How To Play Games In HDR On Windows 10

If you’re looking to game on your Windows 10 PC in HDR, you’ve come to the right place. This guide will break down exactly what you will need in equipment and what you will need to do in tweaks to get the most bang for your buck in the HDR that Windows now boasts supporting. While Windows claims to support HDR, its true capability is a bit lacking on the standard front unless you break into your system and really optimize its settings. For obvious reasons, you will also need to ensure that you have a good compatible device to pour your HDR display signal into and you will need the right kind of optimum hardware to carry these signals along. In an effort to completely optimize end to end connectivity, we’re going to break down the steps for you below!

The difference between HDR and Non-HDR

What You Need In Equipment

There is no surprise that the most important thing you need is an HDR supporting monitor or TV display. There is no use in sending out HDR signals to a device that is not able to read or display them at their warranted quality. When purchasing an HDR monitor or display setup, keep in mind the nit rating that follows its title. HDR1000 is the ideal 1000 nit HDR display and the higher your nit rating, the more juice you are bound to get out of it.

SDR vs HDR – Image: Dell

Next, you will need a graphics unit that supports HDR as well. This is where all of your graphics processing will happen so it is paramount to operate on a graphics processing unit that supports HDR. Anything NVIDIA GTX950, AMD Radeon R9 380, or Intel Kaby Lake onwards in those respective lines will work well for this. You should look into the manufacturer description of your preexisting system GPU or consider trading up for a better one if you’ve got one that doesn’t support HDR.

The third piece of hardware completing the link between your host processing device and display setup is your HDMI or Display Port cable (such as these). It is important to invest in a sturdier high-speed one that can support 18 Gbps of data to get a 4K signal out of it. Look at the manufacturer’s stated capabilities of your cable and consider investing in a better one if you do not have one with this level of compatibility, to begin with.

What You Need To Do In Tweaks

The first and most important software adjustment to perform is to ensure that your device is up to date. Perform any pending Windows updates you have been putting off because you just don’t have the time to wait around for them to take place. Do them now. You will need the latest version of Windows to enable HDR and you want to ensure that all your device drivers are up to date as well.

Next, to enable the HDR in your system, first of all, head into your monitor or display device’s own hardware picture settings and ensure that a deep color or maximized input signal setting is turned on. The name for this setting will vary from manufacturer to manufacturer depending upon which display setup you’ve purchased.

Windows HD Color Settings to toggle HDR for gaming and HDR for streaming

Now head into your Windows Settings. Head into the Apps menu and then select Video Playback. Head into the Windows HD color settings in here and make sure that you’ve toggle both Play HDR Games and Apps and Stream HDR Video. Based on your personal preference, you may want to stick to the RGB color scheme or tweak it to a 4:2:2 or 4:2:0 ration based upon which monitor you are running. This is a completely personal preference based and will not affect the HDR quality that you are running. Most find the default settings to work best but some choose to change the color scheme up a bit. Do keep in mind that if you choose to switch up the 8-bit color depth to 10-bit, your HDMI signal won’t carry that as well as the 4K HDR signal you’d like at 60 Hz. There will be a bit of a trade-off so tweak your color settings accordingly.

Final Thoughts

Once you have configured your device’s software and hardware to operate in HDR, keep in mind that this is only going to be useful for games or movies that actually come out in HDR as well. Check your game’s HDR compatibility and find video content that is supported in HDR as well to truly enjoy the new tweaks you have set out. If at any point you feel that the quality is lacking (which is a rare case), check your HDMI cable or switch ports. There is a minute quality difference from port to port and the cable can either wear out or not operate at its set optimum, compromising the HDR signal you are trying to send forward.

Alyssa Arford


Alyssa Arford is an aspiring Electrical & Electronics Engineer with a vested interest in the innovation and design of computer hardware. Her passion for understanding the nitty gritty of how hardware components come together and playing around with the potential of silicon devices puts her in a position to confidently discuss emerging technologies and their implications in advanced computing.
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