What is NVIDIA Image Scaling?

We all know how NVIDIA DLSS works, but there is not much information about Image Scaling. This technology is supposed to be an alternative to Radeon Super Resolution, but do you really know how it works?

Upgrade technologies are in vogue to get more FPS in PC games, so NVIDIA and AMD are working on it. We already know about DLSS and FSR, but we don’t know much about Radeon Super Resolution or NVIDIA Image Scaling.

What is NVIDIA Image Scaling?

Image Scaling is a spatial scaler built into NVIDIA’s GeForce drivers and can be enabled or disabled from the GPU control panel or GeForce Experience. It allows us to choose the level of sharpness, which is something we find very interesting.

It works like a standard rescaler: it renders at a lower resolution and rescales according to the output resolution. For example, if you’re gaming in 4K, Image Scaling will cause your GPU to render at 2880×1620, which can result in loss of image quality.

This is not a new technology because NVIDIA released it in 2019, it just shone recently because NVIDIA now allows developers to access the Image Scaling SDK to work on it as it is open source.

This is a technology based on 4-way scaling algorithm working with adaptive sharpening filter. Maybe this reminds you how FidelityFX Super Resolution works because AMD doesn’t use AI or Deep Learning for rescaling.

At first, you will think that this is the same as DLSS or FSR, but the truth is that this is not so even though they pursue the same goal of giving more FPS. Radeon is an alternative to Super Resolution (or vice versa) and can be applied to all games, just be in full screen mode.

When we want to enable it with GeForce Experience, we see a difference: we can choose the rendering resolution.

Differences with NVIDIA DLSS

First of all, NVIDIA uses DLSS via Artificial Intelligence and Deep Learning with Tensor Cores being the key to enabling this technology. Therefore, any NVIDIA GPU without a Tensor Core cannot use DLSS. In the case of Image Scaling, these technologies are not used, but this is a simpler rescaling.

The visible differences are as follows:

  • The application of the PC game is not required as it can be activated from the control panel.
  • Also does not use Tensor Cores for rescaling.
  • It is open source as there is no DLSS.
  • No levels (Performance, Balanced, Quality etc.),
  • More open GPU support.

Regarding image quality, DLSS is higher, especially when we focus on the performance mode. That said, while it looks even better than FidelityFX’s top-performing mode, it’s not far from FSR in terms of image quality.

Compatible graphics cards

As you well guessed, the latest NVIDIA GTX 10, GTX 16, GTX 900 or GTX 700 generations are compatible with Image Scaling as it can be implemented from the NVIDIA Control Panel. We will only need to update our drivers to the latest version, such as enabling the option from Control Panel or GeForce Experience.

Logically, it’s not enabled on any AMD graphics cards because it’s still NVIDIA technology and they don’t have this open-minded thinking as the red team. Also, AMD has Radeon Super Resolution and FidelityFX Super Resolution for most of its generations.

How to open NVIDIA Image Scaling?

It is possible to enable NVIDIA Image Scaling via Control Panel or GeForce Experience as there are 2 different accesses. We’ll start with the traditional Control Panel and then move on to GeForce Experience.

  1. Type NVIDIA Control Panel in Windows search and run the application. Note that this will output if you have installed the drivers; otherwise you will not see this option. Likewise, you can access it from the right corner of the taskbar.
  2. In the left column we will go to “Manage 3D settings” and we will see that the first option is “image scaling”. We activate it, choose the clarity you want and let it accept.
  3. Now, everything will be activated when you click “Apply” in the bottom bar of the window.

In the case of GeForce Experience it would be:

  1. To do this, we open GeForce Experience by searching the Start menu or left-clicking on the NVIDIA icon in the right corner of the taskbar.
  2. We find the gear next to the avatar of our account.
  3. Go down in the General tab and you will see there is an option called «Image Scaling». We must activate it from the button and choose the render resolution and sharpness.

The resolutions shown on the screen are calculated based on the current resolution.

Results about Image Scaling

Indeed the equivalent technology should be Radeon Super Resolution, but in practice we see that it can be brought to the level of FidelityFX Super Resolution. Seeing Image Scaling give better results than FidelityFX Super Resolution in performance modes, especially in games like Necromunda or Deathloop.

We know that in the Quality and High Quality modes of FSR, Image Scaling cannot compete as it focuses more on performance. So don’t underestimate NVIDIA Image Scaling because it works really well and tunes pretty fast. Sure, you’ll have to play around with the sharpening filter to get a better/worse image, but those of you who don’t have an RTX GPU already have the rescaling tech.