How to Find the Right HDMI Cable

The cable industry is a racket. Some manufacturers charge a reasonable price for their products while others boost their price to the moon while boasting qualities that just don’t make sense considering the very nature of digital cables. So, which HDMI cable should you get?

HDMI cables range in price from a few bucks up to well over $100. The differences between a cheap HDMI cable and an expensive one is based on a combination of variables including materials, brand, and marketing. Thankfully, the difference in actual overall quality of signal is pretty much a non-issue.

Digital signals are very different from their analog counterparts. A digital video signal is either present or absent with no significant range in quality in between. You may notices some flaws in the signal if your HDMI cable is defective or going out, but the vast majority of cables should deliver a perceivably perfect image no matter what the actual build materials may be.

Plating your connectors in gold doesn’t do anything to improve the quality of a digital signal. It can act as a barrier against oxydation, but at the premium price you could buy a handful of non-gold cables to replace a single premium cable with gold plating and still have money left over.

Snag protection and thicker coating can be useful in applications where your wires being used in a way that requires movement. For the vast majority of consumer uses where the cable will connect two devices and not be in frequent motion, pretty much any cheap HDMI cable will work just fine. If you’re in a professional environment where your cables are being connected and disconnected on a near-daily basis and/or transported from place to place, an investment in a cable with better protection against knotting or snagging may come in handy.

Interference isn’t much of an issue with digital signals. Any marketing you see that targets interference should be regarded with suspicion as the real benefit to thicker coating is in avoiding damage to the delicate wires within the cable during twisting and/or wrapping.

Finding the right HDMI cable is a matter of looking past the marketing terms and finding a solution that transfers information from one port to the other. My best advice would be to find the cable that is the length you need and a price you’re comfortable paying. Cables should never ever cost more than the equipment you’re connecting them to.