Surround Receivers

How Many 4k/120Hz HDMI Ports Do I Need on My AV Receiver?

HDMI 2.1 is the latest and greatest. Manufacturers of TVs and AV receivers have been clamoring (with some hiccups) to get as many HDMI 2.1 ports as possible into their devices. The main use of HDMI 2.1 ports, so far, has been for gamers. If you are a gamer, you’re surely interested in at least a couple of HDMI 2.1 ports. But if you aren’t, how many 4k/120Hz HDMI ports do you actually need on your AV receiver or TV? Let’s discuss!


“As many as possible,” says the person worried about futureproofing. “Preferably, all of them.”

We’ve gone on record stating that we don’t think you’ll ever need HDMI 2.1 ports (with 4k/120Hz capabilities) on your AV receiver if you aren’t a gamer. Future iterations of any sort of 8k format surely won’t work with current HDMI 2.1 ports. You surely don’t need them for Blu-rays or UltraHD Blu-rays. If you aren’t a gamer (or don’t care that much about high framerates and such), then you really don’t need any HDMI 2.1 ports.

Won’t They Release Other Devices to Take Advantage of HDMI 2.1 Ports?

First, let’s talk about the features that currently work with HDMI 2.1. VRR and ALLM are gaming features that allow for high and variable refresh rates as well as low input latency. Neither of these is important for any other medium outside of games. Gamers want high frame rates (as high as possible at every moment) for additional realism and the ability to notice what is happening in the game as early as possible. Low latency allows input commands to be sent and received with as little delay as possible. Both of these are important if you are a competitive gamer. Neither is important for literally anyone else. High framerates are generally not appreciated with movies (just read all the complaints about the Hobbit movies), and low input lag isn’t a problem when controlling your TV or AV receiver.

There are other HDMI 2.1 features (like QMS) that might have people interested. But, as we’ve reported, QMS either isn’t working correctly or isn’t supported at all with most HDMI 2.1 devices on the market. Buying an AV receiver with HDMI 2.1 ports for these features doesn’t mean they’ll be enabled at a later date.

So, How Many Do I Need?

For most people, the answer is probably zero. Few of us are competitive gamers. But if you are wondering the maximum amount that might be necessary, the answer is three. One for a PS5, one for an XBox Series X, and one for a high-end gaming computer. Sure, if you are really into gaming, you might have multiple of these devices, but most people won’t.

The reality is that you probably won’t have much of a choice. When you are shopping for your AV receiver, you’ll likely buy one that fits your other needs. Manufacturers are going to eventually ensure that all of the HDMI ports are 2.1 compatible with 4k/120Hz, VRR, ALLM, and more. If you want to make sure you have enough, anything that has three or more should be fine for the vast majority of owners.

If you are shopping for a TV, as long has your AV receiver has at least three, all you need is one on the TV. Otherwise, you could need as many as four (one for the three devices plus a fourth to connect your receiver to your TV via eARC).

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