Over the weekend, Microsoft and AMD made a somewhat unexpected announcement on the debut of their new Inside Xbox show: AMD FreeSync 2 support will be coming to the Xbox One S and Xbox One X this spring. With FreeSync-over-HDMI capable displays, the consoles will be able to implement variable refresh rates to reduce input lag and screen tearing, as well as the HDR aspects that are part of the FreeSync 2 spec. Current Alpha Xbox Insiders will be able to test the feature next week when variable refresh rate support will be pushed out to the Alpha preview ring. Slated to arrive this spring for general release, FreeSync 2 support appears to be part of the upcoming Xbox Spring Update.

As revealed last spring in Digital Foundry's series of exclusive Xbox One X (Scorpio) deep dives, the console would be able to support forthcoming variable refresh technologies, including both AMD's proprietary Freesync-over-HDMI technology as well as the open standard HDMI 2.1 implementation. However outside of the HDMI consortium reiterating this idea – and while Microsoft has tip-toed a fine line since they can't claim to be compliant with an HDMI specification before it's finalized – we hadn't heard anything further on the subject until now.

Along with finally enabling a variable refresh rate mode with FreeSync, Microsoft's announcement adds an extra dimension since it turns out this is going to support the expanded FreeSync 2 feature set. Announced last year, AMD’s FreeSync 2 extends AMD's FreeSync abilities, chiefly by specifying low-latency HDR support on top of variable refresh.

In terms of upcoming Xbox support, details were sparse; only FreeSync-over-HDMI is supported, and the FreeSync 2 HDR features were confirmed to be supported. In practice, the actual TV implications look to be quite limited right now; as best as I can tell, there are no FreeSync TVs on the market at this time. PC monitor users however will be better off: the Xbox's new variable refresh capabilities should work with all FreeSync-over-HDMI monitors, while owners of the handful of FreeSync 2 displays on the market will get access to that expanded feature set.

Meanwhile the fact that the Xbox One S is included in all of this was a small surprise in and of itself. We've known for a while that Microsoft's budget console includes a newer display controller in order to support 4K output for UHD videos, but until now it was never for certain that the controller was also capable of supporting variable refresh.

Xbox One S/X and FreeSync 2 announcement at 1:38:00

Overall the implementation of FreeSync support for the Xbox One familiy is one of several Xbox graphics updates on Microsoft's schedule. The Xbox Spring Update is bringing support for native 1440p, while support for Auto Low Latency Mode (i.e. TV ‘Game Modes’) – a feature that disables TV post-processing during gameplay – is set to come later in 2018. And of course, along with introducing cross-platform FreeSync capability, we're expecting to see HDMI standard variable refresh pop up in a later update as well.

Source: Microsoft & AMD

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  • piroroadkill - Tuesday, March 13, 2018 - link

    LFC isn't a property of FreeSync support on the card, but rather the monitor. The monitor needs to have a wide enough refresh rate range (it used to be that the largest value had to be at least 2.5× the smallest, but it could be down to 2× today), and then LFC works.
  • hybrid2d4x4 - Monday, March 12, 2018 - link

    This is great news! I don't own consoles but play most action/adventure PC games on a TV, and hopefully this will spur the inclusion of variable-refresh-rate in future TVs. I'm still on a 1080p TV and didn't really plan to upgrade until VRR is included (or my current TV fails).
  • A5 - Monday, March 12, 2018 - link

    I suspect we'll see a lot of it in mainstream displays when HDMI 2.1 hits next year.

    The Auto Low Latency Mode talked about here is part of HDMI 2.1 as well.
  • mdrejhon - Tuesday, March 13, 2018 - link

    "Low Latency Mode" is mainly applicable to VSYNC ON, which usually is on consoles. But also works on some PC monitors via a Custom Resolution Utility, via a Quick Frame Transport technique of using Large Vertical Totals -- basically a 144Hz monitor can sometimes be tricked to have a 60Hz low-latency fixed-Hz mode, by using a 60Hz signal with the pixel clock of 144Hz. (Large paddings in Vertical Front Porch) -- this accelerates refresh cycle delivery of lower refresh rates to full dotclock rate.
  • Chad - Monday, March 12, 2018 - link

    This is a pretty big deal. Not now, but for the future of console gaming as a whole.
  • nevcairiel - Monday, March 12, 2018 - link

    I wonder if many TVs will actually bother to implement either FreeSync directly (unlikely, imho), or HDMI 2.1 VRR (still a big question mark for me on TV adoption). Or are you supposed to get a big gaming screen for this?
  • c1979h4life - Monday, March 12, 2018 - link

    It will probably be prevalent on 55+ inch mid to high end tv's with 120hz displays, 60hz displays dominate the mid to low end. Don't let the writing on the box fool you, people will have to do some research to determine if their display has a true 120hz panel or if its just marketing on the box.
  • StevoLincolnite - Monday, March 12, 2018 - link

    Don't forget native 1440P support finally.

    Bought the Xbox One X on release and have been extremely disappointed about being stuck at only a paltry 1080P. - So it's just sitting there gathering dust.
  • Manch - Tuesday, March 13, 2018 - link

    LOL, even paltry 1080P looks better with the XB1X. frame rate is better in several games too. If you spent $500 on console to gather dust you're an idiot. You're probably a troll. Definitely and idiot.
  • PeachNCream - Tuesday, March 13, 2018 - link

    I can't imagine a person as concerned with display resolution as you appear to be wouldn't do a few seconds of research to determine that a console runs games at 1080p and then unknowingly buy one only to find out after the fact and let that one thing be the deciding factor in whether or not it gets used. After that then not bother to return it to its place of purchase for a refund, resell it, or give it away to someone else. I think if you actually do own a XB1X and you really don't use it at all, you have other reasons and the comment you're making is merely being made to smooth down your own feathers over some personal choice you've made with spending your time doing something else or expended money on some other entertainment alternative.

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