HDMI 2.1: Why It Matters for PCs and TVs – Explained

HDMI is the important connector and cable standard for PC and TVs and is widely used worldwide. The latest upgrade in HDMI technology further increased the possibility of getting more recognition to HDMI over other connections. In 2021 there is a sudden boom in demand for HDMI with its version 2.1 release. But a question arises as to Why HDMI 2.1 matters for PCs and TVs.

A few years back, HDMI was the most used connector for high-quality connection for your laptop, cable set, satellite TV, gaming console, and other media devices. With its typical use, it supported an increased number of devices. But in this era of technology, HDMI still holds its place. This happens primarily due to the improvement of HDMI technology over time.

With a complete overhaul, the HDMI cable and connectors can do more than you imagine. In addition, they support multiple displays for a high-speed data transfer. HDMI 2.1 is a promising addition that surprisingly implemented many improvements and also carries a potential for becoming more valuable in the future. Most PC consumers are already aware of HDMI 2.1 as it has broad compatibility with high-end graphics cards, Microsoft Xbox Series X, consumer-grade TVs, and Sony PlayStation 5. Enough said about HDMI, let’s dig more about HDMI 2.1, its working, features, and reasons you should buy it.

what is hdmi 2.1

What is HDMI 2.1?

HMDI 2.1 is the recent update to the HDMI interface that has added support for higher refresh rates and resolutions. You can get a 120 Hz refresh rate on 4K resolution without any input lags. It supports 8K resolution at 60 Hz and also supports resolution up to 10K. You cannot expect less from this new technology as it supports more bandwidth transfer with a stunning 48 Gbps limit. In addition, there is dynamic HDR support with this new ultra-high-speed HDMI cable.

Even the features on HDMI 2.1 are future-proof. It ensures that your investment in these cables and connectors runs long-term. Moreover, with the introduction of ultra-high bandwidth-related features, this interface can process uncompressed 8K HDR videos. Besides that, there are many other notable features like exceptionally low EMI and its backward compatibility that we will discuss later in this article.

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Why HDMI 2.1 Matters for TVs and PCs?

There are several upgrades to the HDMI interface, and this technology improved a lot in each revision. However, there are heated debates about the difference between HDMI 2.0 Vs HDMI 2.1, so we will go feature by feature to elaborate on the improvements and features offered by HDMI 2.1 and how they are better than HDMI 2.0.

hdmi 2.1 why it matters for pc and tv

You may be already familiar that HDMI 2.0 is the immediate predecessor of HDMI 2.1. Even at its release, we have not seen more practical use of HDMI 2.0 until the 4K TVs became mainstream. It was a healthy upgrade over the HDMI 1.4 because of more resolutions and refresh rate transfer. Its support of 4K resolution and 60 frames per second really overhauled the overall video play experience.

Can this famous interface of the past can still be a viable choice after the release of its upgrade? What features does HDMI 2.1 offer that makes its best for TVs? Let’s dig into these by exploring the features that HDMI 2.1 offers. 

1. Higher Resolution, Better Refresh Rate

The native resolution supported by HDMI 2.1 is 10K which is a much improvement over our 4K displays. This increase in resolution is future proof as currently, our monitors and TVs only support 4K and 8K resolutions. They have not reached this high yet, but playing games and video at 10K could be game-changing. You can run 4K videos at 120 Hz for the current scenario and enjoy your favorite games or videos with smoother and improved quality.

With the increasing demand of 60 frames rate per second among gamers, 120 fps is definitely a game-changer. Most gamers like to play at least 60 fps as it provides a smoother and near-to-real gaming experience. But playing at 120 Hz seems more realistic and smoother and offers a great gaming experience for competitive gameplay. So you can choose from the Best 4K gaming monitors for experiencing the real essence of gaming in smoother fps and 4k resolution.

hdmi 2.1

The latest high-performing games supporting Nvidia and AMD’s latest technology can generate frame rates in triple-figure instead of the past when the cap was 60 fps on 4K resolution. Unfortunately, gamers had difficulty finding the best solution for fulfilling their higher frame rates per second needs at 4K resolution for handling that resolution. But HDMI 2.1 has rectified the issue and addressed the core concern of power users like gamers and TV watchers that like the content of high quality.

4K monitors are increasingly dominating the TV market, especially in the recent few years. But the demand for the best 8K monitors also increased too many folds in the last couple of years. HDMI supports 8K resolutions at 60 fps which is still a considerable upgrade for the interface. But 8K devices are not mainstreamed yet, so HDMI 2.1 supports the current best resolution and adds support for future best resolution making it more future-proof for the long-term investment.

2. More Power to eARC

eARC refers to Enhanced Audio Return Channel. eARC channelizes the audio stream from a source like a streaming box or cable and passes it through the TV to the output like speaker bar, audio converter, or any other device. This is not new for TVs to work with eARC, but setting up it gets tricky sometimes. In previous versions of HDMI, it was not possible to set up eARC with a single cable. With HDMI 2.1, it is not possible to run eARC on a single cable.

The HDMI 2.1 has an advancement over the previous Audio Return Channel. The Enhanced Audio Return Channel has made the connectivity o multiple components very simple. With the ease of use is supports the latest audio formats and high bitrates. So you can experience a theater-quality movie experience by sitting in your living room with the multi-dimensional experience with enhanced audio depth and detail.

Related: Here is the list of HDMI 2.1 Switches for 4K Gaming

3. A better Dynamic HDR Processor

HDR or High-Definition Range is not a new thing, especially in this era of technology. So many people who like to capture pictures and watch movies should be already familiar with HDR technology. It is an amazing technology that processes the image and videos to appear noticeably visible compared to non-HDR samples. This happens because HDR brightens or darkens the digital media at the right ratio by increasing the contrast values beyond standard values. But that’s the story of static HDR, and this is more applicable where one setting works for all the content.

In Dynamic High-Definition Range, there is frame-by-frame processing that improves and tunes the visual experience. With the implementation of dynamic HDR, all the scenes in a video get a full range of brightness, colors, and contrast that enlighten and improve the content. HDMI 2.0 was a significant improvement because it supported 4K resolution at 60Hz for dynamic HDR, but HDMI 2.1 has gone more steps ahead. It supports dynamic HDR at 4K and 120 Hz that is a future standard. This huge improvement seems more contributing towards better audio and video content.

Want to move from DisplayPort to HDMI? here is a list of DisplayPort to HDMI adapters and cables for gaming.

4. Optimized display with Variable Refresh Rate

Refresh rate is a very important factor for gaming and video watching. It is the criteria that determine when to refresh the picture or redrawn it. The standard and most widely used refresh rate on TVs and monitors is 60 Hz, which equals 60 frames per second. But for gamers, 60 fps is not enough for getting more out of their competitive gaming needs.

This static refresh rate sometimes poses problems when the graphics card pushes more than 60 fps and can result in “tearing.” This phenomenon happens due to misaligning the frame, and you see one frame and some part of the other frame simultaneously. HDMI VRR is effective in eliminating this tearing issue. It syncs the frame processing in a way that the sources transfer the frame rate after its processing. As a result, you can experience a smooth gaming experience with HDMI VRR technology.

5. Other Key Features of HDMI 2.1

HDMI 2.1 features many other useful technologies that ultimately contribute towards a smoother and lag-free gaming experience. One of these is QFT technology that effectively reduces the “input lag” during the gameplay. Input lag is a reasonably main concern for the gamers as it is a brief delay between input and registering of that input in the game. With the Quick Frame Transport (QFT) technology, HDMI 2.1 reduces the transport delay of information across active video devices.

Another great feature that works along with VRR is the Quick Media Switching utility. This utility shortens the delay when we change the input source on the TV. You probably have observed a brief black screen when switching between Amazon Prime and the cable box. QMS works intelligently with the VRR and reduces that gap when the video transition happens from one source to another.

You have to find out another exciting feature with HDMI 2.1 if you are a gamer. Most games do support auto low latency mode from their settings. Auto Low Latency Mode automatically detects the need for the gaming mode and disables it when it is not needed. However, ALLM is a small utility but a good convenience source for gamers.

Find out the Best 144Hz Monitor in 2021

Is HDMI 2.1 better than DisplayPort?

Both HDMI and DisplayPort are rivals as they offer the same set of utility with minor differences in performance. With the release of every new improvement in the technology of each interface, several changes happen that improve their specification over the other. However, both the connections provide a solution to the connectivity needs of output and input video devices over a single cable. HDMI is a go-to connection for home entertainment and gaming consoles, while DisplayPort is more applicable for computers.

HDMI 2.1 is currently the leading tech for the connecting solutions even after the DisplayPort 2.0 release because DP 2.0 is not mainstream yet. In general, it’s all depends on your personal preferences and the hardware that you are using for output and input. HDMI is a better choice for home entertainment as it has good support for these devices.

For the better clarity and understanding here are a quick guides,

Does HDMI 2.1 really stand out?

HDMI 2.1 is an impressive boost over its predecessor with more improvements. It has better higher resolution support and provides more FPS. However, most specifications that it offers are still not supported by the TVs and monitors. It will get more streamlined with the introduction of 8K monitors that truly support its potential. Smoother frame rates, higher resolution support, and dynamic HDR describes the query” HDMI 2.1: Why it matters for PCs and TVs” in a single line.

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Muhammad Kashif

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.