What is ALLM and VRR? TV gaming technology explained
(Pocket Ribbon) – Now that we’re in the era of the Xbox Series X/S and PlayStation 5 consoles, TV makers like Philips, Samsung, LG, Panasonic, and Sony are (of course) introducing gaming technology on features their latest television series, allowing players to get the most out of their machines.
One is a 120Hz refresh rate, which is native to the 120 frames per second output of some of the latest games. We explain what that means here.
But perhaps even more confusing are variable refresh rate (VRR) and automatic low-latency mode (ALLM) — two technologies supported by many modern TVs with HDMI 2.1 ports. You may not know what they have to offer and why it’s important for your TV to support them.
That’s why we explain each of the game technologies below.
What is VRR?
Variable Refresh Rate (VRR) is an HDMI technology that allows a TV or display to automatically adjust the refresh rate in real time to match the frame rate displayed by a compatible game console or PC.
The Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One X and Xbox One S all support VRR, so a matching TV can ensure the same output is displayed regardless of the frame rate sent to the panel. That ensures smooth movements, even when frame rates rise or fall in a game.
For example, if a game runs at 60 frames per second, but occasionally loses frames due to busy, complicated scenes, a normal TV without VRR would experience stuttering and/or screen tearing during those frame drops.
However, a VRR-compatible TV will adjust the refresh rate to match the game output, so you shouldn’t see any hitches or cracks. It can smooth out even the most extreme changes in dynamic frame rate.
At the moment, the PlayStation 5, like the PS4 and PS4 Pro, doesn’t support VRR via the HDMI output, so even if you have a VRR-compatible TV, you may still see stuttering in some games. But Sony plans to introduce VRR on the PS5 at a later date.
PC gamers have been enjoying VRR on compatible monitors for a while now.
What is ALLM?
Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM) is a TV technology that you may already have on your set, even if you don’t have a VRR.
It allows your TV to automatically switch to a specific game mode when it detects gameplay. A small flag is sent from the connected console to the TV and the picture mode is chosen for you.
Game modes generally disable things like motion processing to reduce latency (the time between a game action being taken and seeing it on screen).
Many TVs have multiple gaming presets, which can depend on whether a game is being played in HDR or not.
If you’re a gamer — especially a current-generation console gamer — and looking to buy a new TV, make sure your purchase includes at least one HDMI 2.1 port that supports 4K 120Hz, VRR, and ALLM.
You may also want to make sure it supports Dolby Atmos audio, which some games on the Xbox Series X/S now offer.
Dolby Atmos is not supported by the PS5, at least for gaming. However, you can forward Dolby Atmos audio from a 4K Blu-ray. We explain here how you do that.
Written by Rik Henderson.