The Xbox One X is turning into a bit of a beast for console gamers. Not only is it capable of playing third-party titles at UltraHD 4K resolutions, it’s also the only console with a 4K Blu-ray player, which means that it appeals to film buffs as well who want the best quality in their home theatre system. Microsoft is now adding another trick to the console’s abilities by working with AMD to enable variable refresh rates through AMD FreeSync monitors. It seems as if Microsoft is slowly working their way towards using the Xbox One X as a replacement for gaming PCs, a move that might see the console sell faster thanks to the lack of graphics cards at reasonable prices and rising costs of DDR4 memory.
During Microsoft’s “Inside Xbox” season premiere, a new programme from the company that showcases upcoming titles and changes to the Xbox One family, Xbox director of programming Larry “Major Nelson” Hyrb revealed that Xbox One X owners who were part of the Alpha Insiders testing channel now have the ability to turn the option to allow variable refresh rates on or off.
AMD FreeSync 2 support was also promised, which means that Xbox One X owners can buy and use a FreeSync monitor that supports variable refresh rates and HDR to improve lighting and visuals, and this is on top of the new resolution mode of 2560 x 1440 pixels that the One X also supports. AMD’s Antal Tungler added that the capability would also come to the Xbox One S, which supports HDR, but presumably this feature will arrive later for One S owners. Still, you’ll have less compromise in terms of framerate going forward.
In addition, Microsoft announced that the Xbox One X and One S will be able to turn something called Game Mode on or off on supported TVs. Game Mode is a low-latency mode for TVs where the display just scans out the frame as it receives it without any additional processing involved. Most TVs don’t expose this to the user in their menu, but it’s part of the HDMI 2.0 specification. HDMI 2.1 supports a feature called “Auto Game Mode” where the display reports that it supports the feature through its EDID interface, and the device attached to it knows that it can be turned off and allows users to enable or disable that option. There are a lot of TVs that inject lag into the display output for good reasons when watching video content, but for games this is not ideal.
Microsoft didn’t commit to a launch for these features in on the Xbox One X and One S for the public release of the console’s operating system, but hopefully it’ll come sooner rather than later. In the meantime, those of you eager to try this out can consult AMD’s minisite for FreeSync and find out which monitors support FreeSync or FreeSync 2 over HDMI.