What is HDR? An In-Depth Look at HDR Gaming on the Xbox One

Colin Niemczura, Editor-in-chief,

12 January 2017

This article will provide an in-depth look at HDR gaming on the Xbox One.

What is HDR Gaming on the Xbox One, Xbox One S, and Xbox One X?

Want to learn more about 4K HDR gaming? is here to help. HDR has made a leap into the gaming world and gamers everywhere are scrambling to take advantage of this seemingly new and mysterious technology (spoiler: it’s not new).

High-Dynamic-Range imaging, or “HDR” for short, is a term that has been popular among photographers for decades – it even goes back to the mid-19th century. Simply put, it’s a technique that allows for a greater contrast and range of luminosity than possible with traditional techniques.

What does this mean for gaming? A more life like and immersive experience, including brighter brights, blacker blacks, and an overall more enjoyable experience.

Since Microsoft announced the Xbox One S (Related: Should I buy an Xbox One S?) and Sony released a firmware update capable of supporting HDR on the Sony PlayStation4, people are wondering, what do I need to take advantage of HDR Gaming?

4K HDR gaming isn’t turn-key out of the box, but it’s accessible right now if you’re willing to spend a few dollars.

Especially early on, it might be more difficult or expensive to acquire what you need to start using HDR gaming. But just like everything else, as time goes on these items becomes more affordable.

Let’s take a look at what you’ll need to start utilizing HDR gaming.

What Do I Need to Take Advantage of HDR Gaming?

Unfortunately, HDR gaming requires an extra investment in a few parts of your gaming ecosystem.

Although it may be a little bit more expensive now, the lowering price of 4k TVs and gaming consoles will eventually make HDR gaming accessible to everyone and the new visual standard for console gaming in due time.

You’ll Need an HDR Ready Console

The first thing you’ll need to take advantage of HDR gaming is a console that supports it.

Since the announcement of the Xbox One S and Xbox One XXbox gamers will be able to game in HDR by purchasing the new console.

For Playstation fans, Sony recently announced a software update that will enable HDR on supported games for the Sony Playstation4.

There hasn’t been any word on whether or not HDR support is coming to the first-generation Xbox One consoles, but we can always hope considering the hardware isn’t much different in the Xbox One S than the original Xbox One.

You’ll Need an HDR Ready TV or Monitor

Another barrier to entry for HDR gaming is having a 4k HDR compatible TV.

There are numerous 4k HDR TVs out on the market right now, such as the Samsung 50-Inch 4k Ultra HD Smart LED TV that will run you slightly more than your typical consumer TV or monitor, but with many more features.

When looking for a 4k HDR TV or monitor, there are many other names for 4k or names for HDR that you’ll see out in the market, such as:

  • For 4K: UHD, Ultra HD, 2160P
  • For HDR: UHD Color, Ultra HD Premium, and Ultra HD Deep Color

Make sure the 4k HDR TV or monitor that you are buying supports HDR gaming on the Xbox One S or Playstation 4 before you buy it.

Finally, it’s important to note that an HDMI 2.0 Cable is needed to support the speeds that come along with HDR gaming.

You’ll Need HDR Compatible Games

Although the list of HDR compatible games for the Xbox One S is short right now, it’s only a matter of time before we start to see more and more games support HDR gaming:

What Else Should I Know About HDR Gaming?

If you haven’t hopped on the 4K HDR gaming train quite yet, don’t worry. Much like other new technologies they will be much more accessible to the masses before we know it.

There have also been some early reports of 4k HDR TVs and monitors having trouble with input lag (Related: How to Fix Input Lag on Your Xbox or Playstation) that haven’t been fixed by some of the lag reducing settings on the TV.

This could be hardware, or it could be software; In time, console, game, and TV manufacturers will have worked out the kinks with HDR gaming and we will all be taking part in the future of high fidelity before we know it.

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