NVIDIA Multi-Frame Sampled AA Video Card Review @ [H]

Discussion in 'nVidia Flavor' started by FrgMstr, Nov 25, 2014.

  1. FrgMstr

    FrgMstr Just Plain Mean Staff Member

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    NVIDIA Multi-Frame Sampled AA Video Card Review - NVIDIA's Multi-Frame Sampled AA (MFAA) technology is available in the latest GeForce driver release. We look at performance and image quality on the GeForce GTX 980 and GTX 970 and see if this is something gamers can benefit from. Only a handful of games support it right now, if yours is on the list, give it a spin.
     
  2. MavericK

    MavericK Zero Cool

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    I agree with the overall conclusion: shader-based AA is still the way to go. Though I have to say that 4x MFAA looks a tiny bit better than 4x MSAA (IMO) with far less performance cost, so that is a win.
     
  3. tetris42

    tetris42 [H]ardness Supreme

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    The problem with shader-based is that it just flat out misses a lot of situations, doing nothing for fine-pixel content. You can see it in action on the Watch Dogs comparison Hardocp did earlier:

    [​IMG]

    I think they're right though in that the sticking point is that it's game-specific, which comes across as just backwards nowadays. I'd rather see them work on solutions that can run on ANY game or just not bother.
     
  4. 13xforever

    13xforever n00b

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  5. MavericK

    MavericK Zero Cool

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    Yeah, that is true. For thin objects (power lines, fences, etc.) MSAA is the only real option unfortunately.
     
  6. Silent.Sin

    Silent.Sin Gawd

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    What makes this different from temporal AA? I was never sure why AMD seemed to stop officially supporting that. From what I remember there were framerate limitations but when it worked it was great, and at worst it was still AA at the normal defined setting without being dependent on engine support (as independent as you can be with engines these days anyway).
     
  7. GoldenTiger

    GoldenTiger [H]ard as it Gets

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    Exciting, can't wait for it to work with sli. It's a bummer it is game specific but it already covers a lot of the games I play regularly that are demanding. Thanks for the article!


    EDIT: Also I would add that it benefits me in existing games right now, not maybe years in the future with competing tech making it irrelevant by the time it might help or I'd already have new cards like some competing technologies people are raving about lately.

    Shader based antialiasing is OK, but the overall image quality loss is big enough to make it undesirable and more of a backup or supplementary option to me. Traditional aa doesn't hit shader or transparency aliasing but a very light fxaa can alongside MfAA and or MSAA.

    Important to note also is game engine rendering is already shifting back towards non deferred techniques including forward+, which means that deferred will become rare unlike these past couple of years. It was a stopgap solution and is rapidly being outmoded for game projects at this point. This will make MSAA and MfAA even more relevant again as time goes on.
     
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2014
  8. Porter_

    Porter_ [H]ardness Supreme

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    i'm excited to try this with BF4 and AC:Unity. regarding BF4, to my eyes low FXAA combined with as much MSAA as my system can handle looks the best. i'm looking forward to getting 4xMFAA at almost the performance of 2xMSAA in BF4.
     
  9. Parja

    Parja Whineologist

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    Well, supersampling is really the best option for thin objects, but you need a beast rig or to play at a low resolution and/or framerate to use it on current AAA titles.
     
  10. wonderfield

    wonderfield [H]ardness Supreme

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    With the addendum that it's true for these frames. MFAA does actually have the potential to fall short of 2xMSAA quality in circumstances in which there are pixel changes between frame n and frame n - 1.

    If there are no changes between the last frame and the current frame, 4xMFAA should be equivalent to 4xMSAA, but MFAA does have the potential to fall apart in motion.
     
  11. Armenius

    Armenius I Drive Myself to the [H]ospital

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    CSAA was the best AA method NVIDIA developed. I don't understand why they abandoned it. I ran almost all my games with 8x CSAA + TrAA when I was running 8800GTX SLI. I have to go back and forth between 2x and 4x MSAA + TrAA nowadays depending on the performance hit. While I think SMAA looks great, it frankly still isn't as good as more traditional hardware-level AA. Shader-based AA methods also greatly depend on how it is implemented by the developers, so you often get mixed results between games.

    I have to say, though, that 4x MFAA looks fantastic in those screenshots in this review. To my eyes, it looks even better than 4x MSAA. Once MFAA is working with SLI I'll happily use it in supported games with TrAA.
     
  12. wonderfield

    wonderfield [H]ardness Supreme

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    Looking at the FXAA image, I think I'd be pretty happy with what its doing for the fence. The problem with very fine details in transparencies like this is not so much the aliasing itself but the quantization distortion, which no form of AA can do a fantastic job with.
     
  13. Brent_Justice

    Brent_Justice Moderator

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    I don't think Watch Dogs is the best example of shader based AA implementation out there either.

    There is room for improvement, this is why I think NVIDIA and AMD should work with developers on improving shader AA, make it awesome, make it look good on everything, make it not blur textures, made it perform well. It can be improved, they have the resources to put behind it, I hope both do.
     
  14. Brent_Justice

    Brent_Justice Moderator

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    MSAA doesn't do fences, no alpha textures.
     
  15. Brent_Justice

    Brent_Justice Moderator

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    SMAA doesn't have that image quality loss, it doesn't blur textures like FXAA.
     
  16. Brent_Justice

    Brent_Justice Moderator

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    And you are still enabling low FXAA, which is shader based AA. This goes to show how useful shader AA is. Without it, many things in BF4 don't get AA'd with just MSAA.
     
  17. Porter_

    Porter_ [H]ardness Supreme

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    yep agreed. i'll run AC:Unity in the same manner (FXAA + MFAA) assuming that's an option.
     
  18. Brent_Justice

    Brent_Justice Moderator

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    Exactly, and I made that point, motion can break it and you are back to aliased objects. It is one of the potential downsides.

    Me, I'd just rather have 4X MSAA (4 true samples sampled) turned on. Nothing beats the real thing, straight up 2X MSAA, 4X MSAA etc... if I'm going to run MSAA, might as well just use the real thing and feel confident you are getting 4X MSAA at all times, no matter what.
     
  19. mt2e

    mt2e Limp Gawd

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    csaa was the precursor to shader based fxaa maybe?
     
  20. Tup3x

    Tup3x [H]ard|Gawd

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    How so? It has absolutely nothing to do with post-process antialiasing.
     
  21. NExUS1g

    NExUS1g Gawd

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    It does, IMO, look better than 4x MSAA. The MFAA image is a bit darker, though, so that may be the difference I'm seeing since the stepping may not be as apparent in the darker image. Does the MFAA make the image darker or was there another reason?

    I think it'll be a good option to use for budget-minded gamers when it's available, but I honestly can't help but think that NVidia's efforts would be best used elsewhere.
     
  22. oldmanbal

    oldmanbal 2[H]4U

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    I just switched to Nvidia high end and can't understand the 3d control options for sh*t. I have no idea of if what i set is even being used in game without a guesstimating with multiple restarts, or if i'm turning on too many things that cancel each other out?

    What ever happened to SSAA? It's the best option available by FAR and i don't even know if the 980s support it? Can someone clue me in?
     
  23. Stoly

    Stoly [H]ardness Supreme

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    This shows once again that something that sounds too good to be true, isn't.

    Since its programmable I gues it could get better/faster in time.
     
  24. DragonNOA1

    DragonNOA1 [H]ardness Supreme

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    Great review of this technology. Thanks.
     
  25. ShamisOMally

    ShamisOMally [H]ard|Gawd

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    Why no SMAA testing? Its easy to do with Radeon Pro, even with a GTX 980
     
  26. ICOM

    ICOM 2[H]4U

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    I'm embarrassed to say that it's gotten to the point now that I don't even know what I'm looking at anymore.
     
  27. Dayaks

    Dayaks [H]ardness Supreme

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    I loved the marketing pre-launch for MFingAA. It'll be interesting if nVidia keeps up with it... I lean towards [H]'s conclusion with longevity.

    Good review. It was a welcome surprise since I was curious if MFAA was worth it's weight. Even though I blindly enabled it I haven't had a chance to fiddle with it.
     
  28. Trimlock

    Trimlock [H]ardForum Junkie

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    Not excited about this at all. Improvement? yes, but as was mentioned when QC AA was dropped like a hot sack of potatoes and every other higher performance AA from Nvidia.

    I'm with other posters, NV should hunker down with game developers and better improved shader based AA. We after all have an excessive amount of shader power available to us.
     
  29. tetris42

    tetris42 [H]ardness Supreme

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    Even then, only for polygon edges (antennae, wires, etc.). For things like chainlink fences, you pretty much need SOME flavor of SSAA for alpha textures. That's what Adaptive AA was for AMD and TrSSAA was for Nvidia, mixing the best of both worlds when appropriate. Unfortunately support for those is very touch and go nowadays.

    That got rebranded as FXAA.

    You might think that (and maybe it is good enough for you), but in motion you still see lots of flicker as the image updates.

    You'll want the program "Nvidia Inspector". Unofficially Nvidia has the most AA options out there, but you have to enable them yourself. Officially they're about on par with AMD. Many games require custom "AA flags" you need to set manually in order to get SSAA to work however.
     
  30. tetris42

    tetris42 [H]ardness Supreme

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    Not much? I guess the biggest difference is ATI's temporal AA wasn't game specific.
     
  31. 13xforever

    13xforever n00b

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    No, these are two different techniques. For starters, SRAA requires a depth-buffer (and optionally a normals buffer) to work. FXAA is completely 2D morphological post-processing.
     
  32. Ashbringer

    Ashbringer [H]ardness Supreme

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    AA was originally made for low resolutions like 640X480 or 800X600, where jaggies made everything look like meh. But once you get to 1080p+ resolutions then AA is a pointless waste of resources.
     
  33. Tup3x

    Tup3x [H]ard|Gawd

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    Maybe for you but 1080p 23" has really low PPI in my opinion and requires antialiasing, even more so in motion.
     
  34. tetris42

    tetris42 [H]ardness Supreme

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    Do you game on your phone's screen or something?
     
  35. Quartz-1

    Quartz-1 [H]ardness Supreme

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    With regard to the issue of recording, doesn't Nvidia have built-in recording with Shadowplay?
     
  36. Dayaks

    Dayaks [H]ardness Supreme

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    I swore I was going to see CreepyUncleGeorge posted this. I was disappointed it wasn't.
     
  37. wonderfield

    wonderfield [H]ardness Supreme

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    For which the only (good) solution is much greater pixel density. Like I said, it's not the aliasing itself that's really the problem here, but the moiré effect of low-resolution quantization.

    I think FXAA would be okay here, but most likely I'd prefer FXAA atop sparse grid supersampling.
     
  38. MavericK

    MavericK Zero Cool

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    If only that was even remotely true.
     
  39. tetris42

    tetris42 [H]ardness Supreme

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    Well higher pixel density or better samples, either way. As for FXAA, there's not really a lot of point to adding it on TOP of SGSSAA. SGSSAA often delivers the best image you can have, just it has a huge performance hit. It makes more sense to add FXAA before something like downsampling.
     
  40. wonderfield

    wonderfield [H]ardness Supreme

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    Actually, the theoretical best image you can get comes from some combination of sparse and ordered grid supersampling, but that's rarely going to be something you can do in real time. FXAA uses an entirely different mechanism, and helps knock out any last bits of aliasing in addition to softening the frame, which helps combat temporal artifacts.

    It's also almost always free or near-free.