The Ultimate Guide to GPU Scaling: Understanding and Utilizing this Graphics Setting

If you’re someone who enjoys exploring your graphics card settings, you may have come across the term “GPU scaling” and wondered what it actually means. So, what exactly is GPU scaling and how can it benefit you? In this article, we’ll provide a comprehensive overview of GPU scaling, including its purpose, its modes, and how to enable or disable it.

What is GPU Scaling?

GPU scaling is a feature available on both Nvidia and AMD graphics cards. It is particularly useful when playing older games that were designed with different aspect ratios or lack ultrawide support. Most modern gaming monitors operate on a 16:9 aspect ratio, but older games weren’t developed to match this standard. As a result, without GPU scaling, these games often appear stretched and distorted on your screen, diminishing your gaming experience. GPU scaling aims to solve this problem by preserving the game’s original aspect ratio and creating borders around it, rather than forcing it to fit your monitor.

GPU Scaling Modes Explained

Both Nvidia and AMD offer different modes of GPU scaling, allowing you to customize your gaming experience according to your preferences. Let’s take a quick look at the GPU scaling modes available for each brand.

GPU Scaling Modes on AMD Cards

AMD users can choose from the following GPU scaling options:

  • Maintain Aspect Ratio: This setting keeps the game’s original aspect ratio intact, filling the excess parts of your monitor with a black background.
  • Scale Image to Full Panel Size: Choosing this option stretches the image to fit your screen, disregarding the intended aspect ratio. However, this often results in poor visuals.
  • Use Centered Trimmings: This AMD setting centers the game or image in its original aspect ratio, with black bars or a background pattern filling the remaining parts of your screen.
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GPU Scaling Modes on Nvidia Cards

If you own an Nvidia graphics card, you have the following GPU scaling options:

  • Aspect Ratio: Similar to AMD, this mode maintains the game’s original aspect ratio and fills the extra space on your screen with black bars.
  • Full-screen: Enabling this setting forces the game to match your monitor’s aspect ratio. However, the output quality is often subpar.
  • No Scaling: As the name implies, this option turns off GPU scaling, allowing games to render without any interference.

When to Enable GPU Scaling

GPU scaling comes in handy if you’re a fan of indie games, retro games, or enjoy playing on emulators. While many modern emulators run games in their intended resolutions, there are still some that don’t. Moreover, older games, lacking the benefits offered by recently-released emulators, may look distorted or stretched on 16:9 screens. In such cases, GPU scaling can greatly enhance your gaming experience. However, we recommend enabling GPU scaling on a case-by-case basis and turning it off when you’re done gaming.

How to Enable GPU Scaling on Nvidia Graphics Cards

Activating GPU scaling on Nvidia cards is a straightforward process that can be completed in a few simple steps:

Step 1: Launch the Nvidia Control Panel

To access your GPU settings, right-click on your desktop and select “Nvidia Control Panel” from the drop-down menu. Alternatively, you can enter the Windows Start Menu, type “Nvidia Control Panel,” and press Enter.

Step 2: Find the GPU Scaling Settings

Within the Nvidia Control Panel, navigate to the Display section. Look for the “Adjust Desktop Size and Position” option and click on it to access the relevant settings.

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Step 3: Enable GPU Scaling

In the settings, locate the “Perform Scaling On” option and choose “GPU” from the dropdown menu. Then, select the scaling mode that suits your preference. If you’re uncertain, “Aspect Ratio” is usually a safe choice. Don’t forget to apply your changes and ensure that the resolution and refresh rate settings are set to their highest values.

Congratulations! GPU scaling is now enabled on your Nvidia graphics card.

How to Enable GPU Scaling on AMD Graphics Cards Using AMD Radeon Settings

If you have an AMD graphics card, follow these steps to enable GPU scaling using AMD Radeon Settings:

Step 1: Launch AMD Radeon Settings

Right-click anywhere on your desktop and select “AMD Radeon Settings” from the dropdown menu.

Step 2: Navigate to the GPU Scaling Settings

Within the AMD Radeon Settings window, click on the gear icon at the top to access the Display options. From there, you can locate the GPU scaling settings.

Step 3: Enable GPU Scaling

Switch the “GPU Scaling” option to the “On” position. Next, choose your preferred scaling mode from the dropdown menu. “Maintain Aspect Ratio” is generally recommended for most users. Save the changes you’ve made, and GPU scaling will be enabled on your AMD graphics card.

GPU Scaling FAQ

Does GPU scaling improve frames per second (fps)?
Unfortunately, GPU scaling introduces slight input lag and does not enhance your frame rate. In fact, it may even cause a slight decrease in fps. GPU scaling requires your graphics card to render each image and frame with additional effort, resulting in a minor performance impact. However, for most users playing older games or those with high-end graphics cards, the impact on fps is negligible.

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Is GPU scaling beneficial for new games?
While GPU scaling is beneficial for retro and older games with unusual aspect ratios, it is generally not recommended for newer titles. Enabling GPU scaling for newer games can introduce input lag and make your gaming experience less responsive, potentially affecting your performance in multiplayer games. Moreover, GPU scaling provides limited benefits when playing games at the correct resolution and aspect ratio.

Remember to consider these factors when deciding whether to enable GPU scaling for specific games.


GPU scaling is a valuable graphics setting that allows you to play older games and those with unconventional aspect ratios on modern monitors. By preserving the original aspect ratio and intelligently adjusting your display, GPU scaling enhances your gaming experience. Whether you have an Nvidia or AMD graphics card, you can easily enable GPU scaling through the respective control panels. However, it’s essential to consider the specific game and your gaming requirements before enabling GPU scaling to ensure optimal performance.

For more information about GPU scaling and other technology-related topics, visit OnSpec Electronic, Inc..

Graphics Card in a computer.

Image: Rafael Pol on Unsplash

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute professional advice. OnSpec Electronic, Inc. is not responsible for any damages or losses resulting from the use of the information provided in this article.

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