Updated: PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S Monitor Guide

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Originally published 16 November 2020. Last updated 5 April 2022

Introduction

The latest generation of games consoles finally arrived in November 2020, with the launch of the Sony PlayStation 5 and Microsoft Xbox Series X and S consoles. With the new consoles comes a range of new features, specs and benefits, and to really make the most of them you are going to need your display to be up to scratch. We wanted to focus primarily on the things you would need from a desktop monitor in order to use the new games consoles and try and provide a buyers guide on what to look out for if you are going to purchase a new monitor and plan to use it for your console.


Microsoft Xbox Series S (left) and X (right)


Sony PlayStation 5

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Resolution


Above: Image courtesy of HDMI.org

The new consoles are capable of outputting 4K and even 8K resolutions, although initial launch support and content may be limited of course. If you want to take advantage of those resolutions you will need a monitor that can natively support them ideally, although their practical value may be more limited from a desktop-sized monitor. Note that while the PS5 and Xbox Series X can support gaming at 4K at 120Hz, the Xbox Series S will only support up to 1440p for most of its gaming (although some 4K resolutions are available), but will allow upscaling to 4K for media streaming apps.

Dell UP3218K, one of the only monitors currently with 8K resolution – but with no HDMI connection

8K Resolutions

Let’s cover 8K first. This is very niche right now and only really used in some professional grade monitors such as the Dell UP3218K. This is a 31.5″ sized screen with a 7680 x 4320 resolution, but it only has DisplayPort connections and so is not even a viable option for console gaming anyway (which need HDMI – see below). Even if there were more choices, the value of 8K for console gaming on a desktop sized monitor is very questionable. You will likely be sat a little further way away from the screen for console gaming than you would for general PC use, and even some of the larger monitor sizes like this 31.5″ model aren’t really large enough then to make 8K worthwhile for that kind of viewing distance and usage. You aren’t likely to see any resolution benefits of 8K on a screen this size, it’s really only useful for TV’s, and likely then only really on the very large sets like 60″ and above. Anyway, we would forget about 8K support for a desktop monitor for console gaming right now, there’s not much point.

4K Resolutions

4K resolution is far more viable though for a desktop monitor, and can offer some sensible benefits even in desktop monitor size in terms of image sharpness and picture quality. 27″ models with 4K are very common nowadays, and there are also other models which are 28 – 32″ in size that might provide a better option for console gaming for a bit of a size boost. If you want to take advantage of the next gen console resolution support, look for a screen ideally with 4K resolution (3840 x 2160 which is officially “Ultra HD” but commonly referred to as “4K”). The other good thing about a screen with 4K compared to worrying about one with 8K is that it opens the door to what is probably the most exciting feature of the new consoles, the high refresh rates up to 120Hz. We will discuss refresh rate in a moment.

Do you really need 4K though on these sized screens? This is debatable, and many people don’t really see the value in 4K on something like a 27″ screen. Our advice here is similar to what we would say for PC monitor usage. We feel that you’re unlikely to notice a massive benefit of 4K on a 27″ model relative to something like 1440p, but it starts to become a bit more interesting and useful as you go up to say a 32″ sized display or above. For PC usage up close also remember that 4K resolutions will need you to use Operating System scaling to make fonts and text a sensible size, but that doesn’t always play nicely and can add complications in some software and applications. You probably also need to keep in mind what your viewing position and distance might be as well for when you’re playing your console, as you are probably going to be sat a bit further away, and may therefore not really see the benefit of the higher resolution on a smaller screen like this. 4K would obviously be beneficial on a large TV like 50 – 60″ for these consoles, but on desktop-sized monitors it becomes less important, and potentially creates complications for PC usage away from your console gaming. It might also be better to settle for a lower resolution if you’re looking for a smaller monitor, and instead focus on driving refresh rate on the console over the resolution.

If you want to broaden your options and potentially offer you lower budget display choices you could also consider those with 1440p (2560 x 1440) or 1080p (1920 x 1080) resolutions. These are available in smaller sizes as well like in the 21.5″ – 27″ range so if space is tight of you just prefer a smaller monitor, these are still viable. You don’t have to have 4K resolution support to use the next generation consoles and on a smaller sized screen 1080p or 1440p might be perfectly fine. In fact this might make it easier to drive the higher refresh rates too up to 120Hz, sacrificing resolution (which you might not even need) for speed. If you’re after a smaller sized screen then 1080p or 1440p will be preferable anyway as 4K is unnecessary, and likely not even available on the smaller sized models anyway.

Resolution support from the new consoles varies


The Xbox Series X can support 4K, 1440p and 1080p output resolutions making usage on a monitor simpler than the PS5 at the moment.
The PlayStation 5 lacks 1440p support which can make life a bit more difficult on a desktop monitor

One thing to keep in mind though is the output resolution options of the new consoles for non-4K resolutions. The Xbox Series X/S will support both 1080p and 1440p outputs if you need it, so that’s nice and easy. If you want to use a smaller monitor or buy one that has a non-4K resolution, it’s still perfectly usable. Although one thing to keep in mind is that HDR mode is not supported on the Xbox unless you can output at 4K. See the note below about “virtual 4K” support which may also be useful.

The PlayStation 5 on the other hand rather oddly will only support 1080p or 4K output, and will not support 1440p (at least at the moment – let’s hope Sony perhaps add this at some point if they can via a firmware update). If you’re only buying a 1080p monitor that’s fine of course and you can just select that as the output resolution from the PS5. If your monitor of choice is natively 1440p you are left with a bit of a dilemma. Sony say it is because they are focusing on TV support primarily, but there is growing pressure from consumers who want to game on their 1440p monitor as well.

Virtual 4K support can be useful for smaller monitors with <4K panel resolution

If you’re interested in the PS5 as your console and would rather buy a 1440p monitor instead of 4K, you might want to try and find one that features “Virtual 4K” support. You can check this by seeing if you can set your PC to 3840 x 2160 resolution without any custom resolutions being needed. Sometimes manufacturers will specifically list this feature in their product pages and specs too. The screen will still have a native resolution of 2560 x 1440 pixels, but will importantly accept a 4K input source.

Screens with Virtual 4K support will downscale a 4K input to the native resolution of the 1440p panel still, but that is better than inputting the alternative, which on the PS5 is 1080p (that’s already been downscaled by the console), and then letting the screen try and upscale that back to 1440p. Virtual 4K support on a 1440p resolution monitor can be useful for consoles. As we said, the Xbox Series X can support 1440p resolution output anyway so it’s easier there and you don’t need to worry about Virtual 4K support unless you have a monitor with decent HDR capabilities, and want to use HDR from the console. HDR is only supported at 4K outputs on the Xbox. Generally though it is likely to be better to just input 1440p from the Xbox Series X in those instances to match the resolution of the screen, and focus on pushing the refresh rate up instead of inputting 4K that only has to be scaled back down by the monitor.
 


Refresh Rate


4K monitors like the LG 27GN950 are designed primarily for PC usage, and their support for the next gen consoles is restricted at the moment

For the first time the new PS5 and Xbox Series X consoles can support high refresh rates up to 120Hz. This has the benefit of significantly improved frame rates, doubling what was possible with the last generation. This also has the benefit of significantly improving motion clarity on displays where the refresh rate has a direct relation to how the human eye tracks movement and perceives motion blur. The jump up to 120Hz will be a major step change when it comes to the gaming experience and clarity of motion.


Example real life motion clarity comparison examples at 60Hz and 120Hz, showing benefits
of 120Hz in practice. For illustrative purposes

To take advantage of this you will want a monitor with a high refresh rate. It doesn’t matter if the monitor can do higher than the console 120Hz (144Hz for instance is far more common than a screen that is “only” 120Hz). As long as it can support 120Hz refresh rate or above, it should be fine for connecting the consoles and using them at 120Hz. There’s plenty of 144Hz, 240Hz and even 360Hz desktop monitors available nowadays so you can enjoy any extra refresh rate from the monitor then for PC gaming! You won’t be able to make use of those higher refresh rates for your console though, they are 120Hz maximum. Manufacturers will normally confirm in their product specs support for console resolution/refresh rate.

You might need to ensure that the screen can accept a 120Hz via a native timing over its HDMI connection but that should be pretty standard on many high refresh rate screens. You’d need to check the specs or try the screen from a PC over HDMI to see if 120Hz is listed as a native option from the graphics card and in the section for ‘Ultra HD, HD, SD’ resolutions which are automatic timings reported from the screen in the “TV” usage section as opposed to the “PC” section lower down. It seems the new consoles need to see the resolution and refresh rate in this TV space to detect it properly.

There are some monitors where it is not supported such as the LG 27GL850 for instance which will only accept maximum of 100Hz over HDMI even though the panel can support 144Hz over DisplayPort fine. On this screen you won’t be able to use high refresh rate from the console. There are others such as the Dell S2719DGF which can support 144Hz over HDMI but do not have a native 120Hz timing, so cannot be used at 120Hz! Be careful of monitors that are advertised with a high refresh rate as that might just be over DisplayPort. Check the specs and user guides online to confirm if it can do 120Hz over its HDMI connection too. This mainly applies to older screens produced before the new consoles were available. Most newer monitors should be fine, and it’s generally something listed in the manufacturer specs too.


  • You need a screen with at least 120Hz supported over HDMI
  • HDMI 2.1 needed on the monitor for full 4K 120Hz support
  • For lower resolution monitors (1080p and 1440p) you only really need HDMI 2.0 for 120Hz

High refresh rate is far more common on lower resolution monitors with 1080p or 1440p, with a much smaller number of screens offering this in the 4K space at the moment. Achieving high settings and performance from your console games will be easier anyway at a 1440p/1080p resolution at 120Hz so those are still very viable options, you just won’t be able to support the console’s native maximum 4K. Whether or not you really need to use 4K anyway on a desktop monitor sized screen which are commonly 24 – 32″ in size is questionable as we discussed above. You can take advantage of these 1080p/1440p displays now for 120Hz gaming, without needing to wait for HDMI 2.1 as well which is useful (discussed more in a moment). This gives you a lot more choice, you don’t need to necessarily wait for an HDMI 2.1 screen if you’re not going for 4K.

If you do want a 4K monitor though you will need to be mindful of the HDMI version it uses and also its available bandwidth and advertised features. This will limit you largely to the most recent models, released since around late summer 2021. Before that time there have been quite a few 27″ models with high refresh rate launched such as the Asus ROG Swift PG27UQ, Asus ROG Strix XG27UQ and LG 27GN950 for instance that we’ve reviewed. However, these models are all built for PC gaming at 4K @ 120Hz/144Hz and over DisplayPort 1.4 connections which the consoles lack (see below for more information on this). To support these new consoles fully at 4K 120Hz they really need HDMI 2.1 connections with HDMI 2.1 capabilities while many high refresh rate monitors have only HDMI 2.0 maximum. We will talk more about HDMI 2.1 and the video connections in a moment.

27″ is arguably too small to really offer much benefit from the 4K resolution over 1440p, especially when you take in to account your likely viewing distance for a console. 32″ models which have started to appear since late summer 2021 are more interesting options for 4K @ 120Hz though like the Asus ROG Swift PG32UQ for instance we have reviewed.
 

Getting the right input connection and HDMI 2.1 confusion

Choosing a monitor for use with a PC is simple, as DisplayPort is widely used on graphics cards as the output, and it is the connection of choice for the monitors they will connect to. Like the older consoles, the next generation games models like the PS5 and Xbox Series X do not have a DisplayPort output so you will need to find a monitor that can handle the connection coming from the console. They have been built around HDMI and also include some of the new features associated with the new HDMI 2.1 standard. Note however that just because a screen is labelled as HDMI 2.1, it doesn’t necessarily mean it will support the features you associate with HDMI 2.1, or even the features these consoles support because they use HDMI 2.1. Confusing, we know.

Generally though as a baseline to take advantage of the new console features in full, like 4K @ 120Hz, a monitor needs to have an HDMI 2.1 input and not one that is advertised as an older generation like HDMI 2.0. These modern consoles are a key driver for the inclusion of HDMI 2.1. Look out for HDMI 2.1 being specifically quoted in the manufacturer spec page and marketing material.

Look out for specific listing of the capabilities your console has from the display, don’t just assume an “HDMI 2.1” label is enough

Beyond the branding of HDMI 2.1 you will also need to look within the spec for the capabilities of the display that the manufacturer lists, you can’t assume that the inclusion of this HDMI 2.1 branding means it will support everything you want, as our investigation in 2021 found out. You should look out for:

  • The resolution and refresh rate supported over HDMI
  • Perhaps a note about the bandwidth available from the connection (see below)
  • Perhaps a note about any colour limitations that might apply (see below)
  • Whether or not VRR is supported and perhaps which version (see section on VRR below)
  • Whether or not ALLM is supported (although not really needed on a monitor, but see ALLM section below)

You will also need an HDMI 2.1 ‘ultra high speed’ cable but thankfully both consoles come with one of those in the box, as do most HDMI 2.1 enabled monitors we’ve tested to date.

A note about some HDMI 2.1 displays with limited bandwidth

To make life a bit more complicated, we have seen some HDMI 2.1 connections on the display limited in their bandwidth capability. A full capacity HDMI 2.1 port should be able to support 48Gbps, although as we will talk about a bit more later the consoles are limited to a lower bandwidth themselves – 40Gbps from the Xbox and 32Gbps from the PS5. You might want to check either in the display manufacturers spec, or ideally through third party reviews like those found at TFTCentral what capacity the HDMI 2.1 ports are on the monitor. For instance we’ve seen the Gigabyte Aorus FI32U limited to 24Gbps with DSC in the first wave of HDMI 2.1 monitors, which has a knock on impact to performance in some areas. Some others like the Eve Spectrum 4K support the full 48Gbps.

You may see the manufacturers list the bandwidth of the port in some cases like Eve did for their Spectrum 4K screen, or you may just see some notes about colour sacrifices if the bandwidth of the port is lower. For instance the Gigabyte Aorus FI32U mentioned above with 24Gbps specifically lists “4K 120Hz at 4:2:0 chroma” in its spec because it isn’t a full bandwidth port. This leads to some potential colour sacrifice in theory, depending on the content and game as the Xbox can support 4K 120Hz 4:4:4 chroma (which is within its 40Gbps bandwidth), and the PS5 can support 4K 120Hz 4:2:2 chroma (within its 32Gbps bandwidth limit). So when the display HDMI bandwidth is restricted like it is on the FI32U to something lower, you may have to give up more colour levels still which is a shame. Colour levels and chroma sub-sampling is discussed a bit more later in this article.

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Can you use the consoles on HDMI 2.0 or HDMI 1.4 displays?

You can thankfully still use the new consoles on an HDMI 2.0 screen as well, just not at the full capabilities of the consoles as the connections are backwards compatible and of the same physical type. More on this in a moment. Make sure it is at least 2.0 though, older HDMI 1.4 are going to leave you too limited in many cases and some HDMI 1.4 monitors won’t work at high refresh rates above 60Hz, even though the connection has the bandwidth to support it. Most modern monitors will feature (and list in their specs) HDMI 2.0 anyway so it should give you plenty of choice.

HDMI 2.0 doesn’t have the sufficient bandwidth to support the full capabilities of these consoles like 4K @ 120Hz for instance. You might notice that the majority of released and planned HDMI 2.1-enabled screens all offer a 3840 x 2160 “4K” resolution. We expect the 4K models to be the priority for monitor manufacturers to provide HDMI 2.1 connectivity and capabilities, where it is needed to offer this support. Note also that all of the released and announced models feature high refresh rates as well.

What about lower resolution displays like 1080p and 1440p though, do they really need HDMI 2.1 for these consoles for high refresh rates? Not really as HDMI 2.0 has sufficient bandwidth to handle 1440p at 120Hz or 1080p at 120Hz and so can accommodate the new games consoles. So if you have a monitor with those lower resolutions or are intending to buy one, HDMI 2.0 will be fine to support the high refresh rate output from the console. Keep in mind 1080p and 1440p resolution monitors are also far more widely available, affordable and popular right now. You will have a much bigger choice. You won’t be able to use the full 4K 120Hz output from the console of course, but a 1080p/1440p monitor isn’t capable of displaying it anyway and as we said earlier there may be questionable benefits on a monitor-sized display. So the high refresh rate side of things should be fine even from older HDMI 2.0 displays if you aren’t looking for 4K support. Keep in mind our earlier comments though about the PS5 not supporting a 1440p output signal.

So high refresh rates are fine over HDMI 2.0 as long as you have a lower resolution screen. There are a couple of other things to consider though if you’re thinking about a lower resolution display with HDMI 2.0, variable refresh rates (VRR) being probably the main one.

Variable Refresh Rates (VRR)

The new consoles were also marketed widely as supporting variable refresh rates or “VRR” as it’s shortened to. This is something that has been widespread in the PC gaming market for a long time via NVIDIA’s G-sync and AMD’s FreeSync technologies. In the console space these new features will help handle the high 120Hz refresh rates, variable frame rates and avoid tearing and lag like VRR does on PCs. Is VRR supported from the consoles yet? What about variable refresh rates and the different HDMI versions? This depends on which console you are going to use.

FreeSync over HDMI


Currently only the Xbox Series X supports FreeSync over HDMI 2.0.
PS5 is not expected to get FreeSync over HDMI support

HDMI 2.0 can support FreeSync over HDMI and this is available on many FreeSync monitors already. FreeSync is available from the Xbox Series X like it was on the One X and One S. That means if you are buying an Xbox Series X and have a monitor with HDMI 2.0 that is capable of supporting FreeSync over HDMI, you can use VRR fine and don’t need to even have a screen branded with HDMI 2.1. If you have an HDMI 2.1 screen to connect to that will work fine as well from the Xbox Series X if FreeSync over HDMI is supported, or also the HDMI-VRR that is a possible feature of HDMI 2.1, again if included. For FreeSync over HDMI (either version), you would need to enable FreeSync / Adaptive-sync from the monitor OSD, if you disable it there, this won’t work.

PlayStation 5 cannot support FreeSync over HDMI at all, and isn’t expected to get that support unfortunately.

HDMI-VRR (aka HDMI-org VRR)

HDMI-VRR already supported from the Xbox, and should be coming soon to PS5

HDMI-VRR (sometimes called HDMI-org VRR) is a new VRR feature is built in to the HDMI 2.1 standard as an optional feature. It is not available on HDMI 2.0 displays though. Even if the display is HDMI 2.1 branded, you cannot assume this will be supported from your display, so you will need to check within the display manufacturers specs to know for sure, or via third party reviewers like ourselves. This is an alternative VRR capability to FreeSync and is already supported from the Xbox.

For an Xbox Series X if you connect that to a screen over HDMI 2.1 and the screen supports HDMI-VRR then you shouldn’t need to use the FreeSync option as this VRR is baked in to the HDMI 2.1 connection and standard. If you disable FreeSync on the monitor, VRR should still be available on the Xbox because it switches over to using this underlying HDMI-VRR technology from HDMI 2.1. We’ve seen this behaviour on several HDMI 2.1 displays like the LG CX OLED TV, and the AOC AGON Pro AG324UX for instance. It doesn’t really matter which VRR technology you use to be honest, although if you’re also using your PC for gaming you probably want to leave FreeSync enabled in the OSD menu for that, which will cause the Xbox to use FreeSync as opposed to the underlying HDMI-VRR.

  • Xbox Series X can support both FreeSync and HDMI-VRR over HDMI 2.1
  • For older HDMI 2.0 displays you can still use FreeSync over HDMI 2.0 from the Xbox
  • For Xbox, if using an HDMI 2.1 display, if you disable FreeSync/Adaptive-sync from the OSD and it will revert to using the HDMI 2.1 underlying HDMI-VRR capability.

The Sony PS5 is unfortunately a lot more limited, it doesn’t support either VRR option still, and we’re a 18 months on from the console’s release. The good news is that in a March 2022 announcement Sony said it would be coming “in the months ahead” which gives some positive news on this feature for PS5 owners. This is expected to be HDMI-VRR, and we are not expecting FreeSync support to be added. This means it will work with HDMI 2.1 capable displays where HDMI-VRR support is included, but will not work with basic FreeSync displays (or those with HDMI 2.0 only).

  • PS5 doesn’t support any VRR at the moment, but it’s coming soon apparently (likely HDMI-VRR only)

Right now it looks like HDMI 2.1 will likely be a must for any monitor to support the PS5 VRR capabilities properly and you will need the display to specifically support this capability too.

Screenshot of beta PS5 software showing VRR is being added at some point in an update, finally.

What if I want a Monitor with a Native G-sync hardware module?

You may want to try and find a monitor with a Native G-sync hardware module as well, which can offer decent benefits for PC gaming like excellent VRR range, variable overdrive, super low input lag and often other useful technologies like ULMB (Ultra Low Motion Blur) mode. Where does that leave you if you also want to connect a next gen console?

The first wave of HDMI 2.1-ready monitors talked about in this article all feature traditional scalers and adaptive-sync support for VRR, as opposed to any with a Native hardware G-sync module. It remains to be seen what will be supported for future Native G-sync screens, as at the moment the latest G-sync hardware module only has DisplayPort 1.4 and HDMI 2.0 connections. An updated module from NVIDIA would be needed if they plan to offer HDMI 2.1 from Native G-sync screens, which you would expect they’d want to. NVIDIA didn’t have any official information they could share with us on this at the moment but it would seem logical to expect an update at some point given their ongoing investment in G-sync and the benefits it brings to gamers.

So right now with the lack of HDMI 2.1 that means (with rare exceptions) you could not buy a Native G-sync screen which has 4K resolution and 120Hz and be able to use that from your new console fully. You could of course use the HDMI 2.0 connection and send 1440p/1080p at 120Hz from the console, but you are not going to be able to take proper advantage of the 4K resolution support you have on both the console and the monitor normally. You could however buy a Native G-sync screen with a lower native 1080p or 1440p resolution and use that at 120Hz over HDMI 2.0, so there are some options if you are looking for one of these displays.

A known exception available so far is the Asus ROG Swift PG32UQX which is 4K 120Hz and features the Native G-sync module. This has been customised to allow 4K 120Hz over it’s HDMI 2.0 connection, with the sacrifice of some colour fidelity (reduced to 4:2:0 chroma instead of 4:4:4). So it is possible some HDMI 2.0 monitors could be enabled for 4K 120Hz from these modern consoles as well, albeit with colour sacrifice needed.

One other consideration for a Native G-sync module screen is that you will be lacking VRR support from the console in all likelihood. HDMI 2.0 doesn’t support HDMI-VRR which leaves you only with FreeSync. We have seen FreeSync supported over the DisplayPort of modern G-sync module screens for PC gaming, but it’s very rare to find a screen where FreeSync is also supported over the HDMI connection. Only the LG 38GL950G springs to mind as one where this is supported. This means that even the Xbox can’t fall back to using FreeSync over HDMI 2.0. Even if NVIDIA added that support for FreeSync over HDMI 2.0, while it might help Xbox owners it probably wouldn’t be of any value to PS5 owners. PS5 looks like it won’t support VRR until Sony add HDMI-VRR which means you’d need an HDMI 2.1 port featured on the monitor/G-sync module.

  • Generally right now any monitor with Native G-sync hardware module is not a great choice for PS5 or Xbox Series X console gaming due to lack of HDMI 2.1

Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM)

Xbox menu showing ALLM option

ALLM is another optional feature of the HDMI 2.1 standard and allows in theory the console to send a signal to the display which can allow it to automatically enter a lower lag ‘game’ mode for the optimal gaming experience. This can save you the need to manually switch between different preset modes and settings for all your different uses. This feature appears on quite a few TV’s nowadays including the LG CX OLED we reviewed for instance. If a gaming signal is detected from an ALLM compatible console, the screen will switch to the relevant preset mode which normally has a much lower input lag than the normal viewing modes for movies and TVs.

This feature is probably more useful on TV’s though than on monitors, as it’s pretty rare for a desktop monitor to have different lag modes in the same way as they don’t have the same image processing and enhancement features that TVs do that add all the lag in the first place. Desktop monitors will typically have much lower input lag than any TV as a result.

Because ALLM is a feature of HDMI 2.1 it is not available on HDMI 2.0 displays, and so it cannot be used anyway if you were using a desktop monitor with HDMI 2.0 input only. Even if you waited for a monitor with HDMI 2.1 this feature is unlikely to be of any major benefit for a monitor, and may not even be used by the screen as most of the time a desktop monitor has the same lag in all the preset modes anyway. Maybe it would be useful if the screen detected the ALLM input and could switch to a certain game preset mode which you had set up perhaps slightly differently for gaming. Something maybe brighter or more vivid than your normal day to day usage perhaps.

Above: The Xbox Series X has always supported ALLM but the PlayStation 5 only added it in March 2022
Not that it is as useful for a monitor

Xbox has supported ALLM since it was launched, but the PS5 has only added that support in a late March 2022 firmware update. This is thankfully now available on both consoles, although it’s only really useful for a TV and less so on a desktop monitor as we’ve explained above. Remember you would need to look out for this being specifically mentioned as a feature of the display you’re buying, as it is an optional capability of HDMI 2.1 and you cannot assume it would be included just from the HDMI 2.1 branding.

HDR Considerations

The PS5 and Xbox Series X can both support HDR gaming as well. Both support the most common HDR10 format which is also the most widely used format in the monitor market which helps. The Xbox Series X can also support Dolby Vision, including for 120Hz gaming since a late 2021 update. For desktop monitor usage HDR10 is widely accepted, but Dolby Vision isn’t at all.

  • PS5 and Xbox both support HDR10 output but display capability will vary
  • Xbox Series X also supports Dolby Vision, but this is not available on any monitor yet (only TV’s)

From the display side of things the same advice applies here as if you were selecting a desktop monitor for HDR from a PC. You may want to read our detailed HDR article for more information. There are varying levels of support and performance of HDR though for a display. At the moment there’s only one gaming focused OLED monitor option available which is the Dell Alienware AW3423DW which was released in March 2022. This is a decent option from an HDR gaming point of view, supporting HDR10 sources, and offering pixel level dimming, a decent peak brightness capability and true deep blacks.

Apart from that one option currently available we are left with traditional LCD desktop monitors with various local dimming options. If you want to be able to take advantage of HDR gaming from the new consoles and create at least some kind of improvements to the dynamic range (contrast) of the image, look for a monitor with at least HDR600 certification or above. Forget about all the many HDR400 monitors out there, they nearly always don’t feature any local dimming and so offer no improved dynamic range. These HDR400 certified screens also won’t even guarantee that the screen has a wide colour gamut (DCI-P3) or 10-bit colour depth support that go in to creating a decent HDR image from a colour point of view.

HDR600 and above on the other hand require some form of local dimming which might only be edge lit and may have limited numbers of zones, but is still better than HDR 400 which has 99% of the time none. Look for details of how many dimming zones the screen has if you can. The HDR600 standard and above also required wide colour gamut and 10-bit colour depth support which are needed for HDR content too. As a side note, if you aren’t bothered about HDR so much we would still recommend finding a screen with a wide colour gamut at least to give you the colour boost and to handle new console games fully. Look for specs listing a high % DCI-P3 colour space as opposed to standard gamut screens which list sRGB coverage.

  • PS5 supports HDR at 1080p and 4K
  • Xbox Series X only supports HDR at 4K currently

The PS5 can support HDR at both 4K and 1080p output resolution outputs but not 1440p as it doesn’t support that resolution at all. The Xbox Series X on the other hand appears to only support HDR when using 4K output currently. Perhaps this will be changed in a future update. Right now that might be a limitation as unless you buy a 4K capable monitor (including those with “Virtual 4K”) you will not be able to use HDR modes. Although unless you get a really good monitor, the HDR might be a bit pointless anyway.

Colour Quality and Chroma Sub-sampling

Image courtesy of Rtings.com

Here’s where things get a bit technical and it’s all about supported HDMI bandwidth. The HDMI 2.1 specification allows for a 48Gbps maximum bandwidth in theory, but actually each games console is limited to a different bandwidth output.

  • The Xbox Series X operates at 40Gbps, while the PS5 operates at 32Gbps.

This has some implications for colour quality at 4K 120Hz settings. From the Xbox Series X the 40Gbps is enough to support 4K 120Hz gaming at 10-bit colour depth and with 4:4:4 (full RGB range) chroma. There is no need to sacrifice colour quality thankfully as long as the connecting display also has the appropriate HDMI 2.1 implementation and is not restricted, and of course as long as the game/content supports it which might be unlikely. We’ve tested that and confirmed it works on the LG CX OLED (which incidentally also has 40Gbps HDMI 2.1 inputs).

The PS5 is a little different, and for 4K 120Hz 10-bit content it is limited to 4:2:2 chroma. That’s a limitation of the console itself due to its lower 32Gbps bandwidth so it cannot reach full 4:4:4 chroma unfortunately. This may lead to some loss in picture quality and colour appearance, although in games it’s pretty hard to spot and it not a major issue. Note that most games which push to 4K and 120Hz would be mastered at 4:2:2 or even 4:2:0 chroma anyway so it may be irrelevant to many uses if you can’t find content that runs at the full 4:4:4 level. The fact current games and other content like Blu-ray movies run like this without major problems or user concerns is probably a good sign you don’t need to worry.

  • Xbox Series X supports 4K 120Hz 10-bit 4:4:4 RGB chroma
  • PS5 supports max 4K 120Hz 10-bit 4:2:2 chroma

We talked about chroma sub-sampling in a lot more detail in our Asus ROG Swift PG27UQ review here in terms of what it is, and the impact it has on general desktop PC usage. Again, remember it is far less of an issue for dynamic content like games and movies in real use.

The only additional consideration here then is from the display side of things, and whether it adds any further restrictions to the colour levels. We have seen some monitors for instance only support 4K 120Hz 10-bit at 4:2:0 chroma because of the way the HDMI 2.1 is implemented (e.g. Gigabyte Aorus FI32U). You might need to refer to the manufacturer spec, or third party testing for more information, but we wouldn’t worry too much about this issue in most cases.

Summary

There’s a lot to take in here so we will try and summarise the key points as best we can here. It’s important to note also that the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X have been around for about 18 months so far and stock can still be very hard to come by. While there are a few things that might not be supported now or are proving problematic, these may well change over the coming months as Sony/Microsoft roll out new updates and firmware revisions. We are in no way trying to promote one console over the other, that’s your choice and we would recommend reading reviews from reputable sites that deal in console gaming if you want help trying to decide which console is right for you. We are just trying to lay out the facts about what is and isn’t supported, and provide a guide on how to buy a PC monitor for your console if you need one. Again it’s tricky to get in to actual monitor recommendations here as there’s so many possible options out there, this is more intended to guide you on what to look out for and what to consider.


If you’re after a desktop monitor for console gaming there are a few key areas you need to consider really.

  • Resolution – If you’re wanting to game at 4K from your new console on your monitor then our view is that you will probably want to get a larger screen in the 32″+ size range to make that 4K resolution worthwhile and see some practical benefit on it given the comparatively smaller screen size (relative to a TV). If you are going for a smaller screen than this, 4K feels a bit unnecessary and so you can just as easily get a lower cost, more readily available 1440p or 1080p model, depending on your size preference. If you are going for a smaller 21.5 – 24″ sized screen, 1080p will be perfectly fine. If it’s more in the 27 – 30″ range then 1440p would be better. 4K support is less important if you’re buying a desktop monitor for the console than it might be if you were buying a much larger TV. Be careful about the PS5’s lack of 1440p resolution support as discussed in this article.
  • Refresh Rates – you definitely want a screen with at least 120Hz refresh rate, which should be easy enough to find in the desktop monitor market and available in a range of sizes and budgets. Be careful to check that it will support 120Hz natively over its HDMI connection though, don’t assume as this can sometimes be different to what it will accept over its DisplayPort input.
  • Connections – If you’ve decided that you want a 4K screen and consider it worthwhile for the size of display you are after (probably the larger models only), you want one of the modern screens that has a HDMI 2.1 connection if you want to also have 120Hz support (which you do!). If you decide you don’t really need 4K and it’s unnecessary on the size of monitor you want, you have far more options available with 1080p (21.5 – 24″ sized screens) and 1440p (25 – 30″ sized). This will give you a wider range of high refresh rate options at more affordable prices. You won’t need HDMI 2.1 to take advantage of the high refresh rate either, HDMI 2.0 will suffice there. Although it may be lacking some other functionality in some case unfortunately (discussed below).
  • Variable Refresh Rate – this is currently supported well from the Xbox Series X including for old HDMI 2.0 screens which can support FreeSync over HDMI. It also works fine for HDMI 2.1 displays where HDMI-VRR is included. At the moment VRR isn’t support on the PS5 at all but it is coming soon according to Sony, but it’s very likely to only work over HDMI 2.1 via HDMI-VRR support.
  • ALLM – ALLM is less likely to be of value in the desktop monitor market, but if you do want it (perhaps to switch to a gamer mode setup automatically) then it will only work over HDMI 2.1 connections and where it is supported from the display. The Xbox Series X supported ALLM from the beginning and Sony have added it to the PS5 in March 2022 as well. ALLM is not particularly useful on a desktop monitor though or really needed.
  • HDR – HDR works fine on the PS5 at 1080p and 4K resolutions, but on the Xbox Series X it’s only available at 4K currently. HDR is less mature in the desktop monitor space, but if you want your screen to offer some benefits we would recommend ignoring HDR400 certified screens, and instead look for HDR600 or above to at least give you some local dimming capability, wide colour gamut and 10-bit colour depth.

We have also tried to summarise some of the key areas in to the table below. We will try and keep this article up to date as and when there are changes or updates:

 Monitor up to 24″ in sizeMonitor size 25 – 30″Monitor size above 30″
Recommended Resolution1080p1440p4K (or maybe 1440p)
Connection notesHDMI 2.0 will be sufficient for 120Hz, make sure the screen can support it over its HDMI connectionHDMI 2.0 will be sufficient for 120Hz, make sure the screen can support it at 1440p (or at least at 1080p) over its HDMI connectionYou will ideally need HDMI 2.1 for 120Hz at 4K. If selecting 1440p, HDMI 2.0 will be sufficient
PlayStation 5 resolution notesSupports 1080p nativelyWill not support 1440p resolution output currently. Try and get a monitor with Virtual 4K support if you canSupports 4K natively, but not 1440p
PlayStation 5 refresh rate notesWill not support FreeSync VRR over HDMI 2.0 or even HDMI-org VRR at the moment over HDMI 2.1. The latter will be added soon, but FreeSync seems unlikelyWill not support FreeSync VRR over HDMI 2.0 or even HDMI-org VRR at the moment over HDMI 2.1. The latter will be added soon, but FreeSync seems unlikelyYou need HDMI 2.1 for 4K at 120Hz anyway, and this should support HDMI-VRR. Currently not supported from the console but should be added soon
PlayStation 5 HDR notesSupports HDR content at 1080pWill not support 1440p resolution output currentlySupports HDR content at 4K but 1440p not supported
PlayStation 5 other nodesHDMI 2.0 cannot support ALLMHDMI 2.0 cannot support ALLMHDMI 2.1 can support ALLM as long as the display supports it
Xbox Series X resolution notesSupports 1080p nativelySupports 1440p fine, no need for Virtual 4K supportSupports 4K and 1440p natively
(S series does not support 4K for gaming, only for media streaming)
Xbox Series X refresh rate notesWill support VRR over HDMI 2.0 thanks to FreeSync supportWill support VRR over HDMI 2.0 thanks to FreeSync supportHDMI 2.1 needed for 4K @ 120Hz anyway and this supports HDMI-VRR which is already available from the Xbox Series X
Xbox Series X HDR notesWill not currently support HDR at 1080p resolutionWill not currently support HDR at 1440p resolutionSupports HDR content only at 4K currently not 1440p currently
Xbox Series X other notesHDMI 2.0 cannot support ALLM, even though it is already available as a feature from the consoleHDMI 2.0 cannot support ALLM, even though it is already available as a feature from the consoleHDMI 2.1 can support ALLM, so this should work from the Xbox as the console supports it too
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