What Is Nvidia Image Scaling?

What exactly is Nvidia's image scaling feature and do you need it? Here's the ultimate guide to help you understand it better.

Since the introduction of AI upscaling technologies such as DLSS (Deep-learning super sampling) from Nvidia and FSR (FidelityFX super-resolution) from AMD, getting more FPS is easier than ever. By enabling one setting in-game, users get an AI upscaled image that decreases GPU demand and increases FPS.

However, DLSS and FSR are only supported for a few GPU series, not all of them. And these technologies have to be added manually to every game, so we still haven’t seen industry-wide adoption.

Fortunately, Nvidia has a different solution called Nvidia Image Scaling (NIS).

If you want to know what it is, how it works, and how to use it on your PC, continue reading.

Let’s dive right into it!

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How Does Nvidia Image Scaling Work

Unlike DLSS, Nvidia Image Scaling is a driver-based upscaling feature, and it doesn’t use AI or any other fancy stuff like Tensor core. Instead, it uses a combination of sharpening and an upscaling algorithm.

This feature that takes the image from a smaller input resolution and with directional upscaling and a bit of sharpening outputs an image that seems to be of higher resolution, ultimately boosting in-game FPS.

Scaling Technologies Compared
Source article: From NVIDIA DLSS 2.3 To NVIDIA Image Scaling

Until now, this feature has not been used regularly, but as of November 2021, this image-upscaling technology has been updated to use a so-called 6-tap filter with four directional scaling, as explained in Nvidia’s blog post. Supposedly this new update will bring a better FPS boost at a lower cost on quality.

How To Enable Nvidia Image Scaling

You will need to enable Nvidia Image Scaling first before using it in-game.

Here’s how:

  1. Right-click on an empty space on your desktop and select Nvidia Control Panel.
    selecting NVIDIA Control Panel
  2. Once the Control Panel is open, head over to Manage 3D Settings on the menu on the left.
  3. In front of you should be a list of settings. Look for Image Sharpening (the first one).
  4. Click it, and in the newly opened window, select On.
  5. Additionally, you can play around with the Sharpening and Ignore Film Grain filters to optimize your in-game visuals.
    Image Sharpening under Nvidia Control Panel

After enabling NIS, several input resolutions will be generated that you will need to apply in-game to utilize the benefits of this feature.

Here’s a table of the generated resolutions based on input resolution:

ScalingInput Resolution for 4K OutputInput Resolution for 1440p OutputInput Resolution for 1080p Output
85%3264 x 18362176 x 12241632 x 918
77%2954 x 16621970 x 11081477 x 831
67%2560 x 14401706 x 9601280 x 720
59%2259 x 12711506 x 8471129 x 635
50%1920 x 10801280 x 720Not supported by Windows

So, if you’re on 1080p and use the 1632 x 918 resolution, you will get the clearest image and the lowest boost in FPS. On the other hand, if you use 1129 x 635, the image quality won’t be as high, but you will get a considerable boost in framerate.

How To Use NIS In-Game

NIS is enabled, so it’s time to use it in-game.

Here’s how you can do that:

  1. Start any game (we used God of War).
    God of War settings
  2. Go into the game’s settings and into the Video/Display/Graphics options.
  3. Change Display Mode to Fullscreen (or Windowed).
  4. Select one of the newly generated resolutions (table above).
  5. Once selected, hit Apply (if required) and enjoy your game!
    selecting resolution

That’s it! You’ll now have more FPS in your game while image quality has been maintained.

Note: God of War is not the best example as it already has both DLSS and FSR, which are better than NIS. Only use NIS if your card doesn’t support either.

Also, remember that not all games may have an option for Fullscreen, so you won’t be able to use NIS.

Below is a comparison of NIS at 85% scaling (1632 x 918) and NIS off (native 1080p).

NIS at 85 scaling 1632 x 918 and NIS off native 1080p

The difference in quality is definitely noticeable, especially if you take a closer look at Kratos’ armor or axe. However, NIS 85% still looks pretty good while also getting 10% to 15% more FPS.

For in-depth comparisons, you can check out this video by KitGuruTech.

Final Words

While NIS might not be as effective as DLSS and can over-sharpen some video games (it’s adjustable), it’s still just a simple push of a button that can provide you with a significant boost in performance.

Whenever any upscaling technology is available, we recommend you always to use it as there are minimal to no downsides.

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Branko Gapo

Keeping up with the incredibly fast evolution of computer technology is impossible. That is why Branko will be using his knowledge on this matter to share news and information on all the latest essential technological innovations and advancements.