HDMI stands for “High Definition Multimedia Interface.” TVs, video game consoles, DVD players, and many more modern devices use HDMI cables to deliver glorious visual displays and high-quality sound. However, HDMI technology has changed a lot over the years, so the HDMI cable that came with your old electronic devices isn’t going to be able to deliver the speed that you need for today’s cutting-edge tech. Luckily, high-speed HDMI cables are an affordable way to get the best bang out of your 4K gaming monitor, smart TV, and next-gen gaming consoles.
Why buy an HDMI cable?
It didn’t take long for HDMI cables to become a standard feature in home entertainment systems. However, most people don’t realize that HDMI cables aren’t all created equally. For modern devices such as 4K gaming monitors and super high-def TVs that feature blazing-fast refresh rates and crystal clear resolutions, only a high-speed HDMI can provide the speed necessary for the best possible display. Luckily, high-speed HDMI cables are now so affordable that there’s no real excuse not to upgrade.
What should you look for in an HDMI cable?
Here are a few things to consider:
- Data Transfer Speed: One important consideration to make in an HDMI cable is its data transfer capabilities. You don’t want your video lagging or your audio and video info not matching each other while you’re watching media or playing a game. Look for a supported bandwidth of at least 18 Gbps (gigabits per second) for a true high-speed HDMI experience that will allow for up to 4K UHD resolution at a refresh rate of up to 60 Hz. However, an ultra-high-speed HDMI cable and its 48-Gbps bandwidth are probably what you’ll need for cutting-edge displays.
- Length: Another consideration to make is the length of the cable. Although many cables offer ample length, it might be wise to opt for a longer cable if your devices are far away from each other. HDMI cables around 6 feet are a pretty standard length, but many come in longer lengths. However, if you plan on buying an HDMI cable that’s longer than 25 feet, be aware that the signal might suffer, which defeats the purpose of investing in a high-speed HDMI cable. If you need an extra-long cable and are concerned about the signal, you can always look for an active long-length HMDI cable with a signal booster to preserve the visual quality of your media.
- Compatibility: Most importantly, you’ll want to ensure that your HDMI cable works with the device that you intend to connect it to. A fancy HDMI cable won’t do you any good if you’re plugging it into a device that’s incapable of ultra-high definition media or gaming. To illustrate this point, many gaming monitors are capable of a 4K UHD resolution at a 120-Hz refresh rate. If you’re hooking your monitor up to an Xbox One S, which isn’t capable of matching the monitor’s specs, a high-speed HDMI cable isn’t required. However, if you’re playing on a new Xbox Series X gaming console, you’ll need a high-speed HDMI cable to unlock the console and gaming monitor’s full potential.
How can you tell whether or not an HDMI cable is legit?
With so many HDMI cables on the market today, perhaps it’s not surprising that some of them underdeliver. Luckily, there are some reliable steps that you can take to ensure that you don’t get burned. First, read a product’s listed specs closely to determine whether it meets the needs of the devices that you’ll be connecting it to. Next, check to see whether the HDMI cable has been certified by HDMI® Licensing Administrator, Inc. Not every great HDMI cable is certified, but this is usually a good indicator of quality. This will often be listed in a product’s details. Finally, you can do research using key search terms to see whether others have struggled or succeeded in using the HDMI cable for your application. (For instance, by searching reviews for PS5 or Xbox Series X.) If an HDMI cable passes most of these tests, you’re almost guaranteed to have a winner!
IVANKY 4K HDMI Cable
This HDMI cable comes with an 18-Gbps data transfer rate and produces a seamless image.
Pros: No matter what length you need in an HDMI cable, there’s an option here for nearly every need, from as small as 0.5 feet to as long as 50 feet. It’s compatible with just about any device or TV that you might own and is the most cost-effective solution for a stunning 4K resolution. Also, thanks to that magic 18 Gbps number, you have a fantastic HDMI cable to bring the best out of your PS4 or Xbox One.
Cons: While the braided cord and anti-corrosion, gold-plated connectors are great for durability, they also add size and heft to the cord. Additionally, since this isn’t an ultra-high-speed HDMI cable, it isn’t suitable for high-end gaming monitors or next-gen video game consoles.
Bottom Line: As long as you don’t mind the chunkiness and have enough space for it, you’ll likely love this HDMI cable. It should be an ideal choice for most people, TVs, and entertainment systems, but it isn’t a suitable option for next-gen gaming consoles.
UGREEN HDMI 2.1 Cable
Sporting a rugged design and 4K and 120-Hz compatibility, this high-speed HDMI cable is made for lightning-fast gaming applications.
Pros: Featuring an available bandwidth of up to 48 Gbps and capable of pumping out a 4K resolution at 120 Hz, this ultra-high-speed HDMI cable is made for the rigors of next-gen gaming. Despite its low price point, the build quality of the cable is stellar. This not only promises long-term durability, but will also make it less risky to travel with your cable when the need arises.
Cons: This cable is a bit stiff, making it difficult to reach your device, depending on the application. Additionally, while it comes in three sizes, this doesn’t include any options for people who need anything longer than 10 feet.
Bottom Line: Finding a great ultra-high-speed HDMI cable for next-gen gaming can be tricky, but this one really delivers. While this cable’s stiffness could make installation slightly difficult for some entertainment system setups, it’s still an amazing option for people who aren’t seeking something longer in length.
Zeskit Maya 8K Ultra High-Speed HDMI Cable
This HDMI cable is 16 feet and supports a multitude of features, including Dynamic HDR.
Pros: No matter which of the three lengths you pick, this HDMI cable should be more than long enough for most applications. It’s also equally well-suited for older TVs with earlier HDMI cable ports as well as ultra-modern ones with 8K HDR. No matter how old or new your television is, this cable should fit it without issue.
Cons: Unlike many HDMI cables, this one is pretty rigid rather than flexible. This might not be a problem for all users, but it could cause problems if you need to coil up the excess length or store the cable.
Bottom Line: This is a great choice for anyone whose devices are spread out across the room or for anyone who wants some extra length just in case. Additionally, this cable is ultra-high-speed certified and great for people who prefer durability over flexibility.
Cable Matters Ultra HD 8K HDMI 3-Pack
These HDMI cables have a 48-Gbps data transfer rate and come in a pack of three.
Pros: Not only do you receive three HDMI cables for one reasonable price, but each comes in a different color on the connectors. You can use different cables for different purposes without worrying about getting them mixed up. And, with 48 Gbps of available bandwidth, it has plenty of speed for extra-quick data transfer.
Cons: Compared to some other models, this HDMI cable isn’t very durable. While the PVC coating gives it flexibility, it’s less sturdy than braided cables or ones with aluminum shells. Therefore, the cables are more likely to wear out and wear down over time.
Bottom Line: Although not the most durable model on the market, this trio of HDMI cables makes up the difference in flexibility and data transfer speed. If you’re concerned about their sturdiness, rather than using all three at once, you can use one and keep the other two as backups for when the first one wears down.
Belkin Ultra HD High-Speed HDMI 2.1 Cable
While this high-speed HDMI cable is definitely on the pricey side, it's hard to beat in terms of durability or dependability.
Pros: With HDMI cables and many online purchases, sometimes it pays off to go with the trusted brand. And this one succeeds in delivering an excellent ultra-high-speed HD experience where more budget-friendly models fail. As a bonus, this cable’s build quality is top-notch, as it strikes a perfect balance between durability and flexibility.
Cons: This high-speed HDMI cable costs almost three times as much as most of its competitors. This factor alone will turn many away, and for a good reason. Also, it only comes in one size.
Bottom Line: While many will write this HDMI cable off due to its price, there’s actually a lot to like about this product. In terms of durability and reliability, it’s doubtful that you can find a better HDMI cable at any price range. People who invest more in Apple products versus less expensive devices with similar functionality will likely appreciate the quality that this Belkin cable brings to the table.
High-speed HDMI cables are the best way to connect your devices to your 4K TV in order to play video games or watch high-def movies on the big screen. They’re cost-efficient and space-saving, ensuring that you enjoy high-quality picture resolution and theater-quality sound during your viewing or gaming experience. If you’ve invested in HD devices but not in a high-speed HDMI cable, it’s time to do that now.