With the progress in technology, everything keeps changing from the main computer parts to the peripherals. Such is the recent upgrade to HDMI interface that upgraded to HDMI 2.1. The upgrade is now available in TVs and gaming consoles. You can find it in Samsung, LG, Sony, and other manufacturer TVs while on PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X. In this article, we will try to explain HDMI 2.1: What you need to know about it, and is this upgrade really worth it?
If you are an avid gamer and upgraded recently to the latest gaming console with HDMI 2.1, you probably think of buying HDMI 2.1 supported TV. These gaming consoles work fine with the TV that does not have HDMI 2.1. However, if you plan to buy a new TV, you should probably go through HDMI 2.1 and understand why it is important and what it offers.
Stating with the HDMI 2.1 features, they are a game-changer, especially in the race of DisplayPort vs. HDMI. With the latest upgrade, the HDMI now handle better resolution and transfer more information from a gaming console to the receivers. However, with the upgrade of resolution and refresh rate, the pictures and graphics on the big screen look extraordinary. This is quite a big deal for the Xbox and PlayStation 5 lovers as you do not want to miss out on even minor details during gaming.
Related guides to help you out:
- Why HDMI 2.1 Matters for PC and TV?
- HDMI Switch Vs. HDMI Splitter – Which is better?
- HDMI VS. DisplayPort – Which is better for Gaming
- HDMI 2.1: Why It Matters for PCs and TVs – Explained
- Best HDMI Switchers
- Best DisplayPort Cables for gaming
Taking you in the past, before the introduction of HDMI, there are bulky SCART connectors that supported only the lowest resolutions. But with the HDMI becoming mainstream, everything from graphics to refresh rate changed a lot. With the HDMI connector, the data transfer rate is higher, and it offers connectivity using only USB-sized cables.
In the past year, the standard of connectivity improved, and it’s undergoing continuous improvement. With many more features being added to the TVs and monitors, the connector’s technology also undergoes step-by-step upgrades. Now the connectivity solution like HDMI 2.1 supports 8K resolution and handles 60 fps with ease. Moreover, it supports Dynamic HDR and Variable Refresh Rate. These technologies make the process of transmission faster and more reliable.
Now before going into any more details, let’s get started with HDMI 2.1 features.
An Overwhelming Resolution and Refresh Rate
The HDMI 2.1 standard is now rolling out in most TVs and monitors. The new standard increased the transfer rate of the data between the input and output. The inclusion of the 60 fps at 8K resolution is a big leap towards a new era. Now you can watch 4K resolution at impressive 120 fps, which is the real selling point of the HDMI 2.1 cables. The technology rivals DisplayPort and HDMI, both trying to surpass each other in terms of refresh rate and resolution support with each upgrade.
However, HDMI 2.1 can support even higher resolution and can go even further by supporting higher resolutions. The highest it can support is 10K with 120 Hz, but you won’t get this capability on the regular monitors and display outputs. The leap of performance is certainly a big improvement for the future of gaming.
eARC over ARC in HDMI 2.1
It is not only a video channel that benefits from the HMDI 2.1 upgrade. Besides TVs, other equipment like AV amplifiers, soundbars, and other audio equipment benefits from this upgrade. You are probably familiar with the Audio Return Channel or ARC present in the previous versions of HDMI.
This ARC technology ensures sending of audio streams two ways between audio output and TV. When using this technology display essentially sends its own audio from any built-in application. With HDMI upgrades, other audio equipment like AV amplifiers also gets the benefit.
Enhanced Audio Return Channel is an upgrade that complies with the changes in the codec. The eARC targets codecs, especially object-based with higher bandwidths. The notable names for these codecs include DTS HD, Dolby True HD, DTS: X, and many other high bandwidth object-based codecs. In ARC, the codecs were limited to two channels legacy Dolby Digital, PCM, or DTS audio. With the eARC update now, it is possible to support higher bandwidth audio channels.
HDMI 2.1: A new Cable Speed?
With HDMI 2.1, a new cable speed was introduced in the market that says 48 Gbps bandwidth cable. This latest entry in the specification war leads to more bandwidth transfer than the previous HDMI versions. It can currently transfer uncompressed 8K video in HDR. This bandwidth transfer is amazing and looks more in line with the technology changes in TV and monitors.
But the question is, why would we need a 48Gbps cable? The answer is pretty straightforward. We are transferring more data now with upgraded output and input devices, but we have standard speed and high-speed HDMI cables like HDMI 2.0, capable of transferring 18 Gbps data. The HDMI 2.1 is a big leap towards better graphics and more transfer speed.
However, many factors are crucial that decide the future of this HDMI 2.1 cable speed. First, it has to pass the compliance test and need backward compatibility with the older HDMI versions to get into the mainstream market. This is essential for using on existing HDMI devices. However, to harvest the real benefits of HDMI 2.1 cables, the compatible HDMI 2.1 hard is the pre-requisite; otherwise, you will get the same speed that your hardware offer.
HDMI 2.1: A savior for gaming?
Besides the TV industry, the biggest potential of HDMI 2.1 lies in the gaming world. As the gaming world demands higher graphics and the gamers are always hungry for more fps and better resolution, they will go crazy for HDMI 2.1. Next-generation consoles like Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 with a compatible HDMI 2.1 TV can provide an extremely satisfying gaming experience.
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Why is this HDMI upgrade big for gamers? With the improvement in technologies in HDMI 2.1, the gaming capabilities increased from previous standards. You can now play 4K gaming at 120 fps to experience a smoother gaming experience. To get further improvement, 8K gaming at 60 fps is the ultimate blow. These upgrades in resolution and refresh rate are impressive as they provide smoother gaming provided with the hardware and cables that support the new interface.
It has Variable Refresh Rate technology to keep the gaming experience soothing and produce the refresh rate that matches the output screen. This improves the lags in the games and reduces the bad factors like stutter and frame tearing. Getting similar benefits like G-Sync and FreeSync without having a compatible graphics card is more than impressive.
Why HDMI 2.1: Conclusion
Everyone will definitely switch to HDMI 2.1 with compatible devices and get more refresh rates and better resolution in the long run. But for now, an average user does not need any HDMI 2.1 features with their household equipment. However, you can take advantage of this technology if you are a gamer and always improve your gaming experience.
Even in the gaming community, people playing on the latest consoles like PlayStation 5 and Xbox X can harvest the benefits of the HDMI interface and cables. For them buying a TV and monitor with HDMI 2.1 is the best option. But careful research prevents your investment from going into the wrong device as all the HDMI 2.1 devices do not offer total features. If the output and input device feature does not match, they do not work.
The bottom line is that HMDI 2.1 is the most advanced interface technology that you can utilize right now. Careful research is needed to get all the features as you won’t be purchasing expensive TVs and monitors more often. It is best for gamers that like to play at higher FPS and refresh rate to get more out of their current gaming potential.
M. Kashif is a published author at Gaming Expert.net. He is a tech enthusiast a passionate gamer and loves to try new gadgets and writing about games and technology events.