Forza Horizon 5: The Series 9 update significantly reduces flickering with TAA

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Forza Horizon 5 received a major patch with the Series 9 update. TAA is a new type of anti-aliasing on the PC, which is a first and an alternative to the classic MSAA. And the visual improvements are noticeable, although there are still issues.

Table of Contents

  1. 1 Forza Horizon 5 war always pretty, but flickered a lot
  2. Series 9 update brings new (much better) anti-aliasing with TAA
    1. The blurriness is limited
    2. The TAA is not error-free
  3. There are hardly any differences in performance to MSAA
  4. Conclusion
    1. Another step towards DLSS and FSR 2.0 would be optimal

Forza Horizon 5 has always been pretty but flickered badly

Forza Horizon 5 (test) uses a so-called Forward+ renderer, which, unlike the deferred renderer used in most games today, can efficiently deal with classic multi-sampling antialiasing. And so it's not surprising that Microsoft's racing game masters MSAA, because the anti-aliasing in the game doesn't cost a lot of performance. Optionally there is a simple post-processing FXAA on top.

MSAA has the advantage that the graphics are crisp even in low resolutions. This is actually almost never the case with modern games with temporal anti-aliasing – the image is only really sharp there with many render pixels. However, the MSAA in Forza Horizon 5 also has a major disadvantage: it simply doesn't smooth many elements well and the optionally switchable FXAA doesn't change anything – except that it reduces the sharpness.

ComputerBase wrote in the technology test for the game, not without reason: “Forza Horizon 5 works with MSAA and FXAA. And both of these are not really effectively stabilized, even in Ultra HD it sometimes still flickers properly. In low resolutions such as Full HD, the flickering is correspondingly more pronounced.” Developer Playground Games obviously also wanted to finally solve this problem.

Series 9 Update brings a new (much better) anti-aliasing with TAA

Because, somewhat surprisingly, TAA has also found its way into the game with the big Series 9 update on the PC. As a temporal method, it should have one strength: reduce image flickering in all resolutions – and in practice it works consistently well.

With the new TAA, the image stability of Forza Horizon 5 is significantly better than with MSAA in all resolutions. The differences are greatest in low resolutions such as Full HD, but even in Ultra HD the picture is still much calmer than before the update. Even in Full HD, the image flickers less with TAA than with MSAA in Ultra HD. The image stillness is by no means perfect, but it can definitely be described as good (high resolutions) to decent (low resolutions).

The blurriness is limited

Apparently the developers put a lot of effort into the implementation. Yes, TAA takes some of the sharpness out of the image, but significantly less than in many other games. In Full HD, where things quickly get quite muddy with TAA, Forza Horizon 5 remains quite sharp and the difference to MSAA is small. In higher resolutions, there is no longer any practical difference. The game relies on a sharpening filter, which is set to a medium level by default (0 to 10 can be set in increments of 1). This seems to be a reasonable setting.

The TAA is not error-free

But the TAA is not perfect. In general, temporal anti-aliasing tends to quickly lead to graphic errors. The editors did not notice them in their own test, but there are some voices on the Internet that report about them in certain situations. But they are by no means a big problem.

One ​​unique anomaly in the test is worth mentioning: On the GeForce RTX 3060 Ti (possibly pure coincidence), parts of the image were suddenly displayed in color, which could only be solved by restarting the game. The error could not be reproduced, this may have been a one-time thing. However, this shows that the TAA still has minor problems.

One-time graphical error with TAA

There are hardly any differences to MSAA in terms of performance

There is a surprise in terms of performance, because MSAA usually costs significantly more speed than TAA – but not in Forza Horizon 5. Yes, the TAA is usually a little faster, but then only just.

For example, Forza Horizon 5 with TAA on a GeForce RTX 3060 Ti in 1,920 × 1,080 and 2,560 × 1,440 runs 4 percent faster than with quadruple MSAA, in 3,840 × 2,160 it is still 3 percent. The Radeon RX 6700 XT then increases by 2 percent with the new anti-aliasing in Full HD and 3 percent in WQHD. However, an outlier suddenly appears in Ultra HD, where the RDNA 2 graphics card is 9 percent more powerful when TAA is used instead of quadruple MSAA. However, this is not due to a suddenly good result with TAA, but simply to a poorer speed with MSAA. Because the distance between the AMD and the Nvidia GPU remains comparable with TAA in all three resolutions. With MSAA, however, the Radeon suddenly breaks away in Ultra HD.

Forza Horizon 5

Forza Horizon 5 – 1,920 × 1,080

  • FPS, Average:
      < li class="chart__row">RX 6700 XT @ TAA84,2
    • RX 6700 XT @ 4×MSAA82,4
    • RTX 3060 Ti @ TAA77,1
    • RTX 3060 Ti @ 4×MSAA73,8
  • FPS, 1% percentile:
    • RX 6700 XT @ TAA75,4
    • RX 6700 XT @ 4×MSAA73.3
    • RTX 3060 Ti @ TAA68.2
    • RTX 3060 Ti @ 4×MSAA64.1

Unit: frames per second (FPS) Forza Horizon 5 – 2,560 × 1,440

  • FPS, Average:
    • RX 6700 XT @ TAA59.1
    • RX 6700 XT @ 4×MSAA57.5
    • RTX 3060 Ti @ TAA55,4
    • RTX 3060 Ti @ 4×MSAA53,3
  • FPS, 1% percentile:
    • RX 6700 XT @ TAA53,3
    • RX 6700 XT @ 4×MSAA52.0
    • RTX 3060 Ti @ TAA49.9
    • RTX 3060 Ti @ 4×MSAA47.6

Unit: frames per second (FPS) Forza Horizon 5 – 3,840 × 2,160

  • FPS, Average:
    • RX 6700 XT @ TAA41.0< /li>
    • RTX 3060 Ti @ TAA37,8
    • RX 6700 XT @ 4×MSAA37,7
    • RTX 3060 Ti @ 4×MSAA36.7
  • FPS, 1% percentile:
    • RX 6700 XT @ TAA37,8
    • RTX 3060 Ti @ TAA33,9
    • RX 6700 XT @ 4×MSAA33.8
    • RTX 3060 Ti @ 4×MSAA32.6

Unit: frames per second (FPS)

Conclusion

The new TAA looks much nicer in Forza Horizon 5 than the previously used MSAA, and MSAA + FXAA is also inferior. Image steadiness, while not perfect, is much better even in low resolutions than with MSAA in high resolutions. In addition, the TAA does not lose much image sharpness even in Full HD. Although the test showed a total optical failure with TAA, which could only be remedied by restarting the game, this was a one-time thing. Accordingly, TAA is preferable to MSAA in any resolution.

Interestingly, in terms of performance, TAA is hardly faster than MSAA, although the latter usually costs significantly more FPS. However, this is not the case in the racing game. It is true that one or the other additional frame can sometimes be squeezed out of the new anti-aliasing, but this is hardly or not at all noticeable.

Another step towards DLSS and FSR 2.0 would be optimal

In the ideal case, the integration of TAA should be a further step for a possibly further increased image quality or better performance with the same image quality. We're talking about Nvidia DLSS and AMD FSR 2.0, both of which should be relatively easy to implement due to the incorporation of TAA with temporal components.

In a production with a big budget like Forza Horizon 5 is, this isn't asking too much. However, there is no official confirmation of this. Since the game (under a different name) already supports FSR 1.0, the developers are at least not averse to upscaling methods.

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