Xbox Series X and S both support 120Hz video output on compatible TVs. Before you see the benefit, however, you need to enable the feature and load a game that takes advantage of the higher frame rate. Here’s how to get 120 Hz to work.
What is 120 Hz mode?
Most screens are updated at 60Hz, which means 60 screens are refreshed every second. This is why frame rates were often capped at 60 frames per second on the latest generation consoles. However, a display that supports 60 Hz can only display a maximum of 60 frames per second.
Since Microsoft’s latest consoles offer a lot of power, they are capable of rendering games at a much higher frame rate than even the Xbox One X. This includes the less powerful Xbox Series S which is cheaper. and less powerful than the larger X series.
With the arrival of HDMI 2.1, modern displays can now support up to 120Hz at full power 4K resolution. Some games support 120Hz at lower resolutions, like 1440p. Regardless of what console you have or what resolution you use, your display must support up to 120 Hz for it to work.
Fortunately, the X and S series have a handy display calibration tool that tells you exactly what your TV is capable of. Once configured correctly, your console will remain locked at 120Hz and you will be able to enjoy higher frame rate games when they are supported.
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Check for 120Hz support and enable it
With your Xbox console on, press the Xbox button on your controller, then use the bumper buttons (LB and RB) to go to the “Profile & System” tab. Scroll down and select “Settings”, then under “General” select “TV and display options”.
In the menu that appears, select “4K TV Details” to see a list of the modes supported by your TV. You hope to see check marks next to 120Hz mode descriptions, like “4K UHD (120Hz)” or “Native 4K at 120 FPS” (at least on the X-series).
If the Xbox indicates that your TV supports the highest refresh rate, you can now enable 120Hz. Exit the “4K TV Details” menu, then select “Refresh Rate” from the drop-down menu. Select “120 Hz,” then wait for your display to refresh. If you see the Xbox UI, everything worked
If you see a black screen instead, your TV is unfortunately not supported. If you wait a second, it will default to 60Hz.
While you are in this menu, you can also try to enable 10 bit color. Select “Video fidelity and overscan” and then open the “Color depth” drop-down menu. Select “30 bits per pixel (10 bits)”, then wait.
If your TV is showing the Xbox UI, it worked and you can exit the menu. If you get a black screen, wait and the Xbox will revert to 8-bit color.
Warning: While 12-bit color might seem like the best option, the Xbox only supports a maximum of 4K at 120Hz in 10-bit color with full RGB (4: 4: 4). If you choose 12 bit, it introduces chroma downsampling, which results in reduced image quality (and more noticeable color bands).
Play games that support 120 frames per second
Choosing 120Hz mode in Xbox settings isn’t enough to really see the benefits of the game. For that, you need to be playing a game that supports output of up to 120fps. You may also need to enable the 120 FPS “Performance” or “High Frame Rate” option in a game’s settings, as many titles now allow you to choose between quality and performance.
Some AAA games that support frame rates up to 120 FPS include:
Call of Duty: Cold War Black Ops
Gears 5 (multiplayer only)
Rainbow Six Siege
The following indie games also support 120 FPS:
Ori and the will of the wisps
You can switch between 120 Hz and 60 Hz modes at any time in the “TV & Display Options” menu in Xbox settings. Then you can compare and contrast the two modes to see if those extra images really make a big difference. A game running at 120Hz should be smoother and more responsive, but some people don’t notice much of a difference.
The difference is nowhere near as obvious as when you go from 30 to 60 FPS. However, most gamers will be delighted to see higher frame rates become the norm, along with other next-gen perks like powerful processors, unmatched graphics power, and blazing fast SSDs.
Not sure if the Xbox Series S or X is right for you? Check-out our comparison of the two systems.