Over the course of the past month, I've been playing around with the Variable Refresh Rate (VRR) and Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM) options on my Xbox One X (X1X) as displayed on my LG C9 OLED. I've discovered a bug with how the two features interact (as I will outline below) and through additional research, I believe the bug is on the X1X side. I hope this long post helps somebody...anybody.
Note: On the C9, other than a popup notification that appears when ALLM engages, there is no visible indicator in any menu that the TV is in ALLM. The easiest way to tell if the C9 is in ALLM is to set the picture to Cinema mode and then select Picture Options. If Noise Reduction and Smooth Gradiation are "grayed out" (i.e. unselectable), the TV is in ALLM. Other manufacturers may have indicators and/or different ways of confirming the mode is engaged. A menu indicator for LG would be fantastic.
When I first setup the TV and connected my X1X, I immediately turned on the ALLM functionality on the TV and selected the checkboxes for "Allow auto low-latency mode" and "Allow variable refresh rate" on the X1X. I quickly noticed that in addition to the desired effect of engaging ALLM while gaming, the TV seemed to stay in ALLM mode no matter what I was doing. On the dashboard, using the X1X Netflix App, using the X1X YouTube App, watching cable through my X1X...it was always engaging the low latency mode. The only time I noticed ALLM disengaging was when watching a BluRay or UHD BluRay through the X1X disc player (this is still the only circumstance where I can find the TV disengaging the ALLM when VRR is active).
I posted this concern on the rtings.com discussion boards and Adam Babcock responded with: "Do you have the variable refresh rate feature enabled on the Xbox? It appears that this forces the TV into game mode at all times, even if you aren’t in a game." https://www.rtings.com/tv/discussion...-actually-work
Adam is great, but because I'm a "trust, but verify" type of guy, I went in and unchecked "Allow variable refresh rate" on my X1X and redid my checks. Sure enough, as he suggested, the X1X immediately started behaving differently. The ALLM would only
engage when I booted up a game from the dashboard. In all of the other X1X streaming video apps, and while hanging out on the dashboard, ALLM would not kick-in. In other words, once I turned off VRR, the ALLM behaved like I though It should.
But what if I was wrong?
What if, despite being counter-intuitive, VRR was supposed to engage ALLM at all times except for disc-based video content on the X1X? Nope, according to HDMI.org, my understanding of ALLM and how it is supposed to work with VRR is correct : "Your gaming box will take care of these choices for you. If you are streaming video
or playing a BluRay, it would only enable QMS; if you fire up a game, it would enable ALLM, VRR, and QFT, depending on what your system supports." (emphasis added) https://www.hdmi.org/manufacturer/hdmi_2_1/index.aspx
Now, knowing that the way VRR and ALLM were interacting was not according to specification in my setup, it was clearly a bug and not a feature. The question remaining was, is it a problem with the X1X or my LG C9 OLED? I'm still not 100% certain, but I'm growing increasingly convinced that the problem is with the X1X. I've found numerous comments on Reddit where people with different TV sizes and/or manufacturers report encountering this same problem. See a few examples below:
I'm going to do my best to try to get this to the attention of Microsoft, but in the interim, the most practical solution I've found is to turn off VRR on the X1X but keep ALLM active. This way, ALLM behaves properly and I can just turn on VRR when playing the limited games on the system that support it.
Please let me know if you've encountered anything differently with your setup or TV.
TL; DR - ALLM and VRR do not function properly when passed from the X1X. When VRR is on, it forces all content (except disc-based video) in to ALLM. When VRR is off, ALLM functions properly (i.e. only engages during gaming). This appears to be a bug in the way that the X1X is sending the ALLM and VRR flags to the TV.
08/10/2019 UPDATE -
It appears Microsoft made a change in a recent system update. I can now confirm that with the Xbox One X set to 1080p/120hz/ALLM-On/VRR-On (on an LG C9) everything works correctly for Gaming and 4k Blu-Rays. It still doesn't work correctly for cable/satellite STB pass-through or streaming video. Here's what my testing on the C9 found:
- Xbox Neftlix App - Resolution is set at 4K (good!), but ALLM does trigger. You can tell because the "instant game response banner" appears when moving from the dashboard to Netflix.
- Xbox Prime App - Resolution is locked at 1080P. 4K Content isn't even available. If you switch back to 4K/60hz you will see the 4K content can be selected (like The Boys). Also, ALLM triggers. You can tell because the "instant game response banner" appears when moving from the dashboard to the Prime app.
- Xbox Hulu App - ALLM triggers. You can tell because the "instant game response banner" appears when moving from the dashboard to the Hulu app.
- Cable TV Passthrough - ALLM triggers. You can tell because the "instant game response banner" appears when moving from the dashboard to the Prime app.