I'm having issues with my computer related with scaling when using different resolutions other than the native. So I started to wonder, in PCs, is scaling handled by the card driver or the game engine? Does it depend of what engine we are talking about? Do engines somehow bypass the scaling algorithm from the driver?

PS: I'm talking about the regular PC games that uses DirectX or OpenGL.

  • \$\begingroup\$ please be more specific : for Javascript games, there's the css:pixel ratio that changes on mobile devices and on retina Safari. What is your target framework ? \$\endgroup\$ – GameAlchemist Jan 8 '13 at 17:44
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    \$\begingroup\$ Display scaling for non-native resolutions is handled either by the graphics driver (flat panel scaling setting in nVidia) or by your monitor. \$\endgroup\$ – ccxvii Jan 8 '13 at 18:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ Is this a PC technical support question? Might get better answers over on superuser, rather than here in a development Q&A site. \$\endgroup\$ – Trevor Powell Jan 8 '13 at 18:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ No, it's a curiosity of where scaling is handled. \$\endgroup\$ – Roberto Jan 8 '13 at 18:45

A video card sends out a video signal of some resolution and update frequency.

A monitor displays images of various resolutions and update frequencies.

The logic controlling the display of images of non-native resolutions is handled in the monitor.


Video driver software on the computer can often determine the supported resolutions of a monitor, and perform scaling by itself, to scale a video image of unsupported resolution into one which is supported by the monitor. In this case, a scaling algorithm can be applied from within the driver to convert the low-resolution video signal into native resolution, which is then sent to the monitor.

Game software can often also determine supported resolutions, and can scale its own video image from its internal resolution to one of the supported output resolutions. In this case as well, a scaling algorithm can be applied from within the game, and the driver and monitor receive a native resolution video image. (To my knowledge, this is very rarely done except on video game consoles, where many games render at a lower resolution and scale the resulting image up to fill the full display resolution. PS2 games, in particular, were notorious for rendering 512x386 images, and then scaling them up to full display size).


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