HDMI Versions: The Differences That Matters

July 24, 2022 9 min read

HDMI versions

There are currently more than 7 different HDMI versions available. With each new iteration, HDMI gets more sophisticated, enabling it to perform complex functions. This read touches on the key points which have made HDMI belittle DVI and VGA. You’ll consume all important information related to HDMI versions, which one suits your need, and what to check before investing in any gear having an in-built HDMI port. It’ll also discuss why HDMI 1.0 is lazy, and what has energized HDMI 2.1.

But telling you about features without throwing light on the never-explained concept of Color Space won't do justice to your valuable time. Because Color Space has made a simple HDMI, the HDMI (all-powerful and most desiring).

But before that let's look at how an HDMI adds flavor to an otherwise boring life.


Uses Of HDMI Version: A Daily Life Example

Introduced in 2008, HDMI spontaneously spread in all walks of life. It would not be wrong to assert that HDMI has turbo-charged innovations in the advertising, entertainment,and gaming industry. 

Just imagine you are sitting at some fancy cafe located in New York Time Square surrounded by hundreds of digital screens–reflecting advertisements– on colossal screens in HIGH DEFINITION

You pull your laptop out and check your Email. Suddenly, your lips stretch wider as your mobile vibrates, notifying you that your Xbox is delivered by a courier company (and the package contains HDMI 2.1 cable).  

You hurriedly run home and hastily plug out Roku’s HDMI cable to create extra space for your Xbox. Now with high-tech gadgets stationed in the cabinet, your fun hour can begin at your whims. 

HD principles

So, you are always exposed to HD videos, screens working on HD principles, and gadgets carrying HDMI ports and connectors. 

To say that you are witnessing historic moments in the A/V industry would not be a lofty statement. 

In short, High-Definition videos and screens are bringing pleasure to the otherwise robotic 9-5 monotonous and dull routines of an average person. It has Stuff colors on the screen. But how the Color phenomenon operates in HDMI?


Color Space: HDMI Facilitating Spatial Video Formats (3D)

When it comes to colors, there are endless possibilities. Although there is three primary colors Red, Green, and Blue (RGB), there are millions of shades they create. 

 If you mix two colors, a new shade will be born. This process can generate thousands of shades, within one single color. So, to simplify things, each color has been given a unique number or address. Why? 

Because numbers are something humans and machines can agree on. Thus, every color has a different number.  For example, code for Bule is 0,0,255. 
But as this codification advances, colors are represented in a spatial format with 3D X, Y, and Z Coordinate. This novel arrangement of RGB is known as color space.And every latest HDMI standard has paid full attention to increasing color space.

color space

Another feature of HDMI cable, especially of HDMI 2.1, is Display Stream Compression (DSC). This feature has provided HDMI the muscles to take the load of 8k video. Moreover, DSC has skyrocketed the gaming industry because of its ability to display weighty screen resolutions

I will soon talk about the role of DSC in HDMI. For now, it is necessary to explain DSC in the most straightforward words.


Stream Compression (DSC): How Does It Help Get Better Video?

As you will explore in this read, HDMI handles all data digitally, and, thus, needs more Bandwidth to carry hefty information. But, much to our dismay, the most advanced version of HDMI can’t handle more than 48 Gbps.

 So, DSC technology was used to compress data to display 4k@144 Hz without losing clarity and color depth. Although DSC had been a crucial feature of Display Port, its introduction to HDMI provided the latter a technological edge. 


What is HDMI: the First Choice for All Tech Makers?

High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) is the most cutting-edge technology in the Audio/Video industry. It has aggressively replaced VGA and DVI. HDMI sends a digital signal that speedily reaches from the source to your display device without any speed breakers. 

Besides speed, there are two more factors that have made HDMI and all its versions invincible. 

How to Use USB-C to HDMI Cable for Best Performance


Indeed, you can experience 4k and 8k videos with HDMI. But, if you don't know how to strike a perfect harmony between your TV and HDMI type (or version), you may end up wasting your money. 

If you want to know the magic a HDMI Switch and Splitter can do for you, here is your read HDMI Switch and Splitters.

Which HDMI Version support 4k and 8k
Difference between 4k and 8k


What Is Exactly a High Definition (HD) Picture, Video, or Motion?

If any video or image is to pass the HD test, it must have 720 pixels or greater. Any display lower than 720 pixels is considered as Standard Definition. As you read, you’ll also be able to explore the precise science of how Pixels can boost your visual experience.  

Take a look at the image below for a visual understanding of how HD Images add crispness and clarity to the display. 

HDMI Vs Standard Display
HD display Vs standard display



But, tapping the unimaginable visual and audio power which HDMI offers is not as easy as you may think. Your TV must be compatible with a relevant HDMI cable and must support its compatible version. 

Since there are different versions of HDMI, every version performs its unique function. Listed Below are HDMI versions with their specs.



All About Different Versions of HDMI 

As of today, more than 7 versions of HDMI have been released. With each succeeding version, HDMI is becoming advanced. 

Before HDMI 1.0, only DVI was available for the video interface. The following limitations of DVI have been responsible for its gradual elimination.

  • The lower data rate of up to 9.9 Gbit/sec
  • Supports maximum resolution only up to 3840 x 2400
  • Couldn't exceed more than 30Hz

HDMI 1.0, on the other hand, has one big advantage. Unlike DVI, this version of HDMI was equipped to transfer audio and video, simultaneously. 

Also, HDMI 1.0 made it possible to watch videos in 1080p at 60 Frames Per Second.

One of the most glaring features of HDMI, which also paved the way for the success of other versions of HDMI was that it could support up to 4.5 Gbps and 4k resolution


HDMI Version 1.1
Released in 2002, HDMI 1.0 received a public attack for its incapacity. It couldn't carry a high-quality DVD audio signal format. In short, HDMI version 1.1 introduced smaller changes to the digital specifications of HDMI 1.0.


HDMI Version 1.2 (big hit)
The emerging technologies especially CD players or SACD and PCs were reaching every knock and corner of the world–and HDMI 1.1 failed to handle SACD transmission. This called for urgent modification of the previous version. 

The Following Features Are Added in HDMI 1.2

  • Super Audio CD (SACD) content can now be transmitted natively at up to 8 channels, thanks to the addition of DSD (Direct Stream Digital) capability.
  • Enabled an HDMI Type A connector for PC-based sources.  
  • PC sources were allowed to use the YCbCr color space for consumer electronics applications, with the option to support the native RGBcolor system as well.


    HDMI Version 1.3 / 1.3a

    The introduction of Blu-ray Disc and HD-DVD sparked the need for improvements in existing HDMI standards. Version 1.2 did support color space, but they were not ready to tackle the ever-increasing boost in the Color Space phenomenon and data transfer rate. So, HDMI version 1.3 was launched to support wider color support and faster data transfer (up to 10.2 Gbps).The other significant features are noted below.
      • Advance Audio Support:Version 1.3 landed in a market with a full capacity to support Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby True HD, and DTS-HD Master Audio Surround sound audio support. 
      • Lip Sync Accuracy:A Lip Sync function in HDMI version 1.3 provides automatic tweaks to the device’s audio process efficiency and solves audio/video timing inaccuracies.
      • Innovation: It introduced a mini- connector to accommodate cameras and camcorders. 
      • Resolution: Bear resolution above 1080p but below 4k.
      • Color Depth:increased color Depth up to 16 bits per channel.


    HDMI Version 1.4 / 1.4a

    Introduced in May 2009, HDMI version 1.4 offered increased bandwidth (10.2 G/bit/s), improved resolution, and enhanced color quality. 

    Resolution: Added support for 4096 x 2160 at 24 Hz, 3840 x 2160 at 30 Hz, 1440 at 60 Hz, and 1080p up to 120 Hz.

    HDMI Ethernet: for the first time in HDMI history, ethernet was introduced. It was a big step toward the realization of a long-held promise, one cable for all.

    Video Medium: Unlike VGA, DVI, and HDMI standards until 1.3, version 1.4 has explicit support for 3Dvideos and motions.  Support for 3D formats that could be utilized in TV broadcasts, cable, and satellite feeds has been included in an upgrade 1.4a. Also, by enabling the transfer of 3D video at 120 Hz, HDMI 1.4b skyrocketed 3D functionality (60 Hz per eye).

    Audio return channel (ARC): HDMI Arc connects your TV and audio system with a single High-Speed HDMI cable, thereby eliminating the need for a separate audio cable.

    Color Support: Added support for new Color spaces.


    HDMI Version 2.0

    HDMI isn't popular in that it transmits both audio and video signals. Enhancement of the quality of the audio as well as the visual experience was the laser-focused target. 

    Because nothing more than a signal interruption, video lagging, and bad sound can cause impatience when you are at the climax of your entertainment. 

    HDMI 2.0 came to battle this shortcoming which received no attention in previous versions.

    It was manufactured to handle heavy data coming from your internet, streaming devices, gaming console, or Blu-ray player. Therefore, HDMI 2.0 landed in the market with strong digital muscles as it has to bear an enormous amount of A/V data. So, what has made HDMI the all-powerful?  

    Bandwidth: Version 2.0 has a maximum bandwidth of 18 Gbit/s.


    Resolutions: Higher bandwidth enabled HDMI to 4k@60Hz with 24 bit/px color depth.
    Later, small changes were made in the form of HDMI version 2.0 a/b to inject support for High Dynamic Range Video (HDR).


    Audio Channels: Can easily manage up to 32 extreme surround formats including Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, and Auro 3D audio.


    Dual Video Stream: potentially deliver two independent video streams (HDMI switch Vs Splitter) for synchronous viewing.


    But when do you need HDMI Version 2.0?

    If you want 4k@60 Hz with fully impressive sound, beautiful lip-sync, and near to ZERO video lagging, you need an HDMI 2.0. Even your 144Hz monitor will lose the quality of display if it's not connected with HDMI 2.0 (at the least). To explore the major differences between HDMI 1.4 and 2.0, You can check the following link.


    144 Hz image on monitor


    HDMI Version 2.1

    Version 2.1 not only exploded with up-gradation of features introduced in the previous version but also introduced a whole new category of cables, known as ULTRA HIGH-SPEED HDMI Cables

    Version 2.1 is also optimized for Gaming specific features. The use of Data Streaming Compression (DSC) technology made it loved by all gaming enthusiasts. With HDMI 2.1, you won't face screen tearing and tottering. 

    HDMI cable for gaming
    HDMI 2.1 stops screen tearing


    The crazy features offered by HDMI 2.1 are

    Resolutions: It supports 4k@120Hz and 8k@60Hz.

    Bandwidth: Impressive Bandwidth of 48 Gbps ensures the faster transfer of data into each pixel. 

    Auto Low Latency Mode: This tells your TV that you’re playing a video game, automatically turning it over to low latency game mode. 

    Variable Refresh Rate: It keeps your refresh rate in tune with the supported device frame rate (all-new console support VRR). 


    What should you be looking for before buying an ULTRA HIGH-SPEED HDMI CABLE?

    A true and certified HDMI Ultra-High-Speed Cable must provide 4k@120Hz. Also, there should be no screen blackouts and sparkles. 

    But if your gaming console, or any other source device is stationed at a certain distance, then choosing a cable that ensures signal integrity at a higher length is crucial. 

    Also, the length of the cable has a direct link with the quality of video you see on screen. Too, the HDMI cable that comes with Xbox series X is about 2m long.

    While a cable that is shipped with Sony PS5 is 1.5 m long. This indicated both these devices work best when they are operated with a given set of tools, especially cables. There is one more reason you may not tap the 4K potential on-screen.


    Getting 4K graphics on Xbox X Series

    A mediocre cable would touch its threshold at mere 1080p. After the settings are changed to 4k from the Xbox, the screen would kill the display. In case you see a damaged display, the need for cable replacement is urgent. Therefore, to easily get 4k on the screen you only need a reliable HDMI 2.1 cableBut can a polished graphics without ideal sound give you the best of both worlds?

    HDMI ARC Vs Optical: How to Get Best Sound? 👈 Tap to explore.


    When Should You Change HDMI Cable?

    • Intermittent image blackout
    • Complete loss of image 
    • Fail to transmit signal 
    • Image dropping 
    • Discoloration
    • Bad sound


    HDMI Versions: The Bottom Line

    HDMI and all its versions have been launched to meet the need of the day. While HDMI 1.0 was mainly introduced to carry A/V signals in one cable, HDMI 2.1 has taken the visual experience to the extreme. If you track this straightforward trend of improved versions of HDMI, you will notice it's just the beginning. 


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