NGOHQ received AMD's benchmarking guide for Battlefield 3 and noticed that the company recommends using NVIDIA's FXAA instead of MSAA. AMD PR Manager Antal Tungler explains MSAA can essentially cut your framerate in half, while FXAA has just a very small impact on performance.
"You'll notice that we recommend the 'Ultra' preset in lot of our scenarios, without the use of MSAA (Multi-Sample Anti-Aliasing). This is a traditional technique to remove aliasing from objects in the visible scene. It provides significant image quality improvements, at least in most cases. But because of its nature, working only on actual geometry, some objects will not benefit at all from this process, like foliage or fences, that are just textures, sprites etc. Luckily DICE implemented a new technique as well called FXAA (Fast Approximate Anti-Aliasing), which is a process that works pretty much on all objects. Another significant difference between the two is that while FXAA has a very small impact on performance, however using MSAA can essentially cut your framerate in half."
"If we view the same data in another way we can also see that once we add 4xMSAA we are lowering our frame rate so much that we are moving from a playable to non-playable gaming scenario on some high end graphics solutions if we use the standard 30fps average for playable. Many of the extremely competitive Battlefield 3 players will want as many frames as they can get making MSAA a questionable option! We can also see from both charts provided that FXAA has a relatively low performance cost for the great level of Image Quality it provides."
"The idea behind the following pages comparisons is not to discredit MSAA or the implementation of MSAA in Battlefield 3. MSAA is a wonderful technique that can be used to improve the image quality of your gaming. Users should be wary however that MSAA will not improve all objects in the game and comes at a high performance cost to the user that may not be necessary for someone looking to maximize their performance and gaming experience. It is highly recommended that users take time to toggle settings themselves and determine if the Image Quality improvement that MSAA provides is worth the performance hit their frames per second will take while gaming."