Apple's new 2021 MacBook Pro only comes with an HDMI 2.0 port which cannot output 4K at 120Hz on an external display
On Monday, Apple has officially unveiled its redesigned 2021 MacBook Pro 14 and MacBook Pro 16 with the excitingly powerful Apple M1 Pro and M1 Max processors. Besides the new CPUs, Apple's apparently renewed emphasis on functionality is illustrated by the reintroduction of native connectors like MagSafe, a full-size SD card slot and a regular HDMI port.
But according to an article by MacRumors, which cites the official specs of the new 2021 MacBook Pro, this HDMI port unfortunately only supports the 2.0 standard. There may be technical reasons which influenced Apple's decision to utilize HDMI 2.0 instead of the new HDMI 2.1 standard, which offers more features and higher bandwidths. Therefore, future owners of a new 14-inch or 16-inch 2021 MacBook Pro have to live with certain limitations regarding the video output on external HDMI 4K displays.
With its HDMI 2.0 port, the 2021 MacBook Pro cannot output a 4K/120Hz video signal on external monitors. In this case, the frequency has to be reduced to 60Hz. This could be particularly annoying because the integrated Liquid Retina XDR Display of the 2021 MacBook Pro runs at 120Hz itself. In order to enjoy the fluidity of 120Hz on external displays and monitors, users will have to utilize one of the Thunderbolt 4 ports and an according USB-C to Displayport cable (from US$17 on Amazon), which should enable video output at 4K and 120Hz.