Microsoft announced this week that Windows 11 will support dynamic refresh rates on compatible displays, offering better performance and battery life.
“A higher refresh rate means that motion on the screen feels smoother—for example, inking and touch feel immediate and smooth,” Microsoft’s Ana Marta explains. “However, this will also reduce battery life. If you’re using a laptop and want to save battery power, you can lower the refresh rate, but it might reduce the quality of your overall experience.”
Dynamic refresh rate capabilities have been available on various Android flagship smartphones for years—and Apple is rumored to finally add this feature to some of its high-end iPhones later in 2021—but this is a feature that’s been lacking on the PC. Windows 10 supports higher refresh rates—say 120 Hz instead of the more traditional 60 Hz—but it’s a hard setting in which you can only choose one or the other.
With dynamic refresh rate support, Windows 11 will be able to change the refresh rate automatically and on the fly, to match whatever it is you’re doing and provide the proper balance between performance and battery life. “For example, with a Dynamic (60 Hz or 120 Hz) mode, your display will refresh at 60 Hz for everyday productivity tasks, such as email, writing a document, and so forth to conserve battery life,” Marta says. “It will then seamlessly switch to 120 Hz for tasks such as inking and scrolling, to provide a smoother and more responsive experience.”
Today, in the Windows Insider Program, key Windows 11 apps like Microsoft Office, Microsoft Edge, Microsoft Whiteboard, Microsoft Photos, Microsoft Snip & Sketch, Drawboard PDF, Microsoft Sticky Notes, Adobe Acrobat, Adobe Illustrator, Microsoft To Do, and Inkodo all support smoother inking via the system’s dynamic refresh rate support. And Microsoft Office offers smoother scrolling.
There’s nothing to do if you do have a display that supports this feature: Windows 11 will automatically adapt the refresh rate on the fly. But you can navigate to Settings (WINKEY + I) > System > Display > Advanced display to make sure that the refresh rate is set to “Dynamic” if you wish.