We’re all guilty of sometimes unplugging one device from our TVs and then just using the same HDMI cable to plug in the newer, better thing. The lovely versatility of the HDMI port allows this to seem like a good idea, and frankly it’s much easier than climbing behind the TV and rerunning the cable through the entertainment unit.
But, despite how similar they look, not all HDMI cables are created equal, and you could find yourself missing out on some of the new Xbox Series X’s most exciting features.
There are four basic speeds of HDMI:
- Standard HDMI, which is capable of HD resolution at 30Hz.
- High Speed HDMI, which can display up to 4K resolution at 30Hz.
- Premium High Speed HDMI, which is where you start to get 4K and HDR with a refresh rate of 60Hz.
- Ultra High Speed HDMI, which goes to a super impressive 10K HDR at 120Hz, or 4K HDR at 240Hz, just to get really ready for the future.
The names are really confusing, so it’s easy to get them mixed up. But basically they’re all capable of transmitting data at different speeds. The faster it can get the data to the TV, the more data it can transmit and the prettier stuff looks.
The big new feature of the Xbox Series X is its 4K HDR 120FPS (or 8K HDR 60FPS) gaming, and you can’t get that without two things: a 4K HDR TV with HDMI 2.1 and an Ultra High Speed HDMI cable.
Given the fanciness and expense of the Ultra High Speed cables, chances are you don’t already have one plugged into your old Xbox One, so you will need to run the new cable and pack away the old one with the old console.
On the flip side, the Series S only comes with a regular High Speed cable, so if you want to get that 60FPS 4K HDR, or 120FPS at 1440p, you might want to consider upgrading to a Premium High Speed cable.
This article was originally published in November 2020.