Plenty of news surrounding the Microsoft exclusive Sea of Thieves came out of the most recent Inside Xbox stream, but one of the standout announcements is an upcoming visual feature for the Xbox One family of consoles. Both the Xbox One S and Xbox One X will support AMD FreeSync 2, an advanced adaptive sync technology (seen in many gaming monitors) that eliminates screen tearing. The results is a much smoother experience when it comes to fast-moving images.
For those not familiar, there are some basics that should be laid out. Every display has a refresh rate, which is the frequency at which an image can be refreshed on the screen; it’s also the limit on the number of frames you can see per second. The most common refresh rate is 60Hz, although higher-end gaming monitors can go up to 120Hz and 144Hz. However, games commonly have fluctuating framerates and consoles can’t always hold the target FPS, whether it be 30 FPS or 60 FPS. When refresh rate and framerate are out of sync, screen tearing occurs; a nasty visual artifact that looks as if the image is being split when moving horizontally.
Adaptive sync technologies, like AMD FreeSync, make the display adjust its refresh rate according to a game’s framerate on the fly. This negates screen tearing since the two will always match. You will need a display that does FreeSync over HDMI, though. While there are plenty of monitors with FreeSync, there are no TVs with the technology. FreeSync 2 in particular is a new version that’s only seen a few high-end monitors, which offers lower latency and HDR support. Xbox One consoles will soon be compatible with both versions.
FreeSync on Xbox One is likely to appeal to a small crowd since the use case is fairly limited, but it’s a great feature to have regardless. Given that Xbox One consoles are built on AMD hardware (both the CPU and GPU that make up the system-on-chip), it’s not much of a surprise to see FreeSync implementation. It was also revealed in the Xbox One X spec from June 2017 sheet that it is FreeSync capable, but it wasn’t clear if the One S would be able to until now.
Microsoft did not give a specific date when its consoles will be able to use this technology, but stated that it has release window of Spring this year. Those in the Alpha Xbox Insiders program can test this feature out next week. Earlier this month, Microsoft revealed another graphical feature coming to its console: native 1440p support. Like FreeSync, this appeals to those who use their Xbox One on an applicable monitor, since traditional TVs don’t support 1440p resolution.