What is GPU Scaling? How to Turn it On or Off in AMD and Nvidia

Muhammad Bilal
Muhammad Bilal
What is GPU Scaling

To answer the question regarding the existence of such a feature, let’s take a daily life example. Imagine you have an outdated cell phone. The videos recorded through that phone will be of a lesser resolution. Now, what if you want to watch those videos on a television or a computer without stretching the pixels or distorting the quality of the image. Similarly, if you want to launch a decade ole game on your system, or maybe play the latest titles with smooth and sharp graphics, then you will be in immediate need of the feature known as GPU Scaling.

GPU Scaling is a process where the aspect ratio of the game/video is brought into sync with the resolution of the monitor. This tuning results in a sharper, clearer, and smooth image. The reason for creating such a feature is straightforward: Gamers. Many complaints were filed against GPU manufacturers for not incorporating any solution. It’s a new age, with withstanding technology, no one loves seeing distorted and stretched images. But here we go, the solution is already doing the magic.

what is gpu scaling

AMD GPU Scaling – How to turn it on and off?

Fortunately, the AMD graphics card comes with the option of turning on and off the GPU Scaling option. The proprietary software known as AMD Catalyst or AMD Radeon Graphics will help you reach out to the option. The step-by-step guide is mentioned in the coming paragraphs, but for now remember, you would have to connect your monitor with the graphics card through HDMI or DVI, so the scaling option can be executed properly.

It’s also worth mentioning, that you keep your drivers updated because AMD keeps on fixing glitches and problems in the drivers. So, if you are experiencing any sort of thing out of the box, it’s time to repair the software.

Nvidia GPU Scaling- How to turn it on and off?

For Nvidia, you can channel the options through the given proprietary software which goes by “Nvidia Control Panel”. The panel harbors all the necessary display options which you can tweak as per your will. As far as the GPU scaling is concerned, the option is visible in the sub-section of adjustments, which can be toggled on and off as per your will.

The same rules are applicable for Nvidia drivers as well. You will have to ensure that, all the drivers are updated because most of the users are experiencing issues if the drivers are outdated. 

What are the fundamental GPU Scaling modes?

Most of the game titles have an embedded option of tuning the aspect ratio as per your will. That can lead to severe effects. For example, if your monitor only supports a 5:4 aspect ratio, and blindly you changed the game’s ratio to 16:9 or 16:10. What will happen next? Utmost glitches, freezes, and stuttering. To lower these possibilities, three fundamental GPU scaling modes were introduced to cater to the on-suing problem.

Side note: The aspect ratio is the proportionality between the given height and width. It varies for most of the games and your monitor alike.

You can alter the modes through AMD Radeon or catalyst. Here’s the following list:

  1. Preserve aspect ratio: The preserving mode allows you to expand the size of the image to the full-screen mode, where the size of the image remains unaltered. In short, if your monitor’s resolution is set up at 1920 x 1080, and you turn on the aspect ratio of 5:4 (1280 x 1024), the game will remain in the full-screen mode but with black bars to the right and left. 
  2. Full panel: Full panel mode somehow results in a stretched version of the image. It’s least preferred of all the three modes, because most of the time, stretched images are just a plain bummer to the eyes.
  3. Center: For non-native resolutions (other than the monitor’s recommended resolution), the image is centered, resulting in black bars surrounding from all sides. For example, using a 1920 x 1080 resolution (native resolution) for your monitor, but you want to try the game at 16980 x 1050 (non-native resolution with an aspect ratio of 16:10), that’s where the image will be centered and not stretched. Still not a good option than preserving the aspect ratio, but workable.

How to cope up with the problem of black bars?

These black bars are inevitable since you tweaked the modes option. Now, what’s the solution to it? It’s not a preferable thing whilst gaming because the chances of attention deviation are humongous. To purge this out, you will have to resort to Underscan/Overscan options that help in scaling the image at a good proportion.

You don’t have to worry about black bars, it’s solvable!

What’s the detailed process of enabling AMD GPU Scaling through AMD Radeon?

The below-mentioned steps will help you tune up or down the GPU scaling option as per your will. Without any further ado let’s begin!

  • The foremost step is to update and install all the required AMD drivers for the proper functioning of the GPU scaling option
  • When you are done installing the software, right-click on the desktop and choose the AMD catalyst control center
1. Choose AMD Catalyst Control Center
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  • You will find many sub-sections on the pop-up window. From there, choose “My Digital Flat-panels” which is situated on the left side.
2. Click on the My Digital Flat-Panels
credit: wepc
  • Another drop-down list will pop up. Now choose the option of “properties (Digital Flat-Panel).
3. click the Properties
credit: wepc
  • There you go. On the right-hand side of the window, a new screen will refresh. At the center of the screen, you will see the checkbox for Enabling GPU up-scaling. Check the box.
4. Click on the checkbox
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  • Below the checkbox, you will find the preferred scaling mode which we discussed earlier on. Choose the option which suits your monitor.
5. Click your Preferred Scaling Mode
credit: wepc
  • Apply the settings, and voila, it’s done.

What’s the detailed process of enabling GPU Scaling through the Nvidia Control Panel?

If you are an Nvidia user, then you need to follow the below-mentioned steps to toggle on and off the GPU Scaling option:

  • Right-click on the desktop and open the Nvidia Control Panel.
1. Nvidia control panel
  • When the windows open, navigate to the Adjust desktop size and position section which is situated underneath the display tab.
2. Adjust desktop size and position
  • When you are inside the sub-section, click on the drop-down menu under the “Perform Scaling on” button, and select the GPU option.
3. click on the Perform Scaling on button
  • Now select the Scaling method and apply the settings.
Note: Most of the users are experiencing the absence of this option. Nvidia has incorporated the GPU-scaling option in the latest models (cards) only, so don’t expect it to exist in the outdated cards

The setbacks of enabling GPU Scaling

You must be aware of the fact that there are a plethora of cores in a GPU. These cores help in solving complex mathematical and geometrical calculations. Now when you turn on the GPU Scaling option, the processors in the GPU are not utilized at a larger rate, which results in an absolute lagging performance.

The process takes longer, and you experience significant delays in the displayed images, especially when you are playing games. There will also be a significant drop in FPS generation too. This phenomenon creates input lag, and there’s no particular way to combat it until you turn the GPU Scaling off. Choose your poison wisely.

All in all, GPU scaling is only preferred when you are trying to play older games. For newer games where performance is a pivotal part of having smooth gameplay, GPU Scaling might not be the option.

How Virtual Super Resolution is connected with GPU Scaling?

There’s another solution to cope up with tearing and stuttering. It’s the enabling of Virtual Super Resolution. Super Sampling Anti-Aliasing (SSAA) is a method to smooth out jagged edges in games. The problem is that it’s not supported by most of the games, but still, if you are playing the latest titles, then there’s a 90 percent chance of finding this option available.

Luckily, it’s an AMD option and works flawlessly when the 4K option is enabled. It’s worth mentioning, that the VSR option is only restricted to a few AMD cards. So before jumping to any conclusion regarding GPU Scaling and VSR, a well-researched formula will help you out.

Final Thoughts

Professionally speaking, GPU scaling is one of those options which has made lives easier. You can watch videos and play games without any freezing and stuttering and that’s the best part about it. Although there are a few intricacies involved, it’s fine as long as you can pull it off.

It also saves you from tuning down the graphics option. So yeah, have fun playing games on 4k!

Frequently Asked Questions

GPU scaling option is only suitable if your monitors lack display scaling. In short, if the aspect ratio of the game and the monitor are poles apart, then it’s necessary to go for the GPU Scaling option.

There are records of input lag, which means that the GPU cores are more intensely involved in smoothing out jagged edges and stuttering. So, if you can compromise on the performance at the expanse of image quality, then sure go ahead.

Yes, only if you are looking forward to using the option on older games. You will only be degrading the performance of the latest titles.


Hey, I’m Muhammad Bilal. I’m a tech fanatic (also read: Gamer), who loves scrutinizing fine details. I aim to strive hard in my respective fields (as a writer and software programmer). Before pursuing my majors in a university (right now in A-levels), I want to spend time exploring and reviewing the latest technology.

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