The new consoles in selected games will offer a dizzying liquidity of 120 fps. But what if most TVs refresh the matrix twice as often? The fluidity of the graphics – counterintuitively – does not only affect the image.
The last two generations of consoles did not impress with the smoothness of the generated image. Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 very often spit graphics at a level below 20 fps with great difficulty. Current consoles at least stick to a constant 30 fps, but still rarely reach the considered optimal 60 fps.
This problem is due to the relatively slow CPUs (main processors) of these devices. In recent years, Sony and Microsoft have focused mainly on increasing the power of console graphics systems, saving costs (both in economic and energy terms) on the processor. We have had the opportunity to see the effects in recent years.
Fortunately, both next-generation consoles will be equipped with efficient systems with Zen 2 architecture, reducing the aforementioned bottleneck . 60 fps is supposed to be the most widely used frame rate, although we also know that some will still run half as slow . Some productions will also offer a 120 frames per second mode, providing a visual experience previously unknown in the world of consoles.
The problem is that almost no TV can handle the 120 fps smoothness that PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X are to offer.
The latest TV sets – and not all of them, mainly models from the premium shelf – are already equipped with the latest versions of HDMI connectors, which are able to accept an Ultra HD image signal at 120 Hz. Most of the receivers sold, especially the majority of those already present in our homes, are equipped with an older connector.
This means most of us will not jump over the hardware limit of 4K resolution and 60Hz refresh rate. Could only the owners of the most expensive TV sets and people who connect consoles to gaming monitors be used on one of the most interesting novelties of the new consoles? It is a bit like that, but … owners of normal TVs should also be interested in the 120 fps mode.
120fps in consoles means more precise control.
The consequence of doubling the frame in the game is not only a greater amount of visual information that reaches the recipient. To put it simply, each new animation frame in the game is a new state of the game. The internal code of the application, which is the game, every frame waits for new information from the player (movement, shot, and so on), introduces this data to the code and on its basis generates the next frame.
This means that at 30 fps, the game downloads information from the player (or rather from his gamepad) every 33 ms. If we play at 60 fps, the information from the controller is sampled by the game code every 16 ms. At 120 fps every 8 ms. So not only does everything look very nice, but the player also has more control over the game. And this can turn out to be crucial in multiplayer matches or in fast games, where reflexes are absolutely crucial.
120fps in consoles also means smoother graphics … even on 60Hz displays.
How is this possible? In theory, in an ideal world, the above heading makes no sense. If the console generates 120 fps and then has to transmit this information to a typical TV set, every other frame of the animation will be displayed. After all, 120 is twice the number 60. The problem is that we don’t live in a perfect world.
Games are almost never perfectly tuned programs. There are animation frames, the rendering of which takes more time than the time the TV waits for the next frame. Let’s say the game runs at 60 fps, so it renders each frame every 16 ms. Something special happened in the game, however, which the console components did not handle in time – delivering the desired frame in the seventeenth millisecond. This frame will be lost , and the TV will only show the next one – which we will feel through a slight break in the animation, which will affect the perceived fluidity. It is this phenomenon that mechanisms such as VRR, FreeSync or G-Sync are fighting against.
In the case of a classic TV that accepts consecutive frames every 16 ms, rendering them at a rate of 8 ms means that one more frame of the animation is in reserve , so there can be no question of the console not getting it on time to deliver it to the TV. The phenomenon of lost animation frames does not occur, because there are twice as many of them.
The higher the frame, the better the graphics? A little no, but a little bit anyway. It’s all about sharpness.
For starters, there is some obviousness to note: higher frame rates mean that console components have less time to render each frame. It’s obvious and easy to intuitively understand that at 8 ms the console’s graphics chip has less time to simulate lighting, smooth edges and everything else than if it had 16 ms for this purpose. We will probably pay for it with the detail of the graphic design by including the high-flow mode in the game on PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X.
However, given the popular image rendering technologies in games, there may be some improvement in perceived image resolution. Generating 60 fps in Ultra HD resolution is still a challenge for consumer equipment, in particular relatively inexpensive game consoles. Therefore, games are often rendered at a lower resolution and then the image is reconstructed to a higher resolution using clever algorithms.
To put it simply, these algorithms often render only a part of the pixels needed in a given frame, supplementing the rest of the information from the preceding frame. The more frames per second, the less we will see unwanted image artifacts, which are a side effect of these algorithms. In some respects, the graphics at 120 fps may turn out to be more attractive to the eye than at 60 fps – assuming that in a given game the above-described compromise will not take place.
Which games will run at 120 fps on PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X?
PlayStation has not yet provided any information about the titles that will run at 120 frames per second on its console. Microsoft did it. However, we can safely assume that multiplatform titles will run on both consoles in the same fluidity – after all, both in terms of performance are quite similar. The list of titles for today is as follows:
Ori and the Will of the Wisps
Orphan of the Machine
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PS5 and Xbox at 120 frames per second. Your TV probably can’t handle it. And what now?