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Choosing the right HDMI Cable

If you're in the market for an HDMI (High Definition Multimedia Interface) cable, you might think that all HDMI cables are the same. However, it's essential to understand the differences between HDMI 1.4, HDMI 2.0, and HDMI 2.1 to make an informed decision.


HDMI Overview

HDMI is the preferred interface for audio and video transmission in devices like graphic cards, monitors, TVs, gaming consoles, and soundbars. However, not all HDMI cables are created equal.

HDMI Cables


HDMI 1.4:  

  • Released in 2009, HDMI 1.4 is cost-effective and still found in mid-range monitors and TVs.

  • HDMI 1.4 was developed to accommodate 4K content and provide enough bandwidth to handle 4K video at up to 24 frames per second. Later, it evolved to HDMI 1.4a and HDMI 1.4b—but this is all ancient history in the video space.

  • Supports 4K video but with limitations, such as compressed 4K30.

  • Commonly used in older devices like the original PS4 or Xbox One.


HDMI 2.0:

  • Released in 2013

  • Revised to HDMI 2.0a in 2015 and then HDMI 2.0b in 2016. This specification increased the maximum bandwidth of HDMI cables from 10.2Gbps to 18Gbps. It also expanded support to 4K video at 60 frames per second with all the forms of high dynamic range (HDR) and laid the groundwork for 8K.

  • HDMI 2.0 is the common standard.

  • Strongly supports 4K and 1440p video, making it suitable for most modern devices.

  • Supports HDR for enhanced color depth and contrast.


HDMI 2.1:  

  • Released in 2018

  • Boasting a maximum bandwidth of 48Gbps, HDMI 2.1 is the first to support 8K video at high frame rates.

  • HDMI 2.1 specification can handle 4K and 8K video at up to 120 frames per second with room to spare.

  • If you aren't planning to get an 8K TV just yet, the 2.1 standard is mostly important for newer high-end gaming consoles like the PS5 and Xbox Series X, as well as high-end GPUs.

  • Enables features like wider HDR support and uncompressed video.


Same-Looking Cable, Different Standards

  • HDMI cables and ports haven't changed in appearance over the years, but their specs and standards have.

  • All HDMI cables are technically backward and forward compatible.

  • The lowest-spec device or cable in the chain will limit the signal output.


HDMI Comparison Chart


Compatibility Between HDMI Versions

  •  HDMI versions are 100% backward compatible.

  • Older HDMI cables can be used with newer hardware, but with limitations on capabilities.

  • For example, an HDMI 1.4 cable can work with an HDMI 2.1 display but will limit the resolution to 4K@30Hz.


Choosing the right HDMI cable involves understanding the capabilities of HDMI 1.4, HDMI 2.0, and HDMI 2.1. Ensure that your cable matches the specifications of your devices to unlock their full potential. With backward compatibility, you can still use older cables, but be aware of the limitations they might impose on newer hardware.





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