HDMI 2.1 Cable Standards

HDMI cables are essential to connecting the elements of your new AV system, but they are often overlooked. It’s easy to grab the nearest cable for your media streamer, right? Not anymore: HDMI 2.1 cable standards for newer gaming consoles, televisions, and soundbars will soon render your existing cables obsolete. The new standard provides a higher bandwidth, resolution, and frame rate for all your films, shows, and video games, allowing you to experience more of the action. But how do these cables make such a difference in the viewing experience? Our team at iWired is here to guide you through the how and why of HDMI 2.1 cable standards.

How does HDMI 2.0 operate?

HDMI 2.0 changed the scene in 2013 with its ability to process 4K content at 60fps (frames per second). The various moving parts in video games, such as rapid gunfire and zooming cars, were updated in real-time for gamers. For comparison, films usually run at 24fps and TV shows at 30fps. A few years later, HDMI 2.0a was launched to support HDR (High Dynamic Range), which balanced brightest whites and darkest blacks on screen. HDMI2.0b came next and added support for the Hybrid Log-Gamma (HLG) HDR format to combine dynamic and HDR images into one video signal for any TV. HDMI 2.0 has been considered the highest consumer standard available; until now.

What makes HDMI 2.1 different?

HDMI 2.1 has twice the capacity of HDMI 2.0, giving it the ability to process 10K content at 120fps. It also processes a whopping 48Gbps bandwidth, Dynamic HDR, and HFR (High Frame Rate) for 4K, 8K, and 10K at up to 120Hz, creating the sharpest image ever. It also features VRR (Variable Refresh Rate), which smooths jarring motion in video games, and QFT (Quick Fame Transport), which allows TV components to power down more frequently, thus allowing them a longer lifespan.

Do I need to buy a new television?

With firmware updates, a handful of TVs can unlock some of the above features, but to achieve the full potential of HDMI 2.1, it’s better to invest in a new TV. A few manufacturers already support HDMI 2.1 capabilities, including LG’s OLED and NanoCell range. However, there’s still a relative lack of media sources that require HDMI 2.1, so if you’re patient, it’s best to wait until more affordable TVs are available.

Should I purchase new cables?

Matching cables are necessary to enjoy the full experience of HDMI 2.1; however, you may not need to go out of your way to purchase them separately. The Playstation 5 and Xbox Series X both come with HDMI 2.1 cables, so if you own or plan to own one of these consoles, you’re already set. When buying your cables, keep an eye out for fake cables that claim support to 48Gbps. The real thing will have a clear certification as part of their advertising. Perhaps one of the best features of your HDMI 2.1 cables is that they’re backward-compatible, so they operate as usual with all your 2.0 sources and screens. We recommend getting your hands on HDMI 2.1 cables as soon as possible; there’s no need to wait.

What HDMI sources are available?

The PS5 and Xbox Series X mentioned above are currently the most popular HDMI 2.1 sources available. They output signals in 4K/120fps, taking players into the middle of every thrilling battle in games with high frame rates. The Xbox Series X also supports VRR capacity, while PS5 gamers are still waiting for a firmware update. Sony TVs are finally receiving VRR support, leaving PS5 owners hopeful that their turn is coming soon. PC gamers also get to enjoy playing a variety of games with HDMI 2.1 graphics cards.

Should I invest in HDMI 2.1 AV receivers and soundbars?

Let’s say gaming isn’t your preferred form of entertainment, and you prefer watching movies or listening to music. It’s essential that every device in your AV chain process 2.1 signals for maximum enjoyment. For example, Yamaha’s RX-V6A AV receiver has seven HDMI 2.1 inputs and one 2.1 output for multiple devices. LG also offers soundbar models that produce audio that matches the superior visuals of HDMI 2.1. If you’re searching for quality, HDMI 2.1 standards are the best you can find. It’s time to invest in cables that create a whole new entertainment experience. Whether you have questions about HDMI 2.1 features, sources, or devices, our team at iWired is happy to help you get started today.