Refresh rates (denoted by Hz) are an important metric for people buying new monitors for gaming and viewing.
If you’re into fast-paced competitive gaming, then you’ve probably already been told to look for a monitor that has the highest refresh rates.
While that’s true, many people forget to tell you that you also need the right HDMI cable to support that data transmission of audio and video.
There are a lot of HDMI cables and we wouldn’t blame you if you’re confused about which is which.
To help you out, we’ve put together a short yet comprehensive guide on refresh rates of all the existing HDMI cables.
And when you’re done reading this, you’ll be able to find the right HDMI cable that will support your display.
Refresh Rates That HDMI Cables Support
As we’ve mentioned a while ago, there are several HDMI cables each varying in the refresh rates they support. Here is a short comparison of those cables:
|Resolution \ HDMI Version||1.0-1.2||1.3-1.4||2.0||2.1|
(1920 x 1080 pixels)
|60 Hz, 144 Hz||75 Hz, 144 Hz||240 Hz||480 Hz|
|2K / 1440p
(2048 x 1080 pixels, 2560 x 1440 pixels)
|–||75 Hz, 120 Hz||200/240 Hz||360 Hz, 480 Hz|
|4K / UltraHD / UHD
(3840 x 2160 pixels)
|–||30/60 Hz||60 Hz||144 Hz, 180 Hz, 240 Hz|
(7680 x 4320 pixels)
|–||–||30 Hz||30 Hz, 120 Hz|
Confused about your resolution? Here’s a helpful guide talking about each resolution and its number of pixels.
Going back to HDMI, you can see that the older versions of the HDMI cable (1.0-1.2), don’t provide any refresh rates for 2K resolutions and above.
This means that these cables do not support the requirements of your monitor. Hence, it might not transmit the same quality of audio and video.
So in a way, an older HDMI version can limit your screen’s ability to maximize its refresh rate.
For example, you are using a 2K monitor that has a refresh rate of 144 Hz. If you’re using an HDMI 1.3 or 1.4, the refresh rate of the monitor won’t be used.
Your device will only be able to handle the lowest refresh rate of your HDMI cable.
Can You Get 144Hz With HDMI?
Before we answer this question, you must understand what 144 Hz means.
144 Hz refers to a refresh rate of 144. This means, that in one second the display will refresh 144 times.
A screen that has a faster refresh rate produces a higher quality video or image. You’ll see every movement as they happen with less blurring (as opposed to a 60 Hz refresh rate).
An HDMI cable plays a large role in your display’s ability to refresh its image.
Because the HDMI cable feeds the data, it has to be able to keep up with the requirements of your monitor which has a 144 refresh rate.
Fortunately, HDMI has cables that can support resolutions with 144 Hz. These are HDMI 1.4, 2.0, and 2.1.
An HDMI 1.4 cable can give a refresh rate of 120 Hz on a 1440p monitor with a 144 Hz refresh rate.
You can also use HDMI 2.0 which is the standard cable used for 2K monitors. An HDMI 2.0 cable can support up to 240 Hz.
You can use HDMI 2.1 too, but we don’t advise it since a monitor having a refresh rate of 144 Hz will be the one limiting this HDMI cable’s features.
How About 240Hz With HDMI?
Yes, you can! HDMI 2.0 and 2.1 are built to support monitors that have a refresh rate of 240Hz.
These two cables were made to handle Full HD and 2K monitors at 240 refresh rates.
HDMI 2.0 can support Full HD to 8K monitors, from 240 Hz to 30 Hz, respectively. Although it can handle 8 monitors, it’s not the most high-quality cable that you should use.
We suggest using HDMI 2.0 on Full HD and 2K monitors only. If you have a 4K monitor, the highest support this cable can give is at 60 Hz.
Your audio and video will still run, but it’s not the same quality as HDMI 2.1.
Released in 2017 but only commercially used in 2019, HDMI 2.1 is the new standard for 4K monitors and above.
It was made to maintain the high-quality video and audio of the newest monitors thanks to its high bandwidth.
So if you’re planning to have that 240-refresh rate on a 4K monitor, your best bet is the HDMI 2.1.
Does HDMI Limit Hz?
Yes, but not in the way that you think.
People often think that if they have a 144-Hz refresh rate on their monitor, they should have an HDMI cable with the same refresh rate.
This is false.
Your monitor’s refresh rate is independent of the cable’s. The refresh rate of your monitor is not controlled by an HDMI cable.
So, a lower-version HDMI cable won’t reduce the refresh rates of your monitor.
However, it may not support the requirements of your monitor.
For example, an HDMI 1.0 cable doesn’t have a refresh rate for 4K monitors. This means that this cable doesn’t support 4K.
You’re better off with a cable that supports it, such as 1.4 to 2.1 HDMI cables.
There are several HDMI cables available on the market today, and it can be confusing to know which one to use.
What you should remember is that your monitor’s refresh rate is not going to change, regardless of the HDMI cable you’re using.
What does change, however, is your HDMI cable’s capability to maximize your screen’s features.
Because certain HDMI cables can’t support audio and video from newer resolutions, you have to make sure that your cable is made for the resolution you’re using.
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.