Best HDMI Cables
How to Choose an HDMI Cable
HDMI is the TV industry standard for high-definition components. It’s the all-in-one cable to carry audio and video signals from your Blu-ray player (or game console or computer or any number of other things) to your TV. We spent 15 hours researching HDMI cables to find the best high-speed options available. After adding the research with our own technical expertise, we recommend the Monoprice Select Series as the overall best HDMI cable for most people because it so deftly balances affordability and reliability. Other notable products include AmazonBasics High-Speed HDMI cables, our favorite budget option, as well as the AudioQuest Pearl, our pick as the best brand if you need longer cables (over 15 feet).
The Monoprice Select Series HDMI cables combine high quality and reliability with a low price point, making them our choice for the best overall HDMI cables. These cords are HDMI-certified high-speed cables with Ethernet, so they can handle your surround sound, HD, 4k, high definition audio and 3D needs. Reliability is paramount for HDMI cables, so going with a trusted brand like Monoprice is always a good bet. They come in a variety of lengths, and we liked that they are also available in multiple colors, which is great to help keep your cords organized.
Best Budget Option
The AmazonBasics HDMI cables are backed by a lifetime warranty. With Amazon Prime (and therefore free shipping), the total cost for a 6-foot cable can be as low as $3.32, depending on the number of cables you buy and your shipping preferences. True to their brand name, these cables are basic, high-speed HDMI cables. They’re black, a little bulky and sturdily constructed with gold-plated connectors and a durable PVC cable jacket. Based on the warranty and the cost, we recommend the AmazonBasics High-Speed HDMI cable as the best budget HDMI cable.
Best for Lengths Over 15 Feet
The AudioQuest Pearl line of HDMI cables is built to be more reliable at lengths greater than 15 feet. Over longer distances, HDMI signals can be prone to delivery failure, resulting in things not working. The AudioQuest Pearl’s superior build quality can do wonders to prevent this. The cable casings are CL3 rated for in-wall use, which is usually where you put longer cables anyway. The quality and practicality of the cable design makes the AudioQuest Pearl a great option when your setup leaves your devices far away from the television.
Buying an HDMI Cable
Do I Need a “Premium” Cable?
Browsing the internet to find the best HDMI cables, you may have come across a debate on whether “premium” HDMI cables actually perform better than cheaper brands. There are those who will vehemently swear that their preferred brand delivers better sound quality or a clearer picture or brighter colors, but those people are wrong. Because of the way HDMI works, all cables will perform the same. The cable is just the pipeline for the digital signal, so it either delivers the video and sound or doesn’t work at all. There’s no in-between.
Types of HDMI Cable
There are five types of HDMI cable: standard, standard with Ethernet, standard automotive, high speed and high speed with Ethernet. Each of these categories is standardized and regulated by HDMI Licensing, LLC, so basically anything in each category is going to be very similar to everything else in that category.
All the products we’ve reviewed are high speed cables, some with Ethernet and some without. This means that they all can handle 4K, 3D and Deep Color display technologies.
Though cables that work will not deliver better sound or video than any other cable that works, some cables are built better than others. The build quality, we found, is the most important factor determining whether a cable will work and how long it will work. This is especially true for longer cables; a better build quality in longer cables can make a difference. We find it important to delineate here that not all expensive cables are built better than inexpensive ones. The HDMI cables we recommend are all from trusted brands that produce reliable cables. Basically, look for products with a lot of positive reviews and avoid products that cost substantially more than similar items for no apparent reason.
If you’re planning on running HDMI cables through your walls, it’s important that you check the fire-safety rating of your chosen cables. CL2 and CL3 ratings are usually recommended for in-wall use, but you should check with your insurance company or local building codes to be sure.
Active vs. Passive Cables
All of the HDMI cables we reviewed are passive cables, meaning they are bi-directional and act simply as a pipeline to transfer data between devices. Some HDMI cables are active cables, meaning they include extra tech to ensure high-speed quality over longer distances or with thinner cables. They are directional cables that boost signals and usually require some sort of power source. Active cables aren’t really necessary for shorter lengths unless your setup requires your HDMI to be more flexible than is typical.