It is not unlikely that you will find certain multimedia devices with no HDMI ports whereas others with multiple HDMI ports. Which begs the question, “how many HDMI ports do I need really?”.
Simply, put, even a single HDMI port suffices for most. However, those who need to connect multiple displays to a single source would require two or more HDMI output ports on the source device. For those who want to connect multiple source devices to a single display will require multiple HDMI input ports on the display.
So the answer to the question typically depends upon your requirements for how many multimedia devices you have and how many you want to connect simultaneously.
The more multimedia media devices you have, the more HDMI ports you will need. There are a few things to note here.
For starters, do you need multiple output HDMI ports or input HDMI ports? Secondly, what version of HDMI ports do you need? In the following text I will clarify this.
Output HDMI Ports vs Input HDMI Ports
So, for starters, you need to understand that there are output and input HDMI ports.
They both look the same.
Output HDMI ports are located on source devices – where the video and audio signals originate from. These include:
- Desktop PCs
- Laptop PCs
- Gaming Consoles
- Blu-Ray Players
- Set-top Boxes
- Cameras (mini HDMI)
- DVD/ Blu-ray Players
- Streaming Devices such as Chromecast or Roku
Input HDMI ports are located on display devices – where the video and audio signals are broadcasted to the user. These include:
Now you can find multiple HDMI ports on both output and input devices.
Multiple HDMI Ports on Output Devices
Having multiple HDMI ports on an output device such as on a desktop PCs, would enable you to support multiple monitors so you can have a multi-monitor setup.
You can use multiple output HDMI ports for connecting multiple displays to your PC.
This type of setup is often used in offices or by anyone who wants to increase their productivity.
Also Read: Does it Matter Which HDMI Port I Use?
Multiple HDMI Ports on Input Devices
Having multiple HDMI ports on input devices such as monitors, TVs and Projectors means that you can connect multiple source devices to them simultaneously.
For instance, if you have a monitor with two HDMI ports, then you can have your PC connected to one HDMI port whereas your gaming console to the other.
You would change between these through the buttons provided on the monitor.
Similarly, if you have a TV with two or three HDMI ports, then you can have your set-top box, home theater system and your gaming console all connected simultaneously. You would change between these through the remote controller.
You wouldn’t need to disconnect devices to make room for another. This can not only save your from the hassle but also from the wear and tear the HDMI ports would be subjected to through frequent plug-in and plug-out.
Also Read: What Does 2x 3x 4x HDMI Mean?
So How Many HDMI Ports Do I Need?
So from the discussion above, you can see that it all depends upon your use case and requirements.
If you want to connect just a single device such as a PC to a monitor, then you only need a single HDMI port on your monitor and on your PC.
Similarly, if you just want to connect your set-top box to your TV, then you will need a single HDMI port on your TV.
If you want to connect two or more displays to your source device i.e two or more monitors to your PC, then you will need two HDMI ports on your PC and one HDMI port on each of your display – albeit other ports such as DP, DVI, VGA can also be used for adding more displays.
If you want to connect multiple source devices to your display i.e PC, gaming console, Blu-ray player, set-top box, Chromecast simultaneously to your TV, then you will need as many HDMI ports on your TV.
It is not uncommon to find TVs with four HDMI ports owing to the fact that this is the most popular video/audio interface.
Not All HDMI Ports are of the Same Version!
Along with the number of HDMI ports, you also need to be aware of the fact that there are different types of HDMI ports differentiated by their version.
While they all look the same, there is a world of different between newer and older HDMI ports. A single monitor or a TV with multiple HDMI ports can have some HDMI ports conforming to older HDMI version, while others conforming to the newer version.
Hence, you need to be very particularly in selecting which ports to use for connecting devices.
Take ASUS Tuf Gaming VG28UQL1A premium gaming for instance. It has a total of 4 x HDMI ports. Two of which conform to HDMI 2.0 while the other two conform to HDMI 2.1.
For instance, if you want to run your PC or your gaming console at 4K resolution and 60Hz (60 frames per second max), then you will need at least an HDMI 2.0 on both your PC/gaming console as well as on the device you want to connect them to i.e TV/monitor.
On the other hand, if you want to run your PC at merely Full HD (1920x1080p) at 60Hz (60 frame per second max), then having even the older HDMI 1.4 port would do just fine.
The following table summarizes the potential of different HDMI versions. Of course, the best HDMI interface to have is HDMI 2.1 as it supports the highest resolution and refresh rate achievable.
|HDMI Version||Max Resolution||Max Refresh Rate||Max Bandwidth|
|HDMI 1.0||1080p||1080p @ 60 Hz||4.95||3.96||No||- 8 Audio Channels|
|HDMI 1.1/1.2||1440p||1440p @ 30 Hz||4.95||3.96||No||- 8 Audio Channels
-Super Audio CDs
|HDMI 1.3/1.4||4096 x 2160 (4K)||120 Hz @ FHD Resolution|
30 Hz @ 4k Resolution
24 Hz @ 4k Resolution
|10.2||8.16||No||- 8 Audio Channels
- Dolby TrueHD
|HDMI 2.0||4096 x 2160 (4K)||60 Hz @ 4K Resolution||18||14.40||Yes||- 32 audio channels,
- Dynamic Resolution Adaptation (DRA)
- High-Efficiency Advanced Audio Coding (HE-AAC)
|HDMI 2.1||Upto 10240 x 4320 (10K)||Upto 120Hz @ 10K||48||42.67||Yes||- 32 audio channels
The most important parameter here is the effective bandwidth of the different HDMI versions. Subsequently, you can use calculators such as this one to see what version of your HDMI interface you will for your desired resolution and refresh rate.
So, in short, you will not only need to consider how many HDMI ports you need on both the source and display devices, but also their version.
Also Read: How to Check HDMI Port on Laptop?
HDMI Port Versions Can be a Bottleneck
You should make sure both the source and the display device have the same HDMI port version otherwise you will experience bottlenecks.
For instance, if you connect a computer which has an HDMI 1.4 output port to a 4k @ 60Hz monitor which has an HDMI 2.0 input port, your interface will be work at the bandwidth of the slower of the two HDMI ports i.e at the bandwidth of HDMI 1.4.
Hence despite your monitor supporting 4K @ 60Hz, your actual display will be limited to 4K @ 30Hz.
Also Read: How to Check HDMI Port Version?
So when answering the question “how many HDMI ports do I need?” think of what devices you have and also think about how many devices you plan to add in the future.
On TVs and monitors, the more HDMI ports you have, the merrier since it is the most prevalent multimedia interface.
Also Read: Do HDMI Cables Have Different Ends?