Skip to main content

Best HDMI switchers 2021: Ultimate TV connection setup

Best HDMI switchers
(Image credit: Future)

Need one of the best HDMI switchers? We understand, after all there are few things more annoying than running out of ports for your devices. With multiple video games consoles, set-top boxes and other devices all wrestling for your HDMI ports, you might be weighing up the options of the best HDMI switchers to tidy up your living room and make life a little easier.

The best HDMI switchers are devices that not only give users an expanded number of ports to connect their devices to their TV or monitor but also include multiple quality of life features that make switching between video signals a breeze.

With multiple different standards of HDMI input – including the new HDMI 2.1 standard – it’s often difficult to pick out the best HDMI switcher in a crowd of competitors. Will your new HDMI switcher be compatible with your 4K Blu-Ray player? Will it support a full 4K 60Hz output for next-gen gaming?

The best HDMI switchers will provide users with high-quality lag-free outputs at high framerates with simple to use controls, all for an affordable price. With many devices to pick from, we’ve put the top five options through a rigorous testing process, ranking options for those on a budget or those who want the best of the best.

1. J-Tech Digital JTD4KSP0301: Best overall HDMI switcher

J-Tech Digital JTD4KSP0301

J-Tech Digital JTD4KSP0301

Best overall HDMI switcher

Ports: 4 | LEDs: Yes | Remote: Yes | Resolution: 4K

Remote can toggle auto-switching on and off
Physical button on the front if you lose the remote
Supports 4K resolution
Requires power connection to work
Bright LEDs can be distracting in the dark
MHL took several tries to connect

The J-Tech Digital JTD4KSP0301 is the best HDMI switcher overall from our testing. It was super easy to set up all our test devices with this switcher. When switching between inputs, this performed very fast and was totally problem-free. This is also good for a 4K feed, helping to make this a more long term investment.

You can easily auto-switch between displayed devices by powering on the unit 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 lag 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.


2. Fosmon HD1832: Best value HDMI switcher

Fosmon HD1832

Fosmon HD1832

Best value HDMI switcher

Ports: 4 | LED: No | Remote: Yes | Resolution: 1080p

Extremely affordable price
Accurate IR remote
Only one LED on the switcher
Poor button layout 
Unorganized ports
Some peripherals didn’t work with this switcher

The Fosmon HD1832 is a super affordable HDMI switcher at under $15, at time of publishing. This is our best value HDMI switcher as that price still gets you 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.

This switcher supports resolutions up to 1080p as well as 3D. It supports HDMI version 1.3b and HDCP 1.1. So not the most future proof, but for the basics this has you covered.

This switcher has an external IR sensor 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.

The Fosmon HD1832 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.


3. Gana HDMI Switch 3x1: Best budget 4K HDMI switcher

Gana HDMI Switch 3x1

(Image credit: Gana)

Gana HDMI Switch 3x1

Best budget 4K HDMI switcher

Ports: 3 | LED: No | Remote: No | Resolution: 4K

Affordable
4K capable
Compact
Three ports

The Gana HDMI Switch 3x1 is a great option if you want to get 4K quality but don't want to spend a lot of money. The result of that saving is that you're limited to three ports, rather than the usual four, but they are all 4K resolution capable, which is impressive at this price point.

This is a very basic setup, with an HDMI cable on one end to connect to the TV and then three ports on the hook-up at the other end. Simple. This is a positive for those that want an easy setup, but there are downsides.

You don't get a remote with this, as you'd expect at that price. That means you need to switch between the port inputs using a physical switch. So this needs to be accessible. As you've guessed that means there's no auto switching at all here.

But with no need for a power source and that sub $10 price, this is a really great option.


4. Univivi 7-port HDMI Switch: Best port number HDMI switcher

Univivi 7-port HDMI Switch

(Image credit: Univivi)

Univivi 7-port HDMI Switch

Best port number HDMI switcher

Ports: 7 | LED: Yes | Remote: Yes | Resolution: 4K

Seven ports
4K support
Remote control
Expensive

The Univivi 7-port HDMI Switch is perfect for anyone that has a whole bunch of devices they want connected at once, extending one HDMI port to seven. This does that while keeping the price low and offering full 4K resolution support on all ports.

Smart switching is built-in so an active port will automatically be routed through to the TV. While that does mean you don't have to do anything, there is also a remote control included so you can manually switch too. This is ideal if you've got more than one input powered up at the same time.

The gold plated ports mean that the 4K signals are very clear, ultra fast and you have no disruption to worry about. This isn't the cheapest model, sure, but you definitely get your money's worth with this comprehensive HDMI switcher. 


5. TOTU HDMI Switch 4 Port: Best gaming HDMI switcher

TOTU HDMI Switch 4 Port

(Image credit: TOTU)

TOTU HDMI Switch 4 Port

Best gaming HDMI switcher

Ports: 4 | LED: Yes | Remote: Yes | Resolution: 4K

4K and HDR support
Relatively affordable
Remote included
Not the cheapest (but worth it)

The TOTU HDMI Switch 4 Port might be down this list but it's actually one of the best options on here, especially for gamers. That's because this does it all while keeping the price relatively low.

You get four HDMI ports but unlike a lot of other switchers this not only supports 4K and HDR but also 60Hz refresh rates. That makes this ideal for lag free, high-quality images which is why this is so well suited to gaming. It's also got you future-proofed for a long while too.

This comes with a remote control but there is also auto switching so you don't have to do anything but power up a device and this will send that signal. The front has a lit display with numbers so you can easily see which port is active. For the price and features this is a really impressive HDMI switcher.


Why Trust Us?

When helping you to choose the best HDMI switchers, we painstakingly researched the top products on the web to narrow down our list. Once we had our shortlist, we then did a deep dive into the performance of each switcher. 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. 

HDMI switchers are basic devices, but we focused on thoroughly researching them because no one else has done a thorough roundup of HDMI switchers. We focused on testing brands you’ll find on Amazon.com.

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 PC Mag 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.

How We Tested

When physically testing HDMI switchers, 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.

For all devices, including those that we haven't physically tested, we also analyzed the specs, price, and user reviews to determine what these products offer, and what experiences the people who own them have had. 

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 switcher price

Basic HDMI switches cost less than $15. These devices offer one or two extra ports but use slightly older technology and may not support automatic switching. Between $20 and $50, you can find switches with more ports, but these still may not support things like 4K or HDCP 2.2. 

Higher-end switches that do support those features are mostly made for expensive home theater setups and cost much more. For most uses, including 1080p HD and 3D, you can get away with using an inexpensive switch.

Automatic, Manual & Remote Switching

HDMI switches feature either automatic or manual switching. The difference between the switching styles is straightforward: Manual switchers have a physical button or switch to toggle between your preferred input, while automatic switchers have sensors that detect what input is currently active and automatically send that input information to the output device. Most of the HDMI switches we tested have automatic switching, and some allow you to turn off this feature if you prefer manual.

Some HDMI switches have an infrared sensor and come with a small remote, so you can manually switch between inputs without getting up. We preferred products with an external infrared sensor as opposed to a built-in sensor, as they keep the switch itself out of sight without losing the remote function. Both automatic and manual HDMI switches can support remote switching.

HDMI Switcher vs. HDMI Splitter

Though the names are similar, HDMI switchers and HDMI splitters perform very different tasks. An HDMI switch takes multiple inputs and a single output. A switch allows you to connect a video games console, Blu-ray player and a streaming device to the same television and choose which of the three inputs to display. 

An HDMI splitter does the opposite – it takes a single input and directs it to multiple outputs to allow a single device, like a Roku, to deliver content to multiple devices. 

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.