Microsoft's next Xbox and Sony's PlayStation 5 are going to play games super smoothly, but you might need a new TV to make the most them

xbox one playing on TVCasey Rodgers/ASSOCIATED PRESS

  • The new game consoles we're expecting from Microsoft and Sony in 2020 will be capable of running games at 4K resolution at 120 frames per second.
  • Most TVs are only capable of displaying videos or games at 60 frames per second, which means you may need to upgrade TVs if you'll want to make the most of Sony's upcoming PlayStation 5 or Microsoft's "Project Scarlett" gaming consoles.
  • The specific feature you'll be looking for in a compatible TV or monitor is "120 Hz refresh rate." Some high-end TVs and computer monitors already have a 120Hz refresh rate, which means they're capable of displaying video and games up to 120 frames per second.
  • Budget or mid-range TVs more typically have 60Hz refresh rates, but boast artificially simulated higher refresh rates.
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Microsoft and Sony's upcoming game consoles are going to need a certain type of TV specification that you've probably never considered before if you want to make the most of the new consoles.

Both Microsoft and Sony boast that their consoles - "Project Scarlett" and the PlayStation 5, respectively - will play games at 4K resolution up to 120 frames per second. If you've recently bought a TV, you likely have the 4K resolution part covered.

It's the "120 frames per second" part that your TV might not handle.

Most TVs have a 60Hz refresh rate, which means they can display video up to 60 frames per second. The higher the refresh rate on a TV or display, the more frames it can display per second, which leads to smoother animations, something that's particularly noticeable in video games.

For years, a 60Hz refresh rate has been the standard for TVs, as cable TV, video streaming, and even current-generation consoles don't display video beyond 60Hz or 60 frames per second. And, to be honest, 60Hz/60 frames per second is still totally fine, and very smooth for video games. Your current 60Hz TV will still display games from Microsoft's "Project Scarlett" and Sony's PlayStation 5 just fine.

But if you're going to make the most of Microsoft and Sony's new consoles, you're going to want a TV that says "120Hz refresh rate" in the specs list. Or perhaps even a computer monitor that supports 120Hz, which are often designed for the PC gaming crowd.

Some higher-end TVs tout a true 120Hz refresh rate, whereas most budget and mid-range TVs typically have a 60Hz refresh rate. You might see your budget or mid-range TV boast numbers like 120, 240, or even 480, but that's likely an artificially simulated refresh rate that's often called "motion smoothing" or something similar. Motion smoothing might work well to simulate the 120 frames per second that Sony and Microsoft says their consoles are capable of, but we won't know for sure until the consoles are released.

Microsoft says the "Project Scarlett" Xbox will be released in the holiday season of 2020. Sony hasn't officially revealed when the PlayStation 5 will be released, but we'd be very surprised if it's released later than 2020.

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