There’s an adage, “you get what you pay for.” However, on occasion, cheaper is better. That’s the case with an HDMI cable.
As ironic as it may seem, purchasing low-priced cables for high-end devices, almost any HDMI cable will work. Learn about the best HDMI cables for your devices, from PCs, Macs, and Fire devices to LG and Samsung TVs.
What Makes a Good HDMI Cable?
Cables generally witness massive markups based on seemingly important, but ultimately useless, stats. The same phenomenon holds true for micro USB cables as well. For instance, ferrite cores reduce interference. These lend inductance, therefore serving as a filter for high-frequency noise. But that’s only marginally helpful. Only in extreme cases of incredibly long cables will this produce a noticeable difference. Therefore, you’ll want to consider these factors:
- HDMI type (full size vs. mini)
- Standard-speed vs. high-speed
As CNET explains, there are essentially four varieties of HDMI cables: high-speed (with and without Ethernet) and standard-speed (with and without Ethernet).
Standard-speed HDMI cables are outdated since the price for high-speed and standard-speed cables is now the same. A common misconception is cable versioning: while many cables boast version numbers (like 1.4 or 2.0), those don’t matter for cables. Rather, the ports on your devices have different versions. The same cable you purchased back when you first upgraded to a 720p or 1080p set is likely still fine on all HDMI devices 2.0 and earlier.
However, with HDMI 2.1 came a new cable type. This HDMI 2.1 cable features resolutions up to 10K. The physical connection is identical to that of current HDMI ports. Yet the new cables deliver higher frame rates and resolutions. It’s not necessary to upgrade, as these cables are pricey. Moreover, your hardware can’t even take full advantage of these 48 Gbps cables yet. As HDMI.org explains, existing high-speed HDMI cables which support 18Gbps are compatible with HDMI 2.0.
HDCP: Why You Need an HDMI Splitter
Buying High-Bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP) cables is tricky. HDCP is a form of copy protection which limits how you copy digital audio and video. In some instances, it may be necessary to bypass HDCP. If you’re trying to capture images from HDMI devices, you’ll need to strip the HDCP. Additionally, many older devices such as monitors, projectors, and TVs lacked HDCP for digital inputs like DVI.
Back in my university days, I snagged a brand new Lenovo computer monitor. Complete with its DVI input, I was ecstatic to hook up my PlayStation 3 via an HDMI-to-DVI cable. Unfortunately, lack of HDCP on the monitor’s DVI input prevented me from displaying the PS3 on the monitor.
HDMI Cables: There Are 7 Types
HDMI cables are not one-size fits all. The most common HDMI cables are Type A. There’s also Type B, which is a dual-link HDMI. USB Type-C (USB-C) is a mini HDMI, and there’s Type D, micro HDMI. The latter resembles a microUSB connector. Finally, Type E is the Automotive Connection System.
Moreover, digital connections include DVI, DisplayPort, and MHL. Therefore, HDMI cables and adapters for the likes of these
Best HDMI Cables for All Purposes
Check out the best HDMI cables for all purposes.
For budget components that don’t compromise on quality, Monoprice reigns supreme. The Monoprice 6105 is a top-notch high-speed HDMI cable. It starts at $2.20 for the 1.5-foot cable, and the 6-foot HDMI cable is a mere $3.30. That’s ridiculously inexpensive for a high-speed cable.
For just over $3, you benefit from a 10.2Gbps cable replete with a ferrite core. Monoprice throws on gold-plated connectors — gold feels premium, although it doesn’t improve performance. It’s a dirt-cheap cable capable of transmitting lush visuals, up to 1080p at 60Hz and 4K resolutions at 24Hz.
- High-speed 10.2Gbps cable
- Compatible with 4K devices
Amazon, first an eCommerce platform, now dabbles in a variety of spaces including selling its own products. The AmazonBasics HDMI cable is an excellent, well, basic HDMI cable. It’s available in a variety of sizes, from three feet long to a 25-foot cable. Plus, there are one, two, three, and 24-packs for bulk orders.
The AmazonBasics HDMI cable handles 4K video at 60Hz and yields a bandwidth of up to 18Gbps. Additionally, the AmazonBasics HDMI cable supports Ethernet.
- Three-foot to 50-foot options available
- Suitable for 4K
- 18Gbps bandwidth
Belkin’s HDMI cable is a superb, reasonably-priced cable. It’s available in lengths from four feet to 50 feet. This no-frills HDMI cable is suitable for 4K devices delivering up to 18Gbps bandwidth. As such, it’s ideal for 4K resolution. With a variety of lengths and a low price from a trusted name, this Belkin HDMI cable is a top choice.
- 18Gbps bandwidth
- From four-foot versions to 50-foot cables
- Reasonable price
This isn’t technically an HDMI cable, but it’s incredibly beneficial for sorting out HDCP issues. Occasionally, it may be necessary to strip HDCP from a source. For instance, that’s necessary when recording from an HDMI source like an Amazon Fire tablet. A cheap but functional means to strip HDCP is using a splitter. The ViewHD retails for less than $20 and includes the ability to remove HDCP from a signal. It takes an HDMI in signal and converts that to two outputs. In the process, this HDMI splitter revokes the HDCP.
Many older devices such as monitors, televisions, and projectors lacked HDCP, or suffer from HDCP handshaking problems. A splitter like the ViewHD is the perfect solution to rectify HDCP problems.
- Strips HDCP
- Two HDMI outputs from one HDMI source
Best HDMI Cable?
Overall, pretty much any recent HDMI cable will suffice for anything from 480p to 4K resolutions. So long as you opt for a high-speed cable, there’s really no difference in most HDMI cables despite what the packaging might suggest. While cables don’t differ much, the HDMI protocol is rapidly changing. HDMI 2.1 yields 8K and 10K resolutions as well as dynamic HDR. Of course, finding sources of 10K content and panels which support that resolution isn’t yet feasible. It’s with HDMI 2.1 that a new cable comes into play with up to 48Gbps.
Ultimately, for HDMI cables, stick to well-known brands but don’t worry about versioning. Instead, make sure to snag a high-speed HDMI cable that’s capable of 18Gbps or higher.
Which HDMI cables do you recommend?