In today’s tech climate, having a range of high-quality and reliable HDMI cables on hand is more of a necessity than a luxury. Whether it’s connecting your laptop to the TV at work for a presentation, linking your Xbox One X gaming console to your home media setup, or simply installing a Blu-Ray player with HDMI 2.1 for Friday night movie night, it can be one of the most useful tools for most of your electronic needs.
Like most technology, however, the market is flooded with different brands, models, and iterations of the do-it-all cable. But when you’re talking electronics, you don’t want to settle for anything less than the best.
There are a number of things to consider when buying a new HDMI cable. I’ve been covering home theater tech for years now. Here’s a rundown of everything to keep in mind.
For starters, you’ll want to make sure you get something that’s long enough for your needs. In some situations, you may just want a cable that’s a few feet long. In other cases, you’ll need six feet or more. It’s really up to you to figure out how long of a cable you need.
Types of HDMI cable
You’ll also want to make sure you get the right type of cable. Contrary to popular belief, there’s no such thing as an “HDMI 2.1” cable. There are a few types of HDMI cable that you need to know about for day to day use:
- Standard HDMI Cable: Commonly used for video up to 1,080p. Has a bandwidth of up to 5Gbps. Optomized for up to HDMI 1.2a.
- High-Speed HDMI Cable: Built for video with up to a 4K resolution at 30Hz. Supports 3D and Deep Color, and has a bandwidth of up to 10Gbps. Built for HDMi 1.3 and 1.4.
- Premium High-Speed HDMI Cable: Built for video with up to a 4K resolution and 60Hz. Supports HDR, and a bandwidth of up to 18Gbps. Built for HDMI 2.0.
- Ultra High-Speed HDMI Cable: Built for video with up to an 10K resolution, 8K resolution with HDR, or 4K at 120Hz. Has a bandwidth of up to 48Gbps. Built for HDMI 2.1.
There are also different HDMI connectors — though most will use the standard HDMI connector. It’s important to be aware of the Dual-Link, Mini, and Micro HDMI connectors — in case you either want or don’t one them.
Now that you know everything there is to know about HDMI cables, here are the best out there.
Best HDMI cable overall: AmazonBasics Premium Braided HDMI Cable
- Lots of length options
- Not that flexible
Looking for a great basic HDMI cable that does the job with no fuss, while remaining relatively reliable along the way? The AmazonBasics Premium Braided HDMI Cable is the way to go. This cable is available in a number of different lengths, doesn’t break the bank, and is designed with a braided nylon for a relatively strong build.
The cable is available in lengths from 3 feet to 25 feet, and you can get it in a single pack, or in a five pack. In other words, there should be something there for everyone. The cable is a premium high-speed cable, which means that it supports 4K video at 60Hz, and it supports HDR. That means that the cable should allow you to get the most out of most modern setups.
So what are the downsides to this cable. Well, there aren’t many, but despite the braided nylon build it may not be quite as strong as some others, especially at the connector. And, it’s not as flexible as some, which can make it harder to set up. But those things are easy to overlook, and very minor issues. Generally, this is the HDMI cable most should buy right now.
Best 8K HDMI cable: Zeskit 8K Ultra HD High Speed HDMI Cable
- Range of sizes
- Supports 8K
- Flat for easier management
- A bit pricey
If you’re a little more future-forward, then perhaps it’s worth considering a cable that supports 8K video. That way, you can either use your 8K gear now, or keep using your HDMI cables when you upgrade in the future. If that seems like a good idea to you, it’s worth considering the Zeskit 8K Ultra HD High Speed HDMI Cable.
There are a few things that make this such a great cable. As mentioned, the cable supports 8K video with HDR meaning that when you upgrade to 8K equipment, it’ll be ready. The cable is also pretty strong, built with a braided nylon, and it’s flat. The flat build means that it may be easier to manage behind your TV stand.
There aren’t many downsides to the cable, but the main one is that it’s a little more expensive compared to other HDMI cables on this list. Still, it’s not overly expensive, especially at shorter lengths.
Best long HDMI cable: Monoprice Cabernet Ultra Active HDMI Cable
- Long lengths
- Not as strong as others
If you need something a little longer than the other options on this list, then look no further than the Monoprice Cabernet Ultra Active HDMI Cable. This cable may not be as strong or as premium as some others on the list, but it offers lengths starting at 25 feet, and ranging all the way up to 100 feet.
The way that this cable is able to deliver long distances is by being what’s called an “active” cable. That means that there’s a chip built into the cable that allows it to deliver signals over longer distances without degrading the signal.
The trade-off to that is that the cable is more expensive than others, starting at over $40. Now, that may be worth it for some situations, especially given the fact that you’re more likely to use this in corporate settings than just at home. But still, the added price isn’t great. Also, the cable isn’t quite as strong as some of the other options out there.
Best angled HDMI cable: UGREEN Right-Angled HDMI Cable
- Right angled connector
- 18Gbps bandwidth
- Not as durable as some
An HDMI cable with a right-angle connector can seriously come in handy. The right-angle connector makes it easier to attach wall-mounted TVs or devices at the back of your TV stand without risking damage to the cable. It can also make for a cleaner setup in some situations. If you’re looking for an HDMI cable with a right-angle connector, this is the one to beat.
The cable has a number of advantages to it. Apart from the right-angle connector, it’s also relatively cheap, and it supports a 4K resolution at 60Hz and HDR.
The cable isn’t quite as durable as some other options though. The casing is plastic instead of a braided material, so over time, it might get damaged. But if you take care of it, the cable should last for years to come.
Are there better quality HDMI cables?
Yes. Some cables offer a stronger sleeve that ensures that they’re less prone to breaking. For some, getting really high-quality HDMI cables may not be worth it — especially for those who think they’ll just plug in the cable and leave it for a few years. But if you want to make sure your cable lasts as long as possible, it’s worth buying a better-quality one.
Do I need a special HDMI cable for 4K?
There’s no such thing as a standardized “4K HDMI cable,” but there are some cables that support a 4K resolution. To get a cable that supports 4K video, you’ll need a High-Speed HDMI cable, which supports 4K at 30Hz, a Premium High-Speed HDMI cable, which supports 4K at 60Hz, or an Ultra High-Speed HDMI cable, which supports 4K at 120Hz.
Are 8K HDMI cables worth it?
It really depends. 8K TVs still aren’t really all that common, not to mention the fact that not much content supports 8K. Most won’t need to get an Ultra High-Speed HDMI cable, but if you really want to future-proof your cables, then getting one that supports 8K may be worth it. Also, if you want 4K at 120Hz, then it’s also worth getting an Ultra High-Speed HDMI cable. For example, the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X support 4K at 120Hz.
What’s the difference between HDMI 2.0 and 2.1 cables?
There’s no such thing as an HDMI 2.0 or HDMI 2.1 cable — but there is a difference between cables that support those standards. Premium High-Speed HDMI cables are built for the HDMI 2.0 spec, and support up to a 4K resolution with a 60Hz refresh rate, and HDR. Ultra High-Speed HDMI cables support 8K resolutions and 4K resolutions at 120Hz. If you have a new gaming console, an Ultra High-Speed HDMI cable is worth buying. Note, HDMI cables are backward-compatible — so there’s no disadvantage to buying a HDMI cable that’s better than what you need right now.
Is there a difference between 4K and 8K HDMI cables?
There can be. Cables that support 8K also support 4K, but not all cables that support 4K also support 8K. You’ll need an Ultra High-Speed HDMI cable to get 8K support.
Do better HDMI cables really make a difference?
It depends! If your HDMI cable is already good enough for your source and input, then a better HDMI cable won’t make much of a difference. If, however, your cable is the weak link in the chain, buying a better HDMI will definitely make a difference to your viewing quality. Regardless, it definitely doesn’t hurt to get higher quality HDMI cables, it’s just that you may not see a difference until you upgrade other components of your home theater.