On Saturday, Microsoft launched a new series of monthly livestreams called Inside Xbox. The first episode had details on Sea of Thieves, PixArk, and the Xbox version of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds. However, the most interesting information was about the next system software update for the Xbox One S and Xbox One X consoles. According to Microsoft, Xbox gamers will be able to enjoy AMD’s FreeSync 2 variable-refresh-rate (VRR) tech when the update hits later this spring.
Along with support for VRR, the upcoming update will also enable HDMI 2.1’s Auto Low Latency Mode. Xbox systems will be able to tell displays to enable or disable their respective game modes automatically when the user starts or exits a game. Notably, Microsoft says that using either feature will require “a supported TV or monitor.” We’re not aware of any FreeSync-branded TVs, but we’d wager that the HDMI 2.1 VRR spec is a real close relative of the FreeSync-on-HDMI support already available on some monitors. Microsoft pledged support for the then-unreleased HDMI standard before the Xbox One X came out, and it seems that the company is taking steps toward making good on its promise.
We PC fans tend to think of FreeSync in association with high-refresh-rate gaming displays, but the technology arguably offers the greatest benefit at low frame rates. Most FreeSync displays don’t enable the variable-refresh technology below 48 Hz or so unless their top-end is over 120 Hz—a characteristic that lets them support AMD’s Low Framerate Compensation. LFC requires support from the graphics driver as well as the monitor, so it will be interesting to see how well the system’s mostly-30-FPS Xbox games work in FreeSync mode.
Besides the new tech, the Xbox One is getting myriad minor improvements in the update. Users will be able to share clips and screenshots directly to Twitter, and the Xbox’s built-in Edge browser is getting a functionality upgrade that will make it behave more like the desktop version. If anyone happens to use Mixer for game streaming, they’ll be able to let viewers take control of the game remotely using a virtual or physical controller. Microsoft says the update is coming “later this spring.”