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How to Choose the Best HDMI Cables

 10/5/2021 5:00:43 PM GMT
Not all HDMI cables are created equal, but you don't need to overpay.

We explain how to select the right HDMI cables for a TV, soundbar, and other electronics  A Guide to HDMI Cables.

Do HDMI Cables support Different Data Speeds?

HDMI cables fall into three categories: Standard Speed, High Speed, & Ultra High Speed as shown in the table below:

 Speed  Bandwidth       Resolutions, refresh rates, & HDR formats supported
 Standard   10.2 Gbps
  • HD 1080p @ up to 60Hz
 High   18 Gbps
  • 4K UHD 2160p @ up to 60Hz
  • Static HDR formats: HDR10 & HLG
 Ultra High    48 Gbps
  • 4K UHD 2160p @ up to 120Hz
  • 8K UHD 4320p @ up to 60Hz
  • Dynamic HDR formats: HDR10+, Dolby Vision,      
    and Advanced HDR

Are there Different Versions of HDMI?

Since 2009 there have been five HDMI versions, each adding important features to enhance the interoperability of components (TVs, Soundbars, etc.):
  • HDMI 1.4   (2009): added ARC for sending audio between components
                                 & support for 4K video @ up to 30Hz
  • HDMI 2.0   (2013): added 4K video @ up to 60Hz
  • HDMI 2.0a (2015): added HDR (high-dynamic range) video
  • HDMI 2.0b (2016): added HLG (Hybrid Log Gamma) HDR video format
  • HDMI 2.1  (2017): added 8K at 60Hz, 4K at 120Hz, & eARC for improved Dolby audio

Do I need to know the HDMI Version of my components?

All HDMI versions are backward compatible and you typically only need to replace existing cables if you are adding new audio/video components that require HDMI cables with higher speed ratings. The good news is that you won't have to spend time trying to match features from different A/V components with different HDMI versions, because the price differences between the different HDMI cable versions are so small that it makes sense to only buy the 48 Gbps Ultra High Speed HDMI 2.1 cables.

How much should I spend on HDMI Cables?

Although audiophile purists will argue otherwise, there is little to be gained when buying high-priced HDMI cables, rather than more budget friendly brands, such as the consistently highly rated Amazon Basics HDMI cables. One caveat is that if you are going distances of longer than 10 feet, you should spend the money on HDMI cables designed for longer distances, such as the Zeskit Maya HDMI cables.