It’s been a long time coming, but PS5 VRR support is finally here. If you have a compatible HDMI 2.1 monitor, you can now enjoy a smoother gaming experience in supported PS5 games and wave goodbye to distracting screen tearing in the process (though you may need to restart your PS5 if you can not watch VRR in the video settings as there is no no system update is required).
During my testing – where I tried a wide range of PS5 games using an LG OLED CX – I came most impressed from there. However, Sony’s implementation of VRR has a few quirks that you need to be aware of, and as it stands, I do not think it is quite as good as Microsoft’s response to VRR on the Xbox Series X | S.
The good news is that several developers have already rolled out updates to built-in support for VRR (or variable refresh rate) on PS5. Resident Evil Village, Astro’s Playroom, Devil May Cry 5 Special Edition, Deathloop, and Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands are just a few PS5 games that have received built-in VRR support. The result is that areas in these games that previously exhibited declines or had a generally unstable frame rate are now running better than ever before, as the VRR tackles any noticeable dive.
In Resident Evil Village with ray-tracing enabled, the game is prone to the strange strain on the main village square area, and as a result, I chose to disable ray-tracing during my previous playbacks and missed the impressive effect the technology can have. Now, however, VRR evens out all noticeable drops, making the game feel like a locked 60fps, even though it actually often fails to hit that goal in reality. You can see the PS5 VRR in action quite clearly on an LG OLED CX by opening the VRR information panel (press the green button on the remote control repeatedly until it appears).
A new gameplay experience awaits
So VRR is great for those who are sensitive to frame rate drops and screen tearing, but we’re already seeing a more exciting application of the display technology on the PS5 from Sony’s first-party studios.
If you play Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered, Marvel’s Spider-Man Morales and Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart on a 120Hz screen (and enable 120Hz in the game menu), you can enjoy unlimited frame rates in both ‘Fidelity’ and ‘Performance’ ‘ condition. This means that the previous limits of 30fps and 60fps have been removed, resulting in higher frame rates across the board. As pointed out by Insomniac, games can now exceed previous goals by “50% or more” depending on the gameplay.
And it has certainly been right from my experience. When swinging around New York City in Spider-Man Remastered’s performance mode, frame rates as high as 90 fps were seen, and due to an increase in temporal resolution provided by higher frame rates, everything looked more clearly in motion. It feels almost brand new again.
Fidelity mode was also a revelation in Spider-Man Remastered thanks to VRR. The previously arbitrary ceiling of 30 fps is gone, resulting in gameplay that is closer to 40 and 50 fps. Again, this increase in frame rate, despite fluctuating between different values, is felt evenly and consistently due to VRR, making the lower frame rate mode a more useful option for those who want the best graphic quality but who previously could not withstand the heavy look and feel of 30 fps.
I’m excited to see if Sony experiments with other games this way, as it technically means we’ll see more games support 120Hz in the future, which is one area the Xbox Series X has a clear advantage over the PS5. currently.
Of course, it’s not just specific games that benefit from VRR. There’s a shift in PS5’s settings that lets you force VRR into unsupported PlayStation 5 games, and virtually every title I tested benefited in some way. The awful screen that tears to pieces in Ghostwire: Tokyo’s many high frame rate modes were thankfully eradicated, and even Cyberpunk 2077 just seemed a touch more consistent than before.
But even though I did not notice any visual issues in the games I tried, I found two titles that did not support VRR at all: Horizon Forbidden West and Gran Turismo 7, and I imagine there will be many more. Both titles run at a steady refresh rate, according to LG OLED CX’s VRR information, which is a bit disappointing.
Unfortunately, unlike Xbox consoles, PS5’s VRR support does not apply to PS4 games either, so you will not see a performance advantage when playing backwards compatible titles – even those that got a 60fps patch for PS5 as God of War .
Perhaps the biggest problem with VRR, however, is the fact that Sony chose to use the HDMI 2.1 VRR standard and not AMD FreeSync. For most modern TVs this will not be a problem, but there are especially countless monitors and monitors that can not take advantage of this version of VRR, including those that only have an HDMI 2.0 port. This is not the case with the Xbox Series X | S, which both supports FreeSync for VRR and therefore works on a wide range of compatible monitors. Check out this list of compatible monitors that work with VRR for PS5.
The VRR range on the PS5 is also limited to 48Hz – 120Hz, which is not as good as that available on the LG OLED CX, which has a superior VRR range of 20 – 120Hz. This means that if a PS5 game drops below 48 fps, it may be shaking. However, if Sony enabled FreeSync, this issue would be resolved and would also make the PS5’s VRR support compatible on far more monitors. It seems like a no-brainer considering that the PS5’s GPU is made by AMD and uses the open standard.
Another issue you need to be aware of is that the PS5 drops your screen’s chroma resolution to YCbCr 4: 2: 2. As highlighted by Vincent Teoh from HDTVTest, make sure your TV’s video range is set to ‘limited’ or ‘auto’ and not ‘high’, otherwise this may result in a black level mismatch.
Work to be performed
So VRR on the PS5 is basically a great addition to Sony’s current gen console, but the decision not to support PS4 games and not use FreeSync means it’s not quite as comprehensive as it could be. While it’s exciting to see how developers use the power of variable refresh rate technology to inject new life into existing PS5 games, as well as many developers, including native support, there’s still room for improvement on Sony’s side.
Now let’s just hope we finally get 1440p support on PS5.