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What is GPU Scaling? How to Enable GPU Scaling?

Updated Jan 09, 2020

You might enjoy playing an action-packed third-person shooter such as Gears of War on gaming PC or laptop. With a high-end graphics-processing unit and amazing surround sound – the experience is unmatchable.

But, what if you want to go back to the old days and play Mafia, you might be taken aback. You are likely to experience blurred or stretched out images, slow gaming and a poor output overall.

This is because the older games were not made according to the modern systems with different aspect ratios. So, to enjoy old classics like Mafia and GTA San Andreas, you need to tweak your system. For this, GPU scaling will come to your rescue.

What is GPU Scaling

A GPU is a processor that is dedicated specifically to gaming. The realistic blood and gore you see when you kill the enemies in the game are due to the GPU.

GPU scaling is an option available in the modern graphic processing units that lets you tweak the games aspect ratio, which is the ratio between the height and width of your screen. Altering the aspect ratio makes an old game fit perfectly on your monitor with no stretches and lags.

The problems you might have faced while playing older games is because of their aspect ratio. Games like Max Payne and Quake had a native aspect ratio of 4:3 and 5:4. But modern monitors have aspect ratios of 16:9 and 21:9. GPU scaling makes the appropriate adjustments so that you get a high-quality output without the images being pixelated.

Types of GPU scaling

If you want to enable GPU scaling in your GPU, you will come across three modes:

1) Scale Image to Full Panel Size

This option lets you stretch the image of your game to fit the display of your screen. It is an easy fix while playing old games, but the resultant image will have a pixelated appearance. This kind of output is due to the fact that the game’s initial aspect ratio was not used. So, no space will be wasted while adjusting the image, but you will not enjoy stunning visuals.

2) Maintain Aspect Ratio

Using this option, you can play the game in full-screen mode. Here, the game’s original aspect ratio will not be changed but the graphics are scaled up. As the images will not be stretched, the extra background gaps will be filled using black bars or patterns. These are added to the left, right or below the images.

3) Use Centered Trimmings

You can use this mode when the game image is smaller than your screen’s resolution. The option does not scale the image. Instead, the option positions the image right at the centre. As this option does not completely fill the monitor, you will see the game image surrounded by a pattern or black bars.

Now that you have grasped the basics of GPU scaling, let us look at the ways to enable these settings in different graphic processing units.

How to Enable GPU Scaling?

1) GPU scaling in AMD Catalyst

This method enabling GPU scaling is a little old as most PCs use Radeon settings. Here are the steps:

  • Select the AMD Catalyst Control Center after right-clicking on the desktop, in the drop-down menu.
  • Hover over to the option My Digital Flat Panels on the left side of the page. Click on it and another drop down will appear.
  • Click on the Properties (Digital Flat Panel) option.
  • In the window on the right, you will find an option called Enable GPU upscaling. Tick the box to enable GPU scaling.
  • Then you will be presented with the three possible scaling methods – Maintain aspect ratio, Scale image to full pane size and Use centered trimmings.
  • Choose on the preferred scaling mode and click on the Apply button.
  • To adapt to the changes, your monitor will turn off for a couple of seconds. When it turns on, the changes will have been applied.

2) GPU scaling in AMD Radeon Settings

For modern GPUs and AMD graphic cards, these are the steps you have to use for enabling GPU scaling:

  • Right-click on the desktop and select AMD Radeon Settings.
  • In the AMD Radeon Settings window that appears, click on the Display tab.
  • Then click on the GPU Scaling option to turn it on.
  • After that, click on the Scaling Mode to open a drop-down menu.
  • Choose your required scaling mode from the options presented in that menu.
  • Exit the Radeon Settings.

3) GPU scaling with NVIDIA Control Panel

  • Right-click on the desktop and click on the NVIDIA Control Panel in the drop-down menu.
  • On the left part of the Control Panel, you will find the Display tab.
  • Click on the Adjust desktop size and position from that tab.
  • In the main window on the right, click on Perform Scaling On option.
  • In the drop-down menu that appears, click on GPU.
  • Select the scaling method you want such as Maintain aspect ratio, Scale the image to full pane size, and Use centred trimmings.
  • Exit the NVIDIA Control Panel.

Pros of GPU Scaling

As GPU scaling helps in resizing and adjusting the display in the games, it enhances the gaming experience for users. The advantages of GPU scaling are as follows:

  • The scaling mode preserves the original aspect ratio of the old games. So, there are no ugly stretches in the graphics or odd shapes around the edges of the screen. All the details are clearly visible without any issues.
  • Normal systems without a GPU are not equipped to handle high-quality graphics. GPU scaling helps to support these graphics and preserve image quality when running both modern and older games.
  • If the image goes beyond the screen resolution, you might see black bars where the images are cut off. GPU scaling has an option of Underscan/ Overscan in the configuration menu that can remove these bars. The image is adjusted to get a better output.

Cons of GPU scaling

Effect of GPU on Input Lag

A disadvantage you might face while performing GPU scaling is its significant effect on input lag. The process of GPU scaling requires a lot of processing power. This is because the process displays the graphics or game images just as they are while preserving their quality. If you play a video, this slight delay while displaying will not be noticed easily.

But, when you are playing games, the additional processing power needed to render the graphics are noticeable. You might observe a slight delay in the resultant effect when you press a button. This is called an input lag.

For example, if you press a button to fire a bullet but the effect is a little delayed. This is a real problem when you are engrossed in a game - and are busy strategizing and killing your enemies.

GPU scaling is best while playing old games. When you are playing newer games, it is best to turn GPU scaling off to avoid input lag.


Most of the modern games like Far Cry, Crysis and Mass Effect do not require GPU scaling and the screen resolution is compatible with the current monitors. So, if you are a gamer who wants an uninterrupted gaming experience, turn the GPU scaling option off.

But if you like playing oldies such as Doom and GTA Vice City, turn on the GPU scaling for an enjoyable experience. In all cases, weigh the effects of not scaling images against that of input lag.