HDMI 2.1 is the new version of the commonly used HDMI cable for display connectivity. It is the only HDMI version that supports 4K resolution with 120Hz refresh rate and 8K resolution with 60Hz.
In this articles, we will take a look at the improvements HDMI 2.1 has over the older versions, and we will review the best HDMI 2.1 monitors on the market for gaming and productivity.
Update: ASUS, Philips and Acer have unveiled new HDMI 2.1 monitors at CES 2021.
We are keeping track of all upcoming HDMI 2.1 monitors with their release dates and expected prices, read more below.
Many users may not be aware but there are actually many version of the HDMI cable that is used in many TVs and computer monitors.
The main reason why most people isn't ware is that, all of these versions use the same physical connector, and they are backwards compatible.
The shape and the size of the connector is exactly the same and you can't tell the version of the HDMI port or the cable just by looking at it.
This is actually very convenient as you can use any generation device with any generation cable, so It doesn't force you to upgrade or buy new cables or devices.
On the other hand, It could be a bit confusing for the consumers as most people don't even know that there are different versions and all of these versions have different capabilities.
That is why first we should clarify the versions on the market, and which ones are currently used before diving deeper in to the subject.
HDMI 1.0 is initially released in 2002 and over the years many things have changed. It currently has three different versions on the market, and these are:
Between the first release of HDMI in 2002 and the 1.4 version in 2009, HDMI has been updated almost every year with minor changes. Version 1.1 in 2003, version 1.2 in 2004 and version 1.3 in 2006.
There is a reason why version 1.4 took 3 additional years to be released, and it version changed a lost more than the previous 3 updates of the HDMI standard.
And this brings to one of our main topics of HDMI bandwidth which we need to simplify before comparing the different version of the HDMI cable.
Monitors and TVs display the visuals by painting pictures on to the screen. This is done very quickly which ends up tricking our brain to connect to dots between those pictures.
The rate that monitor displays a single picture or a frame is called the refresh rate or frame rate. This is a critical spec especially for gamers.
Higher the refresh rate, the transition between each picture is going to feel smoother and the experience will be better for the user.
However this is where the problem starts. Similarly sending picture over an internet, the more frames you send, It requires more data to be transferred.
This is exactly what is happening between the computer's graphics card and the monitors. Since this is done through the cable between the computer and the monitors, now It's all about the capacity of the cable, similarly the capacity of the Internet.
This data capacity of the cable is called the bandwidth of the HDMI connectivity. Basically, every version of HDMI standard has different bandwidth, in other words different data capacity.
The newer versions of the cable is capable of transmitting more data, meaning more frames per second, which means smoother and higher quality graphics for the user.
This was the main change between the previous HDMI versions and the version 1.4. It practically doubled the capacity of the cable from 4.95 Gbps to 10.2 Gbps.
Very similar to sending more pictures over a short period of time, another thing that requires more data capacity is sending higher quality pictures.
This is also one of the specs that is defined by the HDMI standard, and improves over time with newer versions of the connectivity.
For example HDMI version 1.4 also improved the maximum screen resolution and unlike the previous versions HDMI version 1.4 can support, 4096x2160p resolution.
That means HDMI version 1.4 supported DCI 4K resolution in 2009, almost 11 years ago, very impressive.
Different consumer segments demand different specs. For example, TV users might want higher resolution as the TVs become bigger and bigger.
On the other hand, gamers might prioritizes refresh rate of their screen as they prefer a smaller higher frame rate monitors.
However both of these requirements actually need the same data capacity to be higher.
HDMI 2.1 is a relatively newer standard, and It might take some time for monitor and display manufacturers to adapt this new technology in to their products.
However as the new gaming consoles and new graphics cards are already being released with HDMI 2.1, some of the display manufacturers already launched monitors with the new HDMI port.
On January of 2021 at CES conference, Acer unveiled It's upcoming monitors, and the spotlight was on the HDMI 2.1 gaming monitor that was rumored.
In addition to unveiling Acer XV282K KV 28-Inch HDMI 2.1 gaming monitor, Acer announced all the details of this new monitor.
The detailed post from Acer, promises May release for this HDMI 2.1 gaming monitor and the price is specified as 899 USD.
This new monitor has IPS panel and It is certified as DisplayHDR 600 for the color quality. Additionally, It comes with built-in dual speakers and 3.5 AUX port.
On 5th of August, Asus announced that they will release three brand new HDMI 2.1 capable monitors.
Initially, Asus ROG HDMI 2.1 monitor pop up on the Chinese retail market with the model name PG32UQX, but that listing was quickly removed from the website.
However, very quickly Asus argued that Asus ROG PG32UQX doesn't have HDMI 2.1 port, and Asus' U.S. Web site doesn't include HDMI 2.1 support for that monitor either.
We are not sure if Asus decided to change the model name and delay the release or the initial leak wasn't correct. Even though we know that they are releasing a HDMI 2.1 monitor, we are still not clear about the model of this monitor. There is a recent discussion about this monitor on Reddit as well.
These monitors will be part of ASUS's gaming brand called ROG (Republic of Gamers) and will feature gaming specific features for greater experience.
Even though there aren't many technical details within the press release, It has been mentioned that monitors will be available in three sizes: 27, 32 and 43 Inch ultrawide.
Another monitor manufacturer that has unofficially announced their new HDMI 2.1 monitor is ViewSonic in September.
ViewSonic has been introducing affordable yet competitive gaming monitors in 2020, and this new HDMI 2.1 monitor will also be part of their Elite product-line
This new ViewSonic Elite XG320U is first spotted on their regional Russian website, and includes all the technical specs of the monitor.
Unlike some of the other HDMI 2.1 monitors that we listed here, this monitor is 32-Inch with 4K resolution, and It is capable of 144Hz refresh rate with AMD FreeSync Premium Pro support.
The release date for ViewSonic XG320U is still not certain, and unlike Acer's HDMI 2.1 monitor, ViewSonic isn't taking pre-orders yet, so we expect this monitor to be released second quarter of 2021.
In August 2019, Philips announced their upcoming HDMI 2.1 Monitor. This monitor is from their Momentum series of Monitors.
It was expected that the monitor was going to be available in mid-2020, however Philips decided to wait until the next gen gaming consoles were out.
On December 16th, Philips Momentum 329M1RV (USB-C gaming monitor) is appeared on the Chinese retail store and taking pre-orders with ¥ 10999 (approximately $1,680) payment.
We believe that the same panel will be used in the HDMI 2.1 version of this monitor, so make sure the check out the Chinese listing to get a better idea of what could be the specs of Philips Momentum 328M1R.
As expected this is a 4K resolution 120Hz refresh rate monitor with 32-Inch size with a flat panel, which gamers are looking forward to.
Philips stated the release is expected in early 2021 and the anticipated price tag is around $699.
EVE, one of these new and upcoming brands that focus on gaming technology and monitors, announced that they have a brand new monitor coming up with incredible specs.
Monitor is called EVE Spectrum, and EVE is claiming that monitor has 240Hz of refresh rate with 1440p resolutions.
EVE Spectrum is certified by AMD as AMD FreeSync Premium Pro level for AMD's variable refresh rate technology.