When Do I Really Need HDMI 2.1 or Is HDMI 2.0 Enough?

BenQ
2021/11/23
To change some settings or sort out your hardware To set your monitor to 144 Hz and enjoy a smooth gameplay.

Everyone seems to have an opinion about what tech you absolutely have to have these days. It’s true that innovation drives us forward and today’s bleeding edge is tomorrow’s standard feature. But adopting new technology isn’t a race to the finish line; it’s about getting what you need for the performance you want. HDMI 2.1 capability is a perfect example. Let’s look at when this connectivity is worth reaching for your wallet and when your existing HDMI 2.0 or DisplayPort is all you need. If you’re a PC gamer all you need is DP. Console gamers, however, have to consider HDMI. Read on for details, but short answer, unless you’re pushing 4K @120Hz or 2K faster than 165Hz, you can save your money for now.

Consider your Consoles

Most people game on 1080p or 2K monitors for which consoles support up to 120Hz with an HDMI 2.0 connection. Actually, even HDMI 1.4 is adequate. Since consoles don’t support 21:9 or 32:9 ultrawide aspect ratios, playing games like Call of Duty at 16:9, with black bars on either side of the screen also works with HDMI 2.0. Really, the only time you need HDMI 2.1 is for 4K gaming at 120Hz refresh rate. And that’s not a common setup these days.

The PC Possibilities

Simply put, DisplayPort is the dominant video connection format for PC. DisplayPort 1.4 supports 4K 120Hz and even 8K 60Hz. Currently 4K 60Hz remains a very reliable and respectable target on PC even with the best hardware, particularly if you want to have ray tracing on. However, if you choose to use HDMI, version 2.0 is enough. Honestly, even version 1.4b is still enough for 1080p 165Hz, so don’t feel compelled to pay more for cables you don’t need.

 

You don’t need to go out of your way looking for an HDMI 2.1 monitor. HDMI 2.0 carries combinations like 1440p 165Hz with no issue, and for 1080p, frame rates of 240Hz are no problem. On PC, HDMI is secondary to DisplayPort, which offers significantly more bandwidth, with DP 1.4 not that far from HDMI 2.1 and capable of 4K 120Hz. 

So, What Should I Do?

HDMI 2.1 is only needed if you want to use HDMI with 4K over 60Hz. This applies to consoles, as on PC you can get the same performance with DisplayPort 1.4, which is readily available.

 

So, it’s likely adding HDMI 2.1 cables and expense to your setup is not something you need to worry about now. If you have questions, please refer to this table to help you make the right choice based on your current device situation:  

 

For example: when you use 2K 165Hz EX2710Q with Xbox Series S, which can only support 2K 120Hz, the HDMI version you need is 2.0 instead of 2.1.

Mainstream combination

Aspect ratio

HDMI ver. requirement

Support device

Mainstream combination

1920x1080@120Hz

Aspect ratio

16:9

HDMI ver. requirement

HDMI 1.4

Support device

PC, PS5, XBOX Series X|S

Mainstream combination

1920x1080@144Hz/165Hz

Aspect ratio

16:9

HDMI ver. requirement

HDMI 1.4

Support device

PC

Mainstream combination

1920x1080@240Hz

Aspect ratio

16:9

HDMI ver. requirement

HDMI 2.0

Support device

PC

Mainstream combination

2560x1440@120Hz

Aspect ratio

16:9

HDMI ver. requirement

HDMI 2.0

Support device

PC, XBOX Series X|S

Mainstream combination

2560x1440@144Hz

Aspect ratio

16:9

HDMI ver. requirement

HDMI 2.0

Support device

PC

Mainstream combination

2560x1440@165Hz

Aspect ratio

16:9

HDMI ver. requirement

HDMI 2.1

Support device

PC

Mainstream combination

2560x1440@240Hz

Aspect ratio

16:9

HDMI ver. requirement

HDMI 2.1

Support device

PC

Mainstream combination

3440x1440@144Hz/165Hz

Aspect ratio

21:9

HDMI ver. requirement

HDMI 2.1

Support device

PC

Mainstream combination

5120x1440@144Hz/165Hz

Aspect ratio

32:9

HDMI ver. requirement

HDMI 2.1

Support device

PC

Mainstream combination

5120x1440@240Hz

Aspect ratio

32:9

HDMI ver. requirement

HDMI 2.1

Support device

PC

Mainstream combination

3840x2160@120Hz

Aspect ratio

16:9

HDMI ver. requirement

HDMI 2.1

Support device

PC, PS5, XBOX Series X PC

Mainstream combination

3840x2160@144Hz/165Hz

Aspect ratio

16:9

HDMI ver. requirement

HDMI 2.1

Support device

PC

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