With new consoles from Sony and Microsoft alongside new displays supporting cutting edge 4K and 8K resolutions from LG and Samsung, we break down the important role of HDMI 2.1. And why you need the right cable to make the most of the games you play.
The latter months of 2020 were nothing short of monumental when it came to new hardware. In the space of a few short months we saw the arrival of the PlayStation 5, the Xbox Series X, and new PC graphics technology from NVIDIA and AMD with the flagship GeForce RTX 3080 and Radeon RX 6800 XT duo.
Cutting edge graphics hardware that saw the arrival of some of the most visually impressive games to date, from Sony’s vibrant Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart on PS5 to the stunning and hyper-realistic Microsoft Flight Simulator on PC and Xbox Series X. Across console and PC gaming you could say that visual fidelity got a sizable level up. And then some.
With this deluge of gaming goodness gamers have no doubt been looking to pair their new or upgraded setup with a new display. Whether it’s an immersive ultrawide for their PC or an LG OLED TV, or an 8K beast capable of upscaling the latest games, the common denominator is HDMI 2.1.
The latest version of the display format we’ve all been using since the DVD era, where the .1 in the naming opens the door to higher resolutions than ever before. And blazingly fast performance to boot. With 4K being the current standard for all things gaming it’s good to know how it works, and why cutting edge tech like HDMI 2.1 needs a high-quality cable.
Best of all the results are immediate thanks to a number of truly stunning games that take full advantage of HDMI 2.1.
What is HDMI 2.1?
When we think of HDMI it’s best to look at the video image being sent from a console, PC, or Bluray player as raw data. Where the higher the resolution the source is, the more data required. And with each frame taking up bandwidth this means that a 4K video signal with HDR requires a lot more data than an old-timey 1080p signal. The additional information required to create those stunning ultra-HD images in games like Ratchet & Clank present an exponential challenge. A challenge that’s met and dealt with thanks to HDMI 2.1
Whether it’s an immersive ultrawide for their PC or an LG OLED TV, or an 8K beast capable of upscaling the latest games, the common denominator is HDMI 2.1.
Even though HDMI 2.0 was named so because it supported 4K for the very first time, it needed a boost in order to deal with performance-focused consoles like the PS5 and Xbox Series X. So then, what’s HDMI 2.1 all about? On paper it’s the latest version of HDMI, and it increases the bandwidth to allow for more image data to be sent from one end to the other.
Although the .1 makes it sound like an incremental update, HDMI 2.1 features an exponential increase in bandwidth — going from the 18 Gbps (gigabits per second) of HDMI 2.0 up to a massive 48 Gbps. This means HDMI 2.1 can easily support 4K at 120Hz with HDR in addition to 8K at 60Hz. Something that wasn’t possible until now. And it’s set to be the new gaming standard for years to come. HDMI 2.1 is an across the board upgrade, Enhanced Audio Return Channel (eARC) technology sees better soundbar and audio hardware compatibility that ever before and the HDR benefits from the latest standard and dynamic advancements made in that space.
Why is HDMI 2.1 Important for Games?
To understand why HDMI 2.1 is a massive deal for games we only need to look at the current consoles and the games we play. In 2021 performance has become as important as resolution. For gamers hitting 60 fps (frames-per-second), 120 fps, or even 144 fps means you’re getting a smooth experience. One that once you experience, makes it almost impossible to game any other way.
HDMI 2.1 can easily support 4K at 120Hz with HDR in addition to 8K at 60Hz. Something that wasn’t possible until now. And it’s set to be the new gaming standard for years to come.
On Xbox Series X you can play the vibrant and beautiful Ori and the Will of the Wisps at 6K at 60 fps or at 4K at 120 fps. On PC, thanks to DLSS it’s now possible to play Red Dead Redemption II in 4K at over 100 fps. Throw HDR into the mix and you can be sure that the bandwidth requirement means you’ll need both a HDMI 2.1 capable display and high-speed HDMI 2.1 cable.
There’s another reason why HDMI 2.1 is important for games, and it’s one that is often overlooked. For console players HDMI 2.1 ushered in the era of variable refresh-rate technology. This means technology like AMD’s FreeSync and NVIDIA’s G-Sync ensures that the image stays smooth no matter the frame-rate. How this works is that the display refresh-rate and performance stay in sync. If a game’s fps sits in the region of 60-100 fps, then the refresh rate will do the same. The result is a seamless and smooth presentation right up there with resolution, HDR, and other performance factors.
What’s the Best HDMI 2.1 Cable to Get?
Digital signals with a high bandwidth, the stuff that makes HDMI 2.1 shine, means that now more than ever a high quality cable is as important as choosing the right display. It’s worth noting that HDMI 2.1 was developed by a group of global leaders such as Ruipro with very latest technology, an official organisation HDMI.org that decides how it works and what makes up the technology. HDMI 2.1 and cables that support the new format are all backwards compatible, so the process of picking a cable is relatively straightforward. But not entirely so.
The result is picture perfect 4K 120Hz performance with the Ruipro HDMI 2.1 Cable range.
Due to the high bandwidth and the fact that hardware like the RTX 3080 and Xbox Series X use the technology to its fullest, no two cables are ever the same. HDMI 2.0 cables just won’t cut it.
There’s an easy fix, simply look for a HDMI.org Certified label. It can be found on the Ruipro HDMI 2.1 Cable range distributed locally by EZYHD, and it means it’s a cable that has been tested at various lengths matching the bandwidth requirements without any issues. The result, as seen in our testing, is picture perfect 4K 120Hz performance with the Ruipro HDMI 2.1 Cable range. The build quality is robust, all cables are shielded, and able to withstand an entire hardware generation with ease. Ruipro has 38 Distributors world wide and has excellent reviews on AV forums USA and numerous other sites and forums.