Is a VRR TV becoming more important for console gaming?

Console Performance and the Importance of VRR

In this week’s DF Direct Weekly, we delve into the current state of console performance and the rising significance of VRR (variable refresh rate) support in ensuring a smoother and more consistent level of performance on current-gen hardware. While VRR is not seen as a crutch for game developers to address fluctuating frame-rates, it is undeniably a valuable user tool that enhances overall performance in select titles, with its importance continuing to grow.

Understanding VRR

VRR works by synchronizing the screen refresh rate with the game speed, eliminating tearing and reducing judder. It adapts the screen refresh based on when the GPU has a new frame ready, ensuring a seamless visual experience. On consoles like PS5, frame-rates between 48fps to 60fps appear smooth on a 60Hz display, but developers need to implement bespoke 120Hz modes to unlock ‘low frame-rate compensation’ (LFC) for maintaining smoothness at lower frame-rates. On the other hand, Xbox offers seamless 120Hz VRR with LFC support without additional coding requirements.

Games Benefitting from VRR

Elden Ring, known for its Shadow of the Erdtree DLC, struggles to maintain consistent frame-rates on current-gen consoles, but VRR support on Xbox provides a smoother experience compared to PS5 due to wider 120Hz VRR compatibility. Dragon’s Dogma 2 faces similar challenges with fluctuating frame-rates, but the addition of 120Hz VRR support for PS5 from Capcom has significantly improved performance. Starfield’s recent performance mode update, tailored with VRR in mind, showcases the benefits of variable refresh rate support in enhancing gameplay, particularly in CPU-intensive areas.

Increasing Importance of VRR

The rise in popularity of 60 frames per second performance modes in games and the shift away from traditional 30fps/60fps hard splits underline the growing significance of VRR on consoles. Titles like Alan Wake 2 and Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora are pushing for 60fps performance, and VRR plays a crucial role in ensuring a smooth gaming experience despite hardware limitations. While VRR is a staple in PC gaming, its implementation on fixed platform consoles with standard 60Hz TVs remains essential to bridge the gap in performance consistency.