Gaming at 144Hz makes the experience buttery smooth, but to take full advantage of it, you need a powerful graphics card and a compatible display. You also need the right cable to connect them both. While DisplayPort is a popular option, HDMI 144Hz is also entirely possible. Depending on which resolution you're trying to play at, you may need the latest-generation HDMI cable.
Does HDMI support 144Hz? Depending on the HDMI version, resolution, and bandwidth. All versions of HDMI from HDMI 1.3 onward right through to HDMI 2.1 provide enough raw bandwidth for 144Hz, provided sacrifices are made in color, chroma, compression, or resolution. HDMI 2.1 – the latest and greatest HDMI version – has the most support for 144Hz with the least compromise, allowing 1440p with 4:4:4 or 2160p with 4:2:0 chroma subsampling.
However, from a practical standpoint, there are no TVs or monitors on the market that will display high-resolution 144Hz over HDMI, even if there is enough bandwidth. This may change as HDMI 2.1 picks up steam on high-end gaming monitors.
As HDMI 2.1 technology matures, the number of available options to display your high-resolution, high-refresh-rate HDMI video is also growing. However, most HDMI 2.1 TVs and monitors will only support a maximum of 4K@120Hz over HDMI. To achieve the highest resolution and refresh rate that some HDMI 2.1 monitors advertise as 4K@144Hz, you'll need a DisplayPort source and connection, so be mindful of your expectations when purchasing a new HDMI gaming monitor.
HDMI 144Hz through the generations
The first HDMI 144Hz generation was HDMI 1.3. Its data rate was more than capable of hitting high refresh rates for 1080p resolution, offering 144Hz over HDMI, as well as 240Hz if you're willing to use 4:2:0 chroma subsampling.
While that reduction in color quality isn't necessarily recommended for the best-looking game experience, if you can make do with it, you can also enjoy 144Hz refresh rates at 1440p.
With the same bandwidth and data rate capabilities, HDMI 1.4 144Hz is also possible at the same resolutions.
HDMI 2.0 144Hz options are compression-free, with full support at 1080p and 1440p with full 4:4:4 chroma subsampling. It can't quite handle 4K at 144Hz, but with 4:2:0 chroma subsampling, 120Hz is just about possible. If you limit your resolution to 1080p, HDMI 2.0 also supports 240Hz refresh rates for even smoother gaming experiences and less input lag.
For the ultimate HDMI 144Hz gaming experience, however, you want the latest generation of HDMI connectors. HDMI 2.1 144Hz options include every one of the most popular gaming resolutions, from 1080p, all the way to 4K – no compression required.
So, does HDMI support 144Hz? Absolutely. And in far more ways than one. Take a look at the chart below to determine which HDMI standard you'll require if you have a resolution you'd like to achieve with 144Hz. If you already know which HDMI standard you have, then this chart might help you decide which resolution you're looking for in a monitor.
What do you need for HDMI 144Hz?
The HDMI connector has been the most popular mainstream option for high refresh rate gaming on desktops, laptops, and consoles for almost a decade, and that's partly thanks to its backward compatibility. A 144Hz HDMI 2.1 cable could connect to HDMI 1.3, 1.4, or 2.0 HDMI ports and support the same features and bandwidth as the video sources port.
That's not to say the technology hasn't improved, though. While the cables can all support the various bandwidths and data rates of different HDMI generations, top-tier HDMI 2.1 cables from quality providers like Cable Matters offer gold-plated connectors for anti-corrosion, excellent shielding, and a wide range of cable lengths with active cable options.
HDMI 2.1 changed the standard for good, though, as the first generational leap in many demanded a new cable entirely to support its new, ultra-high bandwidth and data rate. It was the first cable to support HDMI 144Hz at 4K, and because of that, is set to be the connector of choice for next-generation games, consoles, and graphics cards on desktop PCs.
For high-speed gaming, HDMI 2.1 is leaps and bounds of anything that's come before. It's even more capable than DisplayPort 1.4, which for a long time was the gold standard for gaming at high refresh rates. Cable Matters offers a host of cables that support 144Hz HDMI 2.1 devices.
The only downside to HDMI 2.1 144Hz gaming is that you need a compatible TV or monitor and a graphics card or console. HDMI 2.1 graphics cards and the latest game consoles are in high demand, with next-generation consoles and new series of graphics cards from both AMD and Nvidia supporting it natively. High-end GPUs featuring HDMI 2.1 are becoming more and more widely available. With prices decreasing, it may be a great time to go out and get one for yourself if you want to take advantage of 4K@144Hz via HDMI 2.1.
The latest generation game consoles like the Xbox Series X and the PlayStation 5 also utilize HDMI 2.1 technology to provide the best gaming experience that consoles have ever delivered.