Do I Really Need HDMI 2.1 for PS5 and Xbox Series X?

Since their release, it’s been harder and harder to get your hands on a PS5 or Xbox Series X. Whilst Sony and Microsoft scramble to build more consoles, it’s worth doing some research into what you might need when you finally get your hands on one of these machines. That’s because having the right TV in place could dramatically change your gaming experience. Long gone are the days of scart leads with bulky plugs and for the past decade or so we’ve been able to enjoy HDMI technology. However, you might not realize that the next-gen consoles can enjoy all the benefits of HDMI 2.1, the latest and greatest in HDMI technology. 


HDMI 2 was great but it can only let you receive up to 4K in the resolution which is nothing to be sniffed at but when you consider that HDMI 2.1 can reach up to 10K, it suddenly starts to look quite old. HDMI 2 can also only allow you to reach 60Hz which essentially means that your TV would max out at 60 fps (how quickly your screen refreshes.) This refresh rate has been the gold standard but now HDMI 2.1 has completely changed all of that. With HDMI 2.1, you can reach up to twice as much at 120Hz.

HDMI Ultra high speed that comes included in the Xbox Series S Box

This means that the new HDMI 2.1 cables can transfer twice the amount of information at a time than the older HDMI 2 cables. That’s quite the jump.

What you need for 8K gaming

The release of the PS5 and Xbox Series X has meant that TV manufacturers are having to rush to build compatible TVs. It’s worth pointing out that you can still use HDMI 2.1 cables in your PS5 or Xbox Series X because they are backward compatible but you won’t get the highest frame rates unless you have an 8K TV. You’ll need to upgrade your TV to one that has a 120 Hz refresh rate to enjoy the highest gaming experience.

Personally, I think it’s worth upgrading your TV to an 8K one with 120 Hz, otherwise, you’ll just get a similar picture to that on your PS4 and Xbox One.

What you get with HDMI 2.1

HDMI 2.1 supports three very impressive features for those who own PS5 and Xbox Series X consoles. These are Variable Refresh Rate (VRR), Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM), and 120Hz gaming at 4K. You’ll still need to read the small print to make sure that these are supported on a TV, but generally, speaker HDMI 2.1 means you’ll have compatibility with them.

HDMI port on the PS5

VVR is a feature that regulates the refresh rate as you play and without it, your TV will stay at 60Hz. Because your console is also trying to keep the rate at 60 fps, you have the maximum output even in the most demanding parts of a game and this helps to avoid ‘screen tearing’ where you see half the screen behaving differently from the other.

ALLM is only supported for the Xbox Series X for now but is expected to be introduced to the PS5 soon. ALLM is a feature that improves lag or the reaction time between you pressing a button and the action happening on screen. This especially helps during FPS titles.

HDMI 2.1 also supports 120Hz in 4K titles. While 8K is possible, there’s only a small number of titles that actually support it. 120Hz in 4K however means you’ll have a silky smooth experience every time you turn your console on all thanks to an incredibly fast refresh rate on your screen. Again, you’ll need to make sure you have an 8K TV  first.

So, do you really need an HDMI 2.1 cable for your PS5 or Xbox Series X? The short answer is no, you can use HDMI 2 however you’ll get a dramatically better picture if you do decide to upgrade. If you’ve already spent money on a next-gen console, I think it makes sense to go that bit further with a super-high-speed cable too.

About Mike Herrera

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