Xbox One 120Hz support: Everything you need to know

Xbox One X
Xbox One X (Image credit: Windows Central)

Xbox One picks up support for high refresh rates, among a variety of features under the Xbox May 2018 Update. Expanding upon the console's video capabilities, the feature promises smoother gameplay across supported titles. We wrapped up everything you need to know about the feature and how to use it.

Xbox One May 2018 update: All the expected changes

What 120Hz means for you (and your Xbox)

The refresh rate of your display refers to how many times per second the screen refreshes its image. It's measured in hertz (Hz), and the higher the number, the more times per second your TV or monitor refreshes. With a higher refresh rate comes smoother gameplay and potentially reduced reaction times, making for an improved gaming experience.

Xbox One has now gained support for high refresh rates, supporting up to a 120Hz signal on compatible displays. This lifts the previously-imposed limit of 60Hz on the console. Once enabled, your console will see benefits across certain software.

Xbox One 120Hz support explained

To take advantage of 120Hz, you'll need an Xbox One X or Xbox One S running the Xbox May 2018 Update. This update is currently limited to a subset of users enrolled in the Xbox Insider Program, ahead of a wider release set for the coming weeks.

Your Xbox One must also be connected to a compatible TV or monitor, which supports refresh rates over 60Hz. High refresh rates must be supported over HDMI 2.0, due to limitations of the Xbox One hardware.

Constraints of HDMI 2.0 also means 120Hz support cannot be used in conjunction with 4K resolution. And bandwidth limitations mean 1440p or 1080p resolution must be used, cutting a few pixels for those extra frames.

Some games provide the option to disable V-Sync, allowing them to output at high frame rates.

Some games provide the option to disable V-Sync, allowing them to output at high frame rates.

But even with the feature, don't expect system-wide improvements. Many Xbox One titles are developed with hardcoded frame-rate limits, set between 30Hz and 60Hz. While some games are developed with uncapped frame rates, expect many games to see no changes. We recommend researching your favorite titles for details on frame rate settings.

Because of this resolution drop, the feature isn't recommended for people many with 4K displays. With few games offering 120Hz support on the console, the benefits are limited. But for 1440p or 1080p users, there are advantages.

How to enable Xbox One 120Hz support

To get started with high refresh rates on Xbox One, you'll need to enable the feature on your console. After installing the latest update, follow these steps:

  1. Navigate to the Settings app on your Xbox One.
  2. Choose the Display & sound tab
  3. Select the Video output tile.
  4. Open the Refresh rate drop-down menu.
  5. Choose 120Hz to increase your refresh rate. (Your console should now output a 120Hz signal.)

Enhancing 120Hz with FreeSync

When gaming on traditional displays, incoming frames are output on the fly to ensure the most recent image is reflected on-screen. When the number of frames output by a device exceeds the refresh rate of the display, a new frame can be pushed during a screen draw, resulting in two images being displayed at the same time. Known as "screen tearing," this can ruin an otherwise-faultless gaming experience – especially when delving into higher frame rates.

For the best high refresh rate experience, we recommend using it alongside a recent addition to Xbox One: variable refresh rates (VRR). Powered by AMD's in-house FreeSync technology, the console and compatible monitors can communicate directly, scaling a display's refreshes to current outputted frames.

Xbox One FreeSync and Variable Refresh Rates explained

Have you enabled 120Hz output on your Xbox One? Drop into the comments section and share your experience.

Updated May 31, 2018: Refreshed this article to correct steps for enabling 120Hz support.

Matt Brown

Matt Brown was formerly a Windows Central's Senior Editor, Xbox & PC, at Future. Following over seven years of professional consumer technology and gaming coverage, he’s focused on the world of Microsoft's gaming efforts. You can follow him on Twitter @mattjbrown.

  • When is this going to be available for everyone?
  • Next ten minutes.
  • Almost got me. Lol
  • So now imagine the mouse and keyboard support together with the arrival of some PC eSport games like CS GO, Dota, LoL or whatever with 120fps
  • On a big TV with a crappy 1080p resolution? I would almost rather the better 4K. 60 FPS 4K is a great experience.
  • Why would the TV have a better 4k and a crappy 1080. Doesn't make sense. Its like saying a fast car is poor at low speed.
  • 1440p @ 144Hz is nice and crisp on a 32" monitor.. but 1440p @ 120Hz is still nice from the Xbox.
  • I can't think of any game that would take advantage of this.
  • That's because all console games are locked at 60 Hz or 30 Hz. The hardware just isn't powerful enough to run them at 120 Hz. I'm guessing they did this just because they can. I guess it's nice to have your UI running at above 60 Hz if your display supports it.
  • Probably never
  • I feel like this makes more sense as a precursor to VR than anything else.
  • Umm this is clearly not everything I need to know... As you didn't even say what games support 120hz. You need to change the clickbait title or fix the article to where it covers everything that we actually need to know.
  • Gonna try this later tonight as my tv offers 120hz. Thats the thing here for anyone wondering what games refresh at 120hz, none do. This is a feature that will enable your screen and xbox to process at 120hz together rather than just your screen, which again, only works if your tv/monitor refreshes at 120hz. No game refreshes that high, so its like a version of upscaling. Makes the picture look smooth and clear.
  • I purchased a samsung 120hz 1440p free sync gaming monitor recently and when I switch from 60hz to 120hz in the xbox settings it gives me an error about it not being supported and changes me from 1440 to 1080. When i change it back to 1440, it gives me the same error then changes me from 120hz to 60hz. Seems like it only likes one or the other. I have the xbox one x, so not sure what is going on. Any idea on how i can get 1440p and 120hz both working simultaneously? Seems like I should be able to...not sure what the issue is.
  • I just bought the AOC AGON 241QX ( 1440p - 144Hz over HDMI 2.0 - LFC - Freesync + Range <(30) )
    Same problem.
    Freesync + 60Hz + 1440p or 120Hz without Freesync at 1080p. Correct?
  • Make sure that you have a good 2.0 HDMI cord. I had the same problem with my One X. Apparently when i got my One X, it had a HDMI 1.4 cord. I recently chaneg it to HDMI2.0 and it works fine. Still cant get the 120 hz working good yet.
  • It's weird, but I'm having the same issue here. I just bought a 32in Acer XZ321QU that will do 144hz at 1440P. In settings I can enable freesync, but I cant get it scaled up to 120hz. I tried multiple 2.0 cables and no luck still getting the same error described. Someone mentioned to me that it could be the monitor that wont drop to 120hz. I bought the One X last week. Im on the fence about returning the monitor for a 4K screen. Seems like a waste for me to limit myself to 1440P at 60hz if I can run 4K at 60hz.. Worth noting I can do 120hz @1080P
  • To take full advantage of 120 hertz FPS your TV has to support HDMI 2.1 and make sure you buy a gold plated HDMI 2.1 cable that supports 120 hertz with 720p 1080p 1440p and 2160p 😉👍
  • I believe they stated quite clearly in the article, that the limitation of using 120hz with your xbox is that you can only do it at 1080p. So, it won't work at above resolutions.
  • Does the dedicated HDMI cable that comes with the xbox x support the 120hz or should I buy new one?
  • Unfortunately the HDMI cable that comes with Xbox One X only supports 2.0 I recommend buying a gold plated HDMI 2.1 that supports 120 hertz at 4K 1440p and 1080p 😉👍
  • For those who are struggling not able to select the 120 hertz option make sure your TV support HDMI 2.0 and 2.1 including make sure the HDMI cable support 2.0 and 2.1 120 hertz I have Xbox One X with the latest system update as a Xbox insider I was able to select 120 hertz because my Samsung 1080p TV supports it including I bought a gold plated HDMI 2.0 cable that supports 120 hertz at 1080p 1440p and 2160p😉👍 I know it's a pain in the ass but your TV has to support HDMI 2.0 and 2.1 including the HDMI cable all of the games that I play is silky smooth even if the game is locked at 30fps I never get any frame drops whatsoever 😍👍