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.
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.