we must endure during the entire gaming experience.


FXAA is a sharp blade for deferred shading and HDR while fighting those unpleasant jaggies,
but what do we lose when taking advantage of its wonderful power?
Since FXAA is a post process AA solution to smooth polygon edges, it also smoothes
the entire textures as well. 『How much is destroyed』is the major concern of this little
test and comparison, and I sincerely hope someday Nvidia or AMD can present a
perfect and beautiful AA solution, not only killing in-game jaggies, but keeping
textures as sharp as it should be (seems TXAA may have the chance).


I used several games as samples, with different 3D engines. FXAA was enabled via
NV driver contorl panel (Deus ex using ingame FXAA). FRAPs was the tool to
capture in-game screenshots, and I kept FPS counter on screen, as a way to show
performance change during testing process.
I converted two bmps into one gif file, this procedure resulted in image quality loss,
a lot I must add, so I made a RAR containing all png files.
You can download it here and compare all the difference as you want.
http://freakshare.com/files/0yo0hf5f/PNG.rar.html


IMO I think FXAA is good, an alternative to suit gamer’s taste, although it blurs
textures to a degree in most cases.
In some games though, it really doesn’t have so much impact on images or textures,
like Dead Space 2、Max Payne 3,etc. This may be due to different 3D engines used,
the resolution of textures, and don’t forget in-game environments
(dark or blight, in dark surroundings AA is less important).
Anyway, an AA solution with the merit of both MSAA and FXAA is highly expected.
I have heard TXAA is as good as FXAA while dealing with deferred shading, along
with less performance drop compared to MSAA, and keeps textures sharp at the same
time. Let’s hope it’s true, and AMD can present its own AA solution like TAXX in the near future…






Test Platform
CPU:E6500
RAM:4GB DDR2-800
VGA:9800GT GREEN
MONITOR:CHIMEI T38D 1400X1050
DRIVER:301.24


1. Wolfenstein (Wolfenstein 3D Engine)
http://i.imgur.com/FYe1D.gif
FYe1D.gif


FXAA is a charm, sentencing jaggies to death.
Take a look at the floor and indentaions on the windowstill, a few details vanish,
not a lot though. I think it’s good to turn on FXAA in this game.



2. Borderlands (Unreal Engine 3)
http://i.imgur.com/LwcLQ.gif
LwcLQ.gif


PICs can not show what is really happening in this game.
Yeah, I prefer to bear some jaggies than blurry images,
not serious, but out of focus…



3. Crysis (CryEngine)
http://i.imgur.com/aPPOj.gif
aPPOj.gif


Shadows of mud become less stereoscopic, you can make it out I believe,
don’t know if Nomad wears his grandpa’s glasses…
FXAA does a little damage to the textures, especially when there are trees and grass.
Although endurable, I think in-game AA is more cute…



4. Deus ex: Human Revolution (Re-engineered Crystal Engine)
http://i.imgur.com/gDabv.gif
gDabv.gif


Look at the electronic panel on the far wall, the words on that panel decline a bit,
and lines of hand mess up…
Still, I think it’s better to enable FXAA in this game, otherwise you’ll earn a lot of doggy-teeth…



5. Gothic 3 (Genome Engine)
http://i.imgur.com/wdVvD.gif
wdVvD.gif


Never have I seen so many disparities in a game like Gothic 3 with FXAA on&off.
The leaves of trees stick together like a mass of shit.
Also take a look at the grain of the planks、ladders、cottages, textures downgrade a lot,
and this forces you to trun off FXAA immediately…



6. Max Payne 3 (Euphoria Engine)
http://i.imgur.com/3btyZ.gif
3btyZ.gif


FXAA looks good in this game. I used driver FXAA instead of in-game FXAA.
It seems in-game FXAA just couldn’t take jaggies away, but blurs all the image.
I don’t know why, maybe a personal issue I guess…
 

lobski2

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Oct 16, 2009
Messages
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I fucking love FXAA. Great job at getting rid of jaggies, at the fraction of the cost of MSAA.
 

boxleitnerb

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Thanks for the screenshots. Now we can see what a blurry mess FXAA is. In every one of the examples details are lost, looks like someone smeared butter all over my glasses.
 

cageymaru

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I can't stand FXAA for games that require my eyes to track objects moving at high speeds. It always looks like the MSI Kombuster stress tests to me. Since I don't turn it on for those it's pointless to turn it on in other games. MSAA is a far superior technology IMO.
 

Sharps97

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Pretty conclusive that FXAA impact to visual quality is marginal and nearly imperceptible in most games unless you stop, stare at a wall close up, and then magnify the image.

Out of all the screen shots, there is only one game where FXAA actually smears the image, and it may just be that depending on the textures used in the game itself (or some other technical reason), you may need to evaluate the use of this option on a game by game basis.

But so far, none of these anti-aliasing methods (either FXAA or AMD's driver based version) have a material negative impact on image quality, but do significantly reduce jagged edges across the board with minimal impact on performance.
 

BababooeyHTJ

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Thank you most of those screen shots do a very good job of showing off that annoying blurring that Brent and Kyle seem to love. :p

You should be aware that there are at least three different versions of FXAA, with options the game developer can adjust. Max Payne 3 is, as you noticed, a particularly well done implementation of FXAA. Here's the FXAA inventor's page:

http://timothylottes.blogspot.com/2011/03/nvidia-fxaa.html


Look at how much detail that you lose with FXAA on high in that screenshot that the op posted.

SMAA > FXAA. Same benefit as FXAA but with less/no texture blurring

http://www.iryoku.com/smaa/

Yeah, I love SMAA and use it whenever possible. I like to combine it with MSAA.
 

Forceman

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In-game FXAA is the way to go - forcing it in the control panel is kind of the blunt object approach.

Really comes down to what bothers you more, jaggies or blurriness. I can't stand jaggies, so I'll gladly take a slightly blurry image (and most of those tests are very slight) to get rid of the jaggies. Some people are more tolerant of jaggies.

Sharps97, look closer. There is blur in every single one of them.

Gothic3 looks bad, but in most of the others the loss of edge sharpening (like the bush in the Crysis shot) is much more apparent than actual texture blurring, at least to me.
 

BababooeyHTJ

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In-game FXAA is the way to go - forcing it in the control panel is kind of the blunt object approach.

Really comes down to what bothers you more, jaggies or blurriness. I can't stand jaggies, so I'll gladly take a slightly blurry image (and most of those tests are very slight) to get rid of the jaggies. Some people are more tolerant of jaggies.



Gothic3 looks bad, but in most of the others the loss of edge sharpening (like the bush in the Crysis shot) is much more apparent than actual texture blurring, at least to me.

Look at Borderlands you can still see the jaggies pretty clearly and thats in a screenshot. The lines crawl more in motion. You can clear that up with MSAA, without the blurriness.

That bush in Crysis just looks blurry to me. It would have looked much better with just transparancy ssaa.
 

cageymaru

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Pretty conclusive that FXAA impact to visual quality is marginal and nearly imperceptible in most games unless you stop, stare at a wall close up, and then magnify the image.

Out of all the screen shots, there is only one game where FXAA actually smears the image, and it may just be that depending on the textures used in the game itself (or some other technical reason), you may need to evaluate the use of this option on a game by game basis.

But so far, none of these anti-aliasing methods (either FXAA or AMD's driver based version) have a material negative impact on image quality, but do significantly reduce jagged edges across the board with minimal impact on performance.

With FXAA on in BF3 I can't hit targets as everything seems to looks the same to me. I can't tell your head from a bush. Turn it off and I'm a killing machine again. MLAA does the same thing only worse. In BF3 with FXAA I actually see 2 focus frames with FXAA on. Stopping and having to discern what you are firing at has a profound negative impact on me.
 

Knil

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FXAA is terrible in motion and the battle of aa is fought in motion not static images.
 
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Arcygenical

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Pretty conclusive that FXAA impact to visual quality is marginal and nearly imperceptible in most games unless you stop, stare at a wall close up, and then magnify the image.

Out of all the screen shots, there is only one game where FXAA actually smears the image, and it may just be that depending on the textures used in the game itself (or some other technical reason), you may need to evaluate the use of this option on a game by game basis.

But so far, none of these anti-aliasing methods (either FXAA or AMD's driver based version) have a material negative impact on image quality, but do significantly reduce jagged edges across the board with minimal impact on performance.

Conclusive to who? You?

I'm sorry, I'm not a huge graphics Nazi. I only recently started hating screen tearing, microstutter and other graphical artifacts... And I've always hated the look of FXAA. The entire screen looks fuzzy, not unlike the old furmark cube... or staring at the dot of a 405nm laser. I find that my eyes try to focus to compensate for the slight blurryness and it just feels off and looks bad.
 

Final8ty

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MP3 besides other things look at the number 4 and the dark grey pillar to the right at the back.
 
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Sharps97

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I'm very picky about image quality, but only Gothic 3 looks like garbage with FXAA. There's a difference between blurry and different, and I think a lot of people are getting stuck on different being the same as "blurry".

Blurry is if you lose all or most of the texture detail, which is not the case (just going by the screen shots on this page). You have some smoothing of texture detail, which is simply different from having aliased texture detail.

I'll also take issue that FXAA makes someone "bad" at gaming. It isn't significant enough that you go from being an online "ace" to someone who couldn't hit the side of a wall with auto-aim.

The only material loss of detail after really staring at the images would be in the distance, where you would expect less detail to exist to begin with. Frankly, most game engines have motion-blur built right into the game which is profoundly more significant than the microscopic differences we were looking at here.

To each their own, I suppose, but at the end of the day, FXAA seems to be good enough until something else comes along to supersede it.
 

jaredpace

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To the FXAA detractors, their opinion doesn't matter to developers, since FXAA will be in all future games anyway. If you don't like it, turn it off and force older AAs.
 

evilsofa

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These screenshots are mostly using driver-forced FXAA. You can also get the FXAA Injector 3.11 and adjust its settings yourself.

A few interesting comments about FXAA vs SMAA can be found here. I quote two:

"the problem with the inject methods is that they don't actually make full use of either the fxaa or smaa algorithms because they're being injected instead of fully integrated into the renderers post processing."

"Is there any game with its own SMAA integration? I don't think so. Please show me a video that demonstrates how FXAA smoothes a shader when there's scene movement."
 

Final8ty

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Final8ty

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I'm very picky about image quality, but only Gothic 3 looks like garbage with FXAA. There's a difference between blurry and different, and I think a lot of people are getting stuck on different being the same as "blurry".

Blurry is if you lose all or most of the texture detail, which is not the case (just going by the screen shots on this page). You have some smoothing of texture detail, which is simply different from having aliased texture detail.

I'll also take issue that FXAA makes someone "bad" at gaming. It isn't significant enough that you go from being an online "ace" to someone who couldn't hit the side of a wall with auto-aim.

The only material loss of detail after really staring at the images would be in the distance, where you would expect less detail to exist to begin with. Frankly, most game engines have motion-blur built right into the game which is profoundly more significant than the microscopic differences we were looking at here.

To each their own, I suppose, but at the end of the day, FXAA seems to be good enough until something else comes along to supersede it.

Its different yes its blurry besides effecting some of the lighting and highlights.
 
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DOOMHAMMA

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FXAA is perfect in some scenarios, and in others, I do not know if I could accept what makes me feel like I am near-sighted again (I wear contacts for a reason).
 

spaceman

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The SMAA is great in BF3. Game runs silky smooth. Only issue is that there is no color correction like there is with the FXAA injector. Which blows b/c it makes it hard to see.
 

shansoft

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FXAA is terrible in motion and the battle of aa is fought in motion not static images.

+1

Another thing is the blurry problem that it caused on like trees..
makes it looks like shit to be honest..

Overall, FXAA is good when you can't use MSAA for performance issues, otherwise I would stay away from it.
 

Abit667

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I really don't like FXAA and see it as a last resort if nothing else will work or you don't have the power for any "real" type of AA.

It's neat technology and it certainly is efficient at what it does, but I don't like that it's getting spun as a high quality AA method. I really hate the look of it, especially in motion in a game. The soft edges on everything doesn't look to drastic in screen shots, but play with it on for a while and then turn it off and the difference is night and day. Really feels like someone has just cleaned a layer of grease off your monitor or something.

I'd personally love to see cards with more power and bandwidth for SSAA and more support in games and drivers :)
 

Ticker305

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FXAA is like spreading a thin layer of vasoline on the camera lens to hide an actors bad complexion.
 
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socK

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These screenshots are mostly using driver-forced FXAA. You can also get the FXAA Injector 3.11 and adjust its settings yourself.

A few interesting comments about FXAA vs SMAA can be found here. I quote two:

"the problem with the inject methods is that they don't actually make full use of either the fxaa or smaa algorithms because they're being injected instead of fully integrated into the renderers post processing."

"Is there any game with its own SMAA integration? I don't think so. Please show me a video that demonstrates how FXAA smoothes a shader when there's scene movement."

Newer versions of Cryengine might have SMAA, or at least it was demo'd (and developed) partially in conjunction with them. Also interesting is that the SMAA injector is the lowest quality available... it doesn't have the other versions. I used it for Saints Row 3 and it was basically "free" performance wise, even on my GTX 260.

FXAA is like spreading a think layer of vasoline on the camera lens to hide an actors bad complexion.

There is no one singular setting for FXAA, it's very tweakable. Depends on the game. FXAA 4.0 looks to handle this better anyway... if it's ever finished.
 

walkingdog

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Some corrections for game engines

1. Wolfenstein 2009 – id Tech 4 engine
2. Crysis – CryEngine 2
3. Max Payne 3 – RAGE engine, also using Euphoria as in-game animation engine
 

suiken_2mieu

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Well, Crysis, boarderlands and Gothic 3 get too blurry for my taste. The other games are pretty good.
 

walkingdog

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Like someone said above, static pics can’t represent what you see and “feel”
of the game. A few tests and screenshots cannot tell the whole story, but they refer to
the defect of FXAA, and the posibility to improve and overcome it.
In my opinion, FXAA is a balancer of textures and jaggies, you can tweak it to meet each case, you want something more, you lose the other.

So far Nvidia has brought up TXAA in its Kepler series. If TXAA is as good as NV
puts about, a weapon to keep textures sharp and sweep jaggies away, then I think
TXAA deserves waiting. Don’t know if TXAA can be integrated into driver like
FXAA or MLAA, if so, then TXAA can be put into common use. Otherwise, it’s only
a limited AA solution for specific engines and games…
 

dnottis

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I love FXAA, as for all the nit picky comments... once you are moving you dont notice the blurring. Its easier to nit pick it a static screenshot.
 
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