Optimizing Your TV Settings for the Best Xbox Series X Gaming Experience

Are you ready to unlock the full potential of your Xbox Series X gaming experience? Look no further! In this article, we will guide you through the labyrinth of TV settings, revealing the best practices for achieving jaw-dropping visuals and immersive sound. From selecting the correct HDMI port to calibrating your picture to perfection, we've got you covered. Get ready to elevate your gameplay to new heights with the best TV settings for Xbox Series X. Let's dive in!

Ensure you're using the correct HDMI port

If you own an Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, or PlayStation 5, it's important to use an HDMI port on your TV that supports gaming features. Not all HDMI ports on TVs are created equal, and some may only support gaming features on specific ports (like HDMI 2), while others support them on all inputs. It's crucial to determine if you're using an HDMI 2.0 or 2.1 port, as this can make a significant difference. Some ports may not have any gaming features at all. To have the best gaming experience, make sure to use the HDMI port that fully supports all the features of your console, such as HDR and 120Hz gameplay.

After that, you might need to enable specific features for the selected HDMI port. While some TVs come with these features enabled by default, others don't. The location and method of accessing these features may vary depending on the brand, but generally, you can find the option in your video-based settings or input menus.

For example, to enable HDR for specific HDMI inputs on 2021 and newer LG OLED TVs, go to Settings, then General, followed by Devices, HDMI Settings, and HDMI Deep Color. Toggle the feature to "On." Keep in mind that TVs from different brands may have slightly different paths or names for these features, and even models within the same brand may have variations. Consult your TV's manual to locate the exact location of your video playback quality settings.

Start with the right HDMI cable

A close-up of an HDMI cable in front of an Xbox controller

When it comes to HDMI cables, you may have heard that expensive ones are not necessary and that your existing cables are usually sufficient. While this is mostly true, it's important to consider the evolving HDMI standards and the capabilities of your new consoles. Currently, HDMI 2.1 is the best option, as it supports 4k/120Hz and 8K/60Hz.

If your new console comes with an HDMI cable that is long enough for your setup, it's recommended to use it. However, if you need a longer or additional cable because you're connecting the console to an A/V receiver or soundbar instead of the TV, investing in an Ultra High Speed HDMI cable is necessary. These cables are specifically tested to handle up to 48Gbps bandwidth, allowing them to transmit high resolutions like 8K at 60Hz or 4K at 120Hz. Additionally, they support lossless multichannel audio and all HDR formats.

The good news is that Ultra High Speed HDMI cables don't cost significantly more than High Speed HDMI cables. For example, a 6.5-foot cable from Zeskit, which is Ultra High Speed Certified, is available for just $20. As the demand for high-speed cables continues to grow, more options like these are becoming available in the market.

Get a high-bandwidth HDMI cable

If you're planning to game at 4K resolution, it's recommended to connect your console to your TV using an HDMI 2.1 cable that has a bandwidth of 48Gbps.

The HDMI cables that come with your Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, and PlayStation 5 are designed to handle all the features of these consoles. However, if you need a replacement or have a more complex setup involving an A/V receiver or Dolby Atmos soundbar, it's crucial to choose the right HDMI cable for the job.

Look for cables that not only offer full HDMI 2.1 support but also mention "high-bandwidth" capability at 48Gbps. Cables that support "4K/120Hz" and "8K/60Hz" are also suitable for next-gen gaming, as these features require sufficient bandwidth.

There are plenty of tested and recommended HDMI cables available in the market. For a comprehensive list of the best HDMI cables you can buy, refer to our roundup.

How do I connect my TV to Xbox Series X|S?

Xbox Series X Ports

Source: Matt Brown | Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Matt Brown | Windows Central)

Before you can adjust the picture quality settings on your Xbox or TV, you need to connect your TV to your Xbox Series X|S console. The process is relatively simple: plug the included HDMI cable into the HDMI Out port on your Xbox console, and then connect the other end to an HDMI In port on your TV. However, to ensure the best possible experience, there are a few additional considerations.

Xbox Series X|S consoles have advanced HDMI 2.1 ports, and your TV must have a corresponding HDMI 2.1 port to unlock the console's full capabilities. These capabilities include support for higher resolutions at faster refresh rates, dynamic HDR, and other visual enhancements. While not all TVs have HDMI 2.1 (although it's becoming more common), check your TV's documentation to see if it supports HDMI 2.1 in one or more of its ports. If it does, make sure to connect your Xbox to your TV through the HDMI 2.1 port.

However, if your TV doesn't have the latest HDMI 2.1 port, don't worry. HDMI ports are backward and forward compatible, meaning they can still work with your Xbox Series X|S, albeit not at their maximum potential. Connect your console to the most capable HDMI port on your TV, and the Xbox will automatically adapt to what your TV can support.

It's worth noting that many devices with HDMI ports support HDMI-CEC, an optional standard that enhances communication between connected devices. Most modern TVs, especially those with HDMI 2.1 ports, already support HDMI-CEC. Check your TV's documentation to see if it includes HDMI-CEC support and which ports utilize this standard. Prioritizing the newest HDMI port and HDMI-CEC support can provide additional benefits such as controlling multiple devices with one remote and changing inputs automatically. Keep in mind that HDMI-CEC support varies between TV models and is often disabled by default.

Some of the benefits of HDMI-CEC include controlling the power of all connected devices with one command, automatic input switching, simultaneous control of audio volume for all devices, and more.

Knowing your TV

Xbox 4K TV details

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

As mentioned earlier, your Xbox Series X|S console will automatically detect your TV and its capabilities and provide you with useful information. Knowing this information can help you understand what your TV is capable of, troubleshoot issues, and optimize your settings accordingly.

TV details

To view a summary of your TV's capabilities as detected by your Xbox, navigate to the Settings app, select the "General" section, and then choose the "TV details" option. If you have a 4K TV, this option will be labeled "4K TV details." Here, your Xbox Series X|S will display the exact features your TV supports, including various resolutions, refresh rates, HDR support, media playback capabilities, and even game capture.

A green checkmark indicates that you should have no issues configuring your TV for the supported features listed next to it. A red cross means that your TV doesn't support those features at all. If you see any yellow triangles, it means your TV supports that feature, but there may be an issue preventing it. Resolving communication problems between your TV and Xbox can often fix these issues and turn the yellow triangles into green checkmarks.

This screen is extremely useful when setting up your TV and can also be a helpful reference if you encounter any problems along the way.

TV troubleshooting

Xbox consoles strive to seamlessly connect and set up your TV or display, but occasional issues may arise. Knowing how to troubleshoot and resolve various TV-related problems is important to ensure a smooth gaming experience. Fortunately, we have a guide that covers the most common Xbox display issues, including solutions like power cycling and more. You can refer to our guide for detailed instructions on fixing these problems.

Aside from the aforementioned guide, there are two additional pieces of information that can assist you when experiencing TV-related issues. The first is understanding how your Xbox communicates with your TV. If you encounter issues with your Xbox not displaying settings that you know your TV supports or being limited to a lower resolution than expected, there may be an issue with the communication between your TV and Xbox.

To address this, go to Settings, then the General section, followed by "TV & display options," and finally, "Video fidelity & overscan." Under the "Display" category, you'll find the "Overrides" dropdown menu. By default, this setting is set to "Auto-detect," which allows your Xbox to automatically detect your TV's capabilities upon initial connection. If you're experiencing issues with missing options or lower resolutions, you can change this setting to match the input on your TV and manually configure the settings. Alternatively, power cycling your console, as outlined in the guide mentioned earlier, can also resolve these problems.

Finally, every Xbox console comes preloaded with the Xbox Assist app, which includes a variety of guides and troubleshooters. To access these, go back to "TV & display options" and select the "Help" option. This will bring you to the "Video & TV" section of the Xbox Assist app, where you can find several guides to assist you in setting up your TV and troubleshooting common problems.

Which TV features are most important for next-gen gaming?

An Xbox Series X in front of a TV displaying a 4K video game in HDR

Both Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 are equipped with impressive AV features. It's crucial to understand what these features mean for you, your TV, and your audio equipment.

The latest gaming consoles are designed to enhance the visual quality of video games. However, to fully benefit from their hardware, ensure that your home theater devices can keep up. There are several features and hardware specifications you should be aware of, as they significantly impact the performance of your next-gen console.

These features include resolution and contrast enhancements such as 4K and HDR, the refresh rate of your TV (how quickly the display can respond to video with high frame rates), gaming modes like VRR (variable refresh rate) and ALLM (auto low latency mode), which automatically optimize your TV for better video performance, and Dolby Atmos for an immersive audio experience (currently not available for PS5). If you want to learn more about these features, you can explore the provided links or scroll to the bottom of this article for additional information.

Basic options

Xbox TV & display options

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The Xbox OS offers several basic options that allow you to customize your TV experience without delving too deep into the settings. To access these options, go to the General section of Settings, then select "TV & display options." Within this section, you'll find the "Resolution" and "Refresh rate" menus under "Display." Generally, it's best to set both of these options to the highest values supported by your TV.

However, keep in mind that not all TVs can support the highest resolution and refresh rate simultaneously. Some TVs may support 4K resolution but can't achieve high refresh rates, while others might not support HDR or Dolby Vision at higher resolutions or refresh rates. The capabilities of your TV determine these limitations, and you can view them in the "TV details" section.

Xbox Device control

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

Under the "Display" section, you can access the "Device control" and "Night mode" menus. "Device control" enables HDMI-CEC controls if your TV supports them. This includes features like controlling the power of your console from other devices and vice versa. You can choose to enable or disable specific HDMI-CEC features based on your preferences.

The "Night mode" menu allows you to configure your Xbox's night mode. This feature reduces the amount of blue light emitted from the display, making it more comfortable to view in dark or late-night settings. You can turn it on or off, set a schedule, adjust its intensity and HDR preferences, and customize other brightness settings. Additionally, you can change the overall theme of your Xbox and adjust the brightness of lights on your controllers and power button.

Advanced options

Xbox Video Modes

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For those who desire more precise control over their display settings, Xbox provides additional advanced options. To access these options, go to the General section of Settings, then select "TV & display options." Within this section, you'll find an "Advanced" category that contains the "Video modes" and "Video fidelity & overscan" options. Both of these sections offer several settings for users who want greater control over their display.

In the "Video modes" section, you'll find up to 10 options, each controlling a different display feature. Generally, it's best to have all options enabled if your TV supports them. However, you can toggle individual settings based on your preferences or when troubleshooting potential issues. Some of the settings in this section include:

- "Allow lower refresh rate content": This allows your TV to switch to a 50Hz or 24Hz refresh rate to match specific content, which is beneficial for movies and other media.

- "Allow auto low-latency modes": This option enables your TV to automatically switch to a low-latency mode designed for gaming. This mode may disable certain display features to prioritize faster response times. You can toggle this setting based on whether you want your TV to switch to this mode automatically when it detects a game.

- "Allow variable refresh rate (VRR)": Some TVs can dynamically adjust their refresh rate to match the content on the screen. This feature is especially beneficial for reducing screen tearing and artifacts, improving responsiveness, and enhancing visual smoothness in games.

- "Allow YCC 4:2:2": This setting is more advanced and its usefulness varies between TVs. It involves compressing content to improve compatibility with older or more affordable 4K displays. If you encounter issues when accessing 4K content across streaming, gaming, or Blu-rays (such as lost input or loss of HDR), enabling this setting may help resolve those problems. However, if you don't experience any issues, it's usually best to leave this setting off.

- "Allow 4K": This option allows your Xbox to display 4K content. It should be enabled if your Xbox is set to 4K resolution. Enabling this option can still allow your Xbox to display native 4K content for gaming or media even if your other settings are adjusted for different purposes.

- "Allow HDR": The remaining options in this section relate to various HDR features. HDR enhances your TV's ability to display more colors and greater contrast, adding richness to games and media content. Not all TVs support HDR, and there are two main HDR standards: HDR10 and Dolby Vision. Enabling the appropriate options allows your TV to display HDR content in the chosen standard. Auto HDR is an Xbox-specific feature that enhances older backward-compatible games with HDR.

Xbox Video Fidelity Overscan

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The "Video fidelity & overscan" section provides additional options to configure your TV when connected to Xbox Series X|S. These options include:

- "Color depth": This setting determines how many colors your Xbox can output to the display. A higher color depth (such as 10-bit or 12-bit) results in improved image quality and greater contrast. The optimal setting depends on your Xbox and TV combination, so it's best to set it to the highest value supported.

- "Color space": This setting controls how color information is transmitted from your Xbox to your TV. The "Standard" option refers to the most commonly used RGB standard, while "PC RGB" represents an expanded RGB field capable of displaying a greater range of colors. For most TVs, the "Standard" option provides the best results, as "PC RGB" may lead to lost detail and contrast on TVs that don't fully support it.

- "Overscan border": This option is rarely needed but can be useful in specific cases where certain apps don't properly fit your display's aspect ratio and appear cut off at the edges. Enabling this option creates a border around the app, preventing it from being shrunk and maintaining visual appeal. However, on most TVs, this option is best left disabled.

By utilizing these advanced options, you can fine-tune your display settings to achieve optimal performance with your Xbox Series X|S console.

Calibrating your TV

Xbox TV Calibration Tool

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Calibrating your TV can seem daunting, but it's actually quite straightforward. And with the help of the Xbox OS's built-in guide, it becomes even easier. The guide walks you through the entire TV calibration process and can be found in the "TV & display options" section of the General settings. By following this guide along with our Xbox TV settings guide, you can ensure that your TV is optimally configured for your Xbox Series X or S console.

  • Picture profiles: Many TVs offer preconfigured picture profiles for various scenarios. When gaming on Xbox Series X|S, it's recommended to stick with the "Standard" or default picture profile. Some TVs also have a "Game" profile specifically for console gaming, which may automatically apply the settings we will cover later in this guide.
  • Picture settings: Even after selecting your preferred picture profile, you may want to adjust specific picture settings. Here are some general recommendations:
    • Set the color temperature or tone to neutral or the middle option, although you can customize it to your preference
    • Set the tint setting as low as possible
    • Set the sharpness setting as low as possible without sacrificing image clarity
    • To set the contrast, first adjust the brightness settings (covered below), and then use the "Calibrate TV" feature for additional guidance on configuring contrast. However, this setting also depends on personal preference, so make sure to double-check your brightness settings after adjusting contrast
  • Brightness: Calibrating your TV's brightness is crucial, especially for HDR content. Here are some general recommendations:
    • Set the overall brightness as high as possible without making the image appear washed out
    • Set the gamma to the default or neutral setting
    • For LCD displays, adjust the backlight brightness accordingly. For OLED TVs, adjust the equivalent setting if available
    • If you struggle with dark areas on the screen, check if your TV has an HDMI black level setting. It should usually be set to automatic or default, but you can adjust it to low if necessary
    • If your TV supports local dimming (independent control of backlight sections), enable this feature for improved contrast in darker images
    • If your TV has an auto-brightness sensor, it's generally recommended to keep it off. Adjust your brightness settings manually to compensate for any issues
    • Use the "Calibrate TV" feature for additional guidance on configuring brightness settings
  • Enhancement features: Many TVs have AI-based features to enhance image quality, but these can negatively impact gaming performance. Here are some recommendations when configuring your TV:
    • Turn on any low latency features that reduce input lag and improve responsiveness
    • Turn off dynamic contrast features that enhance details in dark areas
    • Turn off dynamic color features that enhance colors and picture quality
    • Turn off sharpening features that enhance image sharpness
    • Turn off motion smoothing features that reduce motion blur
    • Turn off noise reduction features that improve image clarity
  • Aspect ratio: Most modern TVs handle aspect ratios well, but if any part of the screen extends beyond the TV's borders, you may need to adjust the aspect ratio. The "Calibrate TV" option provides a helpful guide to visualize the aspect ratio on the third screen.

Calibrating HDR

After configuring your Xbox Series X|S and your TV's general settings, the final step is calibrating HDR for games (if supported). HDR, or high dynamic range, can significantly enhance the colors and contrast in games, but it requires fine-tuning to achieve the best results.

Before calibrating HDR settings, ensure that HDR is enabled on your TV. You can access the "Calibrate HDR for games" option in the "TV & display options" section of the General settings. This feature guides you through the HDR calibration process on your Xbox without affecting your TV's settings. If you wish to adjust your TV's HDR settings, you can do so within this section as well.

In general, the recommended Xbox and TV settings mentioned earlier, combined with HDR calibration on your Xbox, should provide optimal gaming performance. However, if you want to further fine-tune your TV's HDR settings, consider the following recommendations:

  • Match the overall brightness of your TV to the ambient lighting in your room
  • If your TV has an LCD display or a backlight setting, adjust it to a higher level
  • Keep local dimming enabled (if available) at the default setting
  • Set the contrast to around the default setting
  • Adjust the color temperature to be slightly warmer than the default
  • Although some TV enhancement features, like dynamic contrast, can enhance HDR media content, it's recommended to keep them disabled for gaming purposes unless you primarily use your TV for media consumption

Select the right HDMI port

Depending on your TV's make and model, you may have multiple HDMI ports with different capabilities. It's essential to identify which HDMI ports support HDMI 2.1 features, especially if you want to take full advantage of your console's capabilities. Some TVs label these ports as "4K/120," while others may not have any specific labels. Refer to your TV's manual or search online using the model number to determine which HDMI ports support 4K/120.

Go deep (on color)

Newer TVs automatically detect HDR-capable devices and prompt you to enable UHD color or "deep color" for the corresponding input. Enabling UHD color is crucial for experiencing true HDR video from your console, Blu-ray player, or streaming media box.

However, older TVs may not prompt you to enable UHD color, resulting in subpar video quality. Therefore, before making any changes to picture quality settings, ensure that the input you're using is set to UHD color. The process may vary depending on your specific TV model, but you can consult the TV's settings menu or refer to the manufacturer's instructions for guidance.

Pro Tip: If your console is connected to an A/V receiver or soundbar, and that device is connected to your TV via HDMI ARC or eARC, keep in mind that changing the HDMI input to UHD color will affect all devices connected to the receiver or soundbar. Make sure all connected devices support HDR to avoid signal issues. If necessary, consider connecting your console or the non-HDR device to a separate HDMI input on your TV to enable UHD color only for HDR-capable devices.

Additional TV modes

If you own a Sony TV, it's recommended to enable Sony's enhanced HDR feature on the HDMI input used for your game console. You can access this setting by navigating to the TV's Settings icon, selecting external inputs, and then choosing HDMI signal format. Set the format to Enhanced for optimal HDR performance.

Some TVs, such as LG's OLED series, have a PC mode setting that enables support for 12-bit color. While this feature may not be useful for PlayStation 5 (as it doesn't currently support 12-bit formats like Dolby Vision), Microsoft's Xbox Series X offers both Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos support for movies and games. By enabling 12-bit color on your TV, you can fully experience the range of colors the console can produce.

Xbox System Menu Screen - HDMI settings

Once you've optimized your TV's picture settings for gaming, don't forget to explore audio, accessibility, and other quality of life settings. One essential setting is HDMI Device Link, which allows you to control compatible devices using your TV's remote through HDMI. You can access this option either through your console's internal settings or the TV's system settings.

Enabling HDMI Device Link has several benefits. It allows your console and TV to turn on simultaneously, and if you switch from one console to another, the TV will automatically change inputs accordingly. Additionally, HDMI Link is particularly useful when gaming on a PlayStation 5 since it enables you to navigate menus and streaming apps without using the DualSense controller, conserving its battery life.

Noise Reduction

Turning Motionflow off

Despite its name, Noise Reduction has nothing to do with audio settings. Instead, it reduces visual "noise" by sacrificing some details to enhance overall image quality. While this feature can be beneficial for standard definition content like older games or films, it's not recommended for PS5 gaming or other next-gen consoles. It's best to disable Noise Reduction whenever possible to maintain optimal image quality.

Game Mode

advanced picture settings screenshot

Modern TVs often come with a Game Mode setting specifically designed to reduce input and image latency (lag) as much as possible. While the effectiveness of Game Mode may vary across brands and models, it generally improves gaming performance.

Game Mode is particularly beneficial for online first-person shooter or fighting games that require quick reflexes. However, not all TVs, especially older models, have this setting. If your TV lacks a dedicated Game Mode, using the Movie or Sport mode should suffice for smooth gameplay.

Color Settings

brightness settings submenus

Adjusting the Color Settings is a straightforward way to optimize your TV for gaming. Most modern TVs offer color customization options, although the optimal settings may vary depending on your TV model and personal preferences. Here are some general recommendations:

  • Sharpness: Set to zero percent to avoid any unnatural halo effects or ghosting
  • Color setting: Set to 50 percent to maintain the original color palette without additional filters
  • Tint (G/R): Set to zero for a balanced color saturation between green and red

Brightness Settings

color settings submenus

Adjusting the brightness is crucial for achieving the optimal visual experience in games. Most games include a built-in Brightness Setting to help you find the right balance between your TV's capabilities and the developer's intended visuals. However, you can also customize the TV's brightness settings to further enhance your gaming experience.

In general, setting the brightness to around 50 percent is a good starting point. However, feel free to adjust it according to your preferences. If you prefer brighter images or want to improve visibility in dark areas, you can increase the brightness setting. On the other hand, if you prefer a more cinematic experience or want to avoid eye strain, you can decrease the brightness setting.

Dynamic Contrast

advanced settings submenus

Dynamic Contrast, also known as Contrast Enhance, dynamically optimizes the darkest blacks and brightest whites in real-time. While this feature can make the image visually striking, it often sacrifices fine details.

For gaming purposes, Dynamic Contrast is not recommended, as it can negatively impact image quality and performance. It's best to disable this feature to ensure optimal gaming visuals. However, for games with stylized animation, it may be acceptable to leave Dynamic Contrast enabled.


Game Boy Super Mario Land

Backlighting refers to the feature that brightens the screen from within the TV itself. It reduces glare and eye strain, making it one of the best TV settings for gaming.

Most modern TVs have backlighting enabled by default, but if your TV allows manual adjustment, ensure that the auto-backlighting feature is turned off. You can then manually adjust the backlight brightness according to your preference.

MotionFlow and TrueCinema

Turning Motionflow off

MotionFlow and TrueCinema are features commonly found on Sony TVs. These features lock the frame rate onscreen to enhance visual consistency, particularly for older movies and shows. However, when it comes to gaming, frame-rate locking options are not recommended.

Locking the frame rate may improve visual consistency, but it can negatively impact the performance of online multiplayer games. To ensure optimal gaming performance, it's best to disable MotionFlow and TrueCinema.

Console Settings

Adjusting the noise settings in the Picture menu

Most modern consoles have internal picture and audio settings that you can customize to match your TV. These settings ensure that the projected image is at the maximum quality your TV can handle, which is particularly useful when using older TVs that may not support high-definition pictures.

Each console has its own set of settings, so it's recommended to explore your console's menus and adjust the settings accordingly. The PlayStation 5, for example, offers extensive HDR customization options, while the Xbox Series X provides a wide range of visual customization features accessible via HDMI 2.1 ports.

Super Resolution

advanced settings submenus

Super Resolution, commonly found on LG OLED TVs, fills in pixel gaps when the image is displayed at a lower resolution than the maximum possible. This feature enhances image quality but can introduce input and image latency.

For most newer games, Super Resolution is unlikely to have a significant impact. However, for online multiplayer gaming, it's best to disable Super Resolution to ensure optimal image quality and performance.

Remember, following these guidelines along with the built-in Xbox TV calibration tool will help you achieve the best possible viewing and gaming experience on your TV and Xbox Series X or S console.

The Sound

PS Pulse Head set and Xbox Official

Both the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S offer unique sound settings that enhance the cinematic and immersive gaming experience. Whether you are using a TV, surround sound system, or a headset, these consoles have features that optimize the audio quality.

PlayStation 5

The PlayStation 5 includes Sony's exclusive 3D audio technology. It works well with various sound systems, including TV speakers, sound bars, and surround sound setups. However, for the best experience, using a good set of headphones is recommended. Sony's own PS5 Pulse 3D Wireless Headset or a Turtle Beach headset are excellent options. The 3D audio technology adds a new level of immersion to games like Horizon Forbidden West and Marvel's Spider-Man. The sound settings can also be adjusted to Dolby Digital or DTS under the Audio Output menu.

Xbox Series X|S

The Xbox Series X|S offers more flexibility in sound options, but some of the best features come at a cost. Unlike the PlayStation 5, it does not have built-in 3D audio. However, it has stereo uncompressed as the default option. To enhance the sound experience, users can download the DTS or Dolby Atmos apps. These apps provide a significant performance boost when used with a headset. Similar to the PlayStation 5, the Xbox Series X|S also takes advantage of external sound systems like Dolby Atmos soundbars and surround systems. However, activating DTS and Dolby Atmos requires a one-time payment after a free trial. Users can try both options during the trial period to determine which audio system works best for them. Dolby Access also offers additional settings for headsets in the settings menu.

HDR and Dolby Vision

Dolby Vision logo

Many modern 4K TVs come with HDR and Dolby Vision capabilities. HDR, which stands for High Dynamic Range, enhances the image quality by providing brighter whites, darker blacks, and more details in the gray tones. Dolby Vision, on the other hand, allows game developers to adjust the contrast on a scene-by-scene basis, offering more control over the visuals. Some TVs have separate settings for light and dark HDR and Dolby Vision, depending on the lighting conditions in the room. It's worth noting that only the Xbox Series X|S supports Dolby Vision, and activating it requires the Dolby Access app and a one-time payment.

Switch your TV to Game Mode and turn off motion enhancement settings

Most modern TVs offer a Game Mode specifically designed for gaming. This mode optimizes the picture settings by turning off motion-smoothing modes, increasing brightness, and enhancing color saturation. TVs with Auto Low Latency Mode automatically enable Game Mode when a gaming console is detected.

Using Game Mode on your TV can significantly improve the gaming experience by reducing input lag.

If your TV's Game Mode does not automatically disable motion smoothing, it is recommended to turn it off manually for the input your console is using. Motion smoothing features often increase input lag and can be found in your TV's display settings submenus labeled "Clarity," "Motion," "Clear Motion," or "Motion Smoothing."

Have VRR? Use it!

A man playing a video game in front of a 55-inch TV

If your TV supports Variable Refresh Rate (VRR), it is highly recommended to enable it while gaming. VRR synchronizes the refresh rate of your TV with the frames being displayed by your console, reducing screen tearing during gameplay.

For TVs with HDMI 2.1, features like VRR, FreeSync, and G-Sync are typically revealed automatically when the TV detects a gaming console and activates gaming-specific settings. Some TV models, like LG's Game Optimizer menu, have these features available.

Enabling VRR on your TV ensures smoother gameplay and a better overall gaming experience.

Adjust your TV's picture settings

Switching to Game Mode on your TV is a good start, but you may achieve better picture quality by adjusting a few additional settings.

Try adjusting the color temperature in your TV's game picture mode. A warmer color temperature is generally preferred for a more accurate picture. This shifts the images away from the blue side of the color spectrum and towards the yellow side. You can cycle through the available options in your TV's picture settings menu to find what suits your preference.

Another setting worth adjusting is the backlight (or OLED light setting for OLED TVs). Depending on the viewing environment, you can increase or decrease the backlight setting. The game picture preset often sets this to the maximum, but if you are gaming in a dark room, you may find it too bright. Slight adjustments to the backlight can increase comfort without significantly affecting contrast.

Adjusting brightness and contrast settings is generally not recommended, as these settings are usually calibrated to deliver the best balance of HDR highlights and shadow details.

Enable Dolby Atmos for better sound (Xbox-only)

If your TV supports Dolby Atmos, it is highly recommended to enable it for a better sound experience. Dolby Atmos is a surround sound technology that creates a three-dimensional sound field, accurately placing sound effects and dialogue in the physical space around you. This enhances the immersion and spatial audio in games and movies.

To enable Dolby Atmos on your Xbox console:

  1. Press the Xbox button on your controller and go to Settings > All Settings > Sound & Display > Audio Output > Spatial Sound

  2. Here, you can turn Dolby Atmos on or off as needed

Use HDMI-CEC or HDMI eARC to control everything with one remote

HDMI-CEC and HDMI ARC (or eARC) are features that allow your TV's remote to control your console and other devices. These features use a single cable to transfer audio and input information. Apart from controlling your home theater system and soundbar, they offer additional benefits.

For example, some LG OLED TVs allow users to navigate menus on the Xbox Series X|S using the TV's remote. This convenient feature eliminates the need for the console's controller during movie nights. HDMI-CEC or HDMI ARC can also be used to automatically turn the TV on or off when the console is powered on or shut down.

Refer to your TV's manual to locate these settings, as they may vary across different TV models. If you have a Sony TV with a PlayStation 5, the devices should be able to communicate with each other automatically.

Xbox Series S & HDMI 2.1

Xbox Series S Ports

When using Xbox Series X|S consoles, having an HDMI 2.1 connection is crucial for optimal performance. Both consoles feature an HDMI 2.1 port on the rear. However, only the more expensive Xbox Series X comes with an HDMI 2.1 cable included, while the Xbox Series S includes a less-capable HDMI 2.0 version. The reason for this is that the Xbox Series S does not fully utilize HDMI 2.1, and an HDMI 2.0 cable is sufficient for most players.

Nevertheless, using HDMI 2.1 with the Xbox Series S can enhance the gaming experience. HDMI 2.1 offers support for 4K resolution and a 120Hz refresh rate simultaneously, thanks to its higher data bandwidth. Although the Xbox Series S rarely achieves this resolution and refresh rate in games, using an HDMI 2.1 cable allows the console to take full advantage of compatible TVs when needed.

HDMI 2.1 also enables dynamic HDR, such as Dolby Vision or HDR10, which improves visual fidelity in supported games. It allows for auto-low latency mode, automatically switching your TV to a "game" mode when a game is started. HDMI 2.1 can also enhance variable refresh rate and improve communication with soundbars and other devices. Most importantly, it allows the Xbox Series S to utilize all these features simultaneously.

Alternatively, the HDMI 2.0 cable included with the Xbox Series S is limited to 4K at 60Hz or 120Hz at lower resolutions. It provides more static HDR and may result in increased latency and lower visual quality. For most users, especially those with TVs that do not support HDMI 2.1 or all its features, the HDMI 2.0 cable included in the box is sufficient for an excellent gaming and media experience.

However, those who can benefit from the higher bandwidth and feature set of HDMI 2.1 should consider purchasing a brand-new cable that is compatible with the Xbox Series S. High-quality HDMI cables recommended for Xbox are available and guarantee a great experience.

Check all compatible settings on your console

After setting up your console, it is important to check if all the settings are properly configured. Both the Xbox Series X|S and PlayStation 5 provide compatibility menus to show active features and settings that may require adjustment.

On Xbox Series X|S:

  • Go to Settings > General > TV & Display Options to access various visual features. The 4K TV Details menu provides a summary of the supported features on your TV.

  • Under Settings > General, you can find Volume & Audio Support Options. Here, you can toggle Dolby Atmos and other audio features on or off. The Audio Testing & Details menu allows you to check if everything is functioning correctly.

On PlayStation 5:

  • Navigate to Settings > Screen & Video > Video Output. This menu contains all the video-specific settings. Select Video Output Information to verify if your PS5 recognizes HDR, VRR, and 120Hz support.

  • For audio settings, go to Settings > Audio Output > Enable 3D Audio for TV Speakers. While the PS5 does not support Dolby Atmos, this feature enhances sound quality for home theater systems and soundbars with multiple audio channels during TV or movie watching.

If caution messages appear, read them carefully to understand the issue. Some issues may be due to incorrect settings on your TV, console, or audio system, while others may require hardware changes. It is recommended to check the software settings first before considering additional purchases to solve the problem.

Important Terminology for Gaming with the New Xbox Series X and PS5

  • 4K Resolution: Going forward, most new video games will have a native 4K resolution of 3,840 x 2,160. Upgrading to a 4K TV is highly recommended to fully experience the sharpness and detail of these games. Fortunately, 4K TVs have become more affordable, with many options available for $500 or less. Keep in mind that not all 4K TVs offer the same level of performance, particularly when it comes to HDR support.
  • **High Dynamic Range (HDR): HDR is a relatively new video format that is available for TV shows, movies, and video games. Most next-gen titles are mastered in HDR, which takes advantage of the high brightness and improved color saturation of HDR-compatible TVs. While most modern 4K TVs support HDR, it is best enjoyed on a bright and colorful TV. If you want to fully experience HDR gaming on your next-gen console, consider investing in a TV with mid-range or high-end performance. Affordable models like TCL's 6-series are available.
  • Refresh Rate: A TV's native refresh rate can significantly impact the visual quality of games with higher frame rates. Currently, there are two common refresh rates available: 60Hz and 120Hz. While the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 can run games at 120fps, there are currently limited games that reach this benchmark. For smooth motion, it is recommended to purchase a TV with a native 120Hz refresh rate.
  • VRR and ALLM: Variable Refresh Rate (VRR) and Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM) are display features that ensure a smooth, lag-free gaming experience. VRR synchronizes the action on the screen with the console's video output, preventing visual inconsistencies like screen tearing. ALLM automatically activates the TV's gaming mode when a gaming console is connected, reducing input lag.
  • Dolby Atmos: Dolby Atmos is an enhanced surround sound format designed for theaters. While the PlayStation 5 has its own 3D audio format, the Xbox Series X and Series S support Dolby Atmos for gaming, Blu-rays, and streaming. If you plan to connect your Xbox to a Dolby Atmos soundbar or receiver, ensure that your setup can pass the Xbox's 4K/120Hz signal. Additionally, if your TV and audio system support HDMI eARC, you can enjoy Dolby Atmos in its highest sound quality.

Note: Prices mentioned in this article are accurate at the time of publication and may change over time.

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4K Resolution and 120 FPS Are Ideal

Yellow 4K and the Blu Ray logo

4K resolution refers to a horizontal screen resolution of approximately 4,000 pixels. This level of resolution provides incredible visual detail in a single frame. In gaming, a frame is like a single picture, and the illusion of movement is created by displaying multiple frames rapidly. To achieve a more fluid and immersive gaming experience, it is best to have a high Frames Per Second (FPS) setting on your TV.

Most modern consoles require a combination of 4K resolution and 120 FPS for optimal performance. Thankfully, most TVs clearly indicate whether they can achieve these specifications. You can also search online to determine if your current TV is compatible. If your TV doesn't have a 120Hz display, it should at least have the standard 60Hz refresh rate, which still allows for smooth gameplay at 60FPS in HD or even Ultra HD. Even without 120Hz, a 4K 60Hz TV can still provide an incredible gaming experience.

In conclusion, optimizing your TV settings for the Xbox Series X is essential to fully enjoy the next-gen gaming experience. From selecting the right HDMI port and cable to calibrating your TV for HDR and adjusting picture settings, every detail matters. Don't forget to enable Game Mode, turn off motion enhancement settings, and utilize features like VRR and Dolby Atmos for the best visuals and sound. With a little effort, you can unlock the full potential of your Xbox Series X and immerse yourself in stunning 4K resolution and 120 FPS gameplay. So, follow these tips and prepare to be blown away by the incredible gaming performance of your console.

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