Best HDMI Switchers of 2018

Ryan Brown ·
Updated
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We plugged 4K and regular HD sources into 10 HDMI switchers to determine which is the easiest to use and has the best features. We connected each model to an Ultra HD Blu-ray, an Apple TV, a Chromecast Ultra, a smartphone, and a laptop. The J-Tech Digital JTD4KSP0301 is the best HDMI switcher we tested because it supports resolutions up to 4K, the auto-switching works well, and it switches quickly between sources – under 3 seconds. During our testing, it took less than three seconds to smoothly switch between sources, and the HDMI sources worked seamlessly. 

Best Overall

J-Tech Digital

The J-Tech Digital unit switched seamlessly and quickly between our test devices and supports resolutions up to 4K. The remote works perfectly, and it also includes the ability to toggle auto-switching.
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Best Value

Fosmon HD1832

The Fosmon HD1832 is our budget pick because it worked with most of our test HDMI peripherals and costs under $15. This is the most cost-effective way to add more HDMI ports to your TV.
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Best for Reducing Cables

Masscool MA103

If you want to hide your HDMI switcher behind your TV, the Masscool MA103 comes with an external IR sensor so you can control it even if the device itself isn’t in view. This switcher worked with all our test devices and supports resolutions up to 1080p.
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Product
Price
$39.98Amazon
$39.99Amazon
$25.00Amazon
$25.00Amazon
$12.99Amazon
$11.44Amazon
$7.92Amazon
$38.68Amazon
$34.99Amazon
Overall Rating
9.4
9
8.8
8.5
8.2
8.1
7.5
6.3
5.6
Switching Capabilities
9
8.5
9.3
10
9.5
9.3
9.5
3.5
2.5
Compatibility
9.5
10
9
7.8
7.5
7.5
7.3
7.5
7.3
Design
10
8
7.5
6.3
6.5
6.5
5.5
9
7.8
Help & Support
10
10
10
10
10
10
10
10
Switching Time (seconds)
2.4
0.03
2.3
1.5
0.02
2.2
0.02
0.03
0.04
Auto Switch
N/A
N/A
Number of Ports
3
5
3
5
5
3
3
4
5
External IR Sensor
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
Weight (oz)
4
4.1
1.8
10.5
1.7
1.8
1.6
5.4
15.1
Power Supply Needed
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
Remote Score
A+
B-
C-
D
D
D
F
B+
B-
Maximum Resolution
4K
1080p
1080p
4K
1080p
1080p
1080p
1080p
4K
HDCP Version
HDCP 1.4
HDCP 1.2
Compliant
Compliant
HDCP 1.1
Compliant
HDCP 1.0
Compliant
HDCP 1.4, 2.2
Compatibility Test
A-
A+
B-
D
D
D
F
D
F
3D Support
HDMI Version
HDMI 1.4b
HDMI 1.3
HDMI 1.3b
HDMI 1.4a
HDMI 1.3b
HDMI 1.3b
HDMI 1.3b
HDMI 1.4a
HDMI 1.4, 2.0
Warranty
1 Year
1 Year
1 Year
1 Year
1 Year
1 Year
N/A
1 Year
1 Year
Email, Chat, Phone Support Available
Phone, Email
Phone, Email
Phone, Email
Email
Email
N/A
Phone, Email
Email
FAQs
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
Best Overall

J-Tech Digital

The best HDMI switcher we tested was the J-Tech Digital JTD4KSP0301.
While other switchers were difficult to set up or to use, it was easy to set up all our test devices with this switcher, and using it to switch between peripherals was fast and problem-free. This is one of the few models we tested that also works with resolutions up to 4K, making it somewhat future-proof. This switcher worked with all our test devices, though it took some plugging and unplugging to get the MHL cable and smartphone to work. You can easily auto-switch between displayed devices by powering on the device that you want to use. If you want, you can also toggle this function on and off using the included remote. This switcher is compatible with HDMI sources version 1.4b and lower, and is also compliant with HDCP (High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection) version 1.4. When we watched an Ultra HD version of “The Martian” on our test TV, the J-Tech switcher didn’t have any lagging or problems. It is small, but it has to be visible on your media center because it doesn’t come with an IR cable. This switcher comes with a one-year warranty. You can contact J-Tech Digital by phone or email for help with any issues.
Pros
  • Remote can toggle auto-switching on and off
  • Physical button on the front if you lose the remote
  • Supports 4K resolution
Cons
  • Requires power connection to work
  • Bright LEDs can be distracting in the dark
  • MHL took several tries to connect
$24.99Amazon
Best Value

Fosmon HD1832

The Fosmon HD1832 is one of the least expensive HDMI switchers we tested, and it is our top pick for value. For under $15, you get five additional HDMI ports and an infrared remote to switch between them.
It features auto-switching, but it may not work with all your devices. When we tested this switcher with a Phillips UHD Blu-ray player, it struggled to deliver sound and audio together. However, this device worked perfectly with the Apple TV, Chromecast Ultra and laptop we plugged in. This switcher supports resolutions up to 1080p as well as 3D. It supports HDMI version 1.3b and HDCP 1.1. If you purchase this switcher, you’ll want to match the HDMI versions of your devices with the switcher. This switcher has an external IR sensor, like the Masscool MA103, so you can hide the switcher behind your TV and still use the remote. The remote for this switcher feels cheaper than some of the remotes we tested, but it works fine to switch between the five inputs. This switcher is a few dollars more than the cheapest switcher we tested, but the Fosmon comes with a one-year warranty as well as customer support through email.
Pros
  • Extremely affordable price
  • Accurate IR remote
  • Only one LED on the switcher
Cons
  • Remote button layout isn’t intuitive
  • The switcher doesn’t organize the ports well
  • Several test peripherals didn’t work with this switcher
$11.99Amazon
Best for Reducing Cables

Masscool MA103

If you’re looking for an HDMI switcher that you can easily stow behind your TV or in a drawer in your media center, the Masscool MA103 is your best bet.
It comes with an external IR sensor that you can place in view of the remote so the switcher itself can remain hidden. This switcher worked with all our test devices, though it did take several attempts to get the UHD Blu-ray player working. This switcher supports HDMI version 1.3b and HDCP pass-through. It supports resolutions up to 1080p as well as 3D. It takes only two seconds or so to switch inputs, one of the fastest we tested. This switcher also auto-switched between sources, even with an Apple TV plugged in as one of the devices. The Masscool switcher’s remote is bare-bones, with just three buttons to switch between sources, but it works efficiently. You must point the remote with some accuracy at the IR sensor, but it’s more forgiving than other remotes and sensors we tested. This switcher has a one-year warranty. You can get support through FAQs, by phone or by email.
Pros
  • Supports auto-switching
  • IR cord lets you hide the switcher behind your TV
  • Doesn’t require a power cable to work
Cons
  • Blu-ray player had trouble connecting
  • Cords go everywhere because the switcher doesn’t organize the ports well
  • Remote feels small and cheap
$24.16Amazon

Why Trust Us?

To test HDMI switchers, we bought 10 of the top switchers from nine brands and brought them into our testing lab. We looked at how fast each switcher jumped between HDMI sources, checked whether any sources wouldn’t display, and gauged the overall use and feel of each product. We scored each switcher based on our experiences and other factors.

HDMI switchers are basic devices, but we put them through their paces because no one else has done a thorough test of HDMI switchers. We focused on testing brands you’ll find on Amazon.com, as well as a Rocketfish switcher from Best Buy in case you’re scrambling and need to purchase a switcher from a physical store.

Our recommendations are based mostly on our impressions of these devices while doing side-by-side testing, but we also like to scour the web looking for articles to help us understand all the important features. We found this article particularly helpful because it has images of a few different connection scenarios to help you visualize how to connect all your devices to the switcher.

Top Ten Reviews has been reviewing tech products for over a decade. I am an experienced writer and reviewer, and I have tested and written reviews for numerous digital products and services for Top Ten Reviews. I’ve set up my own home theater system and am constantly learning about the latest AV products.

How We Tested

We connected each switcher to the following devices: a Phillips UHD 4K Blu-ray player, a Chromecast Ultra, an Apple TV (not the new 4K version), a Samsung Galaxy Note 4 smartphone with an MHL cable, and a laptop with an HDMI cable. We set up a TV in our test lab, plugged in all the devices, and started switching through the HDMI switchers.

We used the remote and the physical button on each switcher to toggle through the sources, making sure each one was working properly. To test the auto-switching, we turned off the Blu-ray player and then turned it on again while the switcher set on a different HDMI port to see if it would automatically change inputs.

We used a UHD copy of “The Martian,” a dozen movie trailers from the Apple TV and a YouTube video from “National Geographic” to test our video sources.

We found that most HDMI switchers function the same, but several of the cheaper models failed to play media from the smartphone or couldn’t play the UHD Blu-ray without interruptions to the audio and picture. We took detailed notes of each switcher’s capabilities and how easy each was to operate.

Important Things to Consider When Choosing an HDMI Switcher

HDMI switchers are essentially HDMI hubs that let you plug your HDMI devices into the switcher and then connect a single HDMI cord to your TV. If you’re running out of HDMI ports on your TV, or you have an older TV with just a few HDMI ports, an HDMI switcher can give you more ports for less money than an expensive AV receiver.

HDMI and HDCP Versions
It’s important to understand that different versions of HDMI may not be compatible with one another. While HDMI cables come in only two versions, high-speed and normal, devices that use HDMI can have different versions. The latest HDMI version is 2.0, and TVs or switchers that use this version are compatible with earlier versions like 1.4 and 1.3. However, a TV that supports only HDMI 1.3 won’t be able to play content from an HDMI 2.0 Blu-ray player.

HDCP is closely tied to HDMI and is a digital “handshake” protocol that ensures you’re not playing pirated content. Similar to HDMI, HDCP versions need to match up for content to be played correctly. The newest version of HDCP is 2.2, and not all devices will support pass-through from all versions of HDCP.

HDMI Cords
None of the HDMI switchers we tested come with an HDMI cord, so you’ll have to purchase at least one to connect the switcher to your TV. Don’t pay attention to HDMI cords that advertise support for various HDMI versions or HDCP. HDMI cords are simply pipes that stream data, so you just need to purchase an HDMI cord that is labeled high-speed.

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