HDMI 2.1 in Framework Laptop 16

I’m seeing an expansion card option for HDMI (3rd Gen) which mentions support for “HDMI 2.0b for resolutions up to 4k 60Hz”.

If (more likely “when”) Framework sells an HDMI 2.1 expansion card in the future, would any current configuration of the FW16 support that future upgrade? I don’t want to get the FW16 and find out later that “oops, you’ll need to buy a mainboard/graphics upgrade due to X limitation”.

For context, I am aiming to get the “AMD Radeon™ RX 7700S” graphics expansion module and would hook this up to a 4k 120hz monitor. I understand this would not be able to handle god-tier AAA title games at max settings, etc etc.

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All expansion cards connect via USB-C. The HDMI card is just a USB-C to HDMI adapter. So no reason HDMI 2.1 won’t work.


USB-C (technically USB Type-C) is a physical connector, not a protocol. The expansion card does not directly convert USB 4 or USB 3.2 (the data protocols in play) to HDMI. Instead, how it works is that a few of the pins on the Type-C connector are set aside to route DisplayPort signaling from the CPU/GPU via Alt Mode. This DP signal is then converted to an HDMI signal (probably inside the expansion card). So, you can’t make the assumption that HDMI 2.1 will just work out of the box.

I don’t have the definitive answer to whether HDMI 2.1 would eventually work with existing motherboards, but it would be based on the version of DP that the CPU/GPU sends to the adapter, and then the HDMI conversion IC and firmware inside the expansion card. It looks like the Ryzen CPU supports DP 2.1 and technically USB4 supports DisplayPort 2.0 Alt Mode, both of which support up to 80 Gbps of bandwidth. HDMI 2.1 ‘only’ requires 48 Gbps. So, it looks like the motherboard is probably ok already, but it would most likely require a new HDMI expansion card for the HDMI conversion side of things.


The GPU expansion bay has a dedicated USB-C port for video out.

Appreciate the info. I was a little too broad with the term “monitor”; I am using an LG C2 TV (with HDMI 2.1, but no USB-C input). There will be situations where I would take advantage of USB-C video out as well though, so that’s good to know.

It would be nice to have some type of official confirmation but I’m certainly okay with holding a reservation in the meantime based on what’s been mentioned here. It sounds like HDMI 2.1 is “technically” possible in the future with an updated HDMI expansion card.

I think we should expect to receive these answers/confirmation about HDMI 2.1 (among others) with the connectors deep dive blog post, which is expected next.

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FYI, not sure you’re aware, but you should be able to connect a USB4/Thunderbolt (USB C) to HDMI cable from your laptop to any modern HDMI display. This may work around the FW HDMI limitation. Here’s one that claims to support 4k 120hz and 2.1.


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One thing about HDMI 2.1 that must be noted is VRR (Adaptive-Sync/FreeSync) support. This is a real game changer when it comes to gaming.

Worth noting that Freesync has supported HDMI for years, it’s just been incorporated officially into the v2.1 standard. I was running it on triple screens with a Vega 56 back in 2017…