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What Is Variable Refresh Rate in Video Games?

You’ve likely heard about variable refresh rate (VRR) in gaming news. You know it enhances your gameplay experience. However, when it comes to how VRR works—or perhaps why, for you, it doesn’t—perhaps you feel slightly lost.

Read on to learn more about variable refresh rate in gaming.

Variable Refresh Rate, Explained

VRR or dynamic refresh rate (DRR) doesn’t only benefit gaming enthusiasts. Even casual gamers will likely notice the difference in visual performance, and it’s not as complex as it sounds.

Microsoft made VRR support available on its Xbox Series X/S consoles a while ago and introduced DRR to Windows 11. Sony followed suit when it rolled out VRR to PS5 consoles across the globe.

Simply put, VRR introduces a smoother gameplay experience and sharper graphics, with one caveat—you need to have a compatible TV or monitor.

If your screen works with HDMI 2.1, that’s a good indicator it may be VRR-compatible, but it isn’t always the case. You’ll need to check your specs as some brands don’t offer VRR compatibility, even in their newest models.

Knowing how VRR works will help give you a better understanding of why your TV needs to support this feature alongside your console.

How Does VRR Work?

Gameplay is becoming increasingly dynamic, especially in the case of open-world titles.

Take Dying Light 2, for example. The city is your playground as you jump from building to building. The next thing you know, it’s nightfall, and you’re fighting off hordes of infected.

Your console’s graphics processor works to keep things running smoothly as you go about your business. The changes in activities, such as talking to others, traversing the city using parkour, and fending off enemies, cause frame rates to vary.

If your TV has a set refresh rate, it gets out of sync with your console, meaning you may notice visual glitches like screen tearing or stuttering.

VRR capability on both devices enables your TV’s refresh rate to keep up or slow down with your console’s frame rate output. This means fewer visual blips, resulting in a smoother gameplay experience.

Without VRR support on your TV, the feature won’t work as the console can’t communicate the fluctuation in frame rate.

Keep in mind, when talking about frame rate versus refresh rate, “frame rate” is how fast images appear on a screen and “refresh rate” is how often the screen updates the image. While they aren’t the same, they’re equally important.

If it turns out your TV or monitor doesn’t offer VRR support, you can switch the feature off and enjoy your games as usual. No need to upgrade if you can go without it. However, if you decide to purchase a new screen, double-check that it’s VRR-compatible before buying.

Enjoy Smoother Gameplay

Overall, VRR offers you enhanced visual performance, syncing up your console and monitor’s refresh rates for a smoother gameplay experience.

To enjoy VRR, all you need to do is make sure it’s available and enabled on your console and TV, so the devices can properly communicate.

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