Samsung NeoQLED TVs getting game-changing features — thanks to AMD and Xbox

Samsung Game Bar
(Image credit: Samsung)

Samsung just announced the full availability of its 2021 TV lineup as part of the Samsung Unbox & Discover event. Sets are available for pre-order now and coming available to purchase within the coming weeks. But buried in Samsung's event were some details that you don't want to miss, especially if you're a gamer.

From big-name partnerships to exclusive features, Samsung's 2021 TVs are shaping up to be big players for both console and PC gaming.

Samsung QLED the official TV of Xbox Series X

First, Samsung has announced its partnership with Microsoft's Xbox. Samsung's QLED TVs will become the official TV of Xbox Series X in the United States and Canada.

Samsung and Xbox partnered up back in 2017 with the launch of the Xbox One X, one of the first consoles to offer 4K gaming. The announcement that Samsung and Xbox are still partnered for the Xbox Series X – which steps up 4K gaming performance dramatically and even offers 8K gaming — isn't much of a surprise.

Key to this partnership is the use of HDMI 2.1, which offers gamer-friendly features like auto low-latency mode (ALLM). This feature automatically detects console activity and switches to game mode when you fire up a game. The other is variable refresh rate (VRR), which lets the TV frame rate adjust to match the output of a connected game console or PC, eliminating screen tearing.

Samsung Neo QLED 4K TV

(Image credit: Samsung)

Samsung TVs are taking this a step further with two key features. The first is fixed rate link (FRL) for gaming, which lets the TV and console lock into a certain steady frame rate throughout the gaming session.

Speaking to Dan Schinasi, Director of Product Planning for Samsung TVs, he stressed the benefits of gaming on a new Samsung 8K set. "In our 8K models, the NeoQLED 8K, all four ports will support FRL, more specifically 4K at 120 Hz, which is a new feature that's enabled by Xbox Series X, as well as PS5."

That 120 Hz frame rate makes the new consoles the first to take advantage of the higher refresh rates offered on premium TVs, where past TVs often topped out at 60 fps. Even the best 4K games on older generation hardware were capped at 30 frames per second.

The result will be smoother gameplay and better responsiveness, thanks to faster refresh times.

Samsung 8K Neo QLED TV

(Image credit: Samsung)

Samsung TVs get AMD FreeSync Premium Pro

The other enhancement over regular VRR is AMD FreeSync Premium Pro, which steps up basic framerate syncing tech to offer console and PC-compatible FreeSync on Samsung TVs.

The "Premium Pro" version of AMD FreeSync adds support for higher frame rates, with a minimum 120hz refresh rate at FHD resolution, support for low-framerate compensation, and low latency support for games with HDR content.

This level of adaptive sync support was previously only offered on certain gaming monitors, but with the 2021 Samsung TVs, it's now available on the best screen in the house.

Samsung Game Bar

The other gaming feature Samsung has added for 2021 is Samsung Game Bar, which provides more detailed information about gaming content. It also provides display controls unique to Samsung TVs, like enabling ultra-wide gaming on your big screen Samsung TV.

According to Samsung's Dan Schinasi, "With Game Bar, you can check status, you can see your real-time frame rate, you can also do something else very cool and this enables ultra-wide gaming you can do up to 32:9, you could actually stretch the view."

That widescreen aspect ratio will let you use your 65-inch Samsung TV as an ultra-wide gaming monitor, with letterboxing changing the display ratio to match your desired display width. While resolution will obviously be lower overall, this will let you experience a much wider field of view in games where a few extra inches of visible screen could really make a difference.

"It's really, really unique and gives you a much better view," says Schinasi. "You can only see this much and now you can see the person hiding behind the rock yeah with your far left, your far right, so it's gonna really be a game changer, you know, no pun intended."

The ultra-wide gaming feature will initially be limited to PCs with suitable graphics cards, but support for game consoles could be added down the road.

Between the Xbox Series X partnership, AMD FreeSync Premium Pro support and the addition of Samsung Game Bar with ultra-wide gaming, Samsung's 2021 TVs are shaping up to be some of the best gaming TVs we've seen. Not only as great TVs for PS5 and Xbox, but also for PC gaming.

Brian Westover

Brian Westover is currently Lead Analyst, PCs and Hardware at PCMag. Until recently, however, he was Senior Editor at Tom's Guide, where he led the site's TV coverage for several years, reviewing scores of sets and writing about everything from 8K to HDR to HDMI 2.1. He also put his computing knowledge to good use by reviewing many PCs and Mac devices, and also led our router and home networking coverage. Prior to joining Tom's Guide, he wrote for TopTenReviews and PCMag.