What is GPU Scaling?

If you’re buying a gaming PC or a graphics processor for the first time, you’ll probably end up hearing a lot of technical words that don’t mean much outside of the business. Some of these are important for most gamers and video editors to understand, while others won’t. GPU scaling is a technology that falls somewhere in between: useful if you want to play older games the way they were meant to be played, less useful if you’re mostly playing new AAA or indie games.

If you’ve ever had a question about the nature of GPU scaling or how you can activate it on your machine, HotRate is ready to help. We’re going to break down everything you need to know so you can change your Nvidia or AMD Radeon settings to get the most out of variable aspect ratios.

What Does GPU Scaling Mean?

Games and computer generated images are becoming rapidly more advanced with each passing year, and that can take multiple forms. Manufacturers need new tools to render more advanced imagery, increased resolutions provide customers with better image quality, and more powerful processors are needed to keep pace with the latest gaming titles. But the aspect ratio of most TVs and monitors changes over time too.

Measured in width by length, the aspect ratio refers to how an image is stretched across the full panel size. With older games, the scaling mode will determine how the appearance of older games or movies appear on the screen. Both Nvidia and AMD graphics cards offer GPU scaling, and while they have slightly different names for each GPU scaling option, the options are pretty much the same. GPU scaling mode typically gives you three image options:

  • Maintaining the aspect ratio will keep the image on the screen the same as it would be at its native resolution. When you enable GPU scaling of this type, you’ll have black bars around the screen so that the image on screen reflects the original intention of the developer.
  • Alternately, you can set GPU scaling to disregard the aspect ratio entirely and fit the image output to the exact size of the screen. More often than not, this means that the image scaling will be distorted to compensate for the full sized screen, but it does mean there won’t be any black bars around the image.
  • If you enable GPU scaling in centered mode, your screen will use the original aspect ratio but center it on the screen. You’ll still have black bars, but the positioning of the image on screen will generally be less awkward.

Ultimately, if you’re playing an older video game or video, the right graphics output is going to depend on your gaming preferences. Whether you have an AMD Radeon or a Nvidia chip, the fundamentals are pretty much the same. Input lag will be a little more noticeable with GPU scaling, but the input lag won’t be noticeable to all but the most serious gamers. But input lag could be a serious problem if you’re trying to use GPU scaling to change the aspect ratio on a competitive multiplayer game.

How Do I Change GPU Scaling For AMD Radeon?

The process of stretching an image to full screen or using other methods to preserve aspect ratio is pretty easy with an AMD Radeon processor. If your computer uses AMD for its computer graphics, you should have scaling methods and scaling options already built in to your operating system.

  • Right click on your desktop screen, and then left click on the “AMD Radeon Settings” or “AMD Catalyst Control Center” icon. This will bring you to the main control panel for the AMD Radeon GPU.
  • Use the drop-down menu to select the monitor you want to use to scale the image. You’ll find this under the display tab or the my digital flat panels tab depending on whether your computer uses AMD Radeon Settings or the Catalyst Control Center.
  • Select GPU scaling from the AMD Radeon menu. Your screen will then automatically underscan overscan to facilitate the standard AMD Radeon GPU scaling. You may see black bars immediately or may need to hit the apply button.
  • Choose from the GPU settings you want to use. AMD Radeon supports the three main GPU scaling mods as well as a few other options we’ll get into below

How do I Change GPU Scaling For NVIDIA?

For the most part, changing the image scaling on a computer that uses a NVIDIA processor is more or less identical to the same process with an AMD Radeon chip.

  • Right click on your desktop, then select “NVIDIA control panel”.
  • Click on the button that says “Adjust desktop size and position. It can be found on the left underneath the display tab.
  • Find the drop-down menu beside the “Perform Scaling On” button, and choose the GPU option.
  • Choose the image scaling method you want for your digital flat panel. The settings should change immediately.

What is Super Virtual Resolution?

Virtual Super Resolution is not the same as GPU scaling, but it’s similar in intent. A proprietary technology available in AMD GPU models, Virtual Super Resolution allows you to simulate a 4K image resolution even if your computer is hooked up to a 1080p full panel screen. Keep in mind that Super Virtual Resolution isn’t available for all games, but it is a great way to improve the image quality on older titles.

What is HDMI Scaling by AMD?

AMD offers another mode called HDMI scaling. It’s a variation of the traditional GPU scaling feature that’s specific to problems created by connecting one device to another with an HDMI cord. If you’re using an HDMI port and are getting overscanned or underscanned results, HDMI scaling is the first thing you shoul try.

Wrapping Up

We hope our guide told you everything you needed to know about what is GPU scaling. It can be a great way to improve your retro gaming graphics experience, and it’s fortunately pretty easy to perform. And if you want more helpful advice on gadgets or get caught up with information on some of the best products available on Amazon, be sure to dig deeper into our posts here on HotRate.