Sony Finally Brings Variable Refresh Rate Gaming to The Playstation 5
Sony’s console customers have been waiting patiently since the Playstation 5’s launch for the company to add support for variable refresh rate (VRR) gaming. Now, after a year and a half of waiting, the company has announced it will finally deliver on its promise. This week Sony wrote on its blog that it will be rolling out support for VRR this week for a collection of popular games.
In its blog the company didn’t specify how quickly the rollout would take place, or if it would start in certain regions. It simply noted it would be available globally in near future. Variable refresh rate gaming has been available on PC for many years now — ahem — and it allows the game’s refresh rate to change in sync with the display. Previously this wasn’t possible as most displays were set to run at 60Hz or even 30Hz.
In the past, features like V-Sync kept the frame rate locked at either 60Hz or 30Hz on consoles. There was no option to run at 90Hz or even 45Hz on older displays without variable refresh rate support. VRR changes that, allowing for the refresh rate to change dynamically. This reduces visual artifacts that are the result of screen tearing.
Sony claims the update will offer smoother gameplay, and it’s not wrong. Speaking from personal experience, games feel much more fluid, assuming the panel is synced to it. In the PC world the sweet spot for the past few years has been lower resolution and high refresh rate for fast, responsive gaming. This is in contrast to lower frame rate, higher resolution gaming such as 4K 60Hz. A lot of gamers prefer 1440p at 120Hz, as an example.
Sony notes that games will generally need to be patched to work with VRR. This is why there’s only a handful of titles that support it at launch. Also, even those games (above) will need to be patched. It says these patches are part of the rollout too, and will be coming in the next several weeks. Sony says you can also enable it on un-patched games, but it can’t promise good results. It also says results will vary according to the game you’re playing and what display you are using.
All that’s needed to enjoy the new VRR experience is a compatible game and a display with an HDMI 2.1 connection. This upgraded version of HDMI ups the bandwidth from 18Gb/s available in 2.0 to 48Gb/s for 2.1. It also allows resolutions up to 10K and refresh rates up to 120Hz. HDMI 2.1 still isn’t shipping on all monitors or TVs, so if you want to take advantage of this feature make sure you own or purchase a panel that supports it. In the monitor world it’s hard to find too, but also generally unnecessary. DisplayPort 1.4a can handle most VRR action just fine except at 4K usually. The move by Sony finally puts it on equal footing with its Xbox Series X/S competition, which have supported VRR nearly since launch.