What is GPU Scaling? GPU Scaling Explained For Beginners

GPU scaling is a really important feature that can be the difference between your monitor displaying all of the content of an output or having a chopped up mess. Things like overscan (where parts of the video output are not visible as they are “off screen”) and underscan (The video output is too small for the screen) often occur due to faulty scaling techniques.

Whilst pretty much every TV or monitor worth its salt will come with its own scaling mechanism this can often be inaccurate compared to letting your GPU do the scaling. A TV or monitor that doesn’t have its own scaling technology will have to rely on a GPU to do the heavy lifting so it is important that you enable such a setting in your GPU’s driver software.

GPU scaling has a lot of benefits, especially when it comes to playing games that weren’t originally made for a 16:9 aspect ratio. GPU scaling will allow the monitor to display the video output in a number of ways, this includes, adding black bars horizontally or vertically or stretching the image to fit the TV or monitors aspect ratio. Though the latter isn’t recommended if you care for image quality, the option is there. GPU scaling in regards to old games that don’t support arbitrary resolutions is vitally important for those that use 16:10 aspect ratio monitors. Allowing the GPU to properly display the output in a way that will not stretch the image in a way that ruins the video quality.

The only downside to GPU scaling is the introduction of a slight input lag. This is due to the extra processing time taken to render the image by the GPU. This input lag is largely unnoticeable and the benefits far outweigh the negative.  

On AMD cards the GPU scaling setting can be found within the “Display” tab in the Radeon Crimson driver. All you have to do is select the “GPU Scaling” button for the monitor or TV you wish to use the setting on. After a blank screen GPU scaling will be enabled.

For NVidia users, open the NVidia Control Panel and go to the “Adjust Desktop Size and Position” tab in the side panel. You should then see your monitors listed and a tab underneath that says “Scaling”. There you will find a drop down box that allows you to set the scaling to be done by the GPU or display. Set this to GPU and apply the setting. GPU scaling will now be enabled and you will be able to choose from three different ways for the GPU to scale the video output.

GPU scaling is often missed when trying to troubleshoot issues such as overscan and underscan, it is a vitally important setting that when set correctly, will make viewing content of any aspect ratio and resolution a much more enjoyable experience.