NVidia Inspector

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NVidia Inspector

Postby Steve Waite » Thu Jul 17, 2014 4:18 pm

Enhancing anti-aliasing in FSX (and P3Dv2) using the NVidia GPU Control Panel, and NVidia Inspector (NI).

Ultimate settings: Use the setup shown below for the D3D version DX9, DX10, or DX11, then use DSR modes 1.2x 1.5x or 2.0x.

IMPORTANT - Make a new profile for NI:

If we change or roll back a driver, or change our P3D version, we must also start a fresh profile, or the settings might not work.

What I do is use the NVidia GPU Control Panel, Manage 3D Settings, select FSX (or Prepar3D), press the "Restore" button and "Apply". Next I set "aniso mode 16x" and press "Apply", this is simply to help create a fresh NI profile. If we now go into NI there is a new FSX profile we can select and set our desired values. We can start this process by applying Restore to the Global Settings, if we want to create all new profiles. Usually it's best to start fresh with each version of driver or NI.

If we have used NI at all; even with a current defaulted profile that shows the Restore button disabled, then after any driver update we must make a change to it, and apply it to gain the use of the Restore button. Finally use the enabled Restore button to reset the Control Panel profile, and go on to modify it and Apply in preparation for use within NI.


With FSX DX10 we override the application AA mode in NI. We set FSX display settings to Anisotropic, and set AA on, these are enhanced with NI. We can use NVidia Control Panel and set Transparency AA to 2x, 4x or 8x, but problems come with certain planes showing pixel edges and instrument displays crumpled.

For these aircraft we can set Sparse Grid Transparency AA using NVidia Inspector. Here I have shown set 8x sparse grid which may decrease performance depending on the card. Try 2x, then 4x. Medium quality = 4x Sparse Grid Supersampling, best = 8x. Remember with DX10 only the Antialiasing - Transparency AA settings make a difference.

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The BN2 Islander VC in FSX DX10

On the left with 8xSSAA shows practically no anti-aliasing at all, on the right with 8xSGSSAA:


Sometimes we can notice distant road traffic and other distant items 'twinkle' as they swap from textured to white, the Sparse Grid AA setting can also improve this problem to a degree.

To cure DX10 flickering runways, taxiways, fences, and other DX10 problems, we can download and install the shader_release_v3.2.3 package from the Misc section of the AVSIM file library. The patch is very simple to use, a folder is extracted from the zip file and a setup.bat file is executed. This fixes problems with DX10 rendering in FSX, but does not fix certain addon aircraft and scenery, which may show parts blank in the sim.


Here I have shown DX9 settings for NI with FSX AA, works set to On or Off, but I've set AA=Off and Anisotropic filtering in-sim. The settings are the converse to DX10 in that setting transparency AA does not work as expected, and there are no scaling anomalies between planes. We use the "Antialiasing - Setting" values for DX9 Medium quality = 32xS [Combined: 2x2 SS + 8x MS], best = 4x4 [4x4 Supersampling (D3D only)].

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DX9 Antialiasing - Transparency AA settings: The transparency settings are intended for DX10 and DX11, but change the value of registers on the GPU even with DX9 setups. If we set Antialiasing - Transparency values of Sparse Grid with DX9 as well as the "Antialiasing - Setting" value we get poorer performance due to the extra pre-rendering. Keeping to Supersampling provides best performance, and in any case the "3x3 [3x3 Supersampling (D3D only)]" setting is better quality, and and with no more hit on performance than to enable TSGSSAA modes. However, many use the TSGSSAA setting with DX9 to reduce shimmer slightly. When we try choosing any of the Transparency Sparse Grid settings with a DX9 setup, irrespective of setting 2x, 4x, or 8x SGSS, each arrives at more or less the same image quality, with each setting having more or less the same performance impact. That's because normally with increased magnitudes of Super Sampling AA, the source image size is increased, but here the sampling shifts slightly. This does have a reasonable AA result, in a detail softening way, but can upset small detail in shadows. The performance impact of the extra rendering is similar to going to a higher DX9 AA method like 3x3 [3x3 Supersampling (D3D only)], with better detail in the first place.

A clean DX9 DISPLAY.Device section in fsx.cfg:
[DISPLAY.Device.NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680.0]

When using NVidia Inspector we can remove fsx.cfg settings in the DX9 DISPLAY.Device section other than the display resolution, like TriLinear and Anisotropic.

Another thing to keep in mind is that a DX10 DISPLAY.Device section in the fsx.cfg can prevent the DX9 settings working correctly.

Here's a typical DX10 DISPLAY.Device section from the config, DX10 has an extra ".0" in front of the final ".0" (or ".1" for second monitor):

[DISPLAY.Device.NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680.0.0]
AntiAlias=1 <<-- remove DX10 AntiAlias setting for correct DX9 operation, or remove entire DX10 DISPLAY.Device section for best results with DX9.

D3D10=1 <<-- DX10 setting

Texture filtering: This is the method of projection of textures onto the facets. Anisotropic means that the view is calculated for all angles, linear simply meets the facet with the texture. At the far distance where textures are very small projections, anisotropic settings improve the clarity by interpolating the texture more accurately.


Upscaling: When choosing a large display we might want to choose a lower resolution than that monitor to enable high performance of the simulator and use the monitor upscaling to provide a still (hopefully) reasonable image.

In order to do that, the hardware, monitor or GPU can interpolate the average of the pixels in the source image onto the destination image. This produces a softening of the image even if that new image is a direct multiple of the source; for example 1 pixel mapped onto 2x2 will still be interpolated as shown in the image below:


The image on the left is the direct upscale without interpolation, the image on the right is indicative of the result on the larger monitor. (Interpolated images are constructed with software that uses first principle techniques - codelegend.com).


P3Dv2 DX11 is very similar to FSX DX10 we set P3Dv2 Display settings to Anisotropic, and set Multi Sampling AA to the value we want to set SSAA in NI, and we enhance this with NI. With DX11 only the Antialiasing - Transparency AA settings make a difference. Enhance AA with Supersampling, medium quality = 4x, best = 8x, or we can set Sparse Grid Supersampling when certain aircraft look poorly anti-aliased, or some instruments fine detail looks crumpled beyond a certain zoom out. We can also enhance Anisotropic Filtering and Texture filtering for sharper distant views. P3D handles the vsync in desktop mode; use in-sim display settings, vsync=on, and triple buffer=on, for smoothest view. Note with the P3D menus showing the sim will stutter, do all testing with the menu off (hold down ALT). We don't always need NI for P3Dv2, we only need use the Prepar3D.CFG and set MSAA=8 & SSAA=8 in the [Display] section to improve AA, unless we get aircraft models with poor antialiasing, if so we choose SGSSAA in NI. Some combinations of driver and P3D version do not utilise the SSAA setting correctly, so SGSSAA must be chosen to remove the glinting facets.

Treat Prepar3D v3 the same, with NVidia 358.87 TSSAA is working properly.

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Sparse Grid: Antialiasing - Transparency Supersampling - Sparse Grid Supersampling is only required with FSX DX10 and P3D DX11. Due to the way pictures of objects are assembled together to make up the view within the simulation, depending on the zoom of the view, problems can arise with certain aircraft scales showing pixel edges and instrument displays crumpled. Sparse Grid Supersampling is used to improve the quality of this situation, and is not a quality improvement overall. The GPU is utilised for antialiasing the objects in the view, and so it makes no difference if the AA mode is set to "application controlled" or "override application". In this case I leave the default app controlled setting which utilises less logic during rendering.

Filtering: With filtering disabled, we can see blue banding in the sky, and giant pixels with certain close surfaces.

Anisotropic filtering: I've shown Anisotropic filtering enhanced. AF smooth's the look of water and can make it look closer than it is, and wet runways can look less wet. Maybe comes down to personal preference. Overall, NI enhanced AF improves distant reflective details to the horizon.

Texture filtering: For FSX and P3D2 Texture filtering can be overridden with NI and enhanced with the "Texture filtering - Quality = High quality" setting. "Texture filtering - Negative LOD Bias" should not be set negative or objects can be misplaced, and so is set to zero, or clamped.

Pre-rendered frames: Pre-rendered frames only work with fixed fps settings. A maximum of three is usual, setting to 2 or 1 may help performance, but will reduce the ability to ride out short periods of slow frame production.

DSR: Use the NVidia Control Panel, Manage 3D Settings, Global Settings, DSR - Factors, and DSR - Smoothness. Check the desired multiplier boxes, and set the desired smoothness (quality of downscaling). Then in FSX full screen game mode, choose the increased custom resolution in the Display Settings. Use the window mode switching ALT+ENTER key combination twice to invoke the new setting. The screen text becomes smaller and the larger starting resolution is scaled onto the monitor resolution to produce the anti-aliased effect. DSR is not an alternative to other AA techniques, rather it enhances their results. Filtering will still be required to improve textures into the far distance. Aircraft models requiring Sparse Grid Supersampling in DX10 and DX11, still require a measure of that technique for acceptably smooth results overall.

FXAA: FXAA is a post rendering smoothing process and should be tried with or without to check for personal preference, since it can soften the view.

Performance: With a GTX680 class card 1920x1200, 60Hz monitor, we lose around 2.5fps between no enhanced AA 44fps, and highest quality 41.5fps antialiasing, and texture filtering. DSR Settings decrease the performance proportionally to the increased starting resolution.

FSX Full Screen Game Mode VSync: I have also shown vsync for Fixed fps. Rather than using the higher performance '1/4, 1/3, 1/2 Refresh Rates', with fixed 15, 20, and 30 fps, the Vertical Sync can be set fully On for less tearing. The triple buffer setting is recommended set to On unless vsync is forced off. Note: Remember that choosing 1/4 refresh with a 60Hz monitor forces fixed 15fps, 1/3 forces 20 fps, and 1/2 forces 30 fps fixed rates - the FSX internal limiter should be fixed to the same values.

Unlimited verses Fixed frame rate: It is often suspected that the Unlimited fps setting returns a faster frame rate when frame rates are pushed low by busy scenes in the simulation. D3D is designed to use a fixed fps for best results, however along with D3D fixed fps comes a look-ahead buffer, or pre-rendered frames. Usually three frames are allowed, but the amount can be altered with NI.

See below the result of a heavy load on FSX in Full Screen Game Mode. With the unlimited setting, far more time is spent with a lower and inconsistent fps throughput often below 10fps, rather than the far smoother 15fps fixed setting hardly ever dropping below 14fps:


Fixing at 30 fps when the system has no hope of keeping that frame rate, shows a poor result with the general fps hovering around 15, but no where near as smooth as fixed 15. However we lost around 1fps to unlimited setting, although unlimited was far more unstable:


Smoothing fixed fps with NI: Setting NVidia Inspector correctly will help smooth the fixed frame rate set in FSX. As long as the vsync is set to 1/4, 1/3, 1/2, or x1 of the monitor refresh rate, and FSX fixed rate is set perfectly to match. Choosing values of 1/4, 1/2, 1/3, locks the fps to that rate, i.e. 60Hz monitor refresh x 1/4 = 15fps. So if we want to use Unlimited, we do not choose these settings. We can instead set force off or force on. (Does not apply to windowed modes, is for full screen game mode.)

A setting of 20 fps is chosen for this comparison using 1/3 refresh rate vsync with 60Hz monitor = 20 Fixed fps. Setting FSX fixed rate to vsync + 1 is not recommended as shown with FSX fixed 21fps in the top graph, and felt "grainy" flying in the sim.


Fixed fps in FSX and fixed on the card (here set via the partial vsync) produces the smoothest result. With P3D choose the same fixed setting in the sim and on the card e.g. 20fps=PS_FRAMERATE_LIMITER_FPS_20

GeForce 347.52
Press refresh (F5) before viewing this page or the NI screenshots as they may have been updated.

ATI FSX notes (untested)

ATI CCC Settings:
Override AA and set to 4X
Filter = Standard
Method = Supersampling
Anisotropic filter = 16X
Quality = High Quality
Surface Format Optimization = Off
Wait for Vertical Refresh = Off


FSX Display Settings:
Uncheck Antialiasing
Choose Anisotropic filter
software architect at codelegend.com
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Steve Waite
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