HDMI 2.1: What you need to know for gaming, 8K TVs and more in 2021 - CNET
Jan 23, 2021 2 mins, 30 secs
The latest HDMI standard unlocks new graphics features on the PS5 and Xbox Series X, higher resolution potential on 8K TVs and more.

To get the most out of those consoles you'll need a TV that supports at least some features of HDMI 2.1.

That means higher resolutions, higher frame rates and more.

The connector itself isn't changing, however, so your new HDMI 2.1 gear will be backwards compatible with your current cables and equipment, though if you want to take advantage of everything 2.1 has to offer, you'll need some select upgrades.

Read more: Best HDMI cables for your new 4K and HDR TV.

Inputs with HDMI 2.1 features, like the one on this Samsung TV, primarily cater to gamers right now?

You should be able to get 4K/60, and a basic 8K/30, with current cables, but the rest will need an Ultra High Speed HDMI cable.

Though most current HDMI cables can handle nearly all of today's content, the TV industry never sits still.

We're already seeing TVs that are capable of higher frame rates, when sent such content, plus higher resolution TVs, like those with 8K.

This is predominantly what HDMI 2.1 is for: higher resolutions and frame rates that aren't necessary for most people right now.

While there are a handful of movies or TV shows with higher frame rates, you won't find those versions on Netflix or Vudu. .

If, in the future, you buy an HDMI 2.1-compatible TV and an HDMI 2.1-compatible sound bar, your current High Speed cables should be able to transmit eARC.

Game Mode VRR will also work over current cables (between two pieces of 2.1-compatible gear), though if you're trying to push greater-than-4K60 video, you'll need an Ultra High Speed HDMI cable. .

These were originally called "48G" cables since they will have 48Gbps bandwidth, though now they're officially called Ultra High Speed HDMI cables.

These cables are backward compatible, so they'll work with all your other HDMI gear (at whatever speed that gear operates).

You probably don't need to buy Ultra High Speed HDMI cables cable right now.

Even with 4K TVs nearly all your gear should work fine with your current cables.

We'll talk more about those consoles below, but the short version is, if you want 4K120 and you have a new TV that can handle that resolution (older TVs almost universally can't), check out Ultra High Speed HDMI cables.

Some new TVs can handle this higher frame rate.

Almost no older TVs can, even those called "120Hz." The TV will need HDMI 2.1 to let the console run in all this high frame-rate glory.

Your current HDMI cables probably won't be able to handle 4K120.

You'll need Ultra High Speed HDMI cables, which thankfully, aren't that much more than "regular" HDMI cables at this point. .

So if your console is 2.1, your TV is 2.1, but your receiver is 2.0, you'll only get resolutions and features possible with HDMI 2.0. .

If you're buying an 8K TV for some reason, it's worth considering getting Ultra High Speed HDMI cables too.

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