After several years, Apple has brought back the HDMI port on the 2021 MacBook Pro models. Unfortunately, what the company failed to inform customers is that the port supports the older HDMI 2.0 standard, not the HDMI 2.1 one.
If You Wanted to Connect a High Resolution, High Refresh Rate Monitor to the HDMI 2.0 Port, You Will Be out of Luck
If you visit the specifications page of the 2021 MacBook Pro models, Apple is using an older-generation HDMI 2.0 port instead of an HDMI 2.1 port. In case you had the intention of hooking up your brand new, shiny MacBook Pro to a high resolution, high refresh monitor and experience that extreme level of fluidity on a bigger display, you will be disappointed here. This is because the HDMI 2.0 standard is limited to 4K and up to 60Hz.
You can still connect 2K monitors to the HDMI 2.0 port on any 2021 MacBook Pro model and get those high framerates, but if you already have a 4K display lying around that can refresh at 120Hz or higher, you will have to downgrade. In case you were wondering, the HDMI 2.1 standard supports 4K displays up to 120Hz, so if were are lucky, Apple will introduce this port next year when it likely refreshes its redesigned MacBook Pro family.
What is strange about this revelation is that these MacBook Pro models tout a massive design change, and with that change comes a slew of hardware upgrades. If Apple was focusing on making its ‘Pro’ portable Macs the best notebook lineup on earth, why did the company leave out HDMI 2.1 from the mix? Many readers might feel that having an HDMI 2.0 port is a non-issue, but the Apple TV 4K released earlier this year has an HDMI 2.1 port, and it touts that same design we have seen for years.
Fortunately, the Thunderbolt 4 ports on the 2021 MacBook Pro models can be used to attach multiple monitors, with the maximum resolution being 6K at 60Hz, so if you want more pixels, utilize the other ports.