How to get stretched resolution in CS2 & is it bannable?

How to get stretched resolution in CS2 & is it bannable?
Images via Valve

Written by 

Harry Boulton


29th Sep 2023 17:38


You might see all of your favourite pro players and streamers use stretched resolution in CS2 and wonder how to get it and what its benefits are. It might seem strange to some that players would want to deliberately choose a lower resolution in Counter-Strike that obscures parts of the screen, but it has plenty of benefits in the game that you might want to consider.

You might even be wondering if it is a bannable offence, as the last thing you'll need is a big fat VAC ban applied to your account.

Thankfully we've got all of the details you'll need in this very guide, so make sure to carry on reading to find out how to get stretched resolution in CS2, alongside an overview of the benefits and its ban status too.

What is stretched res in Counter-Strike 2?

Image of stretched res in CS2 on Dust 2
Click to enlarge

Playing with a stretched resolution in CS2 is when you output your game in a 4:3 image ratio, and then stretch that image to fill a 16:9 display.

Typically players will play games in a 16:9 aspect ratio that fills their entire monitor screen, with typical image resolutions of 1920x1080, 2560x1440, and 3480x2160 favoured depending on your own monitor.

Here's a direct image comparison between standard 16:9 full resolution in CS2 (first image), and 4:3 stretched resolution (second image) so you can see the differences between the two:

Cs2 Overpass Bot
Cs2 Overpass Bot Stretched Res
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There are specific benefits and drawbacks to doing this that make it so that there is no one 'best' choice, but many pro players tend to opt for stretched res and thus it has become quite the trend.

  • Get your head around the rather complex CS2 ranking system with our comprehensive guide.

How to get stretched resolution in CS2

Screenshot of the NVIDIA Control Panel desktop size settings
Click to enlarge

In order to get a stretched resolution in CS2, you must change your in-game aspect ratio to 4:3 and ensure that you're playing in full screen mode.

Here is a full step-by-step guide of the process if you want to play in stretched res in CS2:

  • Make sure that your computer's display mode settings are set to full screen (NVIDIA) or full panel (AMD)
    • For NVIDIA users, head to the GeForce Control Panel and select the 'Adjust desktop size and position' panel on the left under Display. Then, make sure that the full screen option is selected under scaling mode
    • For AMD, head to the Control Panel, navigate to and enable GPU Scaling, then select full panel
  • Then, open CS2 and head to the settings menu by pressing the cog in the bottom left
  • Select the Display tab at the top

Image showing you how to enable stretched res in the CS2 settings
Click to enlarge

  • Select 'Normal 4:3' under the Aspect Ratio option
  • Select the highest option possible under Resolution. My highest choice was 1920x1440 but yours might be higher or lower depending on your display
  • Ensure that your Display Mode is set to fullscreen
  • Press Apply Changes in the bottom left to apply stretched resolution to your game.

This can be changed back at any point by reverting to 16:9 aspect ratio and your desired resolution, and you don't even need to restart the game for it to apply. I tested it out in a practice server before committing to it, as it does feel and (obviously) look different, and it might not be for you.

What are the benefits of stretched res in CS2?

Image of stretched res when scoped using an AWP in CS2
Click to enlarge

The main benefit of stretched res in Counter-Strike 2 is that it makes player models wider and thus 'easier' to hit. This does not have any actual effect on the size of player models, but their wider pixel density on your own screen can make their bodies easier to track and heads easier to hit.

Most players will continue to use it purely because it is what they are used to, however, the last thing you'll want to do when you're playing well is change how the game looks and feels. Most pro players do use stretched res, but both Robin "ropz" Kool and Matheiu "ZywOo" Herbaut use 16:9, and they're certainly not doing too bad for themselves.

The main downside of using stretched res in CS2 is that it cuts off part of your screen, so there are times when someone could pass by your field of view and you might not even notice. This has happened to pro players on the biggest stages before, and while it is funny from a spectator's perspective, it won't be too funny for you if you're the one playing.

There is no correct choice between stretched res and normal 16:9 in CS2, and you're best trying them both out and opting for what you're most comfortable with. Most players will go with 16:9 as it is the default, but it is still very much worth trying stretched res as it could dramatically improve your aim and performance.

I personally love using stretched res as I find it much easier to see and aim at targets, especially when engaging at long distances. While I have encountered some situations where I've missed someone because of stretched res, they are very rare and the benefits definitely outweigh the negatives for me.

Furthermore, stretched resolution is helpful to CS2 in particular due to the increased graphical demands - as it is lower than my native 2560x1440 resolution and thus lets me run the game at a higher framerate.

Is stretched res bannable in Counter-Strike 2?

Image of stretched res on Inferno in CS2
Click to enlarge

Thankfully, there is no risk of a ban when using stretched res in CS2, so you're free to tinker with your resolution as much as you'd like.

As it just uses the in-game settings and computer graphics options that are available to everyone, there is no reason why it should be banned or is at risk of being a bannable offence in the future.

We will make sure to update this guide if Valve does ever change their mind however, but at this current point you are at no risk of a VAC ban when using stretched res, nor will it affect your Trust Factor in any shape or form.

So, that's everything you need to know about stretched resolution in CS2, going over how to get it, its benefits, and its ban status.

Check out our Counter-Strike homepage for all of the latest news and guides, or find out what the most expensive CS2 skin ever sold is here.

Harry is a Guides Writer at GGRecon, having completed a Masters of Research degree in Film Studies. Previously a freelance writer for PCGamesN, The Loadout, and Red Bull Gaming, he loves playing a wide variety of games from the Souls series to JRPGs, Counter-Strike, and EA FC. When not playing or writing about games and hardware, you're likely to find him watching football or listening to Madonna and Kate Bush.

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