Microsoft announced today to have ported over one of the best features implemented into its Xbox Series consoles - Auto HDR - to Windows 10 PC. The feature, which adds HDR display support to over a thousand DirectX 11 and DirectX 12 titles that lack any native implementation, can now be activated by those in the Windows Insider program running the new build 21337. Once you've done so, just head to the Windows HD Color Settings and ensure that both 'Use HDR' and 'Auto HDR' are turned on.
Microsoft also shared an example of the feature by comparing it to the native HDR implementation in Gears 5.
Gears 5 has a fantastic mastered-for-HDR native implementation which makes it a perfect candidate for demonstration purposes showing that while native, game-studio implemented HDR is the best quality experience, for games that don’t have a native implementation, Auto HDR still brings you a vastly improved experience over regular SDR.
The left side is running in SDR, the middle running in Auto HDR, and the right side running in Gears 5’s amazing native HDR. Grayscale is used to represent all the areas of the scene which can be fully represented by traditional SDR displays while the rainbow colors show areas which are only displayable on HDR capable displays.
Notice on the middle and right-side images that the highlights on the goggles and helmet show an increased amount of detail. HDR and Auto HDR are not just about boosting brightness but really about emphasizing the details in a scene leveraging the increased range: darkening shadows and illuminating highlights. Looking at Auto HDR and native HDR, you can see the similarities in how the details in the shadows and highlights are much improved using luminance ranges beyond SDR. SDR simply doesn’t have the ability to show the same range of color and luminance the way native HDR and Auto HDR can.
Naturally, given that the feature is still in the preview phase, not all games are supported. Microsoft also expects issues and welcomes feedback from those gamers willing to try Auto HDR as is. You can learn how to submit any such feedback here.