Display technology has come an extended way in a decade. If you would like a TV for video games, including a next-gen console and PC titles, your needs are quite different from the common shopper.
Variable Refresh Rate, Auto Low Latency Mode, and Quick Frame Transport
Some of the new HDMI 2.1 features also are available via the older HDMI 2.0b standard and are implemented on TVs that don’t explicitly support HDMI 2.1.
Variable Refresh Rate (VRR or HDMI VRR) may be a technology that rivals NVIDIA G-Sync and AMD FreeSync. While the latter are primarily for PC gamers, HDMI VRR is for consoles. Currently, only Microsoft has committed to this feature within the Xbox Series X and S, but the PlayStation 5 is additionally expected to support it.
VRR is meant to stop screen tearing, which is an unsightly side effect of a console that can’t continue with the refresh rate of the display. If the console isn’t able to send a full-frame, it sends a partial one instead, which causes a “tearing” effect. When the refresh rate is in unison with the frame rate, tearing is about eliminated.
Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM) is an intelligent method of disabling processing to scale back latency when playing games. When the TV detects ALLM, it automatically disables features that would introduce latency. With ALLM, you don’t need to remember to modify to the Game mode for the simplest performance.
Quick Frame Transport (QFT) works with VRR and ALLM to further reduce latency and screen tearing. QFT transports frames from the source at a better rate than existing HDMI technology. This makes games seem more responsive.
All devices within the HDMI chain need support for these features to figure, including AV receivers.
FreeSync and G-Sync
Variable refresh rates eliminate screen tearing by matching the refresh rate of the monitor to the frame rate of the source. On a PC, that’s a graphics card or GPU. Both Nvidia and AMD have proprietary technologies that affect this issue.
G-Sync is Nvidia’s variable-refresh-rate technology, and it requires a hardware chip on the display. It only works with Nvidia graphics cards, though. If you’ve got an Nvidia GTX or RTX card you would like to use together with your new TV, just confirm it’s G-Sync support.
There are currently the subsequent three tiers of G-Sync:
- G-Sync: Provides tear-free gaming in standard definition.
- G-Sync Ultimate: Designed for use with HDR up to 1,000 nits brightness.
- G-Sync Compatible: These are displays that lack the prerequisite chip, but still work with regular G-Sync.
FreeSync is AMD’s equivalent technology, and it works with AMD’s Radeon line of GPUs. There are three tiers of FreeSync, a well:
FreeSync: Removes screen tearing.
FreeSync Premium: Incorporates low-frame-rate compensation to spice up low frame rates. It requires a 120 Hz display at 1080p or better.
FreeSync Premium Pro: Adds support for HDR content up to 400 nits.
Many TVs that support G-Sync also will work with FreeSync (and vice versa). Currently, there are only a few TVs that explicitly support G-Sync, notably, LG’s flagship OLED lineup. FreeSync is cheaper to implement because it doesn’t require any additional hardware, so it’s widely found on cheaper displays.
Since AMD is making the GPUs inside both the Xbox Series X/S and therefore the PlayStation 5, FreeSync support could be more important for console gamers this generation. Microsoft confirmed FreeSync Premium Pro support for the upcoming Series X (in addition to HDMI VRR), but it’s unclear what Sony is using.