The High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) is a popular standard for input/output cables for audio, video, and data. HDMI cables provide various interfaces between audio and video devices connected to your computer or TV set. It can also transmit large amounts of data with outstanding performance, depending on the type of HDMI cable you’re using. In this side-by-side comparison of HDMI 2.0 vs HDMI 1.4, it’s important to keep in mind the key differences and advantages each version has.
HDMI 1.4 and HDMI 2.0 cables can be quite confusing even to tech enthusiasts because these two cables share some comparable functions, such as transmitting video signals and images at full HD and 4K resolution. HDMI 1.4 and HDMI 2.0 also have audio return channel (ARC), which allows TVs to send audio transmissions to compatible equipment like soundbars and home theaters. It becomes especially difficult to differentiate between the two because most of today’s versions don’t have letters or numbers to indicate their versions or the kind of wire they are.
This post provides a comprehensive overview of HDMI 1.4 and HDMI 2.0, how they work, their differences, and the advantages of upgrading to the later HDMI version. Let’s get into it!
HDMI 2.0 vs. HDMI 1.4: Side-by-Side Comparison
|Features||HDMI 1.4||HDMI 2.0|
|Released||May 2009||September 2013|
|Bandwidth||10.2 Gbps||18 Gbps|
|Refresh Rate||1080p @ 120Hz and 4K up to 30Hz||1080p @ 120Hz and 4K @50Hz/60Hz|
|Color Combinations||16.7 million||68.7 billion|
|Color Palettes||8-bit||10-bit or 12-bit|
HDMI 2.0 vs. HDMI 1.4: What’s the Difference?
This segment provides a comprehensive overview of the feature differences between HDMI 1.4 and HDMI 2.0. Both version upgrades have unique features and performances that set them apart, influencing your buying decision. Let’s break them down below.
One of the critical differences between HDMI 1.4 and HDMI 2.0 cables is the maximum refresh rate each cable can support. HDMI 1.4 can support refresh rates of 120 FPS at 1080p resolution or 30 FPS at 4K resolution. On the other hand, HDMI 2.0 supports up to 120 FPS at 1080p or 4K resolution at a maximum refresh rate of up to 60 FPS. As the digital industry advances, there is increased production of higher-resolution content with high refresh rates. The lower frame rate supported by the HDMI 1.4 cable may appear more blurry and choppy, especially in fast-moving scenes.
The increasing demand for HDMI cables that support higher frame rates makes HDMI 2.0 the preferred option and a necessity for watching fast-paced movies and playing games. Also, while HDMI 1.4 may support 4K video content, it does not offer the best quality. On the other hand, HDMI 2.0 does not only support 4K video but also boosts its sharpness and clarity.
If you have a TV or other sound equipment that can output 4K content at 60 FPS, you need the HDMI 2.0 version to capitalize on the higher refresh rate. On the other hand, if you have equipment that outputs 4K video at only 30 FPS, then an HDMI 1.4 would be the better option.
It is also worth mentioning that HDMI 2.0 supports other features, including High Dynamic Range (HDR) video that improves the color and contrast of image content on TV screens that support a wider color gamut to bring more lifelike colors to viewers. Consequently, other factors like the capabilities of the device’s graphics card, the capabilities of the monitor or TV, and the quality of the HDMI cable will affect the achievable refresh rate.
One of the primary differences between the HDMI 1.4 and HDMI 2.0 is the bandwidth. HDMI 1.4 can only handle bandwidths up to 10.2 Gbps. The HDMI 2.0 almost doubles this with a bandwidth of up to 18 Gbps. This increased bandwidth allows HDMI 2.0 to transfer more data. The audio signal won’t have to be compressed and has better audio quality with ARC.
Additionally, HDMI 2.0’s ability to transfer data up to 18 Gbps allows users to view 4K video content at up to 60 FPS with HDR metadata capabilities. This is why HDMI 2.0 is better equipped to popularize 4K HDR video and 4K HDR gaming.
Color Palettes and Color Depth
Another main difference you will notice while watching programming television and other audio/visual data is the color definition and picture quality. At 4K resolution, HDMI 2.0 provides a much richer and more profound color palette than HDMI 1.4.
HDMI 2.0 also delivers 10-bit and 12-bit color palettes, providing up to 68.7 billion color combinations. In contrast, HDMI 1.4 delivers only an 8-bit color pallet at 16.7 million color combinations. The bits show the amount of data that goes into each pixel color. The high color bits that can HDMI 2.0 can enable the cable to support 4K content at brighter color and helps unlock HDR.
HDMI 2.0 also got a quality upgrade in the audio department by supporting up to 32 channels at 1,536 kHz. This is a significant upgrade in the audio streaming quality of HDMI 2.0 from HDMI 1.4. HDMI 2.0’s 32-channel capability brought Dolby Atmos standard to entertainment systems like home theaters and sound bars. Users could now set up uncompressed 5.1 speaker systems and enjoy true 3D audio experiences from their homes.
In 2015, HDMI 2.0a got High Dynamic Range (HDR) support, now a standard for home entertainment systems. Today, almost all blockbuster movies and high-intense games come with HDR support. Shortly after, HDMI 2.0b added support for hybrid log gamma HDR that was made to support broadcast cable and live TV. HDMI 1.4 supports up to 8 channels at 192 kHz of compressed and uncompressed digital audio. Plus, it has support for ARC.
Types of Cables
The first HDMI cable standard for HDMI versions 1.0, 1.1, and 1.2 had a maximum data transmission rate of 4.95 Gbps. This cable supported 720p and 1080p resolutions and was used for earlier applications like satellite TVs and HDTV broadcasting. Then comes the high-speed HDMI cables that support data transfer speeds of up to 10 Gbps. HDMI 1.4 falls within this category and supports 1080p and 4K resolutions at 240Hz and 60Hz, respectively. Besides, HDMI 1.4 supports advanced display technologies like 3D and Deep Color, making it a desired option for consumers looking for deeper blacks and more vibrant colors.
The premium high-speed HDMI cables can handle bandwidths of up to 18 Gbps, allowing them to support HDR video content, expanded color spaces, and 4K resolution at 60 FPS. Premium ultra-high HDMI cables are suited for 2.0 versions. The ultra-high speed HDMI cables like the Kabeldireckt and Rocketfish 4K HDMI cables allow bandwidths of up to 48 Gbps and are ideal for HDMI 2.1 versions and up. These cables support 4K resolutions at 120Hz and 8K at 60Hz. They feature a lower electromagnetic interference and are backward compatible.
- 1 foot long
- A.I.S. Shielding
- Supports all HDMI devices like pS5, Xbox, Switch
- 8K @ 60Hz, 4K @ 120Hz
Distinguishing between HDMI cables is difficult as manufacturers hardly label them by their version. Instead, you may have to test them on your AV streaming equipment to know which HDMI version you use. HDMI cables differ in maximum bandwidth and speed, which are the main standards used to classify them and determine their versions.
If your cable is very old and you’ve used it for several years, you can assume it is an HDMI 1.4 or an earlier version. However, again, the only way of being absolutely sure is by connecting your HDMI to a TV or PC and changing your display settings. If possible, change the screen resolution to 4K, the color to full RGB, and the refresh rate to the maximum available.
At these settings, if your HDMI can transfer data smoothly, it will mean you have an HDMI version 2.0 and above. HDMI 1.4 and lower versions don’t support 4K 60Hz media. Therefore, if your HDMI does not play at these settings, it’ll mean you have an HDMI 1.4.
HDMI 2.0 vs. HDMI 1.4: 5 Must-Know Facts
- HDMI 1.4 can transmit video data at maximum resolutions of 4096 x 2160p @ 30Hz.
- HDMI 2.0 cables can transmit video data at maximum resolutions of 4096 x 2160p @ 60Hz, allowing for a much smoother motion and more level of detail.
- The Audio Return Channel (ARC) feature allows HDMI cables to send audio back from your display monitor to a soundbar or other receiver, eliminating the need for using a separate audio cable.
- HDMI 2.0 can transmit A/V data at speeds of up to 18 Gbps, while HDMI 1.4’s maximum bandwidth speeds are 10.2 Gbps.
- The High Dynamic Range feature allows HDMI-capable wires to provide a wider color range and greater image contrast.
HDMI 2.0 vs. HDMI 1.4: Which One is Better?
HDMI 1.4 cables are great for watching movies and shows. However, new audio and video content are being made at higher frame rates and resolutions than what HDMI 1.4 wires can handle. This makes HDMI 2.0 the better-suited option to keep in mind during purchase and use. Additionally, HDMI 2.0 cables are also backward compatible with HDMI 1.4-supported devices. However, HDMI 1.4 cables will not support all features available to HDMI 2.0 devices.
Therefore, you always want to go for the latest version of cables to avoid compatibility issues in the future. HDMI 2.0 is the clear choice for consumers looking for the best possible audio and video quality. While HDMI 1.4 may be a solid option for some users, you may not enjoy all the features provided by later cable versions.
It is also worth mentioning that HDMI 2.1 is now available and offers even more performance and feature improvements over HDMI 2.0. However, HDMI 2.1 is still rare and relatively expensive, making HDMI 2.0 a solid option for most users for now.