Saturday, January 28

VRR technology (finally) comes to PlayStation 5: how it will make a difference and what we need to enjoy it


Better late than never. Hideaki Nishino, one of those responsible for the software of the latest Sony console, has confirmed on the PlayStation blog that this machine will receive this week the update that enables compatibility with VRR technology (Variable Refresh Rate). And there is no doubt that this is good news.

The PC has offered us for a long time the adaptive refresh technologies G-SYNC, from NVIDIA, and FreeSync, from AMD, for which we users know very well the positive impact that has this innovation in our experience. Xbox Series X and S have put this technology in our hands since their arrival, and PlayStation 5 should have done the same. It hasn’t, but luckily variable timing is about to hit this console.

VRR is a very important part of the HDMI 2.1 standard

Like the other adaptive sync technologies we’ve talked about in the previous paragraph, VRR allows our game console and the TV or monitor we’ve connected it to ‘talk’ in real time to synchronize the rate of images delivered by the console and the rate of frames that the television or monitor reproduces at a given moment.

This simply means that if the console delivers 45 FPS at a specific time due to the graphic demands of a game, our television will also play 45 frames per second at that time. And if an instant later the graphic logic of the console manages to increase that cadence to 60 FPS, the TV will automatically increase the refresh rate to 60 Hz to preserve synchronization between both devices.

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These are the reasons why image reconstruction technology is the best thing that has happened to graphics cards and consoles

The reason why it is important to maintain synchrony between the images delivered by the video game consoles or the PC and the television or monitor to which we connect them is that if we do not do so, they can appear two defects in the images that can be annoying: the tearing and the stuttering.

The lack of synchrony between our PS5 and our television can cause the annoying ‘tearing’ and ‘stuttering’ to appear

The first causes the image to be distorted by a line that crosses it horizontally from one end to the other, and the second induces the appearance of small jumps in the cadence of images that reduce fluidity and can ruin our experience. In any case, the important thing is that the adaptive synchronization get rid of them very effectively.

One characteristic of VRR technology that users are interested in learning about is that its range of action oscillates between 40 and 120Hz. For this reason, if at any time our console delivers less than 40 FPS, the synchrony would be lost. Fortunately, the most advanced versions of the G-SYNC and FreeSync adaptive refresh technologies, as well as the version of VRR proposed by the HDMI 2.1 standard, implement LFC (Low Framerate Compensation).

The solution proposed by this latest technology to prevent graphic defects from appearing when the images delivered by the console fall below the VRR operating range is ingenious. And what it does is, quite simply, refresh twice every frame rendered by the console to bring the frame rate back within the operating range of VRR technology.

In this way, if, for example, our PS5, due to the high graphic load imposed by a game at a certain moment, delivers 25 FPS to our television, the LFC would come into action to refresh each frame twice. In this way the cadence of images would increase until reaching 50 FPS, which would place it within operating range of VRR technology. And, of course, the moment the console returns to deliver 40 FPS or more, the LFC would stop acting because it would no longer be necessary.

To conclude, we only have to review what we need to take advantage of the VRR technology that is about to arrive on PS5, or that is already available on Xbox Series X and S. And the answer is simple: a television or a monitor that propose a full support of the HDMI 2.1 standard. VRR technology is part of this standard, and, fortunately, many of the medium and high-end televisions proposed by LG, Samsung, Sony, Philips and Panasonic, among other brands, implement it by 2022.

In addition, HDMI 2.1 goes hand in hand with ALLM (automatic low latency mode), QFT (Quick Frame Transport) and the possibility of transporting images with 4K UHD resolution and a cadence of up to 120fps, among other innovations. We explain them all in detail in this article dedicated to HDMI 2.1.

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One last note: some televisions, such as those from LG, in addition to implementing the VRR adaptive refresh linked to the HDMI 2.1 standard, also offer us NVIDIA G-SYNC and AMD FreeSync. And there is no doubt that the more options we users have within our reach, the better.

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