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  • Writer's pictureCTVI Team

HDMI 2.1 vs. Older HDMI Versions: What's the Difference?

Updated: May 15, 2023

If you're someone who enjoys watching high-quality audio and video signals on your TV, you may have heard of HDMI (High Definition Multimedia Interface) technology. HDMI allows for the transfer of audio and video signals between devices, and it has undergone many upgrades since its inception. The latest version, HDMI 2.1, was released in 2017 and comes with some incredible upgrades that enhance your viewing experience.

One of the most notable features of HDMI 2.1 is that it supports high resolutions of up to 8K at 60Hz, which produces sharp and vivid images. Additionally, HDMI 2.1 has a higher refresh rate, which means that your picture will look smoother and more detailed.


If you are a gamer, you'll love the Variable Refresh Rate (VRR) feature that HDMI 2.1 offers. It helps sync your gaming console's refresh rate with your TV's refresh rate, which makes your gaming experience smoother and more responsive. Also, HDMI 2.1 supports Quick Media Switching, which eliminates the annoying black screen that occurs when you switch between different types of content.

It's important to note that not all devices are compatible with HDMI 2.1, so make sure to check that your TV and gaming console support it before upgrading. For example, the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X both support HDMI 2.1, so they're a great match for a TV with HDMI 2.1 capabilities.

In addition to the above features, HDMI 2.1 has some new enhancements that make the viewing experience even more enjoyable. For instance, it supports Dynamic HDR, which makes the colors in each scene look more realistic and lifelike. Also, HDMI 2.1 has an Enhanced Audio Return Channel (eARC) that allows for the sending of high-quality audio signals back to an audio device, such as a soundbar or home theater system, without any loss in quality.

What about HDMI Cables?

Now, when it comes to HDMI 2.1 cables, not all cables support this technology. To take full advantage of the features that HDMI 2.1 offers, you need to use an HDMI 2.1 certified cable. HDMI 2.1 cables have a higher bandwidth capacity and can handle the higher resolutions and refresh rates that HDMI 2.1 supports.

However, if you're using an older HDMI cable, don't worry! HDMI 2.1 is backwards compatible with older HDMI versions, so you can still use your existing cables. Just remember that you won't be able to take advantage of the full benefits of HDMI 2.1 with an older cable.

Now, let's talk about cable boxes

If your cable box is relatively new, there's a chance it may support HDMI 2.1. However, if it's older or has been in use for a while, it's more likely that it only supports an older version of HDMI, such as HDMI 1.4 or 2.0.

If your cable box does support HDMI 2.1, you can take advantage of the higher resolutions, refresh rates, and other features that HDMI 2.1 offers.

However, keep in mind that you'll also need a TV or other display device that supports HDMI 2.1 to take full advantage of it.

If your cable box doesn't support HDMI 2.1, you can still use it with a TV or other display device that supports HDMI 2.1, but you won't be able to take advantage of the full benefits of HDMI 2.1. In this case, it's best to use an HDMI cable that's compatible with both your cable box and your TV or other display device, and make sure that it's at least HDMI 1.4 or higher.

At Coastline TV Installs, we're experts in installing home theater and gaming setups with the latest technologies, including HDMI 2.1. Our team can help you figure out if your devices are compatible with HDMI 2.1 and recommend the best setup for your needs. So, if you're ready to take your viewing and gaming experience to the next level, give us a call! We'll be happy to help you upgrade your system and get the most out of HDMI 2.1. Remember, whether it's for gaming, movies, or streaming, using the right cables and equipment can make all the difference in your viewing experience.

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