How I Picked an HDMI Cable

You shouldn’t ever – ever, ever, never – spend more than $100 for HDMI cables. Really, $10 is even a bit on the high side. You’ll see $400 ones hanging in Best Buy (in the “Magnolia” section), or go online for an even bigger laugh. There are reasons to spend a little more to get certain features in an HDMI cable, those being a durable and/or fire resistant jacket around the cable that would allow you to go inside a wall for more complex home theater installations. However the $400 cables aren’t offering that. I honestly don’t know what they are offering except, well, I’ll stop short of calling fraud.

Having said that, most of the time, the HDMI cables that you will buy should cost about $5 to $10. You can go even cheaper and at that point you’ll probably pay more in shipping charges. For instance, at Monoprice.com you can get a basic high speed HDMI cable for $1.97 (at the time of this writing – model #3872). The shipping and handling to my area of the country is $2.80.

So here’s what I did. Amazon is my favorite online store, and I’m an Amazon Prime member. This gets me free 2-day shipping, so I looked for an HDMI cable that got good reviews and was Amazon Prime eligible. So I ordered a

BlueRigger High Speed HDMI Cable with Ethernet 6.6 Feet (2m) – Supports 3D and Audio Return [Latest Version]

This cable was $5.99 shipped to my door.

For a little background on the research I did on what to look for in an HDMI cable, I consulted articles by Geoffrey Morrison who writes for Cnet and for HD Guru. The first article, Why all HDMI cables are the same, gives an overview of the types of cables that are available, as well as what to look for when a cable “fails”. Morrison has also written an article with the tests he performed to back it up.

Both articles are well worth a read, but the summary is this. In most cases, unless you’re using long cables (50+ feet) or installing cables in walls, inexpensive is the way to go. If you are using long cable, relatively inexpensive is the way to go. As Morrison says, just test the cable before you put it in a wall. A cable will either work or it will fail. Failure can mean either a black picture, or various amounts of white “sparkles”. It boils down to the fact that there is no such thing as an HDMI cable that produces a “better” picture. It’s either there or it isn’t. To further summarize Morrison:

Here’s the deal: expensive HDMI cables offer no difference in picture quality over cheap HDMI cables.

The other major point I want to make here is to plan ahead. It will save you money. If you want an inexpensive cable you generally need to order it online. Don’t wait until the last minute (you know, the day of the Super Bowl) and say oh, I need an HDMI cable. You’ll pay way over $5.99 and probably $20 or  more at your local Target/Walmart/Staples.

So I didn’t order the absolute cheapest HDMI cable at Amazon, but I did get the free shipping, and several others had used the cable successfully. And I didn’t spend a lot of money.

Blue Rigger HDMI cables:

cc licensed ( BY ND ) flickr photo shared by http://www.samcatchesides.com/

6 thoughts on “How I Picked an HDMI Cable

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  3. Good write up, Andy. I Always just grab the MediaBridge cables on Amazon. Nothing fancy.

  4. At first glance (especially with your first sentence)… “You shouldn’t ever – ever, ever, never – spend more than $100 for HDMI cables”… I thought you were going to justify HDMI Cables close to the $100 mark but then I could see this was not the case. Seriously this silly con needs to stop.

    Yes, you can most certainly pick up a quality cable for no more than $10 delivered. If you want to go all out just for the sake of having ultra high quality, then a 2m length surely should not cost more than $20.

    If I was in the US, I would likely shop on Amazon but I am in Australia so I just go here: http://www.spacehifi.com.au/

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  6. Great point about testing the longer cables before putting them in that wall. They are mostly reliable, but occasionally the signal just isn’t quite strong enough to be delivered to the display. When this happens you may need to replace the cable with a lower wire gauge (probably 22AWG). HDMI extenders over Cat5/6 are also an option for running HDMI over extended lengths.

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