The variable refresh rate on PS5 in the test: a revelation on some games, a disappointment on others

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On April 26, 2022, Sony’s PlayStation 5 received its long-awaited compatibility with Variable Refresh Rate (VRR) displays. Some games benefit from a spectacular fluidity gain, while in others, such as Elden Ringthe result is disappointing.

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Tuesday, April 26, 2022 marked the end of a year and a half of waiting for the lucky owners of both a PlayStation 5 and an advanced HDMI 2.1 monitor. That day, Sony’s next-generation console finally received an update that provides the support for Variable Refresh Rate (VRR) monitors that the manufacturer promised before the launch of the machine in November 2020.

As a reminder, the VRR indicates the ability for the screen to synchronize its refresh rate in real time with the frame rate produced by the slot machine’s graphics processor – within the range of a specific area. Advantage of the process: being able to leave frame rate of the game swing freely within said range without this ever resulting in jerking (display without VRR with vertical synchronization) or tearing of the image (without vertical synchronization). Finallythis therefore makes it possible to smooth out the braking in a game that would not be able to keep its sound perfectly. frame rate goals, or just unlock frame rate to let the console output as many images per second as it can at any one time, resulting in on-screen animation that is as smooth as physically possible.

To do this, the PS5 uses the HDMI VRR standard, which is part of the HDMI 2.1 specification. To take advantage of this, it is therefore of course necessary to connect the console to a television that also explicitly supports the HDMI VRR. This is the case for most monitors that claim to be HDMI 2.1 compatible, but not all; the utmost care is therefore required if you want to equip yourself. TV reviews from Digital is of course at your service to inform you about the presence or absence of this support on the model that interests you.

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The flag bearers Spider Man and Ratchet & Clank at 90 fps

PS5 is not the first game console compatible with VRR: its big rivals, the Xbox Series X and S, have been so since their first day of availability … and to be honest, even the Xbox One X and S had been made compatible in 2018 Now that the two opponents can finally be put face to face, there is a fundamental difference in philosophy. On the Xbox side, VRR is implemented as a system functionality injected into the machine’s graphics drivers, and is therefore activated in a completely transparent way for the games (ie for all titles without exception). Conversely, the PS5 invites developers to integrate built-in VRR support into their games. This approach has its advantage because it allows developers who want to make this effort to design new operating modes and new optimizations that specifically take advantage of the opportunities that VRR offers.

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VRR obviously only works if the relevant option is enabled in the PS5 settings.

VRR obviously only works if the relevant option is enabled in the PS5 settings.

Among the first wave of “officially” compatible games, a magnificent demonstration of the mentioned possibilities is offered by the always groundbreaking studio Insomniac Games. Of all three games already released by the studio on PS5 (Spider-Man remastered, Spider-Man Miles Morales and Ratchet & Clank Rift Apart), as soon as the console is connected to a 120 Hz VRR monitor, frame rate is unlocked to result in a truly transformed experience compared to what you get on a solid refresh 60Hz screen.

“Fidelity” display modes in near-native 4K with reflections in raytracing, released from their lock at 30 fps and now pulls around 45.50 fps – with even a few tips teasing 60 fps. As for the “Performance” modes, they go from 60 fps to an average approaching 90 fps. The result on the screen is really amazing Ratchet & Clank In particular: the game is still today one of the most beautiful graphic demos on the PS5, and it is now also one of the best ambassadors for the comfort that very high frame rates offer.

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Spider-Man Miles Morales spins in Performance RT mode on an LG Oled CX TV.  Open cityscapes like this are the ones that lower the frame rate to its lowest values.  However, we remain very comfortable above 60 fps.  © Sony Interactive Entertainment

Spider-Man Miles Morales running in Performance RT mode on an LG Oled CX TV. Open city panoramas of this kind are the ones that bring down frame rate to its lowest values. However, we remain very comfortable above 60 fps. © Sony Interactive Entertainment

But the fact is that at present the Insomniac case is an exception; the other available implementations are very conventional. They are no less appreciated for all that. Especially in 120 fps modes of games like call of duty vanguard Where Devil May Cry 5 Special Editionactivating VRR makes the relatively frequent drops to 100 or even 90 fps almost imperceptible in the heat of the moment.

“Incompatible” games are still compatible, but …

How about games without formal VRR support? Unfortunately, this is where the small frustrations start to appear. Admittedly, the PS5 has the decency to allow the user to force the activation of VRR on these games, but the effect, although undeniably beneficial, does not quite reach the expected level.

First, the VRR series on the PS5 is pleased with a lower limit at 48 Hz (compared to 40 Hz on the Xbox), which means that on games if frame rate is unlocked but does not consistently stay above 48 fps, the VRR experiences dropouts. The solution to this could have been the LFC (Low Framerate Compensation) technique, but unfortunately the console does not use this technique at the system level. And if the Insomniac games manage to display frame rates correctly in VRR below this limit, it’s because the studio’s engineers, decidedly zealous, have taken the trouble to develop their “in-house” recipe for LFC. A task that not all developers will be able to afford to perform, far from it.

We have obviously put a lot of hope in the Elden Ring case ... © FromSoftware - Bandai Namco

We, of course, had high hopes for the case Elden Ring… © FromSoftware – Bandai Namco

In addition, there is still a recurring problem on non-patched games with poor synchronization between the simulation of the game world and the moments when the images are reproduced by the GPU, which means that there is always a small irregularity in the animation during the falls of frame rate, and therefore small jerks – certainly much less violent than what we would see without VRR, but still present. That’s what makes it on a title as the essential Elden Ringif significant performance concerns we know, VRR in PS5 sauce is not enough to completely clean up the gaming experience. And that’s why the Xbox Series X version of the game on the VRR screen is our favorite way to practice console games today. ny gen.

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