The upcoming Play Station 5 and Xbox Series X console are poised to open consumers to new realms of gaming that we have never experienced before. On top of all the mind-blowing specs and capabilities that we expect from the next generation of gaming consoles, the possibility of gaming in 8K resolution is one of the most exciting potentials of the new devices.
We have enjoyed gaming in 1080p resolution for the better part of the decade where even simple in-browser games such as online casino slots come in the full HD resolution by default. PS4 and Xbox One X then pushed the pixels further to bring us Ultra HD 4K gaming that took the gaming world by storm.
A lot of gamers are eagerly waiting for the November launch of both consoles to see whether the pixel count in gaming will reach the new heights for better looking in-game pictures. However, given that 8K resolution is a technology that’s only supported by a few flagship TVs, it will be interesting to see whether 8K will be a reality for the new consoles.
8K Gaming is Madly Optimistic – For Now
Sure enough, PS5 and Series X have the technical capacity to output the signal in 8K, but that’s only half the story. The reality is that most of the games that will be rolled out for the new consoles will hit 4K at peak capacity, and for those that tout the 8K resolution, it will hardly be the case.
Right now, for instance, only a few games truly take advantage of the 4K capabilities of the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X. The reality is that as remarkable as the next generation of gaming consoles are, the are still limited by cost and size. For 8K gaming, for instance, even the high-end video cards that are required to hit such resolutions are more expensive than the new consoles will cost. As a result, like most of their predecessors, they can barely hit the thresholds that are usually advertised upon their release.
Upscaled 8K vs True 8K Rendering
Given the size and cost limitations, upscaling or upconverting is the next best thing that consoles do to achieve the highest outputs in resolution to populate the screen with more pixels. For instance, if your game is in 1080p resolution, the console upscales it and sends the signal to your TV as 4K. This upscaling is the reason why there’s usually hardly any difference between a 1080p game played on a 1080p TV and the same upscaled game on a 4K TV.
Of course, there are a handful of games that are usually coded and rendered at the highest possible resolution that the gaming console can support. However, rendering at these high resolutions will come at a price. If the game focuses too much on the pixel count, the designer may end up sacrificing other aspects of graphical quality, with frame rate being the most affected aspect of the graphics quality.
Essentially, a game is capable of pushing more pixels if the number of frames created per second is smaller. For example, 4K at 30fps will consume fewer resources than 4K at 60 fps. And gamers often appreciate higher frame rates over higher resolutions, meaning that game developers, on the other end, also consider frame rate untouchable.
Moreover, if we go back to the issue of hardware performance, and cost among other considerations, developers of the games settle for optimizing the game for better frame rates so that it can run smoothly on the console, rather than having a higher resolution with choppy, slow fps. Thus, we should expect very few games on the upcoming Series X and PS5 consoles to render at the 8K resolution natively, even for the 8K TVs themselves. The majority of these games will run at 4K with 60fps and will then be upscaled to 8K for the few gamers who will be having the 8K TVs.
Variable Refresh Rates
For a better experience, both the PS5 and Series X will come with a new technology known as Variable Refresh Rate, which will allow the TV to adjust its frame rates on demand to make the gaming as smooth as possible. Thus, even when the frame rate drops a little in high action scenes, the TV also drops its frame rate to match that of the game’s scene at that moment and pick the frame rates back up as needed. Now, this kind of seamless experience is what you should be excited about rather than the upscaled 8K!