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HDMI 2.0 vs 2.1: Which Cable Should You Buy?

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Most people are familiar with HDMI cables. The HDMI cable connects your TV to your soundbars and other devices such as DVD players, gaming consoles, laptops, and so on. Not all HDMI cords work the same. HDMI 2.0 was used for many years. However, HDMI 2.1 has just been released. This article will explain the differences between HDMI 2.0 and HDMI 2.1, as well as which one to buy for your home theater system or gaming computer.

What is HDMI?

HDMI stands for High Definition Multimedia Interface. HDMI is a standard for media transfer from a source (such as a DVD player or to a television). This technology is superior to older standards as it can transmit audio and video at high resolution with one cable.

HDMI was released for the first time in 2002. There are now more than 8 billion devices using the technology, according to the HDMI Forum. This organization is responsible for improving HDMI technology and creating new HDMI specifications.

HDMI 2.1 was released in 2017 and is the most recent HDMI specification. HDMI 2.0, released in 2013, remains the most popular specification.

What is the difference between HDMI 2.0 and HDMI2.1?

HDMI 2.0 is faster than HDMI 2.1. HDMI 2.1 has a higher bandwidth capacity, so it can transmit more data at once, which allows it supports higher resolutions and faster refresh rates.

The bandwidth can be compared to a water pipe. The wider the pipe, the more water flows through it at once. A higher bandwidth capacity means that more data can be transmitted at once. HDMI 2.0 can transfer 18 Gbps (gigabits per sec) of data, but HDMI 2.1 supports up to 48 Gbps.

Newer HDMI specifications will not have to compress data as often due to their increased bandwidth. This can result in better audio and video quality. You might not be able take advantage of the latest specifications if you don’t have a better TV or monitor.

HDMI 2.0 vs 2.1: Video Resolution

HDMI 2.1 can support video resolutions of up to 10K and 8K uncompressed. HDMI 2.0 only supports resolutions of up to 4K. This means that you’ll be able see more detail and images will look sharper if you use an HDMI 2.0 cable. However, this only applies if your TV, video, and media player support higher resolutions.

An HDMI 2.0 cable can only allow you to watch 4K content at 60 frames per seconds, which isn’t fast enough for certain content. An HDMI 2.1 cable might be a better choice if you have 4K TV.

HDMI 2.0 vs. 2.1: Refresh Rate

HDMI 2.1 allows refresh rates of up to 8K (60 Hz) and 4K (120 Hz), while HDMI 2.0 supports only 4K at 60Hz. The refresh rate is the number of times that the display refreshes an image every second. High refresh rates are good for gaming and smoother motion.

Your refresh rate should be equal or greater than your video’s framerate. You might experience screen tearing and motion blur. HDMI 2.0 supports 1080p @ 240Hz and 1440p @ 144Hz. This makes HDMI 2.0 fast enough to play most movies, TV shows, or games.

While you can use an HDMI 2.0 cable to connect to a 4K monitor, certain content will not look as smooth due to the 60 Hz limit. If you have an 8K, 4K or high-resolution display, or if your gaming computer needs to perform at its best, an HDMI 2.1 cable is recommended.

HDR – HDMI 2.0 vs. 2.1

HDMI 2.0 and HDMI 2.1 both support HDR (high-dynamic range), which allows for a wider range of color and light. Only HDMI 2.1 officially supports dynamic HDR which improves picture quality.

Static HDR allows you to see more detail in shadows and highlights, but only one set of information can be used to determine the light levels for an entire video. If one scene is too bright, it can cause the rest to look darker.

Dynamic HDR allows you to analyze the brightness range of your video frame-by-frame. This results in more lifelike images. This feature can only be used if your TV supports dynamic HDR such as HDR10+ and Dolby Vision.

Although HDMI 2.1 has dynamic HDR, it can be used with other HDMI 2.0 cables. An HDMI 2.1 cable is recommended if you want the best picture quality.

HDMI 2.0 vs. 2.1: Audio

HDMI 2.0 and HDMI 2.1 both support the audio return channel (ARC) feature. This allows one cable to transmit and receive audio signals from your TV’s screen to an AV receiver or soundbar. Only HDMI 2.0 supports enhanced audio return channels (eARC).

ARC allows you to listen to surround sound audio but it will be compressed. eARC, on the other hand, has a greater bandwidth capacity so it supports surround sound audio in uncompressed formats such as DTS Master, DTSX, and Dolby TrueHD surround sound.

To take advantage of eARC and HDMI 2.1 you will need a compatible television or monitor paired up with a compatible soundbar/AV receiver.

HDMI 2.0 vs. 2.1: Gaming

Gaming is where HDMI 2.0 and HDMI2.1 differ the most. HDMI 2.1 only has advanced features such as VRR (variable refresh rate), which reduces screen-tearing, and ALLM [auto low latency mode], which reduces lag.

HDMI 2.1 has VRR built-in. This allows your display’s refresh rate to match your game’s frame rate in real-time. Your display may sometimes attempt to show information from more than one frame at once without this feature. Screen tearing is a phenomenon that causes horizontal breaks in the image.

VRR can also be achieved with a display that supports FreeSync and G-Sync technology. An HDMI 2.0 cable can be used with a FreeSync monitor, but a G-Sync monitor will require either an HDMI 2.1 or DisplayPort 1.2a cable.

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