How to Choose a 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.
The Monoprice Select is a High-Speed HDMI cable and is certified by HDMI, meaning that it meets the standards for all high-speed HDMI cables. It handles surround sound, 1080p resolution, Audio Return Channel, 4K, high definition audio and 3D, and it comes equipped with Ethernet. Reliability is paramount for HDMI cables, and Monoprice has thousands of positive reviews across the web.
Monoprice constructs its cables with gold-plated connectors and ferrite cores at each end to minimize electromagnetic and radio frequency noise from interfering with the signal. However, they are VW-1 fire safety rated, which is not generally approved for in-wall use. The HDMI cables are also available in a variety of purchasing options. In addition to multiple available lengths, there are eight color options, which is a feature unique to Monoprice.
The colors are great for aesthetic and organizational purposes. Overall, Monoprice makes great cables, and the Select series is a great option for your high-speed HDMI needs. They’re affordable and reliable.
Best Budget Option
If you have an Amazon Prime subscription, AmazonBasics High-Speed HDMI cables are an excellent option. They can cost less than $3 each, depending on your buying options. The cables come in lengths from three feet to 50 feet, and there are a few different bundles of varying amounts and types of cables.
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 durable PVC cable jacket. They meet the latest HDMI standards, supporting 4K video at 60 Hz, 2160p resolution, 48 bit/px color depth, bandwidths up to 18 Gbps, 3D and Audio Return Channel. The cable also includes Ethernet.
Additionally, the AmazonBasics High-Speed HDMI cable is backwards compatible with all previous HDMI versions, so it works for older devices. The bonus that makes this cable truly the best budget option is AmazonBasics’ lifetime warranty, which protects your purchase against any manufacturer defect or quirk. This is another great option that works well and comes from a reliable brand.
Best for Lengths Over 15 Feet
AudioQuest has a range of premium HDMI cables available at high prices and built with high-quality materials. The Pearl series is AudioQuest’s least expensive line, and for most needs, it is more than enough. It is a high-speed HDMI with Ethernet, so it meets the standards for that cable type, including support of 3D, 4K, Audio Return Channel and 1080p resolution.
This line of cables has a CL3 fire safety rating and is approved for in-wall use, which is usually where you put longer cable runs. Over longer distances, HDMI signals are prone to delivery failure, but the AudioQuest Pearl’s build quality can prevent this. The cables offer high-speed performance at lengths from 0.6 meters to 10 meters and have a standard speed HDMI certification for lengths exceeding 10 meters.
The Pearl cables are constructed of long-grain, copper conductors, high-density polyethylene insulation and gold-plated connectors. AudioQuest provides a five-year warranty for Pearl HDMI cables, which is more than enough time to notice any factory defects in your product. This cable is built to last, and its build quality also makes it perfect for long-distance connections.
Best USA-Made Cables
Unlike many other brands we evaluated, Blue Jeans Cable manufactures the majority of its product components in the U.S. It also uses Bonded-Pair technology in its cables, which is a process patented by another U.S.- based company, Belden. BJC cables are certified high-speed cables with Ethernet, as they support up to 10.2 Gbps minimum bandwidth and work well with 1080p content.
These HDMI cables are available in lengths up to 100 feet, though longer cables do not have the extra Ethernet function. With Ethernet, the cables are available in 25 lengths, from 1 foot to 25 feet, more length options than we found with most other cable lines. Overall, Blue Jeans Cable produces good quality HDMI cables, but its 30-day warranty is lackluster compared to other companies’ lifetime warranties.
Best RoHS Compliant Cables
RoHS stands for the Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive and is a necessary certification in the European Union. RoHS compliance is not mandatory in the U.S., but the certification ensures that the cable does not contain any substances that are potentially harmful in your home or in a landfill.
Aside from that, the dCables product is a typical high-speed HDMI cable with Ethernet, capable of handling bandwidth of at least 10.2 Gbps. It performs as well as more expensive cables, but it is in a very affordable price range. Though the dCables cables are not available in longer lengths, they are well built, using oxygen-free copper internal conductors and triple-shielded insulation.
Best for 4K
While most of the HDMI cables we evaluated are equipped to handle 4K content at 30Hz, the Mediabridge Ultra series cables are capable of handling enhanced resolution content up to 60Hz, making it a better option for your new 4K setup. This is because the cable exceeds the HDMI standard minimum requirements for a high-speed cable with Ethernet, which mandates that a cable maintain a minimum bandwidth of 10.2 Gbps.
Part of its superior performance is due to its build quality, which makes use of a full-metal jacket connector shield instead of a cheaper foil shielding. Mediabridge offers a limited lifetime warranty on its cables, so you can return them if there is a factory defect.
Best Lifetime Guarantee
Monster is a premium cable company that packs every possible feature into its products, and this is reflected in the company’s prices. For example, a Monster M1000 cable includes nitrogen gas-injection to boost signal strength, even in cables as short as four feet. It’s needlessly complex, as any HDMI cable performs exactly as well as any other HDMI cable within the same certification.
Even so, it may be worth it to buy one pricier Monster cable with a great lifetime warranty than several iterations of a cheaper cable that may only work for a short period of time. The Monster Cable for Life Guarantee states that Monster promises to upgrade your cables in the future if new technology surpasses the performance limitations of your current cable.
Best Short Cables
The SIIG ProHD HDMI cable line is only available in three lengths: one, two and five meters. Like many other high-speed HDMI cables, the SIIG cannot sustain the minimum requirements for high-speed certification at longer lengths. Even so, the build quality and additional RoHS and UL Class 2 ratings make SIIG HDMI cables excellent options if you need short cables.
The UL Class 2 safety rating ensures that the ProHD cable is safe to use for in-wall installations, and the RoHS certification shows that the cables are made of non-hazardous materials. The cable uses a braided exterior, which is nicer than most other HDMI cables we evaluated, but the premium design comes also with a higher price tag.
Why Trust Us?
If you don’t know much about HDMI cables, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed because they all look the same and serve the same purpose. We want you to have the knowledge necessary to make an informed purchase no matter how much you know about HDMI cables. With 15 hours of research and years of experience to compile what you need to know, we’re here to help you buy the right cable for your needs.
How We Evaluated
We spent 15 hours researching product descriptions, manufacturer sites, HDMI.org, user reviews and anything else that you might run into on your search for an HDMI cable. Then we took our wealth of information and compiled need-to-know content for your purchase decision along with technical information not particularly helpful in your HDMI search. We only present you with the pertinent information so you can make a buying decision with confidence. We found that the best quality of an HDMI cable is its reliability. With the all-or-nothing nature of HDMI cables, the trustworthiness of the manufacturer and distributor is important. We chose the most reliable and trustworthy products to recommend so you can find the best fit for your needs at the best price.
Buying an HDMI Cable
If you recently invested in a shiny new 4K TV you may not need to buy new HDMI cables for 4K content. If you think you need new cables just because you’ve upgraded other aspects of your home entertainment system, we encourage you to try your cables first with the new tech. There’s a good chance that they work. If your data needs are a little more intensive or if you need brand-new cables for another reason, here’s a breakdown of HDMI cable specifications.
Types of HDMI Cables
According to HDMI.org, there are several different classifications and certifications for HDMI cables. The main difference between cable types is how much data they are proven to handle. A standard HDMI cable is rated to support 1080i or 720p. A high-speed cable can handle that plus 1080p to 4K content. Some high-speed HDMI cables carry the Premium label, which is an additional certification that ensures the cable was tested for reliability with 4K content up to 60Hz. Finally, the Ultra High Speed HDMI cable supports bandwidths up to 48 Gbps, making it suitable for 8K video with HDR. Most people need a high-speed HDMI cable to cover their needs, but there are definitely options available for every type of media connection.
Standard, high-speed, premium high-speed and ultra high speed cables can all also carry a dedicated HDMI Ethernet channel, which allows the cable to make network connections with compatible devices. This is rare, though, as most devices use other ways of connecting to networks.
Any HDMI cable within a certain category is tested and performs at the exact same standard as every other HDMI cable in the same category. Any high-speed HDMI gives you the exact same quality as another high-speed HDMI cable. Our best advice when choosing an HDMI cable is to find the cheapest one that fits your needs. We found great high-speed HDMI cables available for less than $4 each. Thinner cables, active cables and cables with higher certifications cost much more.
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.