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Buying guides

HDMI cables don’t need to be expensive – here’s what to look for

HDMI cables fall into that category of necessary tech most people don’t really understand. You know you need a few around the house, but what do you need to look for? Do you need to shell out the big bucks for gold-plated HDMI cables or is one that costs a few bucks just fine?

It’s a common misconception that the more expensive HDMI cables are, the higher quality they are. But gold plating and other gimmicks really aren’t all that important.

The important things to keep in mind are speed, quality, durability and length. This may go without saying, but you should definitely purchase cables meant for the type of equipment that you’re using, such as 4K TVs, gaming consoles, projectors, streaming devices and computers.

Here’s a breakdown of what you need to look for before you add an HDMI cable to your cart and some standout options that won’t let you down.

What should you look for when buying an HDMI cable?

First, the basics: HDMI cables transmit video and audio between devices. They support standard, high-def and ultra HD video, along with compressed and uncompressed audio formats.

The biggest factor to consider when you’re buying one is speed. Standard HDMI cables are the slowest on the market, registering 1080p, but they work if that’s all you’re looking for. They don’t support 4K.

For 4K support, you need a high speed, premium or ultra high speed cable. In most cases, though, ultra high speed is overkill. Most of us don’t need 8K support at home. Know that if you do go that route, it’ll cost an arm and a leg.

The length of the cable you purchase is also important, and not just for logistics or aesthetics. Going with an extra-long cable could degrade your signal. You likely won’t notice a difference between 3, 6 or even 9 feet, but a cable longer than 20 feet cannot push the signal to some devices properly.

Depending on your needs, everything from the cheapest cord on Amazon to the higher-end versions that cost more than a new pair of sneakers should get the job done. In the end, it really comes down to personal preference and your own needs for entertainment.

All right, now you’re armed with all the info. Here are our picks.

Our recommended HDMI cables

AmazonBasics High-Speed HDMI Cable (2-Pack)

Amazon’s HDMI cables are cheap at less than $12 for two cables, but these no-frills connectors will get the job done. They aren’t the highest-quality or most long-lasting cables, but they’re great for when you need a ton of HDMI cords for a project.

BlueRigger 4K HDMI Cable

This lengthy cable offers style and reliability for under $25, with a durable, nylon-braided cord to make sure mishaps don’t occur with pets or general wear and tear. It’s backed with a limited lifetime warranty and US-based customer support in the event you need assistance.

Mediabridge HDMI Cable

Every single Mediabridge cable is hand-tested from the assembly line to make sure it’s up to the company’s standards of performance. It supports 4K, UHD, 3D, 48-Bit Deep Color, HDR video and ARC 60Hz and includes pure copper connectors and a gold-plated full metal jacket.

iVANKY HDMI Cable

The iVANKY HDMI Cable comes in two different hues — grey and red — to match your decor and setup. It has durable, nylon-braided design and comes with an 18-month warranty that’s extended to 54 months if you register your product with the company.

SecurOMax HDMI Cable with Braided Cord

This lengthy cable features oxygen-free bare copper wiring and a braided cord to ensure you’re getting one of the most durable cords possible. It also includes 24K gold-plated connectors with a slim profile for better cable management.

iBirdie HDMI Cable

For less than $15, this cable offers 4K UHD resolution, a thick and durable cord with multiple supported resolutions and compatibility across a variety of devices.

Atevon HDMI Cable

This Atevon HDMI Cable is less than $15, but offers 4K capability with 24K gold-plated connectors and three layers of shielding to keep interference and signal loss at a minimum.

Now that you’ve learned a bit more about HDMI cables, what to look for and have a few models in mind to purchase, it’s time to go spruce up your home entertainment center. Happy shopping!

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