What Is Variable Refresh Rate in Gaming? (VRR)

Variable Refresh Rate
Variable Refresh Rate

Variable Refresh Rate or VRR is a common feature of televisions with HDMI 2.1 ports. The concept has been around for a few years for PC users but is just now coming to consoles.

Xbox Series X & S supports VRR, making it compatible with most televisions that have an HDMI 2.1 port. The PlayStation 5 will support VRR with the release of a April 2022 update.

It’s important to know that variable refresh rate isn’t a requirement of HDMI 2.1 ports, meaning some TVs with HDMI 2.1 hookups will not have VRR capabilities. To get the best VRR outcome, each part of the chain needs to support variable refresh rate capabilities, including your console or PC, the HMDI 2.1 cable, and your TV or monitor.


What Is VRR Exactly?

VRR stands for variable refresh rate, which allows the TV or monitor you use to adjust how frequently it refreshes an image to match the frame rate produced by your console or PC.

Variable refresh rate is a crucial feature for gaming experiences. When playing a video game, the frame rate greatly depends on the output of your graphics processor.

In-game, the frame rate is constantly fluctuating due to different situations. A calm cutscene of two characters chatting will have a vastly different frame rate than an epic boss battle. If your television or monitor and console or PC aren’t in sync, problems like screen tearing can arise.


How Have Video Games Managed Without VRR?

Developers used to skirt around issues like screen tearing by matching the standard refresh rate for televisions. However, this significantly limits what the game developers can do with the finished product.

Variable refresh rate successfully circumvents this issue. It allows the TV to accurately match the console’s frame rate as it changes and fluctuates.

PC users have G-Sync by Nvidia and FreeSync by AMD to allow VRR on their system. As long as a PC gamer has a monitor with variable refresh rate capabilities, they will be able to enjoy its benefits.


Which Consoles Can Use VRR?

While older consoles didn’t have this feature, current and next generation consoles will require it. Current consoles are powered up with output capacities for 4K gaming and up to 120 fps. To allow televisions to keep up with this incredible power, VRR is necessary on both the TV and the consoles.

PlayStation 5 does not support VRR yet, though Sony plan to add it to the PS5 in April 2022.

Here are the confirmed PS5 games that have VRR support:

– Astro’s Playroom
– Call of Duty: Vanguard
– Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War
Destiny 2
– Devil May Cry 5 Special Edition
– Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered
Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales
Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart
– Resident Evil Village
Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands
Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege
– Tribes of Midgard

More support will be added over time.

While you can currently use G-Sync or FreeSync on PlayStation to achieve VRR capabilities, you will no longer be able to after the feature is added to the HDMI 2.1 port.

Xbox Series X & S already support variable refresh rate capabilities. They provide this feature through the HDMI 2.1 port and allow it through FreeSync technology. You will just need to ensure your television supports VRR, too.

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