If you are building a PC, one of the things that you should know is how many PCI-E cables do you need. In this article, you will know everything you need to know about PCI-E cables including its types.
Playing video games on a high-resolution monitor is worth the extra money. Many gamers, especially budget gamers, would cheap out on the monitor because they want to start gaming ASAP.
However, seasoned veterans know that to enjoy the best gaming experience, a good monitor is essential. Having 4K levels of real estate for your eyes that’s also able to produce better colors with a faster response rate is a hundred times better than your 1080p 60Hz gaming monitor. (especially if you want to “git gud”)
When it comes to connecting your GPU to the monitor, HDMI cables and DisplayPorts are the go-to standards. However, most gamers use HDMI cables, because of their versatility, and sometimes, they have trouble figuring out the HDMI cable’s version.
So how to tell if HDMI cable is 2.0? You can easily find out if your HDMI cable is 2.0, by connecting your cable to a TV or monitor and setting the display settings to 4K at 60 Hz. If the monitor/TV can display this 4K resolution and refresh rate without any issues, then you’ve got a 2.0 or 2.1 HDMI cable on your hands.
But do you even need HDMI 2.0? Depending on your GPU, maybe not. So to help you get familiar with these issues, I’m going to talk about several topics such as:
I hope you got at least one working monitor because we are going to do some reading.
HDMI cables are here to stay. They can transfer audio and video at higher bandwidths and they are supported by a variety of devices. Unlike DisplayPorts which are only built for PCs.
Almost every video game console, TV, camera, and any other device that needs to transmit audio/video use HDMI as their go-to interface. There are various sizes and versions of HDMI ports/cables that can be perfectly optimized for any given application, making them one of the most widely used display interfaces.
Unfortunately, the issue right now is that it’s not easy to differentiate between HDMI 2.0 and HDMI 1.4 because the HDMI standard doesn’t provide any labels or physical differences between these two.
So if you are having trouble figuring out the HDMI version of the cable you use, fear not, because this simple guide will show you how to identify a 2.0 HDMI cable.
Please note that this guide is intended to be run on a PC with a dedicated GPU and Windows 10 OS.
If you are certain that your TV or monitor can handle 4K at 60 Hz, then it’s your HDMI cable that’s bottlenecking. It’s probably an older 1.4 version cable because HDMI 2.0 can fully support 4K at 60 Hz.
In this article, we are talking about HDMI version 2.0. However, there are several versions of HDMI cables out there, not just version 1.0 and 2.0.
So in this section, I’m going to talk a little about each HDMI version – as of right now, there are seven versions – and their compatible resolutions/refresh rates.
HDMI 1.0/1.1: The first version of HDMI cables. Right off the bat, these supported 720p and 1080p resolutions at a refresh rate of 60 Hz. Not bad, but the older VGA cable was also capable of delivering 60 Hz on a 1080p display, so it’s not much of an advantage.
HDMI 1.2: In this version, they raised the stakes with 720p resolution supporting 140 Hz and bringing in 1440p resolution at 30 Hz. This is quite a significant improvement.
HDMI 1.3/1.4: The first HDMI version to support 4K resolution at 30 Hz. It also featured ARC (Audio Return Channel) which helped improve sound quality and latency of external home theater systems, while also reducing the number of cables needed to connect a TV to an external home theater/soundbar.
HDMI 2.0: The cream of the crop, this bad boy is capable of delivering 4K at 60 Hz, 5K at 30 Hz, and 1440p at 120Hz. HDMI 2.0 is used in many gaming consoles and mid-range PCs.
HDMI 2.0a: An updated version of HDMI 2.0 with the only added feature being HDR video support.
HDMI 2.0b: Another update on top of the previous 2.0a, where the new update added HLG (Hybrid Log Gamma) technology.
HDMI 2.1: The latest and greatest HDMI version that supports 4K at 120 Hz and 8K at 60 Hz. Perfect for high-end gamers and PS5 users.
As of right now, categorizing HDMI cables based on their versions have become an outdated system. Now, HDMI cables are categorized by their speed and bandwidth, so in this section, I’m going to brush up on a few of these “types” of HDMI cables.
Standard HDMI: These cables are just HDMI 1.0 and 1.2 versions, that support 720p and 1080p at 60 Hz. It’s the barebones version with a bandwidth of 5 Gbps and is most widely used in older consumer electronic devices and satellite TVs.
High-Speed HDMI: The most “average” HDMI cable. These cables can support 4K at 30 Hz and have a bandwidth of 10 Gbps. They are a replacement for the 1.4 version.
Premium High-Speed HDMI: Replacing the 2.0 version, these can support HDR and 4K at 60 Hz. Best for previous-gen gaming consoles and mid-range gaming PCs. These cables have a bandwidth of 18 Gbps
Ultra-High-Speed HDMI: The best of the bunch. If you are not going to use a DisplayPort, then it’s best to use these HDMI 2.1 substitutes for your PS5 or high-end gaming PC.
PC gamers have the opportunity to pick between either HDMI or DisplayPort as the interface to connect to their monitors, and if you are a newbie, you might be thinking: what’s the difference between the two, and what’s best for gaming? Therefore, to answer these questions, let’s do a quick comparison between the two.
Supported Resolutions: Both HDMI 2.1 and DisplayPort 2.0 support up to 8K 120Hz and HDR, but DisplayPort 2.0 is fairly recent and, as of right now, there is no hardware that can support it. So in this case, HDMI 2.1 takes the cake when it comes to achieving higher resolutions and refresh rates.
Connecting multiple displays: This is where DisplayPort outshines HDMI. Because with a single DP (DisplayPort) you can connect multiple displays either by using a hub or daisy-chaining them. HDMI cables can also use a hub to connect to several displays but it still requires a DisplayPort on the GPUs side. Therefore, when it comes to connecting multiple displays, the DisplayPort is the better option.
Variable Refresh Rate: 60 Hz monitors and high-end GPUs don’t go well together, especially if the GPU can pump out upwards of 100 frames every second. And although Vsync can mitigate stuttering to some extent, it can fall short during more intense moments. This is why AMD has come up with FreeSync, and NVIDIA with G-Sync. Therefore, in our situation, DisplayPorts are the better option because they support both Freesync and G-Sync while HDMI can only support FreeSync. Another win for DisplayPort.
There are several other differences between HDMI and DisplayPorts, but I’ve covered the most important aspects when it comes to gaming. So in conclusion: HDMI ports are very versatile and they are compatible with non PC devices such as TVs and gaming consoles. However, they cannot connect to multiple displays.
Therefore, I believe that the DisplayPort is the better option for PC gaming. If you are interested in purchasing a prebuilt PC soon, we can recommend some for you here.
Most casual gamers do not really care about gaming at higher refresh rates. Some of them are fine playing with 30-60 fps while others will have a panic attack whenever fps drops down to 59. However, regardless of what framerate you are comfortable playing with, it’s always best to understand the hardware you use, and sometimes, switching over to HDMI 2.0 from 1.4 can make all the difference.
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