If you're the proud new owner of an Xbox One S or an Xbox One X, you'll likely be drooling at the thought of beautiful, colorful HDR graphics adorning your TV screen (assuming you have a 4K HDR TV).
The preparations are a bit more complex than expected. To properly enable HDR – High Dynamic Range – you need to check (and possibly adjust) the settings on both your console and your TV, and of course you need to play a supported track. With that in mind, we've put together a quick guide on how to get games in HDR on the Xbox One.
One note before we start: If you're rocking an original Xbox One ̵
Setting Up Your TV
Les Shu / Digital Trends
The Xbox One S and One X recognize the TV's 4K and / or HDR features automatically, but only if your TV has been properly set up beforehand. With this in mind, let us first set up your TV properly.
This process seems a bit tricky at first because not every TV works this way. Depending on which brand you have, the menus may have slightly different layouts and category names, do not panic! Here we describe the basics so that you should be able to find out for yourself.
- Make sure your console is connected to a HDMI 2.0a / HDCP 2.2 compliant port on your TV. You may think that your TV set is 4K / HDR and that all ports are usable, but in most cases only one or two ports are HDMI 2.0a / HDCP 2.2 enabled. What's even more surprising is that the compatible HDMI port you need is not necessarily HDMI 1. Sometimes TV manufacturers label the connectors so you know, but even those labels can be misleading. To be absolutely sure, check the manufacturer's website which HDMI ports support HDMI 2.0a, and use one for your console.
- Open the settings menu of your TV. Go to the Picture Settings area and look at the preferences to find the "play mode" of your TV. This mode reduces image processing and can slightly affect image quality. Even if you're a competitive player, make sure the game mode is chosen to get your connection in multiplayer matchups. If you're usually playing single-player games (or devaluing graphics over performance), choose the preset that's right for your eyeballs – we usually prefer Movie, Cinema, or Standard modes.
- Next, you need to enable HDR on your TV. Go back to the Picture Settings menu. From here it depends what kind of TV you have. Some TVs have HDR settings directly in the main picture settings menu, while others list them in "Input settings", "Advanced picture settings" or even in the main options menu. You are looking for settings such as "HDMI HDR", "HDMI Color Subsampling", "HDMI HD Ultra Deep Color", "HDMI UHD Color", "10-bit Color" or something similar. You must enable this setting for the HDMI port to which the console is connected. If you are not sure where to find your TV's HDMI HDR settings, consult your user guide or visit the manufacturer's website
- Your TV is now set to accept HDR content from your game console, but You may want to fine tune the picture quality. We recommend that you adjust the brightness and contrast settings as you like, but before you start optimizing these settings, you want your TV to show some HDR content. This can be an HDR game for your console or a movie or TV title in HDR via Netflix, Amazon or Vudu. Once you play some kind of HDR content (many TVs confirm this by placing an HDR logo on the screen), go to the Picture Settings to make adjustments. You will notice that your TV is in HDR picture mode. If you make adjustments in this mode, adjust the picture quality only for the HDR mode of the TV. This does not affect image quality for the times you watch SDR content, be it a non-HDR movie on Netflix, a standard Blu-ray movie. Ray-Disc or good old radio broadcasts
In the market for a new TV? We can help! Take a look at our selection of the best TVs from 2017 or read our 4K TV buying guide for more information.
Setting up the Xbox
Les Shu / Digital Trends
Note: Both the Xbox One S and the Xbox One X should auto-enable HDR if you detect a compatible TV via HDMI The TV has been set up correctly before.) That said, we'll still show you how to do it just in case you hooked up your console before you set up your TV properly.
- Go to the settings menu of your Xbox (the interface is the same, independent depending on the console version), then to Display & Sound. Once there, you want to navigate to the video output and then to the advanced video settings. You should see the boxes for "Allow 4K" and "Allow HDR". Make sure both boxes are checked.
If you want a more active tutorial, watch this video from the official Xbox YouTube account.
Playing the right games
Of course, not all games are optimized for HDR playback. For your convenience we have a complete list of all compatible Xbox One games. Of course, more supported titles are released quite often (if Okami HD does not support HDR, we riot), so be sure to check with us for updates. Here are some prominent titles that could, so to speak, awaken your visual appetite.
Make sure the picture looks good!
Now that they are all set up and playing an HDR title, the picture quality should be stunning and beautiful. But what if you are not impressed? Maybe it actually looks worse? What now?
Unfortunately, this may mean that your TV is not suitable for HDR, even if HDR is directly on the side of the box. In order to sell HDR well, a television must be able to achieve high contrast ratios and enhanced color. If your TV can not subtract the contrast required for stunning HDR, your image may appear either dark or washed out, depending on the image fit, with no detail in dark or light areas. If this is the case, we recommend disabling HDR and playing in a standard mode. If the picture quality looks much better due to the return to HDR, just stick with it.