October 20th, 2022
How we picked the best HDMI cables
HDMI cables are very simple and cheap. There is one stat you need to worry about: speed. Your HDMI cable simply transmits data from your Blu-ray player, cable box, game console, or other device, and that's it. You can only make a cable better (or worse) by improving how fast it can send data. Every audio- and video-related feature that might depend on a good cable, including HDR and Dolby Atmos, needs a pipeline with enough bandwidth to run properly. If they fail, there will be white static or it won't work at all; Otherwise, they are operating at full capacity, with no real marginal gain and little specialization to be found.
If you are buying new cables, we recommend only considering the top two options. Accordingly, the best HDMI cable is usually the cheapest certified cable that suits your needs. We've combed professional and consumer reviews and pulled from years of personal A/V experience to distill the best HDMI cables to suit a variety of situations. All the options we have chosen are from trusted brands and have been extensively verified by users for long haul
Things to consider before buying an HDMI cable
Best HDMI cables are one of the simplest components of your home A/V system, but they're also very important. Depending on what you're doing, your cable can become a significant barrier to your viewing and playing, so you want to make sure you get the right technical standards. All HDMI cables are backwards compatible and the connectors remain unchanged, so you don't need to worry about new cables working with older devices. Here's a little primer on how to tell the good HDMI cables from the bad, no matter what you need them for.
Need for speed
HDMI or otherwise, do one thing: transmit data. For HDMI, that data is measured in gigabits per second (GB/s). "Standard" and "High Speed" HDMI are still widely used and can support 4.95 and 10.2 GB/s respectively. High Speed HDMI can support up to 4K resolution at 30 Hz, which is sufficient for most film and television, though not the most advanced, dynamic form of HDR. "Premium High Speed" is the next step up, going to 18 GB/s, or enough to handle 4K HDR content at 60 Hz, which can support almost any contemporary application. The highest level, "Ultra High Speed", can transmit 48 GB/s, opening the door to 10K resolution at 120 Hz.
You've probably also seen version numbers floating around (HDMI 1.4, 2.0, and, most recently, 2.1). These technically describe the communication standard used by the hardware you're connecting to, rather than cables For our purposes, all you need to know is that you need to get a premium high speed cable (18 GB/s) for connecting HDMI 2.0 devices and an ultra high speed cable (48 GB/s) for HDMI 2.1 gear. If your hardware supports 2.0 or 2.1, you need matching cables to take advantage. Older cables will still work, but whatever data the cable can support will be throttled by limiting the frame rate and resolution.
If you're buying a new cable now, we recommend only considering the last two. Right now, premium high-speed HDMI will be able to handle content in 4K at 60 frames per second, which covers almost anything you can throw at your TV. PS5, Xbox Series X, and high-end PC graphics cards may require ultra high speeds in some cases to output them optimally, but this is fairly rare at the moment. Meanwhile, 8K video exists only for research and technical demos. In other words, Ultra High exists mostly in anticipation of future hardware and content. There's nothing wrong with future-proofing, but know that ultra high speeds are overkill for most people.
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