GPU scaling allows you to change how you want your monitor to display the screen depending on what content you are viewing. This is particularly helpful on a gaming pc where the game’s aspect ratio is different to modern requirements (e.g. it is an old game).
GPU Scaling – The quick answer
GPU scaling is a monitor feature that allows an AMD graphics card to scale image to full panel no matter what the initial size of the picture on the monitor was.
In shorter words, the scaling method allows you to adjust desktop size while playing games so you get the full screen effect hopefully preserving the aspect ratio, no matter what the original size of the game was.
GPU scaling can be used to get rid of the black borders around the edge of the screen when playing a game or viewing certain content, if the preferred scaling mode of your monitor preserves the aspect ratio and doesn’t have a larger impact on input lag this should create a better gaming experience.
The Most Common Reason for enabling GPU scaling
Old games were built to function on old monitors that had an aspect ratio like 4:3 or 5:4, a lot has changes since some of these games came out and most monitors use an aspect ratio of 21:9 or 16:9.
So if you enable GPU scaling this will allow you to stretch the size of the image on the monitor to your desired choice. If the scaling methods are subpar or your panel size to big this will lead to a bad graphics output.
Similarly disabling GPU scaling will allow you to view old games in a more classic (but not as high quality image output) way.
It comes down to gamers preferences when playing older games and the amd gpu scaling method will allow you to adjust image definition, maintain aspect ratio, scale image to full panel or play with a black border around the game.
How to Enable GPU Scaling?
To use gpu scaling and experience fine tuned graphics of a modern monitor’s resolution you will have to use different aspect ratios to the native resolution. GPU scaling helps with this.
Enabling GPU scaling is very simple, first check that that you have AMD crimson or a more recent version installed on your monitor. Without this GPU scaling won’t be an option.
Next open your AMD Radeon settings window or AMD catalyst control center.
Navigate to the display settings menu.
Types of GPU Scaling
This will be covered in the pros and cons section but essentially there are several GPU scaling options depending on what kind of experience you are after.
If you want the biggest display possible regardless of the ability to maintain aspect ratio, this is an option.
If you want a high quality display scaling experience without warping the game and messing with the aspect ratio this is also an option.
Or, if you are playing on an old, small screen based game and want the original feel, this is also a possible GPU scaling option.
Effect on Input Lag
This is without a doubt the biggest drawdown of enabling gpu scaling and something a lot of gamers care about so worth talking about.
When you think about what you are doing when gpu scaling, you are altering the games original aspect ratio to your displays ratio, to make it fit better.
As there is a change that occurs (the game wasn’t built for modern gaming monitors remember) at some point there needs to be extra time to process this change.
GPU scaling will introduce a small percentage of a second extra to the existing input lag, for something like streaming netflix you won’t notice the difference.
However, professional gaming monitors are built with the lowest lag time possible as in a tournament scenario those fractions add up to make a difference. Thus it is worth considering whether gpu scaling introducing an input lag is worth it for you.
If you are a casual gamer who just wants to sit back, relax, and enjoy some old games then this is not an issue at all.
What are the Pros and Cons of enabling GPU Scaling?
As we say in too many of our articles most technology has trade-offs and enabling gpu scaling is no different. It’s up to you to figure out is gpu scaling is something you want to try.
GPU scaling allows you to pull and stretch at the aspect ratio of your display to make the game or video output fit the screen size of your choice. If you want to preserve the aspect ratio and quality of the original game you can do that, if you want to scale image to full panel that is also possible depending on how you adjust gpu scaling.
Preserving the Game Aspect Ratio
Preserving the aspect ratio allows you to keep the game’s aspect ratio while adjusting the display size, you can remove the black bars around the edge of the screen and go up to a full screen size with the right scaling mode, all while playing the game with the aspect ratio the game intended.
Just a bigger display for a better in game experience.
Full Panel Mode
This GPU scaling mode allows you to stretch the game to fit the entire screen without taking into account the original aspect ratio. For those that want a big screen to play all games on this is for you.
The GPU scaling feature in this way changes the aspect ratio so while it can be fun to play on a bigger display tab on your digital flat panel after a while you might notice the image quality in full screen mode become an issue.
This SPU scaling option does not preserve aspect ratio. Although always nice to have the option.
This GPU scaling option is for when the original game image was much smaller than your screen, it might be tricky to preserve aspect ratio, especially on a much bigger screen so this will allow you to game with black bars around the edge of the monitor.
Helpful for example if you are playing on old gameboy game on your monitor, full screen would just highlight the poor image quality at that level so gpu scaling would help with that.
The main reason to enable GPU scaling is for playing old school, retro games in a modern environment.
As we talked about before GPU scaling does not preserve input lag, without revisiting an old subject, your monitor needs a longer time to process the change in aspect ratios between the original game and your changed amd radeon settings which results in an input lag.
The main thing to decide here is if the gpu scaling is worth the input lag, if you are playing a retro game there is a good chance you’re not in a high stakes competitive match and just playing to remember the old days.
When this is the case it is probably worth sacrificing a little bit of a lag for gpu scaling.
What about new games?
GPU scaling is great for older games, not designed to run on modern monitors, however new games are.
So there is no point using GPU scaling modes for new games as it will only introduce a lag.
Wrapping it up – What is GPU Scaling?
To answer what is GPU scaling we looked at what GPU scaling is, how you can enable gpu scaling in your amd radeon settings and when you should or shouldn’t consider doing so.
At the end of the day GPU scaling is a very handy development to help play retro games in amore modern, fun way and the main drawback is the lag.
If you are playing for fund, hit the GPU scaling switch and rock out to some old games.
If you are practicing or a competitive gamer, maybe think about what you value more, a better quality display or a reduced lag as there is a trade off.