HDMI Cable Buying Guide

Connect high-definition video sources to HD displays and TVs.

P568-006 high speed HDMI cable

What is an HDMI cable?

An HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) cable carries digital video and audio. This type of 19-pin cable provides the clearest picture and sound available for connecting high-definition video sources like Blu-ray players, game consoles, computers, and HD-capable satellite and cable TV boxes to HDTVs, HD displays, and home theater receivers.

types of HDMI cables

Are there different types of HDMI cables?

Although your search for an HDMI cable may seem overwhelming at first, there are really only four types to consider: high speed with Ethernet, high speed without Ethernet, standard speed with Ethernet, and standard speed without Ethernet. The important thing to remember is always choose a high-speed cable to ensure the cable supports current technologies.

HDMI with ethernet cable

What is HDMI with Ethernet?

HDMI with Ethernet allows an Ethernet-connected device to share the connection with other components over the HDMI cable. Currently, there are very few devices that support HDMI with Ethernet. HDMI with Ethernet cables are backward compatible, so they will work with non-Ethernet devices. Always make sure the HDMI with Ethernet cable you purchase is a high-speed cable.

What does it all mean?

What do all the different versions of HDMI mean?

You might see components marked with different HDMI versions (HDMI 1.0, 1.1, 1.2, 1.2a, 1.3, 1.4, 2.0, or 2.0a). Unfortunately, the HDMI version doesn't guarantee the component has the full feature set of that standard. Complete implementation is optional and varies by manufacturer. You should look at the specific capabilities of a component instead of its HDMI version. The good news is that all HDMI versions are backward compatible with previous versions. Always choose a high-speed HDMI cable to ensure the cable supports current technologies.

How far can an HDMI cable carry a signal?

It depends. You may have heard there is a 16-foot limitation for HDMI cables. The truth is that the HDMI specification doesn't give a distance limitation. Cables that meet HDMI Compliance Test Standards have been tested to pass a signal of a certain strength to low-performance HDMI electronics. However, the design and construction of the cable, the electronic devices in the installation, and the resolution of the video you're sending are all factors in how far the signal can be carried.

As the cable run becomes longer, the quality of the cable becomes especially important. Unlike analog signals that can experience a gradual loss of signal quality, digital signals are typically all or nothing. With an HDMI cable, you'll either have picture and sound or you won't, but there could be a reduction in the maximum resolution of the signal and a loss of support for extra features like 3D video. For most applications, you should consider a signal booster for cable runs longer than 30 feet.

B130-101 over Cat5/Cat6 Extender, Transmitter and Receiver

What are some options for HDMI cable runs over 30 feet?

For HDMI cable runs up to 150 feet, consider a booster or an active HDMI cable, which has built-in electronics to boost the signal. In some cases, these options can provide double the range of a passive HDMI cable. However, they do require external power.

For HDMI cable runs up to 500 feet, or potentially longer, solutions that use cost-effective Cat5/Cat6 cabling may be a good option. Your HDMI video source connects to a transmitter and your TV or display connects to a receiver; the Cat5/Cat6 cable carries the signal between the transmitter and receiver. A newer standard called HDBaseT allows the Cat5/Cat6 cable to carry serial and IR remote control signals in addition to HDMI video and audio.

HDMI over Dual Cat5/Cat6 Extender Wall Plate Kit with Transmitter and Receiver

What if you need to run your cable through a wall?

HDMI wall plates provide a connection for your cables on both sides of the wall. Whether you use conventional HDMI cables or Cat5/Cat6 patch cables, make sure you select cable rated for in-wall use.

HDMI cables with detachable ends also simplify in-wall installations. The HDMI connector on these cables can be removed, so the cable requires smaller wall openings and can fit through conduit. Once the cable is run, the HDMI connectors can be attached on the component side of the wall.

Other Considerations

  • 3D video signals

    Any good-quality high-speed HDMI cable should be able to carry a 3D video signal. Choose a high-speed HDMI cable to ensure the cable supports current technologies.

  • Ultra HD (4K) video

    Any good-quality high-speed HDMI cable should be able to carry a 4K video signal. Choose a high-speed HDMI cable to ensure the cable supports current technologies.

  • Gold-plated connectors

    Initially, there isn't much difference between a connector that's gold plated and one that isn't, but over time the non-plated connector can acquire corrosion build-up and require cleaning or replacement. Gold resists oxidation and corrosion, so gold-plated connectors should keep the cable performing at a high level indefinitely. The gold plating may be helpful for cables that are inconvenient to replace or refurbish, such as installations in walls or a complex system.

  • Angled connectors

    Angled connectors are at a 90-degree angle to the cable. When plugged in, the angled connector guides the cable next to your electronic device. This takes up less space, reduces cable strain, and allows HDTVs and other components to be closer to walls. Some cables have swiveling connectors that allow you to adjust the angle for even greater flexibility.

  • Multiple TVs or displays

    You can use a splitter to send an HDMI signal to more than one electronic device. The splitter divides the signal from your HDMI source for transmission to multiple TVs or displays.

  • Limited HDMI inputs

    You can use an HDMI switch to send multiple HDMI signals to a TV or display that doesn't have enough HDMI inputs to connect all your sources. With a switch, you need only one HDMI input to connect multiple sources and have the capability to choose between them, typically with a remote control.

  • DVI or DisplayPort compatibility

    With an adapter, all versions of HDMI are backward compatible with DVI and DisplayPort. DVI-to-HDMI adapters are typically compatible with video only; audio usually requires a separate connection. DisplayPort-to-HDMI adapters are typically compatible with video and audio.


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