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All modern 3D video cards support some form of hardware-based "anti-aliasing" for games. The idea is to render the frame bigger than the screen resolution, and then downsample it to get smoother images.

NVIDIA has a small description here.

Now, this might be expensive to do in a game (where the video card has a lot of processing to do), but on a desktop environment (think of Windows or any Linux graphical frontend (KDE, Gnome, LMDE, XFCE, etc.) performance shouldn't be a problem.

Therefore, one could then disable all software-based aliasing, and let the video card do the job. I guess that in several cases it would look better.

While this seems technically feasible, I couldn't find anywhere how to do this.

So, any ideas if this is possible? If not, why not?

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I would say that any rendering on the desktop that could be improved by aliasing is already taken care of. i.e. you wouldn't see any difference at all even if aliasing (hypothetically) was enabled. You would only unnecessarily be taxing the gpu –  Jasjeev Singh Feb 15 '13 at 16:17
    
I'd say it could still be improved, just look at tons of Windows XP out there (yes it's old, but still in use, and no, it doesn't look great). Or in case of Linux I've often seen issues like "application xyz won't render fonts correctly", forcing you to e.g. tweak configuration files. I know this is perhaps a bit utopic, but it seems a hardware-based solution provided by the graphics driver would work regardless of the underlying system. Finally, couldn't "unnecessarily taxing gpu" be seen as "conveniently untaxing the Cpu"? –  Mr.E. Feb 15 '13 at 18:55
    
I don't know about Linux but what do you find unpleasant about Windows XP? Like the animations? –  Jasjeev Singh Feb 15 '13 at 19:26
    
In a way, since Vista everything we saw in Windows is already an actual 3D texture anyway. That Flip3D gimmick truly show the truth. However, to actually benefit from the GPU power the user control must be truly aware of the GPU power. That what WPF was expected to do. As for Linux, it's what they're aiming since the beginning, but lack of standard across already existing window manager just made yet another renderer to worsen the situation –  Martheen Cahya Paulo Feb 18 '13 at 10:19
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