Hands-On: Xbox One X + 1440p Support

Posted on March 3, 2018 by Paul Thurrott in Xbox One with 8 Comments

Hands-On: Xbox One X + 1440p Support

The first pre-release Xbox One Spring Update build brings with it a number of advances. Key among them is native support for 1440p displays. Here’s how it works with Xbox One X, Microsoft’s 4K console.

As you may have seen, Microsoft on Thursday announced the release of the first external build of what it’s calling the Xbox One Spring Update. (Think of it as Redstone 4, but for the Xbox.) Available now only to those in the Xbox Insider Alpha Ring, this first pre-release Spring Update build provides a pretty good overview of what we can expect in the next major system update.

Key among the enhancements is support for 1440p displays, which various Microsoft executives have been talking about for some time now. Since I happen to use a 1440p gaming display with my Xbox One X, I’ve been eager to see how it works. And since I am an Xbox Insider Alpha Ring member, my wait is now over.

Well, sort of.

Yes, I can—and did enable 1440p support on my Xbox One X. And then I took one for the team. I played Xbox One games for a while. You know, for science.

And … I don’t see a difference. In fact, at least one game—Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered—kind of looks worse to these eyes now. Though that may just be because I’ve become used to the newer, and much more graphically rich, Call of Duty: WWII.

Call of Duty: WWII at 1440p.

Here’s how it’s supposed to work.

Looking just at modern resolutions, the Xbox One X and Xbox One S both natively support 1080p (1920 x 1080) and 4K (3840 X 2160) displays today. So it makes sense that 1440p, which is 2160 x 1440 pixels, sits right in the middle of those two. 1440p is unheard of in televisions, but it’s pretty common in PC displays. (In fact, I have two of them. One of which is a gaming display that I’m using with the Xbox One X.)

Xbox One X can play games and media at 4K resolutions, whereas Xbox One S can only play media at 4K resolutions. But each console adapts accordingly to whatever type of display you’re using. So on Xbox One X, for example, if you are playing a true 4K game, that game will output at 3840 X 2160 on a 4K display. But if you have a 1080p display, that game will be downscaled to 1080p.

As you might expect, a 1440p display would thus provide a better picture, since the 4K game would be downscaled to 1440p, which provides a higher resolution image. I’m not seeing it, personally. But it’s early days, and I’ve only looked at a handful of games.

But native 1440p support brings another potential advantage on Xbox One X because developers can opt to natively support this resolution too. I’m not aware of any games that do this, but instances of “true” 4K games are rare, and most developers are forced to choose between the best possible graphical fidelity and frame rates. So many today might provide 1080p graphics in order to achieve higher frame rates. In the near future, at least some will choose to support 1440p as well. So those games will look better if you have a 1440p or 4K display. In this way, the addition of native 1440p support should improve matters even for those that don’t have such a display.

Xbox One X will also upscale content to look as good as possible on 1440p displays, just like it does on 4K displays today. And this will be the more common scenario since most Xbox One games are likely rendering at 1080p or less today. (Remember, the Xbox One X is pretty new: Previous consoles struggled with 1080p, let alone 4K.) So those with 1440p displays should have a better graphical experience overall once this update ships. (Again, I’m not really seeing this yet.)

Xbox One S support for 1440p works as you’d expect, though I haven’t tested this yet. (The original Xbox One will not support 1440p natively, sorry.) That is, both games and media will be upscaled to this new resolution. Or, in the case of 4K media, downscaled.

To enable 1440p support, open Settings and navigate to Display and sound > Video output > TV resolution.


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Comments (8)

8 responses to “Hands-On: Xbox One X + 1440p Support”

  1. SRLRacing

    So as I understand it, a game that was running at 4k on your 1440 screen very well could look worse when running at 1440 as you lose out on the super sampling anti aliasing technique. Where I believe the advantage could be beyond explicit developer support is in games that might struggle to maintain a lock on their target frame rate at 4k such as PUBG or perhaps The Witcher 3 1440 could theoretically give you a much easier time maintaining performance targets when you do not get the full benefits of 4k rendering.

  2. Username

    Can xBox at “1440p” render ultrawide, 3440x1440? Useful for films, rarely 16:9.

  3. Paul Thurrott

    No personal attacks, please.

  4. Aras

    I hope they add the resolution when streaming to your PC through the Xbox app. My console is in another location and I can access it on my PC if desired. I assume the resolution is 1080 but there is no way to check. Maybe it already upscales to 1440 when it detects my monitor. I haven't heard it discussed anywhere.

  5. manzoor_e

    In the 2nd paragraph after image, it says

    "So it makes sense that 1440p, which is 2160 x 1440 pixels,..."

    It should be "2560 x 1440"

  6. Stooks

    "I’m not seeing it, personally"

    I think NO ONE really understands what this means and I feared that this support would initially not mean anything really.

    So for sure it means that the menu screens on the S and X will natively support 1440p just like they both support 2160p (4K) natively today. After the menu's it is a total guess.

    With the Xbox One/S games were 720p to 1080p often with dynamic resolution to keep performance up.

    When the X came out "Enhanced Games" were 1080p to 2160p often with dynamic resolution, with the game falling somewhere in-between like 1800p or 2160p with checker boarding. Some games have options, like Tomb Raider to run at 1080p with better textures but at 60fps. If you use the X with an enhanced game on a 1080p it will supersample the game. Basically 4K or whatever output jammed into 1080p which gives you a better looking game but at your native TV/Monitor 1080p resolution. PC games call this Resolutions Scaling. Battle field games have this in their settings. It makes a big difference but at a cost, your GPU fan will turn on and your frame rates will drop by 20-30% but the game looks better.

    So the question is when using a 1440p monitor on the X what is going on with games. Old non-enhanced games will just do their 720-1080p dynamic resolution, often staying at 1080p because of the power of the X and upscale to 1440p. So not fantastic as it will look a little more blurry/softer because of the upscale.

    With an Enhanced game.....this is really the big unknown. Does the game just see the monitor as less than 4K so it drops down to 1080p supersample and then upscales to 1440p. Again not great IMHO.

    I think games will need to be patched, yet again to natively support this resolution, which is a bummer and probably won't happen for most old games. For example I play BF1 on the Xbox. EA/Dice released a patch for the PS4 Pro and the game looks great on the Pro. However on the X, there has been no patch and I am running 1080p NON-supersampled upscaled to 4K. Soft blur-fest but it does run at 60fps now.

    Once again Microsoft needs to communicate better.