Frame rates up to 120fps on consoles – Well on Xbox Series X, not always on PS5

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Microsoft and Sony have released their highly anticipated next-gen consoles. They are not available in stores, because they are sold out. Gamers who were on time to place an order have now started working with the powerful game machines. The range of next-gen games is still scarce, but several games have received updates for graphical improvements or higher frame rates.

We have already written extensive reviews about the PlayStation 5 as well as the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S. Now that the new consoles are on the market, there is more clarity about how games run on the new hardware. It is striking that various games for the Xbox receive a 120fps update, while that update does not appear for the PlayStation 5.

We list which games support 120fps, what the differences are per console and what is the reason for those differences. We also discuss how to use the 120fps mode of various games at a 1080p or 1440p resolution on TVs with an HDMI 2.0 connection.

We start with an overview. The table below does not list all titles that support 120fps, but it does list the most prominent ones. For Xbox consoles, the list can be expanded a bit, but then it concerns smaller games or indie games, such as The Touryst and Falconeer.

Game PlayStation 5 Xbox Series X Xbox Series S Release
Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War 120fps @ 1440p 120fps @ 1440p 60fps @ 1440p Available
Call of Duty: Warzone 60fps @ 4k 120fps @ 4k 60fps Available
Destiny 2 Crucible mode 120fps @ 120fps @ 120fps @ December 8
Devil May Cry Special Edition 120fps @ 4k 120fps @ 4k 60fps @ 4k Available
DIRT 5 120fps @ 1440p 120fps @ 1440p 120fps @ 1080p Available
Gears 5 Versus Mode Xbox exclusive 120fps @ 1440p 120fps @ 1080p Available
Halo Infinite Multiplayer Mode Xbox exclusive 120fps ? 2021
Halo: The Master Chief Collection Xbox exclusive 120fps @ 4k 120fps Available
The Nioh Collection 120fps PS5 exclusive PS5 exclusive February 21, 2021
Ori and the Will of the Wisps Xbox exclusive 120fps @ 4k 120fps @ 1080p Available
Rainbow Six: Siege 120fps @ 4k 120fps @ 4k 120fps @ ? ‘Later this year’
rocket league 60fps 120fps @ 1512p 120fps @ 756p ‘Later this year’
Star Wars: Squadrons 60fps 120fps @ 4k 120fps @ 1440p Available

Updates: 120fps for Xbox, not always for PlayStation

In recent weeks, several publishers have announced details about next-gen improvements for their existing games. For example, EA said that there will be an update for Star Wars: Squadrons that will add a performance mode for the Xbox Series X and S, in which the game will run at 120fps. What stood out about that announcement was that the same mode isn’t coming to the PlayStation 5 version.

Developer Psyonix then announced that Rocket League will also receive an update with an option for 120fps playback on the Xbox Series X and S, but not on the PlayStation 5. When that update will appear is not yet known, but that will be sometime later this year to happen.

Meanwhile, Call of Duty: Warzone also appears to be equipped with a 120fps update. Publisher Activision and developer Infinity Ward have not announced anything about this, but the game can already be played on the Xbox Series X with the high frame rate. The PlayStation 5 version did not get that update.

The reason why the PS5 games don’t get a 120fps mode appears to have to do with the backward compatibility mode in which the games run. Both the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X are able to run the entire collection of PS4 and Xbox One games, respectively, with almost no problems, but Sony takes a different approach than Microsoft. The PlayStation 4 and PS4 Pro were limited to a frame rate of 60fps and the PS5 compatibility mode appears to have the same limitation. That means developers will need to release a new PS5 version of their game to enable 120fps. This is not the case with the Xbox Series consoles; developers can provide their Xbox One games with a higher frame rate with a relatively simple update.

Rocket League developer Psyonix confirms this to Push Square . According to the studio, activating 120fps on the Xbox Series X and S is possible with a small patch. To add the high frame rate to the PS5 version, a full native port of the game must be created. That takes considerably more time and the studio admits that it has chosen not to adjust the PS5 version for the time being.

EA and Infinity Ward have not commented on why the 120fps implementation is missing from Star Wars: Squadrons and Call of Duty: Warzone for the PlayStation 5. We have reached out to EA for comment, but a press spokesman says EA has nothing more to release than the limited information contained in the announcement. It is likely that the same applies to these games as to Rocket League.

So far there are three major games that are ahead of the Xbox Series X compared to the PlayStation 5. Whether that list will get longer is not yet clear. For example, it is not known whether Sony could do something about this limitation, by adjusting the compatibility mode to make it easier to release 120fps updates.

There are also developers who do take the trouble to release a 120fps version of existing games for the PlayStation 5. For example, Destiny 2 will receive support for the high frame rate in the pvp mode Crucible on both the Xbox Series X and the PlayStation 5. This will be done via a next-gen update that will be released on December 8. Ubisoft has also promised a 120fps mode for Rainbow Six Siege , both for Microsoft’s and Sony’s consoles. It is not yet known when that update will be released, but according to Ubisoft it will be sometime later this year.

New games: 120fps for Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5

That the lack of 120fps in PlayStation titles has to do with compatibility mode is also evident from the fact that there are no differences between PS5 and Xbox Series X versions in new games. No new multi-platform games have been released or announced that only support the high frame rate on one console.

One of the new titles with 120fps support is Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War. In regular mode, that game runs in a 4k resolution at 60fps and ray tracing for some shadow effects. On both the PlayStation 5 and the Xbox Series X, you can choose a 120fps mode without ray tracing.

According to YouTube channel VG Tech, which has done a frame rate analysis on both consoles, the game runs in 120fps mode at a dynamic resolution of up to 2560×1440 pixels and a minimum of 1280×1200 pixels. The frame rate is between 100 and 120fps on both consoles.

Incidentally, the 120fps mode is missing from the Xbox Series S and Cold War also has no ray tracing on that console. The game runs on the cheaper Xbox in a dynamic 1440p resolution with a frame rate of up to 60fps.

Another game that doesn’t have a 120fps mode on the Xbox Series S is Devil May Cry 5 Special Edition. Ray tracing is also missing from the Series S version. The PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X do have a 120fps option and ray tracing. Digital Foundry previously made an extensive comparison of that game on the Xbox Series X and PS5.

DiRT 5 was one of the first next-gen games to be announced with a 120fps mode, and we already had some experience with that last month . On the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5, the high frame rate is accompanied by a render resolution of 1440p, but other graphics settings are also limited. For example, the public is no longer visible along the road and other aspects are also less detailed. Series S users also get the option in DiRT 5 to play at 120fps, but at a lower resolution.

4k and 120fps is (and remains) rare

Both Sony and Microsoft advertise the ability to play games in 4k and at frame rates up to 120fps. The combination of those two properties is not very common and little will change in the future. It is unrealistic to expect consoles that cost around five hundred euros to be able to run the latest games in 4k resolution at 120fps. Even an RTX 3090 video card that is more than three times as expensive cannot handle that in most cases.

The combination of 4k with 120fps is only possible for games that do not demand the utmost from the hardware graphically. Think of platformers or indie games, or old games that are being re-released. Microsoft has a convincing example of this with Ori and the Will of the Wisps. That game runs on the Xbox Series X in native 4k resolution at 120fps. There is currently no PS5 game that runs in 120fps with a render resolution of 3840×2160 pixels.

In many cases, games use dynamic resolution in 120fps mode. In addition, the resolution is variable: if a lot is happening on the screen, the resolution is lowered a bit to maintain a high frame rate. In practice, this is a good compromise, because the difference in resolution is hardly visible to the naked eye, while a high frame rate is clearly noticeable.

When using dynamic resolutions, the maximum values ​​differ. Star Wars: Squadrons will go up to 4k on the Xbox Series X and up to 1440p on the Series S, according to EA. Most games have lower maximum resolutions. With Gears 5, for example, this is a maximum of 1440p on the Series X and 1080p on the Series S. In most cases, the exact resolutions are not mentioned at all. Console games often have a ‘performance mode’ or 120fps option, which does state that the resolution can be lower, without showing exact details.

120fps on televisions with HDMI 2.0

To display 4k at 120fps, a television with an HDMI 2.1 connection is required. The HDMI 2.0 connection that is on the vast majority of TVs does not offer enough bandwidth for the combination of that resolution and such a high frame rate. The good news is that HDMI 2.0 does provide enough bandwidth to display 1080p or 1440p at 120fps.

It is therefore possible to use the 120fps modes of various games on older TVs, although the panel of your TV must support that frame rate. If you have an OLED TV, chances are that the panel can handle 120Hz. LG has been making OLED panels that support 120Hz since 2016; they were then in LG TVs such as the B6, C6 and E6. All OLED TVs from LG that appeared afterwards also support 120Hz. OLED TVs from other manufacturers, for example from Sony, Panasonic and Philips, all use panels from LG. The same applies to OLED TVs from other brands: models from 2016 probably support 120Hz.

In recent years, several HDMI 2.0 LCD TVs have also been released that have a 120Hz panel. Many more different panels are used with such TVs, so there is more difference than with the OLED models. Various Samsung TVs, including QLED variants from the past two years, have a 120Hz panel. The 120fps mode should also work with those TVs in 1080p or 1440p.

In most cases, these older TVs will support up to 1080p at 120fps over HDMI 2.0, as support for a 1440p resolution is rare among TVs. With the PlayStation 5 you will have to fall back on the 1080p mode with an HDMI 2.0 TV to use 120fps, because the Sony console does not support 1440p output. Internally, the console can render at that resolution, but there is no support to output the image signal in that resolution.

In practice: Xbox Series X at 120fps on HDMI 2.0

Actually getting high frame rates to work on an HDMI 2.0 TV does take some doing. We put it to the test with an Xbox Series X and an LG B8 TV, a 2018 OLED TV with a 120Hz panel and HDMI 2.0. The panel does not support a 1440p resolution, but 1080p at 120fps is possible.

Under normal circumstances, the console in combination with this TV is switched on for 4k playback with 60Hz. The 120fps mode of games will then not work and will not be shown as an option in menus, because the maximum refresh rate is set to 60Hz. This can be solved by setting the resolution to 1920×1080 pixels with a refresh rate of 120Hz in the Xbox settings.

With those settings, we got Gears 5’s multiplayer mode running at 120fps without any problems. In addition, the Xbox automatically switched to 4k60 when starting the single player campaign. That’s handy, because it means you don’t have to dive back into the Xbox settings to reset the resolution to 4k. However, this does not always work optimally in practice. For example, Ori and the Will of the Wisps and Call of Duty Warzone run in 4k resolution at 120fps, so the TV will automatically switch to 4k mode, with a maximum of 60fps.

This can be solved by unchecking ‘Allow 4K’ in the Xbox settings under Video Modes. The console itself will then no longer be able to switch to 4k and will continue to run in 1080p120 mode. For example, we were able to play Ori and the Will of the Whisps and Call of Duty Warzone at 120fps. The Xbox still renders at a higher resolution, but the TV scales that back to 1080p.

The Halo Master Chief Collection has now also been provided with a 4k120fps update and can be played with the above settings on an HDMI 2.0 TV at 120fps in 1080p resolution. That game, by the way, has no setting option for the high frame rate at all, the 120fps mode is automatically activated when the Xbox is set to 120Hz.

All in all, in practice you will sometimes have to adjust the settings of your console if you want to use both the 4k60 mode and the 1080p120 mode of an HDMI 2.0 TV. This is not an issue when using a 1440p or 1080p monitor with a refresh rate of 120Hz or higher. With such screens, the Xbox settings can simply remain at 1440p120 or 1080p120.

Another downside that we encountered in practice: HDR display was no longer possible if the Xbox Series X was set to 1080p120. The bandwidth of HDMI 2.0 is sufficient to display HDR at those specifications, but the console does not seem to support it.

The benefits of 120fps

The difference between 60fps and 120fps is clearly visible to most gamers. Movements are smoother and there is less motion blur if you move the camera quickly in a shooter, for example. If 120 frames per second are conjured up on the screen, a new frame appears every 8.3 milliseconds. At 60fps, that’s every 16.7ms.

With the higher frame rate, you can also react a fraction faster, because the image is presented to you a little faster. This is especially useful for competitive gameplay, so in multiplayer games. It is therefore not surprising that several developers give their game’s multiplayer mode a 120fps mode, while opting for 60fps with more graphical splendor for the single player campaign.


We’ve now seen a first taste of 120fps gaming on consoles. The coming years will show to what extent developers are broadly adopting the option. In any case, it is to be expected that there will be a lot of improvements to games for next-gen consoles. All 120fps games available today were developed with older hardware in mind.

For now, the Xbox Series X has an advantage over the PlayStation 5 when it comes to 120fps games; there are simply more available and some major titles are getting updates on the Xbox, but not yet on the PlayStation. It is now clear that this is not due to the hardware of the PS5, but has everything to do with the development of games. It is not yet clear how long it will take for this to go smoothly.

The arrival of new upscaling techniques can also ensure a wider adaptation of high frame rates, while maintaining high image quality. Nvidia is already investing heavily in PC gaming with deep learning super sampling . With that technique, the game is rendered in a lower resolution and scaled up with artificial intelligence. This is particularly helpful for playing games with ray tracing smoothly. The consoles can’t use Nvidia’s DLSS because they have an AMD GPU on board, but AMD is working on a similar technique that will become available later.

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