We typically warn you about buying overpriced HDMI cables. In fact, it's one of the top 5 tech things you're wasting money on. With regular HDMI cables, if you're paying more than $15 then you're paying too much. You're still going to send and receive the same digital data if your cable is $10 or $100, right?
In most cases, that's correct but this newly unveiled $120 HDMI cable is not like most HDMI cables. It has one big advantage that warrants its high price tag for specific people looking for that extra visual oomph.
Typically, picture enhancement claims are just marketing gimmicks but this HDMI cable actually has the hardware that makes it worth its weight in gold. Before you roll your eyes, read on and I'll explain.
Marseille mCable Gaming Edition
Without going too much into the video-voodoo of how this works, this HDMI cable has a built-in microchip that does automatic anti-aliasing!
If you're a video gamer, you're most likely familiar with the term anti-aliasing (AA), which makes images appear cleaner and smoother by reducing the jagged edges commonly seen in video game graphics.
Anti-aliasing is resource intensive and taxing. Although high-end gaming PCs can handle high-resolution anti-aliasing, current-generation gaming consoles like the Nintendo Switch, the original PS4 and Xbox One, with their limited graphics processors, still struggle with keeping games looking as jagged-free as possible.
As a result, console game developers usually tread the middle ground between frame rate, resolutions and "jaggies." Most of the time, as a compromise, they usually choose better frame rates and resolutions over smoother, anti-aliased graphics.
And this is where the $120 Marseille mCable Gaming Edition can help. With its embedded signal processing chip that does AA on its own, it aims to specifically boost the visual quality of console games that have limited graphics options. By using the cable's chip as an extra graphics processor, it can smooth out the video without blurring out the original source's detail.
Not only that, it also does 4K upscaling, VR support and it can enhance 1080p games at up to 120 frames per second.
With all this processing going on, how about the lag? Surprisingly, tests from the fine folks at PC Perspective showed that the mCable does not introduce any additional lag when compared to a regular HDMI cable.
Is it worth it?
Hmm, it depends. $120 for a HDMI cable is a lot of money. If you are an avid console gamer or a mid-range PC gamer looking for a reasonably priced method to instantly boost your graphics, then it is definitely worth it. (Note: You can get the PS4 Pro or the upcoming Xbox One X for better AA but even then, you'll still be limited with your options.)
However, if all you want is a way to boost the image quality of other media such as movies and streaming video, then this cable is overkill. It may even have an adverse effect on video since the processing chip's AA was designed with console gaming in mind.
Since the cable doesn't have a switch to turn off the signal processing, you can't use it the same as your typical HDMI cable. If all you want is 4K upscaling, a cheaper HDMI cable with an upscaling chip is the way to go.
Why HDR matters more than 4K for your next TV
While we're on the topic of TV tech buzzwords, here's one term you've probably heard - HDR. It's actually the one feature that matters more than 4K resolution right now.