When it comes to buying an HDMI cable, things can get pretty complicated. Some cables may not deliver the expected performance, while others don’t make it clear which HDMI specifications they support. That’s why we’ve put together this guide to help you find the right cable for your needs without any hassle. We’ve organized our picks by HDMI specification, making it easy for you to find an affordable cable that meets all your requirements. In addition, our selections help you avoid potential issues such as poorly performing cheap cables or overpriced options that don’t offer anything more than their less expensive counterparts.
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Which cable do I need?
HDMI cables are backward compatible, so you can always buy the highest-specification cable available and call it a day. Even if it exceeds what your devices can support, it could come in handy when upgrading to newer tech.
You don’t have to, of course. (Our sister site TechHive explains why in this article addressing the common question of “Do you need a 4K HDMI cable?”) You can save a little cash by skipping future-proofing.
To figure out the minimum HDMI specification you need for your setup, look up the spec supported by your output device (PC, streaming device, gaming console, etc) and your display (monitor, TV). You may see these listed under “HDMI version” in the product information.
If the two match, simply buy an HDMI cable rated for that specification. If they don’t match, you can buy a cable that’s rated for the lower (older) spec, since your final output will be limited by the device with the lower HDMI version.
Example: Your monitor is rated for HDMI 1.4b, but your graphics card can support HDMI 2.0. You’ll only ever get the maximum resolution and frame rates of HDMI 1.4b, which are 1080p/144fps and 1440p/75Hz, plus up to 4K/60fps depending on the level of color data compression.
You can buy a cable that matches the higher specification, but it’s not necessary. When you replace the lower-HDMI-version device with a brand-new piece of gear, you’ll usually get a compatible HDMI cable in the box.