Hi there! If you‘re researching HDMI cables trying to decide between version 1.4 and 2.0, I‘m going to help break down the key differences and what the advantages are of upgrading to HDMI 2.0. This will allow you to choose the right HDMI standard for your audio/video setup.
Let‘s start with a quick overview of how these two HDMI versions compare:
HDMI 1.4 vs 2.0: Key Specs Comparison
|Spec||HDMI 1.4||HDMI 2.0|
|Max Bandwidth||10.2 Gbps||18 Gbps|
|Max Audio Channels||8||32|
As you can see, HDMI 2.0 offers some nice improvements over 1.4, especially when it comes to bandwidth, 4K support, and HDR capability.
But what do these differences actually mean and why should you upgrade? Let‘s explore some of the key advantages of moving to HDMI 2.0.
More Bandwidth for Better 4K Support
One of the biggest differences between HDMI 1.4 and 2.0 is bandwidth, or the amount of data that can be transferred per second.
HDMI 1.4 tops out at 10.2 Gbps, while HDMI 2.0 nearly doubles that at 18 Gbps.
This increased bandwidth has a direct impact on the maximum resolutions and frame rates that can be achieved.
With HDMI 1.4, you are limited to 1080p video at 120 Hz or 4K at 30 Hz. This 4K/30 Hz performance is workable, but less than ideal, especially for gaming and live sports where lag and choppiness can be an issue.
By contrast, HDMI 2.0‘s extra bandwidth means it can handle 4K video at a full 60 Hz. This results in much smoother motion and more fluid gameplay.
In fact, statistics show that HDMI 2.0 is rapidly being adopted to support higher resolution displays:
- 4K TV household adoption reached over 25% by the end of 2019
- Over 80% of all TVs shipped in 2019 supported 4K
- Console and PC gaming at 4K 60 FPS is on the rise
This means HDMI 2.0 and its ability to transmit uncompressed 4K video at higher frame rates is becoming a baseline requirement for both consumers and manufacturers.
Bottom line, if you want to enjoy 4K gaming or video at the highest quality settings, HDMI 2.0 is the way to go. The improved bandwidth and support for 4Kp60 makes a huge difference.
Unlocking the Potential of HDR
In addition to increased resolution, HDMI 2.0 also enables High Dynamic Range (HDR) video support.
HDR substantially improves picture quality by expanding the range of brightness levels and colors that can be displayed. The result is greater contrast, vivid colors, and more detail in both bright and dark scenes.
Once you see an HDR TV or display in person, the difference compared to standard dynamic range (SDR) is really striking. Content seems to leap off the screen with added depth and realism.
However, HDR‘s expanded color palette requires more bandwidth to process and display all that additional data. HDMI 1.4 lacks the horsepower, topping out at 32 Gbps throughput.
Fortunately, HDMI 2.0 has enough overhead with its 48 Gbps bandwidth to fully support HDR signals. This paved the way for UHD Blu-ray, streaming services like Netflix and Prime Video, console gaming, and cable/satellite broadcasts to embrace HDR.
Here‘s a look at the rapid growth of HDR:
In 2016, there were only an estimated 100,000 households with HDR displays
By 2019, that number skyrocketted to over 25 million households as 4K and HDR TV prices dropped
HDR compatible TVs made up over 75% of all TV sales in 2019
It‘s clear HDR is quickly going mainstream. And with its HDR support, HDMI 2.0 provides future-proofing to take advantage of this growing trend in video technology for years to come.
Expanded Audio Capabilities
Beyond improvements to video, HDMI 2.0 also enhances audio transmission and enables immersive sound formats.
HDMI 1.4 supports up to 8 channels of uncompressed audio at 192 kHz sample rate. This is fine for basic 5.1 or 7.1 surround sound setups.
But HDMI 2.0 increases the maximum number of audio channels to a whopping 32. This allows advanced surround sound formats like Dolby Atmos and DTS:X to be delivered in full fidelity over HDMI 2.0 connections.
These object-based sound formats place audio elements in a 3D space for a deeply immersive listening experience. With speakers placed all around you, including height channels, it‘s like being in the middle of the action.
HDMI 2.0 has enough bandwidth to transmit the multiple, uncompressed audio streams needed for a true theater-like experience at home.
Adoption of Dolby Atmos and DTS:X has been swift:
- Over 200 Dolby Atmos and DTS:X capable Blu-ray discs were released in 2019
- Netflix, Disney+ and other streaming services are creating immersive audio content
- Home theater A/V receivers from Denon, Yamaha, and others widely support these formats
If you want to setup an advanced surround sound system and enjoy the latest immersive audio, HDMI 2.0 is a must.
HDMI Cable and Connector Types
When it comes to cables, the good news is HDMI cables are backwards compatible. So you can use HDMI 2.0 cables with older HDMI 1.4 devices.
However, you‘ll still be limited by the maximum capabilities of the HDMI 1.4 hardware. To fully unlock what HDMI 2.0 offers, you need both devices and cables designed for HDMI 2.0.
The HDMI consortium defines different cable types based on their rated bandwidth:
- Standard HDMI – Up to 1080p at 60 Hz
- High Speed HDMI – Up to 1080p at 120 Hz or 4K at 30 Hz
- Premium High Speed HDMI – Up to 4K at 60 Hz with HDR
For HDMI 2.0, a Premium High Speed Certified cable is required. These cables utilize higher quality materials and construction to maintain signal integrity at 18 Gbps speeds.
While cheaper cables may seem to work initially, transmission errors and other issues are more likely which could impact picture and sound quality. Investing in a Premium Certified HDMI 2.0 cable ensures peak performance.
The connectors are also different between the cable types. Standard HDMI uses Type A connectors while High Speed uses Type B connectors. HDMI 2.0 uses Type C connectors rated for higher bandwidth.
So when buying cables, look for the Premium High Speed Certification and Type C connectors to guarantee full HDMI 2.0 compatibility.
Key Features and Benefits of HDMI 2.0
To quickly summarize, here are some of the most important features and benefits of upgrading to HDMI 2.0 compared with HDMI 1.4:
- 4K support at 60 Hz
- High Dynamic Range (HDR)
- Wider color gamut (Rec. 2020)
- 32 audio channels
- 21:9 aspect ratio
- 600 MHz TMDS clock
- Smoother 4K gaming and video playback
- More vivid colors and enhanced contrast
- Immersive audio with Dolby Atmos/DTS:X
- Eliminates 4K display compatibility issues
- Future-proof for 8K and beyond
Bottom line, for the absolute finest visuals and audio, HDMI 2.0 is the new gold standard.
Do You Need to Upgrade Your HDMI Cables?
Whether or not you need to upgrade to HDMI 2.0 cables depends on the devices you‘re using and the type of content you want to watch or play.
If you only have 1080p TVs and monitors, then HDMI 1.4 is generally sufficient. But if you have a new 4K television and want to enjoy 4K games or movies at the highest settings, HDMI 2.0 is the way to go.
Likewise, if you care about HDR picture quality or immersive surround sound, then HDMI 2.0 is recommended.
But you don‘t necessarily have to swap out all your HDMI cables immediately. Here are some quick guidelines on when to upgrade:
Stick with HDMI 1.4 if:
- You only have 1080p or lower resolution displays
- You are fine with 4K at 30 Hz
- You don‘t care about HDR or advanced audio
- You aren‘t planning to upgrade your hardware soon
Consider upgrading to HDMI 2.0 if:
- You have a new 4K TV and want 4K at 60 Hz
- You care about quality and want the best HDR experience
- You‘re interested in Dolby Atmos/DTS:X surround sound
- You plan to buy new gear like a PS5 or Xbox Series X
The good news is even cheap AmazonBasic HDMI cables are fine for HDMI 2.0 in most cases. As long as they have the Premium High Speed certification, you don‘t need to splurge for fancy gold-plated cables.
I suggest upgrading your cables one at a time as needed. For example, when you buy your new 4K TV or game console, get a new HDMI 2.0 cable to go with it. Over time, you‘ll transition fully to HDMI 2.0.
HDMI 2.1 Is on the Horizon
There‘s also a new version, HDMI 2.1, on the horizon that brings even more enhancements.
Key features of HDMI 2.1 include:
- Up to 10K resolution
- 4K at 120 Hz
- 8K at 60 Hz
- Dynamic HDR (adjusts HDR on-the-fly)
- eARC (enhanced audio return channel)
However, HDMI 2.1 is still making its way into hardware. There are few devices available today that can fully take advantage of these capabilities.
So for most people in the near term, HDMI 2.0 offers the ideal blend of new features at a reasonable price. You‘ll be set for all the latest TVs, game consoles, soundbars, receivers, and more.
Down the road, you can upgrade again to HDMI 2.1 once 8K TVs and displays become more common. But HDMI 2.0 will serve you well for many years to come.
The Bottom Line
While HDMI 1.4 has been great, HDMI 2.0 delivers tangible improvements, especially for home theater enthusiasts.
If you care about visual quality and performance, with 4K at 60p, HDR, and wider color gamuts, HDMI 2.0 is the clear choice. It really ups the ante for both video gaming and movies.
And with expanded immersive audio capabilities, HDMI 2.0 enhances your listening experience as well.
Upgrading to Premium Certified HDMI 2.0 cables ensures you can achieve the full potential of the latest TVs, monitors, projectors, sound systems, consoles, Blu-ray players, and streaming devices.
In the world of ever-advancing display technology, HDMI 2.0 provides more bandwidth and features to enjoy cutting-edge 4K HDR entertainment for years to come.
I hope this overview has helped explain the key differences between HDMI 1.4 and 2.0. Let me know if you have any other questions!