Everything you need to know about playing CS:GO in 4:3 aspect ratio

Have you wondered why professional gamers virtually always choose to play CS:GO in 4:3 over 16:9? It may seem counterintuitive, but what makes the best of the best choose to see less and go on to win majors?

4 3 ratio CSGO

What is the difference between 4:3 and 16:9?

We could divide aspect ratio settings into three groups  — 4:3 Stretched, 4:3 Black Bars, and 16:9. As the names themselves suggest, at 4:3, our resolution is square, while 16:9 is more rectangular.

To sum up:

  • 4:3 Stretched  — Stretched square
  • 4:3 Black Bars — With black bars on the sides
  • 16:9 — Full-screen resolution

16:9 vs 4:3 Stretched vs 4:3 Black Bars

Moving on, let's take a look at what advantages and disadvantages come with playing CS:GO in both 4:3 on 16:9 aspect ratio settings. 

16:9 Resolution

When it comes to the advantages of 16:9 Full HD (1920×1080) gaming, these will primarily be a wider field of view and sharpen/prettier graphics. There's no denying that most of us play video games in 16:9, which is the current gaming standard. However, with 16:9, all the in-game models are smaller, making it hard to see them. Sure, a larger field of view may seem like a big plus, but it really isn't, as it's harder to focus on the gameplay itself with too many objects on the map. In summary, 16:9 is mostly about visual aspects at the expense of things that can give you an edge over your opponent.

It might be a good choice for content creators and people who care more about nice graphics than winning as many games as possible.

4:3

In the case of 4:3, we'll have an opposite situation  — worse graphics and smaller field of view, but more FPS and a better environment to focus on the game. Whether you choose Black Bars or Scratched is a matter of preference. However, it is worth noting that in 4:3 Stretched, the in-game character models are much wider, which may be great for many players, but can be disruptive to AWP players. Many players also explain playing on Black Bars because it's easier for them to focus on the game, and the eye has less distance to travel than on Stretched. 

What are the best screen settings for CS:GO?

There is no single screen setting that will always be best! As you can see, both modes have their advantages and disadvantages, but it is impossible to say which one is objectively better. It all depends on your preferences, skills, hardware, and goals. A great example of this would be one of the more popular CS:GO players, Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev. Throughout his entire career, he has played on entirely different resolutions and screen settings (including 16:9) depending on his role on the team or map. Years of experience and working with the best on the CS:GO pro-scene have led him to be able to adapt in-game setups to the situation. 

How to change the aspect ratio to 4:3 for CS:GO?

At this point in reading the article, you might be convinced that you want to try your hand at 4:3. Therefore, we’ve prepared a step-by-step guide for you on how to exactly do it! However, the entire process will depend on what graphics card you are using (Nvidia/Intel/AMD). 

Nvidia's graphics card

  1. Right-click on your desktop and select Nvidia Control Panel
  2. Select Adjust desktop size and position in Display settings
  3. Select the display you’ll be playing CS:GO on
  4. Go to Scaling (if you want Black Bars) or Full-screen (If you want Stretched) and select Aspect ratio. Save all the changes and close Nvidia Control Panel
  5. Launch CS:GO
  6. Click on the gear wheel on the left side of the screen (Settings menu)
  7. Go to Video settings
  8. For Aspect Ratio settings select Normal 4:3
  9. Click Apply changes to finish the process!

Intel graphics card

When using Intel HD graphics cards, you have a default setting of black bars at 4:3. The following guide is for the 4:3 stretched setting.

  1. Open Intel HD Graphics Control Panel
  2. Go to Display settings
  3. Browse through the Resolution settings until you find one that allows you to select the Scale Full Screen setting in the Scaling tab
  4. Select the Scale Full Screen setting on the Scaling tab. Save the settings and close Intel HD Graphics Control Panel
  5. Launch CS:GO
  6. Click on the gear wheel on the left side of the screen (Settings menu).
  7. Go to Video settings.
  8. For Aspect Ratio settings select Normal 4:3
  9. Click Apply changes to finish the process!

AMD Radeon graphics card

  1. Right-click on your desktop and click on AMD Radeon Settings
  2. Go to the Display tab and select GPU scaling. Change GPU scaling setting to On
  3. Change Scaling Mode setting to Center (if you want Black Bars) or Full Panel (if you want Stretched)
  4. Go to Gaming panel and select Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
  5. Select Profile Options and go to Display Scaling
  6. Change Display Scaling settings to Center (if you want Black Bars) or Full Panel (if you want Stretched). 
  7. Close AMD Radeon Settings and launch CS:GO
  8. Click on the gear wheel on the left side of the screen (Settings menu).
  9. Go to Video settings
  10. For Aspect Ratio settings select Normal 4:3
  11. Select Apply changes to finish the process!

Keep in mind that changing the aspect ratio and any resolution-related settings can significantly affect what crosshair or DPI you should use. Finding the perfect settings may take you some time, but on the other hand, it can lead to an increased number of match wins. 

You can't really say that 4:3 is the only correct choice — we've seen players like Shroud (ex-Cloud9) who chose to play in 16:9 at 2560×1440 resolution, and it didn't stop them from winning major tournaments. However, there are a lot of reasons to think about playing in 4:3, especially if you are stagnant in your game and don't know what you can improve. Try it, at least for a while, and see how it affects your game performance!