Will HDMI 2.1 Cable Work With a 2.0 Port?


Will HDMI 2.1 Cable Work With a 2.0 Port? Today audio and video quality have become an important consideration whether you’re just playing games on your console or watching TV. With video and audio transfer becoming increasingly of important, HDMI has significantly become vital in our lives.

However, with there being various types of cables and ports with different specs, it’s confusing trying to figure out if they all seamlessly work together without affecting performance. With that in mind, will a HDMI 2.1 cable work with a 2.0 port?

Table of Contents

What are HDMI 2.1 Cables?

It’s essential to keep in mind that there’s nothing like HDMI 2.1 cable. You can’t buy an Ultra High-Speed Cable but simply just an HDMI cable that supports HDMI 2.1 specifications.

HDMI cables of different types are designed to conform to certain performance standards. To make it easier to understand, think of HDMI cables as different versions of the same thing.

Then why do people still refer to them as 2.1 HDMI cables? It’s important to understand that there’s a difference between the cable type and interface version.

Interface Version

The HDMI version of the output and input ports on the display device and source device determine the capabilities of the interface, including a certain refresh rate, audio format, and resolution.

Below is a table showing the capabilities of various HDMI versions.

VersionAudio SupportVideo
Maximum Transmission RateHDRMaximum Resolution at Refresh Rate
HDMI 1.08 audio channels4.95 GbpsNo1080p at 60 Hz
HDMI 1.1 and 1.2DVD audio, 1-bit audio4.95 GbpsNo1440p at 30 Hz
HDMI 1.3 and 1.4DTS HD, ARC, Dolby TrueHD10.2 GbpsNo4K at 60 Hz
HDMI 2.0DRA, 32 audio channels, HE-AAC18 GbpsYes5K at 30 Hz
HDMI 2.1eARC48 GbpsYes8K at 30 Hz

Cable Type

From a technical perspective, there’s really nothing like an HDMI cable version. You can’t update an HDMI cable since it doesn’t have any ICs and controllers with software and drivers.

To put it in simple terms, an HDMI cable is a wire that conveys signals from one point to another.

However, the quality of the wires inside dictates the type of HDMI cable you have in relation to performance standards.

Therefore, there’s really no such thing as an HDMI 2.1 cable but an ultra-high-speed cable that supports HDMI 2.1 specifications.

So, experts refer to ultra-high-speed cables as HDMI 2.1 cables, which doesn’t make sense for newbies.

As performance standards for HDMI cables may vary, some HDMI cables might not be able to convey the high data generated by modern HDMI 2.1 ports.

Below is a table showing the different types of cables according to their performance standards.

Type of CableSupported HDMI Version
Standard Cable1.0 – 1.2a
High Speed Cable1.3 – 1.4a
High-Speed Cable2.0 (both a and b)
Premium High-Speed Cable2.1

Will HDMI 2.1 Cable Work With a 2.0 Port?

Similar to the compatibility of HDMI 2.0 and previous standards, HDMI 2.1 cables will work just fine with a 2.0 port.

However, the performance will be bound to the capabilities of HDMI 2.0. 

Caption: HDMI Cable Connected to Device

Let’s understand that step by step.

HDMI 2.1 vs HDMI 2.0: Side by Side Comparison

FeatureHDMI 2.1HDMI 2.0
BandwidthUp to 48 GbpsUp to 18 Gbps
Refresh RateYou can enjoy 8K at 60 Hz and 4K at 144 HzYou can enjoy 4K at 60/50 Hz and 1080p at 120 Hz
Color Palettes16 bits12 bits or 10 bits
Audio Channels3232
Deep Color and 3DYesYes
VRR SupportNoNo
HDR SupportYesYes
Uncompressed AudioYesNo
Supported CablePremium High-Speed CablePremium High Speed Cable

How do HDMI cables work?

All HDMI cables are backward compatible with all older generations of HDMI ports. HDMI 1.4 cables will work just fine with HDMI 1.2 and 1.4 ports, and the same HDMI 2.0 cables will work just fine with HDMI 1.4 and 2.0 ports. Similarly, HDMI 2.1 cables will work just fine with all HDMI connector generations.

An HDMI 2.1 cable will work just as well with a HDMI 1.0 port. However, it will be rather difficult to find any displays and devices that support such an older generation standard.

The most important point to understand is that the HDMI backward compatibility is limited to basic functions. Therefore, if you plug any HDMI cable into an HDMI port of any version, you will, without a doubt, get audio and video. However, there’s no guarantee of HDR support, refresh rate, and resolution. 

This is the same for features such as gaming technologies (auto low latency mode and variable refresh rate), eARC and ARC, and encryption technologies (chroma subsampling).

Your HDMI cable performs just as the lower HDMI standard between your display and source. For instance, your display capable of supporting HDMI 2.1 won’t be able to take full advantage of the performance and added features if your source is using HDMI 1.4.

This also works both ways. If you connect a source that is capable of supporting HDMI 2.1, such as a PS5 or Xbox, it won’t be able to send and receive HDMI 2.1 high data rates if your display is only capable of supporting HDMI 1.4.

The lack of universal or forward compatibility is highly noticeable with HDMI 2.1, which not only needs the device and display to support HDMI 2.1 but also the cable.

Furthermore, HDMI backward compatibility further extends to other connectors that use HDMI protocol.


Keep in mind that despite it being possible to use an HDMI 2.1 cable with a 2.0 port, the performance will be limited to the capabilities of HDMI 2.0. 

Also, when buying an HDMI cable, remember that there are different types of cables classified according to performance standards. 

For all your HDMI cable needs, feel free to contact Cloom Tech.