What is HDMI 2.1?
HDMI 2.1 is the latest iteration of HDMI cable technology. The previous HDMI 2.0 iteration was limited in its bandwidth of only 18 gigabits per second. With HDMI 2.1, the bandwidth is a hefty 48 gigabits per second.
Okay, but what does that really mean?
In short, HDMI 2.0’s bandwidth limitations mean that it can only reach a maximum of 1080p 240hz, 1440p 144 Hz, or 4K 60 Hz. Many of today’s high-end PC graphics cards and current generation video game consoles are capable of exceeding these specifications quite easily.
HDMI 2.1, on the other hand, can achieve 4K at 180 Hz, 5K at 144 Hz, and can even go up to 10K resolution. Needless to say, HDMI 2.1 will be the standard for a long time before we have any hardware capable of surpassing the massive amount of bandwidth that HDMI 2.1 is capable of. To help you get started, in this article we will go over some of the best HDMI 2.1 monitors for gaming on the market today.
Who Needs an HDMI 2.1 Monitor?
As with most bleeding-edge tech, HDMI 2.1 monitors are quite pricey and not for everyone. However, if you find yourself the lucky owner of an RTX 3080 or 3090 graphics card, or you own an Xbox Series X or PS5 console, then an HDMI 2.1 monitor might be worth considering. The following monitors are all 4K displays with a 144 Hz refresh rate minimum and the best HDMI 2.1 monitors on the market right now.
Our Picks For The Best HDMI 2.1 Monitors for Gaming
First up is the Gigabyte M28U, the best bang-for-buck HDMI 2.1 monitor right now, trading blows with the other monitors here quite spectacularly. Retailing at about $600, sure, it’s not exactly a cheap choice, but considering the current price of HDMI 2.1 monitors, this one is practically a steal.
The Gigabyte M28U sports an IPS panel with a 94% DCI-P3 wide color gamut, creating vibrant colors and good viewing angles. This monitor offers a 1ms grey to grey response time for gaming, along with FreeSync Premium Pro for tear-free gaming, making it an excellent choice for competitive gamers. Drawbacks to the GIgabyte M28U include low contrast ratios due to its IPS panel and some very noticeable overshoot ghosting in all overdrive response time modes.
The Acer Nitro XV282K was one of the first HDMI 2.1 monitors and is still one of the best. The Acer Nitro is a pretty display to look at thanks to its IPS panel that provides excellent viewing angles and great colors. This panel is equipped with a ~120% sRGB color gamut and support for 10-bit color depth, so you’re sure to get a great visual experience with this display.
For gaming, the Acer Nitro XV282K features a very low input lag time of 4ms with an added “Extreme” setting to drive down input lag even further, but with some added ghosting. At a base 4ms input lag, most gamers should be satisfied with this monitor’s performance for those who primarily play fast-paced shooters where low response time matters. Add in variable frame rate support thanks to FreeSync Premium. This monitor becomes an excellent choice for gamers, with its main drawbacks being its low contrast ratio and noticeable ghosting at the “Extreme” setting.
2. LG 27GP950
If you are a real-deal monitor enthusiast looking for some of the best in picture quality and gaming performance, look no further than our following two choices, they are the best HDMI 2.1 monitors on the market.
The LG 27GP950 looks fantastic due to its Nano IPS panel with a crazy 98% DCI-P3 color gamut. Additionally, this monitor is the first on the list to feature VESA’s DisplayHDR 600 certification, meaning that it reaches a high 600-nit peak brightness in HDR scenes and even surpasses it at times, reaching 696 nits in certain scenes. While not a 100% authentic HDR experience, the 27GP950 is suitable as a sort of HDR-lite panel that can still make games and movies pop more than SDR can.
Gaming-wise, the 27GP950 is impressive. At the Normal pixel overdrive setting, the monitor can achieve a 3.7ms response time and a 1ms response time in its overdrive settings with only a small amount of ghosting. The LG 27GP950 supports FreeSync and G-SYNC variable refresh rates as standard for a good panel.
This is an all-around smooth and responsive monitor with outstanding picture quality. There is not much to complain about with this LG monitor besides the standard low contrast ratio due to IPS display technology and greyish-looking blacks as a consequence. If you’re looking for the best HDMI 2.1 monitor right now, I would say go for this one but also keep in mind my next pick if you’re willing to expand your horizons.
Okay, I will concede that this is not actually a monitor and requires a lot of desk real estate to even consider purchasing. However, the LG C1 OLED should be considered as competition to the rest of this list when factoring in the $800-$1,000 price point that all of these panels are in. As far as screen technology goes, this display is leaps and bounds ahead of every monitor on this list at roughly the same price. But what makes the LG C1 better than everything else here?
The answer is OLED technology.
Unlike most LED monitors, the LG C1’s OLED technology can turn off individual pixels to display true blacks, creating an infinite contrast ratio and a beautiful HDR experience. OLED technology can also deliver a much lower input lag with near-instant response times. The C1 supports the PC-specific G-SYNC and FreeSync variable refresh rate technology, making it a TV that is actually good for gaming. Purchasing a traditional monitor is usually an exercise in settling for either visual quality or gaming performance; the LG C1 delivers the best of both worlds.
The only drawbacks to the LG C1 are the chance for burn-in, a common fault for all OLED panels, also its glossy screen that will reflect light if positioned in front of a window. LG does include many burn-in preventative measures with this TV, which could last a long time if the owner also does their due diligence to take care of the display with screensavers and proper brightness adjustment.
If you’re after the absolute best of the best and have the space for a 48” TV, then the LG C1 48” is the best HDMI 2.1 monitor, or in this case, TV, that you could buy for media consumption or even day to day PC usage.
Final Thoughts on The Best HDMI 2.1 Monitors for Gaming
The HDMI 2.1 market is small, and some growing pains still need to be worked through as high refresh rate high-resolution monitors find their footing with picture quality and response time.
Bear in mind when purchasing an HDMI 2.1 monitor that you will need some serious gaming hardware to take full advantage of such a high-tech screen. An RTX 3080 and up or a current-generation console are highly recommended. Overall, you can’t go wrong with any display on this list!
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