HDR Broken/Poorly Implemented on the Xbox Consoles

I’ve been playing the game since launch on my Xbox Series X console, on a 65” LG OLED. While the game is great, the plethora of bugs and glitches makes what’s supposed to be an amazing experience quiet a poor one much of the time.

One of the big things I’ve noticed was just how bad HDR looked on my Xbox and my OLED, which is supposed to have amazing HDR. It’s important to note, that while many PC gamers have complained about HDR on PC, this is a totally separate and unrelated issue, and it regards to how the game works on the console, as well as how the HDR works in the game and the approach they took.

Vincent Teoh from HDTVtest, is a professional TV reviewer and calibrator based out of the UK. He is regarded as one of the best in the industry, and him and his partner Evil Boris, create HDR technical analysis videos, where they go into the nitty gritty details of HDR in games, and where the developers do a good job, or a bad job with HDR in their games (similar to Digital Foundry with performance results, but for HDR). He often even works with the game developers directly, into implementing fixes for HDR related bugs within video games.

He recently made a video for Flight Sim on the console, and to no ones surprise, the results weren’t very good. I’ll try to explain this as best as I can.

He noted a few issues, one of the issues is that the games peak white point for brightness is maxed out at 10,000 nits, which is absurd (even the best modern displays can only reach about 1-2/10ths of that brightness level). The TV or monitor now has to do something called “Tone-Mapping” where it takes that brightness and down scales it to what your display is actually capable of. This result is never “optimal” and results in massive amounts of what’s called “clipping” where white points blend into each other too much creating an unpleasant image. The only way to reduce this is by reducing the overall brightness of the TV/Monitor/Game itself, which again isn’t optimal, because you then loose HDR brightness, which defeats the purpose. Neither solution is optimal for a good HDR image.

On the Xbox, an app called the “HDR calibration” app is supposed to help alleviate these issues, by telling the game essentially exactly what the peak brightness level of the monitor/TV, that way the peak brightness of the game matches the peak brightness of the display, so that the TV doesn’t need to do any tone mapping, however for some reason, this game does not support that app, and it doesn’t draw any information from the app, which is why issues are caused. If the game can support the HDR Game Calibration app, where it takes the min/max luminance levels for your display, this would greatly resolve this issue.

The game could also implement toggle sliders for peak white level and peak Black level (in what’s called nits), similar to how the HDR calibration app works, however just implemented directly into the game. This is how other games work, such as Halo the Master Chief collection, or Battlefield 5. These toggle sliders would allow users to manually adjust the peak luminance levels manually into the game, which would also resolve these issues. However it may be easier for Asobo to simply update the game to take information from the HDR calibration app on Xbox.

The video is referenced below, as he does explain this information much better than I do (he is a professional calibrator), and Asobo should really watch the video and take notes, and if they need to, work with Vincent into getting HDR fixed on their game. After playing it on my OLED TV, I knew something was up with the HDR implementation, and this video further proves it. Let’s hope that Asobo can take notes and fix the problem going forward.

HDR is broken on Xbox Series X and S to begin wth its a known issue, also when using HDR you end up getting a dimmed screen noticiable specially in MSFS when after a couple min the screen gets darker. From what I heard on the microsoft help forums the issue is known and being looked at on both consoles until then microsoft advices to turn HDR off until they fixed it.


Yes agreed it’s not working well. If Asobo needs some data to work with, this technical HDR analysis is the video they need to watch. It goes into exactly what is going wrong, why it works incorrectly, why it causes issues with how TV’s display HDR, and exactly what they can do to fix it.

On my end, HDR is working fine on the Series X. I’m an Insider, and didn’t realize that HDR is broken on the Series X. The only known bug within the Insider program is that Dolby Vision isn’t working as it should on certain sets (predominately older TV’s) but that’s still in the beta program and is to be expected. HDR should be working fine (if you have a link to the thread please send it).

but if you watch the video, the issue is clearly with the game having a max peak brightness of 10,000 nits, where it should be taking the min/max peak luminance levels from the HDR game calibration app, or have its own in game toggles for min/max luminance levels. There is no TV on the market that gets anywhere close to 10,000 nits, so this is just lazy HDR implementation. Most TV don’t even get to 1000 nits, and having the TV tone map that rather than the console telling the game “this display is capable of only 1200 nits, master it for that instead” is where the issue arises.

Even in flight sim, the issues isn’t that it’s too dim, quiet opposite, it’s too bright, causing clipping. The video explains it better than I do.

Ok something different from my experience then, for me with HDR on it’s much darker too dark even if you ask me. But there is definitely a HDR issue with Xbox Series X and S that microsoft knows about like i said there is dimming after a bit of game time, happens in every single game in most you might not notice it that quickly or you might hardly notice it at all unless you pay very close attention at the moment it happens because its really quick that it happens.

Do you have a link to the thread you’ve posted that on, I can look into that for you.

What TV are you currently using as well, brand and model?

Also, make sure your settings in the HDR Game calibration app are correct, as well as your TV’s settings being properly calibrated for HDR (you can typically find HDR calibration settings for your model online, Rtings and Vincent Teoh usually have good ones for every popular TV).

I’m well versed in HDR and TV calibration, so I can try and help, although I’m no Vincent Teoh. HDR takes a lot of things to go right in order to work properly. In direct order, you need:

• A good TV

• TV with the capable specifications to display HDR (the TV having HDR10 isn’t enough, it must have the correct specifications, like the VESADisplay HDR1000 certification)

• TV’s settings correctly calibrated in the menu

• The console HDR app being correctly calibrated

• Proper implementation in the game.

And I have a samsung ue55nu8000

Was this an issue with HDR that you just experienced recently and wasn’t happening before in prior experience, or did you just get a Series X and or HDR display and was something you immediately noticed upon use?

Is this an issue you also experience on your Xbox One S console as well, or just the Series X?

Started happening since the last series x update, I had the Series X since november when it launched never had an issue until after the update. Others have the same issue ,seen people talk about it on reddit and other xbox forums. First i never noticed it until I first saw it in MSFS then tried a different game and sure enough paying close attention it happened there too. Btw never experienced it with the Xbox One X only with the Series X after the latest update.

So a few things, and it will be hard to troubleshoot this 100%.

If you could link me the Reddit threads as well, that would be helpful. Please do if you still can find the ones in specific you looked at.

Checking the TV’s actual HDR specs, it’s capable enough and a solid HDR TV, but it isn’t optimal. It’s got about 500 nits of brightness which is on the low end for HDR in terms of brightness as it is, it does use a 10-bit panel which is good, but it doesn’t use any Full-Array Local Dimming (FALD) which can cause issues with HDR on LCD TV’s (but this point is moot, as Samsung disables all FALD in game mode, even on the most expensive Samsung sets that include it).

While on the low end, it’s a solid HDR Tv, so I don’t think from a specifications side your tv is the culprit.

However, it could be an actual software issue itself with the TV, this is usually the more likely culprit.

An example is I own an LG E7P OLED, and it used to have a great game mode. After a year it came out, LG actually “reduced” the overall brightness of the TV, in order to make their new TV’s look better and sell their new LG OLED C8 as a superior gaming TV. Since it was a popular TV at the time, people were very angry and upset with LG, but they kept the update as it was. Sometimes this isn’t done “maliciously” but a firmware update on the TV can sometimes break the brightness on that specific TV.

These are just links for references as an example:

LG even did this just a few months ago, back on their 2020 TV sets as well, but this was eventually reverted after hundreds of complaints:

While I’ve become accustomed to the HDR game mode on my TV, and while some TV’s naturally display HDR content dimmer than others, manufactures are notorious for “Downgrading” their TV’s after a few years.

My first bet would be contact Samsung directly, through their own forums. After reading up a little bit on the AVS Forums (TV calibrator forums) it does in fact seem that HDR content dimming is a common theme on the NU series.

Rtings.com have said this statement too:

“ For HDR gaming apply the same HDMI settings mentioned in the HDR settings and game settings above. Note that when in game mode, the TV won’t change the backlight setting and the local dimming setting automatically, so it is preferable to set the backlight to max and set the local dimming to high. When using the NU8000 for HDR Gaming, there is currently an issue with the ‘Standard’ picture mode where the screen became very dim and we were unable to change it. In this case, all of our settings apply for the ‘Dynamic’ picture mode instead. It is especially important to choose ‘Warm 2’ in the color temperature settings.”

Make sure the TV is set to game mode and not standard, as a result. Again, this seems to be more of an issue on the TV’s Software/Firmware then HDR on Xbox itself.

Because you said on the Forum, that HDR works fine, then after a few minutes it dims, this is quiet normal on many TV’s. It’s called APL or average picture level (there’s a few other terms but I forget the name). Essentially the TV itself is dimming the overall image, and many TV’s do this to protect the overall life of the panel itself, especially as it ages. This is something that can typically be disabled, but only in the service menu of the TV itself (which you need a special remote to access).

Secondly, the forum link you sent me on Microsoft answers I want to clarify. That IS NOT, a Microsoft Employee. That is an “Independent Advisor”, which is essentially just a regular person on the forum who’s decided to help you, no different than what I am doing here. Unless it strictly says “Microsoft Employee”, then anything they say is not official confirmation they are looking into the problem. That is by no means what they said, something they are working on, because that person has no affiliation with Microsoft.

You are better off posting to Reddit.com/r/xboxinsiders if you do think it’s an issue with how the console handles HDR, people who work for the Xbox engineering side and updates (the people who work on HDR), that’s where you can get a hold of them, as well as other insiders who can help with bugs/glitches your experiencing. If it’s not listed on one the “Known Issues” list on the Xbox website or the Xbox insiders, then Microsoft is not looking into the issue, I can assure you of that.

But if you have the Reddit link, send that my way. I’m curious, only because picture dimming from APL, or simply dim HDR displays, is quiet common on predominately older HDR tv’s. I’m not familiar with the NU8000 as much, but I do know of a lot of TV’s that had the issue with dim HDR/dimming APL. But again, that was always typically a result of the TV itself more often than HDR itself. It’s always good practice to completely disable the TV’s auto updates as well, and you can check the calibrator forums to make sure that a new TV update, didn’t break something such as the HDR brightness (as I said, really common). Whenever there’s an issue with HDR, the TV itself is always the first culprit you need to troubleshoot.

Since I haven’t heard any rumblings in the calibrator community, I don’t think this is the HDR on the console itself, as if that was the case, we’d be hearing from HDR analysis Youtubers and/or TV calibrators that HDR on the Xbox isn’t working properly, which I haven’t seen on any of the channels to be fair.

Sorry for making this long.

Yeah I tried all the settings and went through everything, strange thing is that others have the same issue but different tv screen and even stranger happened after latest xbox software update before the last update never had an issue exactly what others reported too. Maybe you are one of the lucky few that dont have this bug. I do hope it gets fixed at some point for no i just keep HDR turned off. It’s badly implemented in most games anyway.

But that’s what I was saying, many tv’s predominately older ones, also have this issue where the HDR game mode itself is too dark (take example my LG C7 got updated which made HDR too dark, nothing will fix that except an update from LG), sometimes this is done intentionally overtime to save the life of the panel (as the brighter the image the lifespan of the tv gets smaller).

Also every tv has an APL setting, which again sounds more similar to what your describing (HDR is fine for a few minutes, then gets darker as time goes on) which every TV naturally has built in, as the panel ages, this becomes more common (again the only way to disable is the service menu, which you need a special remote made by Samsung to access, which I highly doubt you have to be frank). The Samsung’s also have an ECO setting, and again an automatic brightness limiter (some settings are service only, while some are in the normal TV settings).

Again, if HDR is staring off totally fine, and then gets dimmer over time as you play, I can 100% assure you that it’s not the HDR on the console side, that’s a TV side issue or an issue with the game itself. That’s the TV’s brightness limiter kicking in more often than not.

Again, if you need help, go to Reddit.com/r/xboxinsiders, that’s the best place to go to if you think it’s an issue with the Xbox side, or need help troubleshooting. But again, they will likely share the same sentiment as I do, but they may know more about your exact mode than I do, and ways to troubleshoot it.

The reason you see lots of posts about HDR is again, because it’s so hard to get right, and often again hundreds of TV’s with hundreds of different settings that need to be 100% right in order to work, and updates from the manufactures can often break these settings. Again, every TV naturally has an average picture level, or also known as ABL (automatic brightness limiter), so if you hear people complaining about the game dimming overtime, that’s the TV’s APL/ABL kicking in.

Here is a video explaining how to enter your TV’s service mode to disable the ABL, you will likely need again a special remote to enter the TV’s service mode. Samsung are again, notorious for auto-dimming. Make sure you disable the ECO setting first in the normal setting menu, before going into the more advanced service menu, and to know what your doing before entering the service menu (this will void the TV’s warranty as well). I’d also recommend setting the input on your TV (the one the Xbox is connected to) into PC mode, as the series X console is designed to be put into PC mode and NOT console mode.

But from my understanding, if there was a problem with how the Xbox handled HDR, the people who analyze the Xbox’s HDR (such as the YouTube channel in the very first comment) would be mentioning how it’s “broken” right now, and that entire video would be moot.

Thanks for bringing it to my attention. It has been logged XBOX Feedback and Improvements | OT - Community / General Discussion - Microsoft Flight Simulator Forums

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But that is what im trying to say its a brand new tv just 6 months old, was working fine before the xbox software update after the update it started and others have the same issue also after the xbox software update. I dont have this issue either with the PS4 and PS5 HDR and dont even have the issue with the old xbox one x only with the series x and only since the last update

Well, what I meant by the first paragraph by saying most older TV’s already have a darker than average game mode, is TV’s built between 2016-2018 typically always had “dim” HDR, and that was a result of the HDR10 standard being really bad back in the day, especially for gaming.

While the tv may be only 6 months old, that TV is more than 3 years old as it is (it’s a 2018 model, which would be again the early phase for HDR10 gaming), but this is what I was trying to refer too. Even if I bought a brand new LG C7 (2017 model) today, would still be plagued by early HDR models with already dim HDR10 levels.

Automatic Brightness limiter, global brightness dimming or average picture level (a bunch of different names) every Tv has this, wether it’s a 5 year old model, or the latest and greatest 2021 tv fresh off the lot, every tv even right out of the box, has a global dimming feature. This is by design, and while it tends to kick in more over age, even brand new TV’s are affected by this. This is to protect the lifespan of the panel. Essentially whenever bright content is shown, such as HDR content, the panel dims itself automatically. I can say for 100% certainty, that your PS5 and PS4 also does this as well, unless you specifically disabled that within the service mode of the TV. This is why entering the service mode voids your warranty, as only people who come to service the TV are allowed to disable a feature like that (and the manufacture can tell if you did that, as the TV logs anytime you enter service mode). Literally, if you Google LG Automatic brightness limiter, or Samsung Global Dimming game mode, you will find thousands of people saying the same thing. That’s why so many people talk about it, because one moment they’ll be playing the game, and they’ll instantly notice when the TV auto dims and is a complete eyesore.

Now if your noticing that more on your series X, than you are on say your PS4 or PS5, then that’s a different story, but every modern TV has a dimming feature, especially in HDR content.

There’s so many different areas you’d have to check first. It could even be the Dynamic tone mapping on your TV which also does a similar thing to ABL, or the HDR+ setting. It could even be down to a defective HDMI 2.1 chipset on your Xbox Series X.

This is why it’s so hard to troubleshoot HDR, so many different variables and settings that need to go right, many of the time TV settings conflict with HDR on the console (this is why HGIG was created, was to help with the TV and console conflicting with one another). It becomes virtually impossible to troubleshoot an issue like this, unless you have a calibrator sitting at your house, with a calman (calibration equipment) and can see exactly what’s going wrong.

But without getting too technical, all HDR does is it tells the TV “display at 500 nits” or display at “200 nits” (nits = brightness) or display at 1000 nits etc. If your TV isn’t capable of said brightness/nits, the TV then tone maps it, if the TV is getting too hot because of the brightness, it then dims automatically. Unless the actual HDR calibration app is fluctuating the brightness variables on the console, but I can say there’s no way it’s doing that. Even you saying that it works on your One X doesn’t make sense, the Series X and the One X run the same version of code and the same version of the operating system (for the most part), as well as the same line of code for HDR, and both run the same versions when it comes to games (at least through backwards compatibility).

All I can say for certain, it hasn’t been a reported issue, I haven’t seen people reporting it in the insiders (the Xbox update bug reporting program) other than Dolby Vision not working as it should be (which is listed as an official bug, and has been widely reported on), HDR10 should be working normal.

You also mention that it was a recent update that did this, and that you’ve seen other people mention it as well. I checked every Microsoft answers board, as well as smaller Xbox forums, and the posts that had similar issues to yours, were reported back in November 2020, and some even much earlier than that (2018). You even replied to these same posts yourself, so by your logic, if other people are reporting it, it can’t be a recent update that you claim did this that others are reporting, those same reports that your claiming and even responded too are almost a year old. It was all but the one Microsoft answers board where you created a post that you got a response recently on, and again I have to stress, that is not a Microsoft employee or anyone with any affiliation to Microsoft whatsoever.

If your experiencing issues with an Xbox update, and you believe it’s caused by a bug/update, then your best bet is to report it to Reddit.com/r/xboxinsiders, they will track down the bug for you, but the Microsoft answers board I can assure you will do nothing, most of the time those advisors just tell you to post to Xbox insiders anyways, and they don’t track and log bugs there (unless an employee directly responds). That response was in no way a confirmation that MS was looking into it.

I would also recommend making a post on a website called https://www.avsforum.com/, this is a TV calibration forum, where people will know more about the calibration, capabilities, and every little detail about your tv, and wether in fact it is a TV setting causing an issue with HDR (which again, is really common). They will be more tailored to your TV and it’s individual settings then I will. Specifically you’ll want to post in these two forums/threads about the issue your experiencing, these guys can be very helpful.

Both forums will have really great ideas on how to troubleshoot the issue your having, probably better than I can.

And I’ll lastly say, when you can get HDR working right, it’s amazing. It’s a bigger difference than even 4K, but you have to have everything right. Most games do NOT have bad implementation, and there’s tons of HDR technical analysis Youtubers that can prove that. It’s only a handful of games that I can list off the top of my head that actually have truly “bad” HDR implementation. But again, proper HDR takes a lot of calibration, setting tweaking, max/min luminance adjusting, but when you get it working right on a proper display, it’s amazing! HDR was never something that was going to be plug and play, but I disagree, most games have good HDR implementation, some games have amazing HDR, and a handful of games truly have bad HDR.