In just under a week, the two new next-gen consoles, the Playstation 5 and the Xbox Series X, will appear. The consoles are then not only more powerful, but also support new transmission technologies such as HDMI 2.1. A question that fans are currently asking themselves frequently: Do I absolutely need HDMI 2.1 in order to be able to play with the PS5 or Xbox Series? No. However, if you want to get the best possible result and play games in 4K at 120 Hz, you have to equip it. 

With the release of a new generation of consoles, fans often ask themselves whether they need to upgrade their picture and sound devices. It is recommended that you do not act in a hurry, because you will be able to enjoy games with 4K resolution even with the "old" TV sets, especially if you have already done so with the Playstation 4 Pro or Xbox One X. There the UHD graphics were then available with 60 Hz and that will also be the case on the Playstation 5 and Xbox Series X. Anyone who wants to enjoy 4K gaming with 120 Hz or even gaming in 8K cannot avoid buying new devices. The necessary new HDMI cable would still be the cheapest investment for an upgrade.

Theoretical maximum performance only with upgrade

The maximum can only be achieved via HDMI 2.1 and compatible devices. In many cases, however, this will remain theory, because game manufacturers will likely optimize their titles to 4K with 60 Hz or 120 Hz with a lower resolution. Last but not least, this is also due to the spread of suitable device combinations: most gaming enthusiasts use a high-performance TV set as well as a corresponding sound system including an AV receiver. Anyone who would now want to play with the Playstation 5 or Xbox Series X in 4K and 120 Hz would have to have compatible devices for sound and image. However, they are rare.

Also built for the future like the Playstation 5: the Xbox Series X. Image: Microsoft

Also built for the future like the Playstation 5: the Xbox Series X. Image: Microsoft

There are now some TV models that support the new standard, but that comes at a price: Sony has certified the Bravia ZH8 and XH90/92 as "Supports Playstation 5". However, the luxury model costs around 7.000 euros and offers resolutions of up to 8K as well as HDMI 2.1 and HDCP 2.3. The 4K devices of the XH90 or XH92 series are far more affordable, but still expensive. These also offer HDMI 2.1. These devices are priced at around 1.300 euros, making them quite affordable for ambitious gamers and a future-oriented investment for the next generation.

Samsung and LG also have corresponding TV sets in their portfolio, such as the LG OLED55CX9LA, the HDMI 2.1 and, as a 10-bit panel, achieve a bandwidth of up to 40 Gbit / s; the maximum of 48 Gbit / s can only be achieved by 12-bit devices. LG devices of the OLED C9 series are not only future-oriented, but also future-proof, they support HDMI 2.1 and, as 12-bit panels, also the maximum 48 Gbit performance.

HDMI 2.1 on Playstation 5 and Xbox Series X: a dream of the future, but a useful feature

You quickly notice: It's a bit complicated with HDMI 2.1 and Playstation and Xbox Series X. For this reason, too, the standard will probably not play a decisive role at the beginning of the new generation. The chaos becomes even more opaque because you also need an AV receiver for a compatible TV set that passes the signal through - at least if you don't want to do without the connection of the surround system. 4K in 120 Hz and with Dolby Atmos is available, for example, if you also have a suitable receiver with HDMI 2.1 on the shelf.

Above all, manufacturer LG seems to be an attractive provider to keep an eye on:

TV model (year) Customs 8K 4K at 120 Hz VRR allm
LG W9 (2019) 65/77 X
LG E9 (2019) 55/65 X X X
LG C9 (2019) 55/65/77 X X X
LG B9 (2019) 55/65 X X X
LG Z9 (2019) 88 X X X X
LG WX9 (2020) 65 X
LG GX9 (2020) 55/65/77 X X X
LG CX9 (2020) 48/55/65/77 X X X
LG BX9 (2020) 55/65 X X X
LG RX9 (2020) 65 X X X
LG ZX9 (2020) 77/88 X X X X


It could look different in the future, however, when hardware has been distributed accordingly among consumers and game manufacturers and make full use of the performance resources. After all: The future prospects for the new generation of consoles looks impressive on paper: With HDMI 2.1 not only high resolutions and 120 Hz are possible, but also eARC, VRR, ALLM.

The latter in particular appeals to gamers: The Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM) and the Variable Refresh Rate (VRR) are not new and can also be found in Panasonic devices from 2018, for example, but once again not in 4K/120 Hz or 8k/60 Hz. Whichever way you look at it: there could be a “Day X” at some point when HDMI 2.1 prevails. You don't have to upgrade your hardware now, but you can keep an eye out for offers with that in mind. Should a kind of "forced switch" take place in the next few years, the pressure to buy would be much higher.

Currently, HDMI 2.1 is probably only an issue for hardcore users. If anything, because even high-end graphics cards like the nVidia GeForce RTX 3090 struggle with the ultra-resolved images and the FPS maximum. Standard was and is also at the beginning of the new generation of consoles 4K in 60 Hz - and HDMI 2.0 is currently sufficient for this. Other functions such as ALL or the "Variable Refresh Rate" then require a compatible output device. Conversely, the same applies again: These are optional features, so not every television with HDMI 2.1 must automatically support the functions.

In the end, however, it's a smart move that both the Xbox Series X and the Playstation 5 already support HDMI 2.1, because at least the "next-gen" consoles are future-proof if the standard catches on. So you don't have to upgrade if you want to play in 4K with 60 Hz. This does not apply to owners of older devices with HDMI 1.4: these devices support UHD at a maximum of 24 Hz, so an upgrade could be worthwhile.


Last updated on 27.01.2023/XNUMX/XNUMX / Affiliate Links / Images from the Amazon Product Advertising API. * = Affiliate links. Images from Amazon PA API