The difference between HDR10 and Dolby Vision as relates to Xbox One X

The Xbox One X has arrived, ringing in a new era of high-resolution gaming on consoles. To take advantage of everything the One X has to offer — namely HDR and 4K — you need a special type of TV that offers proper support. There's currently a bit of a battle going on between HDR10 and Dolby Vision, which are two different HDR standards. Let's take a look at the difference between them, to determine which works best for Xbox One X.

What's the difference between 4K and HDR?

High dynamic range (HDR) is essentially a measure of the difference between the brightest and darkest visuals a game, movie, or TV show can deliver. With proper HDR, you're going to see darker darks, with a lot more detail, as well as brighter brights. Overall, this contributes to a much prettier, vivid picture that's close to real life.

On the other hand, 4K UHD signifies the display's resolution is 3,840 x 2,160 and, while it affects color to some extent, it has more to do with the sharpness and clarity of an image. HDR and 4K are often used together to deliver a jaw-dropping image, as is the case with the Xbox One X and compatible TVs.

Why aren't all 4K/HDR TVs fully compatible with Xbox One X?

While 4K UHD essentially means the same thing across TVs, there are currently two main standards when it comes to HDR: Dolby Vision and HDR10. These two standards don't exactly play well together, and it's causing a headache for some who have invested in one or the other without understanding the ramifications.

HDR10 is an open standard used by plenty of manufacturers and is usually the default used in high-end TVs that have "HDR" stamped on them. Dolby Vision was created by Dolby as a way to take HDR10 to the next level and can be considered a better technology, thanks to having a higher ceiling for growth.

Both HDR10 and Dolby Vision require TVs to have at least 10-bit color depth. Both require a TV to be at least 4K. And both require a TV to hit about 90 percent of the DCI-P3 color space, a measurement used by the US-American film industry. However, Dolby Vision will be able to get way brighter (up to 10,000 nits of brightness) and supports 12-bit color, while HDR10 will only be able to hit 4,000 nits and 10-bit color.

The fact that Dolby Vision looks to the future and takes the tech ahead sounds great, but then you realize that you need a specific Dolby Vision player and content to take advantage it.

What doesn't work with Dolby Vision HDR? The Xbox One X.

How can you tell if a TV supports HDR10 and Dolby Vision?

Xbox / 4K TV (Image credit: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

When buying a TV for use with the Xbox One X, you want to be sure to determine if it works with HDR10. If it states HDR10, you should be good to go. If the TV you're interested in only says Dolby Vision, it's still going to support HDR10 thanks to the underlying technology. You just won't get to take advantage of what Dolby Vision has to offer

Many popular brands of TV use HDR10, such as Samsung (including KS and KU models), LG (including SJ, UJ, UH, C7, and B7 models), Vizio (including P and M models), Sony (including A1, ZD9, XE9, and XE8 models), and Panasonic (including EZ, DX, and EX models). Nevertheless, you should always check (and double check) before making a purchase. To make things easier, we put together a list of the best TVs for Xbox One X, as well as a guide on how to enable HDR on popular TVs.

What about budget TVs that claim to have HDR?

Xbox One X (Image credit: Windows Central)

If you're in the market for a budget 4K TV that says it supports HDR, be wary of "fake" HDR that won't work properly with your Xbox One X. Phony HDR adds some dynamic contrast but doesn't truly support HDR content, because it can't read the signal coming from the game or movie.

Discerning between real HDR and fake HDR isn't always easy, as a lot of the time the description will simply say "HDR." Your best bet is to check out our suggestions or inquire in our forum, where plenty of knowledgeable people will be glad to help.

Did you take the 4K or HDR plunge?

Have you been basking in the glory that is a 4K and HDR? Can you ever go back to regular video games now that you have the Xbox One X? Let us know in the comments section, and be sure to check out these other resources when it comes to the most powerful console on the market.

Cale Hunt

Cale Hunt brings to Windows Central more than eight years of experience writing about laptops, PCs, accessories, games, and beyond. If it runs Windows or in some way complements the hardware, there’s a good chance he knows about it, has written about it, or is already busy testing it.