There are two common issues that plague customers when it comes to picking out HDMI cables. The first is underthinking, or picking out the first cable labelled as HDMI in a bin at a Staples, Best Buy, or convenience store. It’s an easy way to pick up an overpriced cable, and certainly not the best HDMI cable for your situation.

If you’re here, however, you most likely suffer from the more exhausting issue of overthinking. Intensive research into HDMI cable brands, optimal lengths, version numbers, price analytics, you name it, can all apply. However, the best HDMI cables are, in practice, rarely those that we keep thinking about again and again. HDMI cables, at their best, are totally forgotten about in over 90% of cases, you just place them and leave them to preserve your equipment. This guide aims to reduce your load of overthinking, making your HDMI cable largely forgettable from selection to installation.

Quick picks

There are a lot of HDMI cables, many of them for niche situations. If you’re the average person and just want a quality-tested HDMI cable, start here:

More details follow in the longer overviews, but again, try not to overthink it with cables that usually cost under $20 and often cost under $15 or even more. If it’s got modern capabilities, it will last you for a while.

Zeskit Maya Ultra HDMI Cable

Best overall HDMI cable

The Zeskit Ultra High Speed 8K HDMI cable.
Zeskit / .

Key stats:

Pros

Cons

Who it’s for: The customer who wants a superior HDMI cable without overpaying.

With some HDMI cables hitting over the $40 or even $50 mark, it can seem scary to buy one on the cheap. However, the Zeskit Maya HDMI 2.1 cable is likely for you. While being below the $20 line, this cable from Zeskit still manages to reach the HDMI 2.1 certifications that should last you for years and with upgraded equipment. That means it can work well with eARC, HDR, Dolby Vision Atmos and many other highly-requested features in an HDMI cable. It will pair well with your computer, TV, laptop, and projector and can appropriately connect with Apple TV, consoles, monitors, and more.

The Zeskit Maya 2.1 HDMI Cable uses quality braiding, and its wiring is built to resist interference from EMI waves, while the interior is built with a single solid-body Copper wire instead of the many wires that other HDMI cables might have. Available lengths run from 1.5 feet to 10 feet, all of which are customer-tested and approved. Its uni-body plug-in heads are nestled into a zinc alloy housing for enhanced durability. For most people, this is the best HDMI cable to get.

Highwings 8K HDMI cable

Best selling HDMI cable

An image of the Highwings 8K HDMI cable.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Key stats:

Pros

Cons

Who it’s for: Those who need a durable, good-looking HDMI cable of nearly any length.

A close second to the Zeskit Maya, the Highwings HDMI cable is a customer favorite and has a slightly lower price than some of the competition. The tough braiding on the exterior actually looks nice, too, making it one of the best HDMI cables in terms of appearance. This braiding, along with its anti-break, fray-resistant head, make the Highwings HDMI cable perfect for throwing in your travel bag or to bring along for your projector during business presentations. That being said, this technology makes the ends rather stiff and non-pliable, making them harder to plug-in in more cramped spaces.

Another thing to note about the Highwings HDMI cable is the absurd possibilities in the length of the cord available. It’s best to get the shortest length possible (most customers will relish the 1, 1.5, 3.3, or 6.6 foot models) but — if need be — you can get a Highwings HDMI cable up to 330 feet long if you desire. It goes without saying, there can be some customer complaints about HDR not working, but that goes with the territory with overly long HDMI cables. Stick to what you need, and the Highwings HDMI cable is one of the best.

Cable Matters 8K HDMI Cable

Best for gaming on computer

A 3.3 foot version of the Cable Matters HDMI cable.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Key stats:

Pros

Cons

Who it’s for: The action gamer looking to get the most out of their gaming monitor.

The Cable Matters HDMI cable will allow your 4K gaming monitor to work at its maximum refresh rate (or at least up to 240Hz). That matters if you’re a gamer with lightning-fast reflexes and want an extra edge in those sniper-on-sniper duels the best FPS games are known for. It’s also a big deal if you want to get the most out of your fancy monitor. Plus, it can work in 8K up to a 60Hz refresh rate if you want the extra beauty and aren’t too concerned with the refresh rate too much.

One of the reasons this cable is recommended as the best HDMI cable for gaming is its speed, the other is the discounted rate you can get on color-coded multipacks for your dual-monitor setup. Unfortunately, the color coding is limited to the heads and not the PVC covering of the wire itself, but that’s still enough to see what is going where should problems arise.

Cable Matters Right Angle HDMI Cable

Best HDMI cable for PS5 and console gaming

Both male heads of the Cable Matters Right Angle HDMI Cable on display.
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Key stats:

Pros

Cons

Who it’s for: The PS5 gamer that wants all the features and an easy plug-in.

If you’re a console gamer, one of the trickier parts of setup is running wires behind your TV. This is in large part due to the way TVs tend to have their HDMI connections facing outward from the TV while also abutting walls and cabinetry. One solution is to have downwards-facing connections on your TV. Another is buying a high-quality right-angle HDMI cable, such as the Cable Matters Right Angle HDMI cable.

Believe it or not, one of the most sought-after cables is an HDMI cable for PS5 consoles. Part of this comes down to confusing messaging from Sony, which mentions that PS5 supports HDMI 2.1, but the hallmark HDMI 2.1 benchmark of 4K@120Hz is not fully supported by most PS5 game makers. They then go on to assert that auto low-latency mode (ALLM) is supported, but only if you use HDMI 2.1. To encourage confuse, there is this

that happens to be quite expensive.

Our research, and public sentiment, indicates that this offering from Cable Matters will do the trick and save you money. If you want to save even more money, are okay with 4K@60Hz, and don’t need ALLM, you can also try this

from UGREEN for your PS5.

Amazon Basics HDMI 2.0 Cable

Great budget cable

The AmazonBasics HDMI cable being used for a laptop.
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Key stats:

  • HDMI Version: 2.0 [4K@60Hz]
  • Lengths available: 3, 6, 10, 15, 25 feet
  • Exterior: PVC jacket
  • Certification: N/A

Pros

  • Dirt cheap
  • Still good enough for older equipment
  • Can buy en masse for discount (up to 52)

Cons

  • Older HDMI version
  • Might need to buy new cable with new equipment
  • Non-braided exterior

Who it’s for: Those using older equipment.

If you want the absolute cheapest possible, yet still functional HDMI cable, the Amazon Basics HDMI 2.0 cable is for you. The big warning is that this cable is “only” HDMI 2.0, just supporting a 60Hz refresh rate at 4K. While this guide will overall push you to get an HDMI 2.1 cable — this is the only HDMI 2.0 cable on the list — this really isn’t too bad of a deal if you want something on the cheap. To put it into perspective, one of the best laptops (the Dell XPS 13) refreshes at 60Hz in lower than 4K resolution. It’s simply not that bad.

This being said, the savings here aren’t so great that better cables should be skipped over. An HDMI 2.1 cable will likely last you years and years if you don’t feel the need for the latest tech and will only cost a tad more. Plus, features that will be popping up on your next TV, monitor, etc. won’t necessarily work with your old 2.1 cable. This is the best HDMI cable for you if it is destined to be for a dedicated setup using older equipment or if you want to buy in bulk. Otherwise, you’re setting yourself up to buy two cables; one now and one in the future.

Do I absolutely have to have an HDMI 2.1 cable?

You do not absolutely need an HDMI 2.1 cable if you have older equipment, but the reasons to get an older cable are shrinking by the day. The latest, HDMI 2.1b cables are simply not that much more expensive than HDMI 2.0 cables and are backwards compatible. We’re talking about mere dollars. Plus, you’ll need them when you finally want to take advantage of features appreciate Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM) for gaming or Quick Media Switching (QMS).

The one exception where you might want to go ahead and grab an HDMI 2.0 cable, today, is if you were to take advantage of massive bulk buying. That’s one of the reasons that the

still makes the list, you can buy up to 52 of them at a time.

Considering HDMI cable length

How long can my HDMI cable be before it quits working? It’s a pretty common question in the quest to figure out the best HDMI cable length for your setup. There is a lot of math, science, and calculation that can come into play when considering what HDMI cable to buy. Overall, HDMI cables between 1 and 3 feet are probably optimal. You should also be extra careful with super long HDMI cables hitting 25 feet or longer. That 5-foot cable? If it has a solid build, it should be fine.

Ultimately, in most circumstances, highly-rated cables are going to be okay for whatever lengths they are selling for. Ground truth customer encounter, in the form of reviews, is a consistent check and balance for manufacturers. Longer cables that don’t have consistency in their quality will show up in reviews.

Other factors to consider when picking the best HDMI cable for you

Believe it or not, there is more to choosing the best HDMI cable than getting the right protocol and length. In fact, one of the most technically sound writings on HDMI cables, protocols, and what to look for already exists. It’s in the form of our HDMI cable choosing guide, where you can learn the ins and outs of what’s changed in HDMI 2.1 and technical specifics right down to the copper wiring.

Here’s an alternate take on what you need to look for when getting the best HDMI cable for your setup, boiled down for the average shopper:

Certifications

Certifications for HDMI cables both do and do not matter. If an HDMI cable works, it works. However, if an HDMI cable has a quality certification, that can save you a lot of second-guessing and worry about your order. When in doubt, buying an HDMI cord with a certification is the way to go.

Braided vs Non-braided HDMI cables

The exterior of your cable matters more than you might think. For HDMI cables, you’ll find a smooth, non-braided exterior (typically made of PVC) or a nylon-braided exterior. Overall, braided exteriors are preferred, but they aren’t necessarily the best HDMI cables for every situation.

Braided HDMI cables are tougher and can withstand more movements over the life of the cable. For example, if you pull out your Xbox or connect your laptop to a projector frequently, you’ll likely get more life out of a braided cable. They’re also more aesthetically pleasing, with the braiding looking nice and sometimes having a shiny exterior. So, if your cable is often visible, you may also wish for a braided HDMI cable.

Non-braided cables are typically somewhat less expensive. If your goal is to connect your monitor to your PC and the HDMI cable will live in an unseen spot behind your gaming desk, the best HDMI cable for you could very well be non-braided.

Frequently asked questions

Do expensive HDMI cables make a difference?

In short, expensive HDMI cables do not make a difference. That being said, if you find a generic HDMI cable that has an especially low price, expect that it might be of an older protocol and not the latest. Similarly, bins of HDMI cables with a $25 or higher price tag and fancy branding need to be looked at with a careful eye. Our investigation into HDMI cable pricing provides an exhaustive overlook of the issue, including takes from industry insiders.

Is 2.1 HDMI worth it?

A new 2.1 HDMI cable is worth it if you’ve recently upgraded your TV. You should also strongly consider getting one for your monitor, TV, or other device — no matter the current tech — if you think you’ll upgrade in the near future, as HDMI 2.1 cables don’t cost much more than 2.0 cables and they’re backwards compatible. By buying 2.1 now, you’ll save yourself from having to repurchase and “re-setup” your cables once you upgrade your equipment. Checking HDMI specs carefully will give you a broader overview of an HDMI cable’s capabilities.

Is 8K HDMI worth it?

In short, an 8K HDMI cable is worth it as it won’t be much more expensive than an “ordinary” HDMI cable and you can avoid buying a new one when you eventually upgrade your TV or device to 8K. However, it is also worth noting that the idea of an “8K cable” is a simplification for consumers who are looking for HDMI cables that can run well in 8K. In other words, an 8K cable is another word for an HDMI 2.1b cable, which passes information at “8K60, 4K120” or better. This means that they can supply information at least at an 8K resolution at 60 refreshes per second.

This article is managed and created separately from the Digital Trends Editorial team.

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