When you’re setting up monitors or projectors to display videos, you’ll likely use some form of HDMI cable.
It’s always best to have a high frame rate so you get the best quality image possible. For example, 165Hz.
What does 165Hz mean, though? And can you use your HDMI cable to transmit it?
Here we’ll look at why the Hz of your projector or monitor matters, and how you can get it.
- What Does Hz Mean for a Monitor or Projector?
- Do HDMI Cables Have a Hz Limit?
- What Cable Do I Need for 165Hz?
What Does Hz Mean for a Monitor or Projector?
Whether you plan on playing games or watching movies, the Hz rate of your display matters. It can affect the quality of the image, motion blur, and the effective frame rate.
That’s good to know, but it doesn’t mean much if you don’t know what Hz is.
Hz and the Refresh Rate
The Hz of a display measures its refresh rate, also called the “vertical refresh rate”. This term originated with cathode-ray tube displays but hasn’t lost value in the modern era.
In modern displays, the refresh rate measures how quickly the display can produce a new image.
Strictly speaking, this is separate from the frame rate. Still, a low refresh rate can affect the apparent frame rate if it can’t keep up.
This interaction means that a higher refresh rate is typically better than a lower one.
For example, a high refresh rate will limit the amount of blur on quickly moving objects. This also means that you’ll get a higher amount of detail overall.
Do HDMI Cables Have a Hz Limit?
Because a higher refresh rate is better, it’s important to know the limitations of HDMI cables when hooking up displays.
The simple answer is Yes, but it depends.
There are a handful of HDMI versions, and each of them can support a different amount of data.
Even within a certain version, the refresh rate it supports depends on the resolution it’s being used at.
HDMI Versions 1.0 – 1.1
The very first versions of HDMI are lackluster, but they’ll work in a pinch.
At a minimum, these cables can support 30Hz at 720p. The best these cables can support is 60Hz at 1080p.
This isn’t a lot, but it’ll certainly work if it’s all that you’ve got.
HDMI Versions 1.2 – 1.2a
As a minor step up, HDMI 1.2 can support up to 120Hz at 720p. It’s a low resolution but has a much better refresh rate than before.
This version also brings the capability of supporting 1440p video with a refresh rate of 30Hz.
HDMI Versions 1.3 – 1.4b
The 1.3 and 1.4 versions of HDMI are an important step for HDMI cables. These are the first versions to support 165Hz, albeit with some help.
They can support 165Hz for 1080p video by using chroma subsampling. The display’s colors will suffer, but it’s a good tradeoff for a high refresh rate.
These versions also push HDMI’s limitations up to 5K video, supporting 30Hz by using chroma subsampling.
HDMI Versions 2.0 – 2.0b
The 2.0 versions of HDMI came right before the newest one.
These versions made the jump to support 165HZ at 1440p by using chroma subsampling.
HDMI cables could now support 5K video at 30Hz with no help, and up to 8K with the use of chroma subsampling.
HDMI Version 2.1
The newest version of HDMI cables is HDMI 2.1, and it’s a huge improvement from all the previous versions.
The biggest change it brought along is the ability to support almost any resolution at up to 240Hz with no additional compression. The exception to this starts at 4K video.
Starting with 4K video at 165Hz, HDMI 2.1 requires additional compression but no longer needs chroma subsampling. Instead, HDMI 2.1 supports this with the use of Display Stream Compression.
At its greatest limit, HDMI 2.1 is capable of supporting 120Hz for 8K resolution displays! The refresh rate is far less than 165Hz, but it’s still very useful.
What Cable Do I Need for 165Hz?
Which cable you need depends on what you have or what you’re willing to use. There are a few options for using HDMI cables, but you’re not limited to HDMI.
An alternative to HDMI cables is DisplayPort cables. They’re less common but can support much more data.
Which HDMI Cables to Use?
The first versions of HDMI cables that support 165Hz are HDMI 1.3 and 1.4. With chroma subsampling, these versions can support a 165Hz display at a resolution of 1080p.
Between HDMI 1.4 and 2.0 there’s a gradual increase in refresh rate support. It’s not until HDMI 2.1 that higher resolution qualities can be displayed with at least 165Hz.
The current maximum that HDMI 2.1 supports is 165Hz at 4K resolution. With this amount of data, it requires the use of Display Stream Compression to support it.
Which DisplayPort Cables to Use?
When it comes to refresh rates, DisplayPort cables have HDMI cables beat.
The oldest version of DisplayPort cables, RBR, is capable of supporting 165Hz at 1440p resolution. Like the older HDMI versions, this requires the use of compression.
DisplayPort RBR can support 165Hz at 1440p with the use of both Display Stream Compression and chroma subsampling.
Despite the complicated method, it’s an impressive feat for an old model.
The next DisplayPort version line is HBR. The last of the HBR version is HBR3 which manages an impressive amount of support for displays.
With the help of only Display Stream Compression, HBR3 can support 165Hz for 5K resolution! This is much higher than the newest version of HDMI cables.
The best, and newest, of DisplayPort’s cables is UHBR 20. The capabilities of this cable top everything before it.
UHBR 20 can support 165Hz at 4K resolution with no help or compression whatsoever.
When pushed to its limit, UHBR 20 can transmit enough data to support 165Hz for an 8K resolution display! And to transmit this bulk of data, the cable only requires Display Stream Compression.
1. Does HDMI 2.0 Support 165Hz?
HDMI 2.0 can support 165Hz, but only in some cases.
The absolute limit for HDMI 2.0 using 165Hz is with displaying 1080p video. Even then, the process isn’t straightforward.
To transmit 165Hz video at 1080p to a display, the HDMI cable must be using a process called “chroma subsampling”.
Simply put, chroma subsampling lowers the amount of color data to fit more luminosity data. This is done on the basis that humans are better at detecting differences in brightness than in color.
Chroma subsampling lowers the overall amount of data needed for an image, allowing HDMI 2.0 to transmit 165Hz.
2. Does HDMI 2.1 Support 165Hz?
Luckily, there is a modern alternative to 2.0! The next step up from it is HDMI 2.1 which allows much more data to be transmitted.
Unlike the previous version, HDMI 2.1 can transmit more than 165Hz at 1080p by default. This capability extends to 1440p as well.
HDMI 2.1’s absolute limit stops at 8K video, though not at 165Hz.
By using Display Stream Compression (DSC), HDMI 2.1 cables can support a refresh rate of 120Hz at 8K quality.
Although it requires extra steps, it’s much better than HDMI 2.0 which couldn’t do this at all.
Using a high refresh rate is important for getting sharp images on your display.
A high refresh rate minimizes motion blur which can be distracting or nauseating, especially when playing games.
One of the highest refresh rates available on most displays is 165Hz. If you plan on using an HDMI cable to connect the display, it’s important to know what it can support.
Different versions of HDMI cables are limited in what they can support. This is because higher refresh rates require a larger amount of data.
If you want to use a 165Hz refresh rate on your display, you’ll need to use HDMI 1.3 at the very least.
The best option is to use the newest HDMI version, HDMI 2.1. This version can support 165Hz for 4K resolution by using a type of compression called Display Stream Compression.
To go beyond that, you’ll need to use DisplayPort cables. By using the latest DisplayPort version, UHBR 20, you can support more than 165Hz for an 8K display!
Vance is a dad, former software engineer, and tech lover. Knowing how a computer works becomes handy when he builds Pointer Clicker. His quest is to make tech more accessible for non-techie users. When not working with his team, you can find him caring for his son and gaming.
Friday 2nd of September 2022
Excellent article, perfectly worded and enjoyable to read. Thank you.