4:3 vs 16:9: What is the Best Aspect Ratio for CS2?

4:3 vs 16:9: What is the Best Aspect Ratio for CS2?

Counter-Strike 2 is arguably one of the most competitive games out there, requiring players to spend hours practicing and fine-tuning the perfect settings to gain an advantage over their opponents. One of the most important settings a new player will have to consider is their aspect ratio. Many new players wonder whether they should be playing on a stretched resolution or stick with the native 16:9 resolution and the answer is, it depends. Do you value extra peripheral vision or a more hyper-focused view with enlarged player models?

Image credit to Ons and Jayy on their Steam community post

4:3 in the pro scene

It's no secret that the pro scene is dominated by players who play on a stretched resolution. Is it because it's better or because many top pro players are used to 4:3 from experience playing Counter-Strike 1.6? Just because most pros use 4:3 doesn't mean it's inherently better than 16:9. But, the level of dominance of 4:3 in the pro scene does mean something more than just blind nostalgia. There is something more about 4:3 that draws pros into using it. However, within the last several years a few players like ropz have shown that 16:9 is a competitive option for pro play.

Should you be using 4:3?

The main benefit of using 4:3 is that player models become much larger and easier to see from long distances. However bigger isn't always better or all pros would use 5:4 as shown below. It's important to have a balance which 4:3 provides. A visual comparison of popular aspect ratios can be viewed below to visualize the difference in player model size.

Image credit to u/Bolek7 on Reddit

However, 4:3 brings more than just larger player models. It will surely boost in-game performance which is perfect for less powerful systems. However, the biggest reason why 4:3 is better for CS2 and other FPS games alike is because the tunnel vision it gives you allows you to better hyper-focus on what's in front of you. Many players who swear by the native 16:9 aspect ratio will say you have less peripheral vision using 4:3 and this is true. But it is a cost vs. benefit decision, and personally, I would rather have the benefits of hyper-focused vision than have a little extra room on the side of my screen.

A guide on how to play Counter-Strike 2 on 4:3 can be found here

What about 16:9?

As for 16:9, it is the native resolution set by default in CS2. Many would argue that the developers intended you to play in a 16:9 aspect ratio so that's what you should play with. Along with the extra space for peripheral vision which allows you to catch enemies lurking close by. An infamous clip from a pro match depicts a player missing an enemy going right past him because the 4:3 aspect ratio cut him out of his screen. However, the spectator camera uses 16:9 which allows the audience to see this unlikely encounter.

Is there another option?

The question remains which aspect ratio should you choose? Both native and stretch resolutions have their pros and cons but luckily there is a middle ground that has the benefits of both. Using a 16:10 resolution will give you the benefits of having a stretch resolution whilst also giving you a wider peripheral vision than 4:3. Most notably, compLexity's EliGE plays on 16:10, seeing it as the best of both worlds. However, for myself and many others, 4:3 is king as the benefits outweigh the cons.