HDMI 1.4 vs. HDMI 2.0: Choosing the Right HDMI

Last Updated: June 14, 2023By
HDMI cable on hand

The digital world we inhabit thrives on connections – not just the intangible ones, but also those that tether our devices together, facilitating the seamless flow of audio and video data. One of the most common and crucial among these physical connections is the High-Definition Multimedia Interface, or HDMI.

As the primary medium to transmit high-quality audio and video signals, HDMI versions have evolved over time, each bringing new capabilities to cater to changing user demands.

The discussion often pivots around HDMI 1.4 and HDMI 2.0, two versions that offer different features, providing varied multimedia experiences. But what exactly differentiates them?

This blog post aims to shed light on the specifics of HDMI 1.4 and HDMI 2.0, their features, applications, and how to determine the ideal choice for your setup. This exploration will empower you to maximize your devices’ potential and ensure an exceptional audiovisual experience. Let’s begin our journey of discovery!

Diving Into HDMI 1.4

HDMI 1.4, released in May 2009, represented a significant step forward in the capabilities of HDMI technology. Its introduction enabled consumers and professionals alike to take advantage of more advanced audio and video features, thus expanding the range of potential multimedia experiences.

Key Features of HDMI 1.4

Support for 4K Resolution at 30Hz

HDMI 1.4 was the first version of HDMI to introduce support for 4K resolution, specifically at 30Hz. This meant that it was capable of transmitting ultra-high-definition video content, providing a vastly improved viewing experience over previous standards.

Audio Return Channel (ARC)

The Audio Return Channel, or ARC, was a new feature brought in with HDMI 1.4. It allows for the sending of audio signals both upstream and downstream, meaning audio can travel in both directions between your TV and your sound system. This eliminates the need for separate audio cables, simplifying the setup process.

3D over HDMI

For those interested in 3D content, HDMI 1.4 marked an important milestone. It introduced support for 3D video formats over HDMI, enabling users to enjoy 3D content directly from their Blu-Ray players or other 3D sources on their 3D-enabled TVs.

Ethernet Channel over HDMI

The Ethernet Channel feature enables HDMI 1.4 to carry an Internet signal along with audio and video signals. This meant that, if your devices support this feature, you could eliminate the need for separate Ethernet cables, allowing a single HDMI cable to provide both an Internet connection and AV signals.

Common Uses and Applications of HDMI 1.4

With these features, HDMI 1.4 became a popular choice for connecting a range of devices such as HD TVs, soundbars, gaming consoles, Blu-Ray players, and more. It provided a versatile and capable solution for a wide range of audiovisual needs, from home entertainment setups to professional use in studios and presentations.

Whether you were seeking to watch high-definition movies, play games, or deliver a high-quality presentation, HDMI 1.4 offered a robust and flexible option.

Exploring HDMI 2.0

HDMI 2.0 was released in September 2013, advancing the capabilities of HDMI to match the rapid progression of audiovisual technology. This newer version was designed to cater to the increasing demands of high-definition content and emerging entertainment systems, offering even more advanced features than its predecessor, HDMI 1.4.

Key Features of HDMI 2.0

Support for 4K Resolution at 60Hz and 1080p at 120Hz

One of the most notable features of HDMI 2.0 is its support for 4K resolution at 60Hz, doubling the frame rate compared to HDMI 1.4. It also supports 1080p at 120Hz, enabling smoother and more detailed visuals for gaming and other high-motion content.

Expanded Support for Color Spaces

HDMI 2.0 brings along expanded support for color spaces, including BT.2020. This translates into more accurate, vivid, and vibrant colors, enhancing the viewing experience particularly for 4K content.

Increased Audio Channels

Audio experience was not left behind. HDMI 2.0 expanded the audio capacity, supporting up to 32 audio channels. This improvement creates a more immersive and realistic sound experience, ideal for advanced home theaters and professional setups.

Dual Video Streams for the Same Screen

A unique feature of HDMI 2.0 is its support for dual video streams on the same screen. This feature allows two separate video streams to be viewed simultaneously on the same display, which can be a great addition for shared viewing experiences.

Common Uses and Applications of HDMI 2.0

Given these advanced features, HDMI 2.0 found extensive use in settings demanding high-definition content and superior audio performance. It became the preferred choice for 4K TVs, advanced gaming consoles, high-end sound systems, and professional audiovisual setups.

The higher frame rate and expanded color support make HDMI 2.0 an excellent choice for gaming and movie viewing, where visual detail and smoothness are crucial. Its enhanced audio capabilities cater well to complex home theater systems, providing an immersive sound experience.

Lastly, the dual video stream feature offers unique advantages for shared viewing scenarios, such as split-screen gaming or simultaneous viewing of two programs.

Comparison: HDMI 1.4 vs HDMI 2.0

Close up of HDMI cable 1

Comparing HDMI 1.4 and HDMI 2.0 helps us understand the differences and similarities between these two versions, which can be crucial when choosing the best fit for your needs.

Display Capabilities and Resolution Support

The most significant difference between HDMI 1.4 and HDMI 2.0 is their respective display capabilities. While HDMI 1.4 supports 4K resolution, it does so at a maximum of 30Hz.

On the other hand, HDMI 2.0 supports 4K resolution at a much smoother 60Hz, providing a more fluid viewing experience, especially important for gaming and high-definition video content.

Audio Support Comparison

While both versions support Audio Return Channel (ARC), HDMI 2.0 takes audio capabilities a notch higher with support for up to 32 audio channels. This is an impressive upgrade from HDMI 1.4 and results in a more immersive sound experience, particularly advantageous in home theater setups and professional audio applications.

Comparison of Other Specific Features

Both HDMI 1.4 and 2.0 offer unique features such as the Ethernet channel over HDMI, which allows the cable to carry an Internet signal. However, HDMI 2.0 introduces support for dual video streams on the same screen, a feature not available in HDMI 1.4. 

This capability can be especially useful in specific scenarios like split-screen gaming or simultaneous program viewing.

Real-World Usage Comparison

In practical terms, HDMI 1.4 is sufficient for most standard audio-visual needs, including watching HD movies or playing games at 30Hz. However, for advanced applications such as 4K content at 60Hz, high-motion gaming, or professional audio setups, HDMI 2.0 offers a significant advantage with its enhanced capabilities.

While HDMI 1.4 might meet many users’ needs, HDMI 2.0 ensures a future-proof connection, prepared to deliver the highest quality experience as multimedia technology continues to advance.

Choosing Between HDMI 1.4 and HDMI 2.0

With a clearer understanding of what HDMI 1.4 and HDMI 2.0 offer, it’s time to figure out which one aligns best with your needs. Here are some factors to consider while making your choice:

Consideration of the Device’s HDMI Version Compatibility

One of the primary factors to consider is the compatibility of your devices with the different HDMI versions. Check the specifications of your devices to determine their supported HDMI version.

Remember, using an HDMI 2.0 cable with a device that only supports HDMI 1.4 will not allow you to take advantage of the additional features HDMI 2.0 provides.

Assessment of Individual Needs: Gaming, Movie Viewing, Professional Use

What you intend to do with your setup significantly influences the best choice. If you need to view 4K content at 60Hz, require high-motion fluidity for gaming, or want a truly immersive sound experience with numerous audio channels, HDMI 2.0 would be your best bet.

However, for more standard uses like watching HD movies, or if your display does not support more than 4K at 30Hz, HDMI 1.4 should suffice.

Budget Considerations

Generally, HDMI 2.0 cables are slightly more expensive than HDMI 1.4 due to the enhanced capabilities they offer. While the cost difference might not be substantial, for those on a tight budget, choosing HDMI 1.4 could be a cost-effective decision if the extra features of HDMI 2.0 are not required.

Remember, the best HDMI version for you depends on your specific needs, device compatibility, and budget. Be sure to review your requirements and device specifications thoroughly before making a decision.


HDMI serves as a critical link that ensures we get the best possible audio and visual experience from our devices. Understanding the differences between HDMI 1.4 and HDMI 2.0 is essential for making informed decisions about the equipment and accessories we choose to use.

While HDMI 1.4 brings a host of features such as support for 4K resolution at 30Hz, Audio Return Channel (ARC), 3D over HDMI, and Ethernet channel over HDMI, HDMI 2.0 takes these capabilities a step further. It provides support for 4K resolution at 60Hz, enhanced audio channels, expanded color spaces, and dual video streams on the same screen.

Choosing between these two depends on your specific needs, device compatibility, and budget considerations. If your device supports HDMI 2.0 and you need the advanced features it offers, investing in it would be beneficial.

However, if you’re looking for more standard use and wish to optimize costs, HDMI 1.4 would be a sufficient choice.