Can My Older AV Receiver Pass 4k 120Hz?
You’ve got a PS5 or XBox Series X. You just bought a new TV that supports all the new gaming features. Hello, 4k 120Hz gaming! But you’ve remembered something – your older AV receiver. It isn’t that old, but older than these brand-new features. Will your older AV receiver still pass a 4k 120Hz video signal? Let’s discuss!
The Simple Answer
The easiest and most often correct answer is No. If your AV receiver doesn’t have HDMI 2.1 inputs and outputs with full bandwidth, then 4k 120Hz isn’t going to pass. Nevermind VRR and ALLM.
But it is a little more complicated than that.
The Longer Answer
If your AV receiver doesn’t sport HDMI 2.0 ports, then the answer is almost definitely no. But even if you have an AV receiver that only has HDMI 1.4 ports, not all hope is lost.
It is a question of compatibility and bandwidth. Technically, an HDMI 1.4 connection has enough bandwidth for a 4k/60Hz signal with an 8-bit color depth and 4:2:0 chroma sampling. If you have an AV receiver with HDMI 2.0 ports, then it should be able to pass 4k 120Hz with 8-bit color and 4:2:0 chroma sampling. There is a calculator here to help you figure out what each HDMI standard can do.
But that is only half the story. Just because the HDMI spec should be able to pass the signal, doesn’t mean your particular devices will be compatible. Not only does every device in the signal chain need to be able to pass the full bandwidth of the spec, but your TV needs to be compatible. Sure, your source may be able to send out a 4k 120Hz signal with 8-bit color and 4:2:0 chroma sampling, but can your TV decode it? Time to get out those manuals or hit up customer support!
Again, the short answer is often given because statistically, it is most often correct. Even if the person asking has gear that is compatible with one of these reduced bandwidth outputs, they often don’t know how to reconfigure their gear. Easier just to tell them to connect their game console directly to their TV and then use ARC or eARC to send the audio back down to their AV receiver. No matter how many problems HDMI CEC cause.