Dec 08 2011

The Woes of Display Scaling

Why can’t video cards ever keep correct aspect ratio?


It’s very simple: If you are playing a game on a widescreen monitor, and the game is in a standard 4:3 aspect ratio, the game should display in that ratio, with black columns appearing on the side of the monitor. It should not be stretched out to fill the screen. However, this is the default behaviour on virtually any monitor setup. If the connection is a classic Analog VGA, the only way to correct this is to use monitor-based scaling. Otherwise, if a digital feed, such as DVI, or HDMI (which are actually identical, for this discussion), is used, then logic would say the default behaviour would be to display the proper aspect ratio, regardless of the monitor in question.


This often is never the case.


For a good number of months, possibly up to the past year, my monitor did a fine job displaying proper aspect ratios. The Nvidia video card drivers had, after some coaxing, and a few updates, finally gotten to displaying older games full screen, but also at their proper ratios. Everything was going fine.


That is, until the other day, when I upgraded video drivers for the first time in a few months. Everything defaulted back to stretching to fill the screen. I didn’t think much of this, knowing that I could simply switch the scaling option back on, and all would be good.


The drivers simply refuse to keep the change. Every time the aspect ratio option is selected, and the selection is confirmed, the system would simply reset back to the previous setting. The only way to get the proper behaviour is to not run the native resolution, 1920×1080 in this case, and everything will be fine. How stupid! This means any classic game I play is stretched out, looking ugly, and in some cases, actually hard to play, due to the stretching.


Of course, I can use the 4:3 mode on my monitor, but that is silly to have to do, when I have a digital connection and video card drivers that are more than capable of setting the proper ratio. I should not have to do such. Scaling worked before, why did it break after an update, while it works for my friends on the same driver set?


Oh, the annoyances of being a classic gamer on modern PC hardware.

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