Are All HDMI Cables the Same? What You Need to Know Before Buying an Expensive HDMI Cable

If you’re using HDMI to connect your computer monitor or to hook up your laptop to your TV, then you might be tempted to splurge on the priciest HDMI cable out there. 

Even an expensive cable will probably seem relatively cheap compared to your computer or TV, so you may feel it’s well worth the investment.

But is it? Here’s what you need to know about expensive HDMI cables.

No HDMI Cable Can Give You a “Better” Picture Quality Than Another

It’s important to understand that no HDMI cable is going to provide a “better” picture quality than another cable.

HDMI cables don’t process the signal in any way. They simply transmit it. Unless the cable introduces an error in transmission (which is very unlikely), then the exact same picture will be transmitted.

Of course, you might find that a video displays differently on your desktop computer monitor, using your computer’s HDMI cable, versus on your TV, using an HDMI cable to connect your laptop.

This isn’t due to the cable. You could swap the cables around, and nothing would change. The difference is with the other hardware involved.

Given this, you might wonder, are all HDMI cables the same? There are some important differences that you might want to consider.

Differences Between HDMI Cables

The price of HDMI cables can vary due to a number of factors:

  • The length of the cable. In some situations, you may want quite a long cable. Longer cables are more expensive than shorter ones. 
  • The color of the cable. While most HDMI cables come in black, you can get other colors. These are more uncommon, though, and likely to be more expensive.
  • The material used to cover the cable. If your HDMI cable needs to be wound up or flexed around a small space, then you might want to choose a nylon covered cable rather than one covered with standard rubber (which is less flexible). 
  • The build quality of the cable. If you’re going to be frequently unplugging your cable and plugging it back in, you’ll want to opt for a fairly rigid cable that has a strong join between the cable header (the part you plug in) and the wire itself. That way, you’re less likely to end up with a broken cable.

None of these things make any difference to the quality of the cable itself. If your cable isn’t working, it’s probably not because it’s cheap. It might be because it’s old, or because you need to switch on your devices in a different order to get the “HDMI handshake” to work.

Avoid Unnecessarily Expensive HDMI Cables

A regular HDMI cable will cost you somewhere around $6 – $15. Some HDMI cables are much, much more expensive, though – think upwards of $50 for a cable. 

This might be justified if you need a really long cable (50ft or more) but it’s not necessary to spend that much in other cases.

One situation where you might want to spend a little more is for an HDMI eARC cable – though you should be able to easily get one for around $15. This type of cable lets you use 7.1 surround sound. However, you may find that not all your devices are compatible with HDMI eARC. 

You may also want to spend a bit more on a high speed cable that can handle high-definition images (for a 4K or 8K TV). Again, this shouldn’t cost you more than $15.

Don’t spend more than necessary on an HDMI cable. You won’t see any improvement in picture quality as a result.

Expert Opinion Overall

The above description explains logically how expensive and inexpensive HDMI cables are
fundamentally the same and most probably provide identical performance. But what are the
expert’s opinions on this? Well, the experts agree and have provided scientific reasons to prove
the same. Not only have they provided scientific explanations but also tested the performance of premium and standard HDMI cables and found no difference.However, there is a good amount of buyers that say that they noticed an improvement in the
picture quality once they switched to a “premium quality” HDMI cable. The expert says that the
“improved picture quality” is merely delusional because we are accustomed to feeling that
expensive means better. Below are some of the scientific explanations why experts things the
premium HDMI cables make no difference:

  • An HDMI cable has 19 wires linked to 19 pins, each with the purpose of transmitting
    electrical signals. This implies that these cables have no means of processing the signal
    but just transmitting it. Hence, it is impossible for it to change the picture quality.
  • A difference in picture quality is observed but it is due to the set of devices used and not
    the HDMI cable. Every display unit and output unit works differently with signals. Hence,
    they cause changes in the picture quality.

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