Article ID : 00254857 / Last Modified : 06/10/2021

What is HDMI 2.1? Features and benefits explained

    HDMI 2.1 is the newest version of HDMI technology. Certain features of HDMI 2.1 are already present on some TVs produced in 2019 and onwards. 

    Do I need HDMI 2.1?

    HDMI 2.1 is Future-proof

    From 2020 onwards, HDMI 2.1 features will begin to appear in more and more TVs and eventually become the new norm. If you wish to purchase a new TV consider one that supports HDMI 2.1 features to enhance your viewing experience on next-generation consoles and video devices.
     

    What are HDMI 2.1 features?

    Native 4K 120 FPS content viewing and fast response

    4K resolution combined with 120 FPS at present provides the highest level of smoothness and clarity for video and game content. These capabilities coupled with next-generation games dramatically reduce input lag while significantly increasing response speed. This means that the delay between the screen and your commands will reduce, while the response time for pixels to change from one colour to the next also improves.

    4K 60 FPS vs120 FPS comparison

     

    Variable Refresh Rate (VRR)

    What is VRR
    VRR refers to the way your TV adjusts its refresh rate to match the frame rate of the output device. Frame rates typically vary in real time and are influenced by the scene that is displayed on your TV. 

    VRR also eliminates stutter delays and screen tearing to produce a smoother image. Gaming monitors also use this technology. By integrating VRR into HDMI 2.1, the differences between PC gaming and console gaming reduces. However, VRR specified by HDMI 2.1 is not compatible with AMD Free Sync which appears in PC gaming software.

    VRR for gaming
    Video games often incorporate dramatic scene changes from sudden explosions to swift colour changes, which cause the frame rate to reduce drastically. VRR compensates for these changes by simultaneously matching the refresh rate to the frame rate of the game. The result is a reduction in stutter delay and screen tearing which together creates a smoother image. VRR is extremely important for seamless gaming, unlike films where frame rates are relatively stable (usually 24FPS). 
     

    Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM, also known as Auto Game Mode)

    ALLM detects when a console is turned on and automatically switches the TV to game mode. Game mode reduces the delay between your inputs on a controller and the corresponding action that takes place on your TV. 
     

    Enhanced Audio Return Channel (eARC)

    With an eARC channel, you can enjoy the depth of movie theatre quality surround sound via DOLBY ATMOS and DTS:X. Due to the limitations of regular ARC, only eARC is able to process these formats.
     

    Chroma subsampling

    4K 120 FPS 10 bit 4:4:4 will be included via a software update. A 4:4:4 ratio indicates that 8 out 8 pixels can display different colour information, as opposed to 4:2:2 (4/8 pixels) and 4:2:0 (2/8 pixels).

    Chroma subsampling graphic
     

    Which Sony TVs support HDMI 2.1 features? (as of 03/06/2021)

    HDMI 2.1 features

    Type

    Model

    eARC

    8K60

    4K120

    VRR

    ALLM

    8K LCD

    Z9J

    YES

    YES

    YES

     YES5

    YES

    ZH8

    YES

    YES

    YES1

    NO

    NO

    ZG9

    YES

    NO

    YES3

    NO

    NO

    4K OLED

    A90J

    YES

    -

    YES

    YES5

    YES

    A80J

    YES

    -

    YES

    YES5

    YES

    A9S

    YES

    -

    NO

    NO

    NO

    A8

    YES

    -

    NO

    NO

    NO

    4K LCD

    X95J

    Available soon

    -

    Available soon

    Available soon

    Available soon

    X90J

    YES

    -

    YES

    YES5

    YES

    X85J

    Available soon

    -

    Available soon

    Available soon

    Available soon

    X80J

    YES

    -

    NO

    NO

    NO

    XH95

    YES

    -

    NO

    NO

    NO

    XH90/XH924

    YES2

    -

    YES2

    YES5

    YES5

    XH85/XH91

    YES

    -

    NO

    NO

    NO

    XH80/XH81

    NO

    -

    NO

    NO

    NO


    Software update needed, version PKG6.4775 or higher
    Software update needed, version PKG6.0384 or higher
    Software update needed, version PKG6.4960 or higher
    For XH90/92 models, you need to change your TV settings to Enhanced Format for both HDMI port 3 or 4 to benefit from HDMI 2.1 features. Each port needs to be changed separately.
    There are plans to make these features available via a software update. It is recommended that you always update the TV to the latest software version. For assistance on how to perform an update, refer to the How to perform a software update article.

    To enable Enhanced Format

    1. Press the HOME button on your remote control.
    2. Select Settings.
    3. Select External inputs in the TV category.
    4. Select HDMI signal format and set to Enhanced Format.

      HDMI signal format menu - select Enhanced Format option

     

    You can also check the specifications of your device to see which features it supports. See if your device contains features specified in HDMI 2.1. 

    To check the specifications of your device

    1. Go to Sony support home page.
    2. Select your product type - TV.
    3. Select the TV category that you have.
    4. Scroll down to select your TV. If you are unsure where to find your model number, visit this article.
    5. Once you have selected your product, at the top of the page select Specifications. 

    Specifications section - Features Specified in HDMI 2.1