Gaming Console 101

Does PS5 Need HDMI 2.1 for 120Hz

Does PS5 Need HDMI 2.1 for 120Hz featured

Whether PS5 needs an HDMI 2.1 port or cable in order to run 120Hz depends upon the RESOLUTION you wish to play your games at.

In other words, if you wish to play games on a 120Hz (120 FPS) refresh rate monitor on FULL HD (1920×1080) resolution, then NO, you do need to have an HDMI 2.1 port on the monitor or an HDMI 2.1 cable.

On the other hand, if you wish to play games on 120 Hz but on 4K resolution, then YES you do need to have an HDMI port on the monitor as well as an HDMI 2.1 cable – aka Ultra High-Speed cable.

In the following text, I will aim to clarify what HDMI 2.1 entails and how the resolution and the refresh rate are affected by the version of the HDMI port and that of the cable.

HDMI Port Version and Cable Version – There is a Difference

The first and foremost important point to note is that there are different versions of not just the HDMI port, but also of the HDMI cable itself.

While all HDMI ports or HDMI cables may look the same, they can be worlds apart in terms of performance.

For starters, the most current HDMI port is 2.1 which is also found natively on PS5. HDMI 2.1 port can support up to 10K resolution @ 120Hz refresh rate – albeit PS5 is only capped at 4K @ 120Hz refresh rate.

The most common HDMI port on input and output devices, however, is still the HDMI 1.4. If you have a relatively old monitor or a TV (think 4 or more years old), then there is a high chance that you have an HDMI 1.4 port on your display.

HDMI 1.4 can only support up to Full HD resolution at 120Hz, but at 4K it’ll only support a 30Hz refresh rate.

The following table shows different HDMI ports and their specifications:

HDMI VersionMax ResolutionRefresh RateHDR
1.21440P1080P = 60Hz
1440P = 30Hz
No
1.3-1.44K (4096 x 2160)1080P = 120Hz
1440P = 60Hz
4K = 30Hz
No
2.04K (4096 x 2160)1080P = 240Hz
1440P = 144Hz
4K = 60Hz
Yes
2.18K (7680 x 4320)1440P = 240Hz
4K = 144Hz
4K = 240Hz (DSC)
8K = 120Hz (DSC)
Yes

Take note of the fact that only HDMI 2.1 can support 120Hz on 4K resolution.

It goes without saying that if you were to connect your PS5 to a monitor or a TV that has an older HDMI port i.e 2.0 or 1.4, then you would be limited to only Full HD resolution on 4K.

Equally important to note here is the cable version. Again, while not all HDMI cables are the same, they carry different certifications to support certain specs.

The following table shows the different cables and the HDMI port version they are intended to support.

HDMI Cable CertificationSupported SpecsIntended HDMI
Port Version
Standard1080P @ 60Hz1.0-1.3
High SpeedFHD @ 144Hz
QHD @ 60Hz
4K @ 30hz
1.4
Premium High SpeedFHD @ 240Hz
QHD @ 144Hz
4K @ 60Hz
2.0
Ultra High SpeedFHD @ > 240Hz
1440P @ > 240Hz
4K @ 144Hz (240Hz with DSC)
8K @ 120Hz (DSC)
10K @ 120Hz (DSC)
2.1

In order to support 120Hz on 4K resolution, you would need to have an Ultra High-Speed HDMI cable. Make sure that the cable you get is certified by HDMI.org – these cables often have a QR code you can scan to verify its certification.

In order to support 120Hz on Full HD resolution, even the basic High-Speed HDMI cable would do just fine.

If in case you have HDMI 2.1 ports both on the PS5 as well as on the display device (monitor or TV) and you still cannot get it to play 120Hz on 4K resolution, then there are high chances that you do not have certified Ultra High-Speed HDMI cable.

The Issues with Playing PS5 at 120Hz on a 144Hz Monitor

There have multiple reports of gamers who are unable to get PS5 to play 120FPS on their 144Hz monitor EVEN IF they only dial the resolution down to 1080p (Full HD).

There are two main reasons for this:

  1. Only one of the HDMI ports supports higher refresh rates
  2. Your Monitor isn’t designed to support 120Hz.

1. Only One HDMI Port Supports 120Hz

If your monitor has multiple HDMI ports, then there can be instances where only ONE of the HDMI ports actually supports the higher refresh rates.

You can have HDMI ports conforming to different versions on the same monitor. Hence, make sure the HDMI cable is plugged into the right port.

2. Your Monitor Isn’t Designed for 120Hz

In many cases specifically for 144Hz monitors, the manufacturers only enable support for either 144Hz or 60Hz refresh rate only.

Meaning, they cannot be dialed down to 120Hz or any other refresh rate in between.

Since PS5 does NOT support 144Hz and requires either a 60Hz or a 120Hz monitor, the 144Hz refresh rate on your monitor becomes incompatible with PS5, and the next compatible refresh rate i.e 60Hz is used instead.

Take for instance the Display Modes of the following 144Hz Dell S2719DGF monitor below.

Dell S2719DGF display modes

You can clearly see that this monitor DOES NOT support frequencies (vertical refresh rate) of 120Hz for any of the display modes even though this is a 144Hz monitor.

In other words, avoid a 144Hz monitor, or any other monitors i.e 165Hz 240Hz, that do not SPECIFICALLY support 120Hz refresh rate as well for PS5.

So Does PS5 Need HDMI 2.1 for 120Hz?

It all depends upon the resolution, but here is the summary:

  • For FHD monitor, no you do not need an HDMI 2.1 for 120Hz, HDMI 1.4 can work.
  • For QHD monitor, again, you do not need an HDMI 2.1 for 120Hz, HDMI 2.0 can work.
  • For 4K, yes, you would need to have an HDMI 2.1 for 120Hz.

Atif Qazi

Atif Qazi is the founder of GamingConsole101.com and a huge gaming nerd. Thanks to the vast gaming experience under his belt, you can often find him writing detailed pieces of content on gaming hardware and console. But in all honesty, nothing gives him more pleasure than 'one-shotting' everyone as a stealth archer in ESO: Skyrim.

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