Having a new Xbox that can hit high frame rates at 120Hz is no good if you don’t make sure your display is actually displaying it.
The advantage of the new consoles is the ability to not only run games at 60 FPS and beyond, but to actually display that smoothness. And while we’re not going to see titles like Cyberpunk 2077 running at 4K/120 FPS on consoles — or most PCs to be fair — there are plenty of games that will run at the higher frame rates.
Halo Infinite, Rainbow 6: Siege and Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War are just some of the games that will take advantage of the higher frame rate, and some games will even run super quickly on the slimmer Xbox Series S — albeit on lower resolutions.
When you boot up your new console for the first time, the console will be set to run at the bog-standard 60Hz. Even if you don’t have a HDMI 2.1 capable monitor or TV, HDMI 2.0 capable devices can still do 120Hz at 1440p. It’s not quite as nice as 4K/120Hz, but with the upscaling tech in most modern TVs, the extra smoothness is worth it.
So, to flip your console over from 60Hz, here’s what you do. (It’s the same process on the Xbox One X, too, which got 120Hz support back in May 2018.)
Hit the Xbox button on your controller. It’ll bring up the quick menu from the left hand side. Scroll over to the Profile & System tab on the far right (either by hitting RB, or tapping right on the left stick or D-Pad).
Head to settings, and then select “TV & display options” in the General tab. From there, you’ll go into a second screen with three columns: Display, Setup and Advanced.
From here, hover over the refresh rate box and hit A. You’ll then be given the ability to flip your TV/screen over to 120Hz, and the screen will refresh.
If you were at 4K, and you don’t have a HDMI 2.1 screen, the Xbox will come up with a pop-up. It’ll let you know that the console has automatically changed the resolution to support the refresh rate you’ve picked. And if you don’t accept the changes, it’ll revert back after 20 seconds.
On a regular TV supporting HDMI 2.0 — anything made in the last couple of years — you should be able to run the screen at 1440p/120 FPS. If your console is running through a regular PC monitor, it might automatically drop your resolution to 1080p instead.
Going through the settings is important. Consoles and games will automatically flip their frame rate in-game when switching from, say, performance mode to resolution mode. But those settings don’t affect the refresh rate of your TV. So manually check it, and enjoy new games — or old ones! — with some nice, buttery smooth motion. It’s worth it.