HDMI 2.1 revolutionizes gaming and movie experiences. We explain what this is all about and what to look out for.

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Accelerated by the corona pandemic, more and more films are migrating from the cinema into our own four walls. Therefore, there is a high demand for screens and monitors that can play high-resolution videos and films. When it comes to ultra-sharp images, HDMI has the edge. The technology itself is not new, but it is constantly evolving to future-proof our display devices. The latest development is HDMI 2.1.

In the following article we explain what exactly distinguishes HDMI 2.1 from its predecessors and how gamers can benefit from it. We have a variety of ViewSonic ELITE monitors with HDMI 2.1 available on our website.

Before we dive into HDMI 2.1 specifications, however, it’s useful to understand what HDMI is. HDMI stands for High-Definition Multimedia Interface and is the standard for transmitting high-definition video and audio over a single cable. It is mainly used to connect devices such as TVs, DVD players, presentation displays, monitors and game consoles such as Xbox and Playstation.

What is HDMI 2.1

HDMI 2.1 is the latest generation of this technology and offers a variety of improvements. A compatible cable or a high-speed HDMI cable is required to take full advantage of HDMI 2.1 features.

HDMI 2.1_port

What do you need an HDMI 2.1 monitor for?

More bandwidth

The move from HDMI 2.0 to 2.1 brings with it a significantly increased bandwidth from 18Gbps to 48Gbps, meaning data transfer speeds are significantly faster. This makes it possible to transmit 10K resolutions and refresh rates of up to 120 Hz.

You can think of an HDMI cable as a kind of bridge over a river. The more stable the bridge is, the more people can explain the bridge at the same time. The HDMI 2.1 cable is currently the ultimate in bridges and is also suitable for very data-intensive applications such as next-gen consoles.

Higher resolutions and faster refresh rates

The era of 4K screens seems to be ending before it has even really begun. With the new HDMI 2.1, resolutions of up to 10K are possible. Although there is currently a lack of 8K content, the standard will increase rapidly, making 4K an outdated technology.

Another advantage of HDMI 2.1 is faster refresh rates of up to 120 Hz. This improves the viewing experience for sports broadcasts, action films and games and ensures that every image is displayed in pin-sharp detail.

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Dynamic HDR

High Dynamic Range (HDR) is a display technology that revolutionizes the way video content is played by making brightness and color far more realistic. The contrast range is expanded beyond normal levels, making blacks darker and whites lighter. However, it only works with one setting for all images.

Dynamic HDR, like its namesake, adaptively improves image quality frame by frame. Thanks to the higher bandwidth, a display with HDMI 2.1 enables dynamic HDR for a detailed visual experience.

Other innovative features

Enhanced Audio Return Channel (eARC) is the next generation of ARC. This is a transmission that sends high-quality image and sound files from an output device to an external soundbar via a display. It eliminates the need for a separate optical audio cable and eliminates the need for multiple cables.

The expanded bandwidth of HDMI 2.1 enables playback of more advanced audio formats. This makes it possible to process up to 7.1 channels and even supports Dolby TrueHD, DTS-HD Master Audio and Dolby Atmos. This improves the overall audio quality, resulting in stunning surround sound, and enhances the user experience when watching a movie or playing a game.

Another feature is Variable Refresh Rate (VRR), a technology that automatically adjusts the display’s refresh rate to match the output device’s refresh rate. This aspect is of crucial importance for video games, since different amounts of data flow depending on the game situation. If the output device cannot withstand the load, unwanted delays, stuttering and image dropouts can disrupt the gaming experience. HDMI 2.1 allows for a more dynamic refresh rate of up to 144Hz, preventing screen tearing for smoother, stutter-free gameplay.

HDMI 2.1 also features Quick Frame Transport (QFT), which reduces display latency. Latency is the time it takes for the output device to transport, process, and display an image on the screen. The longer it lasts, the more delayed the player can react to events. QFT speeds up the transfer rate and ensures that every single reaction is transferred to the screen in real time.

Speaking of latencies: the new generation of HDMI also enables the so-called Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM) to be used. This will automatically detect when a screen is being used for gaming and then turn on gaming mode. This enables sharper images, deeper contrasts and more vivid colors for the best possible gaming performance.

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Last but not least, the new generation HDMI monitors feature Quick Media Switching (QMS). Let’s imagine the following scenario: you are playing a game and want to switch to a live stream. However, your screen will remain black for a few seconds when switching. This happens because the screen needs time to re-sync and adapt to the different resolutions and frame rates. QMS fixes this problem and gives you the ability to switch between watching TV and gaming without losing precious seconds.

What is the impact of HDMI 2.1 on gaming?

HDMI 2.1 monitors are designed for the next generation of console and virtual reality gaming, offering excellent compatibility and connectivity with Xbox Series X and Playstation 5. They play well with high-end graphics cards like the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3090 and RTX 3080. They offer high color fidelity and pixel-precise precision.

With so many gaming-specific features, it’s clear why an HDMI 2.1 monitor is ideal for gamers. The advantages of HDMI 2.1 really come into their own when gaming. 4K games can run smoothly at 120 frames per second, and gamers can enjoy a smooth, immersive gaming experience. The latest PS5 and Xbox Series X are capable of playing 8K games. This is possible without any problems thanks to the increased bandwidth and refresh rate.

Final Thoughts

All in all, HDMI 2.1 is above all a forward-looking innovation. We will also experience the best and sharpest images and the clearest sound in perspective. Console gamers can take full advantage of displays with HDMI 2.1 technology and enjoy many features such as blazing fast refresh rates and ultra-low latency.

For even more input gaming monitors, our ultimate guide to choosing the right monitor is the perfect choice. On our website we also present the ViewSonic ELITE monitors, which, among many other excellent features, are also equipped with HDMI 2.1.

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