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 together. 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? Yes, 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 either 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 which output 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.
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 connector. 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.
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 cable could connect to HDMI 1.3, 1.4, or 2.0 HDMI ports and offer the same features and bandwidth.
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 2.0 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 that 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.
Cable Matters 48Gbps Ultra 8K HDMI Cable
Cable Matters 48Gbps Active HDMI Extension Cable
Cable Matters 48Gbps Active HDMI Cable
The only downside to HDMI 2.1 144Hz gaming is that you need a compatible TV or monitor and graphics card or console. HDMI 2.1 graphics cards and the latest game consoles are either in very short supply or have not yet been released. That will change in the near future, though, with next-generation consoles and new series of graphics cards from both AMD and Nvidia supporting it natively.
Does HDMI support 144Hz on consoles?
Modern game consoles are more powerful than ever. The next-generation Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 promise to offer previously unheard of performance in living room gaming. But can they offer 144Hz over HDMI?
The highest refresh rate currently supported by any games console is the Xbox One X, which offers support for 120Hz gaming. The PlayStation 4 supports a maximum of 60Hz. The Xbox Series X and PS5 will both offer wider 120Hz gaming support for compatible displays over HDMI 2.1.
Unlike PC gaming, where most games will run at 144 frames per second and beyond, taking full advantage of high refresh rate displays, that's rarely the case on the console. Typically, console games are designed to run at a predetermined 30 or 60 FPS. Some Xbox One X games do run at up to 120FPS, and there are a number of already announced Xbox Series X and PS5 games that will be able to run at 120FPS too.
No console games run at 144 FPS, however, so even though 144Hz over HDMI is possible, it won't be a viable option on consoles for at least one more generation.
That said, if you want to hit 120Hz on console gaming, here's how to pick the best HDMI cables for the job.