Tessellation, Anti-Aliasing And Other PC Graphics Terms, Explained

Tessellation, Anti-Aliasing And Other PC Graphics Terms, Explained

You’ve successfully made a new gaming PC. Congrats! It was the best, and it was also the worst. (But in general, it was the best.) Now, it’s time to play some games. What’s the first thing you do?

Well, the first thing you do is probably download a few games. But once you fire one of those games up, you almost certainly go into the graphics settings and begin tweaking.

GameSpot‘s Reality Check has run the first of two videos helpfully explaining what all those various settings — MLAA, FXAA, Vsync, Tessellation — actually mean for your games, using visual aids to help explain each concept. I’m looking forward to part 2.


  • I’m currently thinking about ditching my MacBook Pro 15″ retina and building a gaming PC for the first time to compliment my Wii U and PS4 so this was really helpful.

    • I currently rock a 13″ MBP from 2008 (8GB of RAM and an SSD upgrade really make this thing last) and an iTX system for gaming and rendering. Best setup IMO. You get the full development power of a MacBook (iOS, Mac OS X, Android, Windows, WinPho, etc, etc) and all the raw power of a PC for testing and gaming.

      I did think about getting the top specked 15″ MacBook Retina but at $3,300 I can’t justify it when all I really want is a better GPU…

      • The top spec MacBook Pro you’re talking about is exactly what I picked up about 6 months ago. And for $500 less I can get a top of the line-ish gaming PC and an iPad, so it’s just silly.

  • I just put together an itx board with 4690k and 770gtx. It’s whisper quiet, doubles as a bluray player, and packs a fair wallop of 1080p gaming goodness. The corsair 250d isn’t the smallest case ever, but it fits the h100i cooler and a few drives, which gives it room to clock in the future.

    Now I get to turn on all of these features with crazy initialisms. I have no idea what they do, but I have to “ultra”.

    • I’ve got basically the same, i7 4790k, 16GB of RAM, BitFenix Prodigy, H100i, GTX 750 Ti (I’m waiting for the GTX 800 or the R-300 series’ before I invest in a beefy card) and a Corsair SSD to boot from. Runs like a dream and with a bit of fine tweaking I’m sure I can hit 5GHz on that little i7…

        • I know the feeling, I suffered with an external USB 2.0 HDD to install games on and it was shit. Going to an SSD from that is insane. I’ll never go back for booting…

  • This is a good primer for people to figure out what does what. I’d also like to see a video on what causes the biggest performance hits. That way anytime a friend wants game performance help, I can send them to this git for a ten minute crash course.

      • First thing is always “Ok, so look for the “shadows setting, and turn that down. No, not ultra. Really. It isn’t worth it.”

  • THANK YOU! The extent of my graphics knowledge was: Higher makes it look better but run less smoothly. Now with this video, I will make educated guesses…

  • I always wondered what tesselation was, thought it was just for things like flags and water.

    • Tessellation is one of the coolest new effects. Makes the whole “looks like polygons” thing a fact of the past.
      that and AA for jaggies.

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