HDMI 2.0 vs 2.1: Facts to Know Before Paying Your Money

hdmi 2.0 vs hdmi 2.1

What is the difference between HDMI 2.0 and HDMI 2.1? Choosing a technology is not about winning a race. Learning about their differences is to learn what you really need and make a wise decision. 

HDMI 2.0 vs 2.1 – Facts

  • Fact Number 1: HDMI 2.1 is able to carry a larger number of bytes (48Gb) per second. HDMI 2.0 carries 18Gb per second.
  • Fact Number 2: HDMI 2.1 supports video up to 4K @240hz. HDMI 2.0 supports up to 4K @60hz. (how to calculate?)
  • Fact Number 3: HDMI 2.1 deals with more features, such as eARC (enhanced Audio Return Channel) and VRR (Variable Refresh Rate). HDMI 2.0 supports ARC but not eARC.
  • Fact Number 4: The device manufacturer will decide what features to be incorporated and what is not. A so-called HDMI 2.1 or HDMI 2.0 device may not support all features. Check the specs.
  • Fact Number 5: Theoretically, HDMI 2.1 comes with 8K tech. While there is not much 8K content for consumers in the market at present.
  • Fact Number 6: HDMI 2.1 or 8K is more widely used in gaming as the video is more demanding on the refresh rate, like 4K120hz.
  • Fact Number 7: A standard 8K HDMI 2.1 cable goes a maximum length of only 3 meters.
  • Fact Number 8: Fiber-optic 8K HDMI 2.1 cable exceeds the limit of length that a copper HDMI cable can run.
  • Fact Number 9: If your HDMI 2.1 cable is too short to do its job, an HDMI extender will help extend the length.

HDMI 2.0 vs 2.1 – Features

HDMI 2.0 has a bandwidth capacity of 18 Gbps (gigabits per second). HDMI 2.1 takes the number up to 48 Gbps, which means that HDMI 2.1 does not have to compress that much of the data and preserve a better data quality during the transmission process. 

To build a well-functioning audio-visual setup, you need a video player (often PCs, Blu-rays, and TV boxes), a video display (often LED screens, monitors, and projectors), and cables & devices to connect them up.

HDMI 2.0 (or 2.1) are used in all these machines and cables to ensure they work together perfectly and the AV experience goes smooth under the setup. Except for the speed of transmission, different versions of HDMI standards will support varied functions (they decide what your AV devices and together the setup could realize).

hdmi 2.0 vs 2.1

You may be interested: What Are HDMI ARC and eARC?

What’s it like to have an HDMI 2.1-standard home theater setup? An AVR system, 4K TV, and wiring construction (HDMI extenders and cabling) that are eARC-supportive with HDMI 2.1.

You can play TV‘s sound through your multi-channel speakers instead of the crappy sound bar and always enjoy uncompressed 7.1 high Bitrate sound on your home theater’s couch.

What’s VRR? Read more about this: 5 Tips to Fix Your Screen Tearing Issues

What’s HDMI 2.1

The audio-visual industry is moving forward to make 8K a future mainstream, which means both streaming devices and video displays are striving to prepare themselves with a greater capacity. The same stress goes to the data transmission industry.

The bandwidth needed for the data transmission grows at an exponential rate and HDMI 2.1 emerged for more efficient transmission of a greater load of data at a time.

Due to the limit of copper cables and the nature of data transmission, HDMI signals will wear out as it travels over a long distance. The distance for higher quality data (for example 8K) transmission would be even shorter. A standard 8K HDMI cable goes a maximum length of just 3 meters.

This may bring the need for fiber-optic HDMI cables or HDMI extenders to get the signals to go further.

HDMI 2.1 Applications

hdmi 2.1 8K for gaming

HDMI 2.1 now is applied in gaming consoles like Xbox Series X and PS5 and some high-class AVRs and TVs. However, there is not much 8K content available for streaming and HDMI 2.1 is more likely to be used for 4K@120hz (compared to HDMI 2.0 4K@60hz ) gaming pictures or entertainment videos.

What’s the difference between 60hz and 120hz? This number is about the refresh rate, which means the number of images per second on the screen that form the motion. Most movies are filmed at 24 frames per second and as the number goes higher, it may reduce blur and make the pictures look more like it’s alive.

HDMI 2.1 is able to carry 4K@120hz video data and with the higher bandwidth to deliver vivid motions, vibrant colors, and extraordinary audio. They are more popular among gamers and movie lovers. A good HDMI 2.1 setup brings you the ultimate entertainment experience.

Which Cable Shall I Choose? HDMI 2.0 or 2.1?

HDMI 2.1 is backward compatible with HDMI 2.0. In terms of the functionalities, buying an HDMI 2.1 is a good choice to have enough capacity for data transmission, enjoy ultimate entertainment (if you already get a 4k/8k TV and video player), and also future-proof the 8K needs.

While some people may be more practical and only buy what they need right now. Then you shall think about how you are using the cable.

Is it for common connectivity with a normal PC and 4K/HD TV or you are looking to build up an immersive gaming room/home theater with eARC function, a vivid screen with good colors, and extraordinary sound effects? HDMI 2.0 would be enough for the former and HDMI 2.1 is a must for the latter.

However, if you are transmitting high-quality 4K@120hz or even 8K HDMI data with an HDMI 2.1 cable, you may find it hard to get a copper HDMI cable of more than 30 ft. That’s because of the limit of copper for data transmission.

Get a fiber-optic 8K HDMI cable if the distance between your devices exceeds the limit of 30ft.

And there are more versatile extension solutions if you want to extend not only HDMI signals but also IR, audio, and USB signals (KVM extender) for an ultimate setup over distances.

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4 thoughts on “HDMI 2.0 vs 2.1: Facts to Know Before Paying Your Money

  1. Brenton says:

    These comments are a blast to read lol. To simplify the entire article unless you are running over a distance of +2m and/or playing the lastest action computer game any hdmi cable made in the last 10 years will do the job.

  2. Cecilia W. says:

    Did you find this article helpful? Please feel free to leave your feedback here. Have a good day!

  3. Ken Reeser says:

    I want to extract the audio from hdmi and use it for Bluetooth and keep the audio on the tv also.

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