Some high-end Windows laptops come with 120Hz display panels, which offer incredibly smooth animations when scrolling, watching movies, or crafting digital artwork. But high refresh rate displays can take a toll on battery life. That’s why Microsoft is introducing a battery-saving Dynamic Refresh Rate (DRR) feature to Windows 11.
Like the variable refresh rate (VRR) technology in many smartphones, DRR allows Windows laptops to automatically transition between 60Hz and 120Hz (or higher) refresh rates to conserve battery life. As Microsoft’s Program Manager of Graphics Ana Marta Carvalho explains, menial tasks like reading emails will switch Windows 11 to a 60Hz refresh rate, while more animated tasks, such as creative work or scrolling, will trigger your laptop’s highest possible refresh rate.
At least, that’s the general idea. DRR works on an app-by-app basis, meaning that developers need to implement DRR in their software for the feature to work. This might be a smart approach, as it gives developers more control over the user experience, but it also means that DRR implementation will be spotty.
Also, DRR does not work in games. That makes sense, as the rate that frames are drawn in-game (FPS) can fluctuate wildly depending on PC performance, and are often programmed by the game developer or user. Also, when refresh rate and FPS don’t match up, you can experience graphical glitches like screen tearing—a problem that’s usually addressed using the FreeSync or G-Sync VRR tech.
Microsoft will debut DRR in a future Windows 11 release. To use it, you will need a laptop with a 120Hz refresh rate (or higher), plus the new WDDM 3.0 driver. This feature is a Windows 11 exclusive and will not come to Windows 10 PCs.