But there are a lot of options for 10, 20, 30 thousand. And judging by the description of these cables, each of them is created according to space technologies and promises stunning image quality.
So all the same. Does the price of a cable affect image quality? What are the HDMI cable standards? And which HDMI cable should you choose for your next generation 4K TV and consoles?
Today, together with you, we understand HDMI cables.
This means that, unlike the old analog interfaces such as component video, the digital signal is significantly less sensitive to interference. After all, the task of a digital signal is simply to convey zeros and ones, and not a perfectly clean signal.
Therefore, if your HDMI cable is working properly, you should not buy a new expensive wire covered with gold and diamonds. This won’t make your Web rips Blu-ray remixes.
But at the same time, this does not mean that HDMI cables do not differ in quality and capabilities. And although buying a wire for 500 thousand rubles is certainly not worth it, buying the cheapest cable may also not be the best idea. A cheap cable may simply not cope with signal transmission due to low bandwidth. And in this case, you will not see on the screen not only interference, but anything at all. Therefore, for an HDMI cable, the most important thing is bandwidth. But what does it depend on? Let’s find out.
Let’s start with the materials. Cheap cables are often made with steel or aluminum wiring inside, and both of these materials are not the best conductors. Therefore, such offers should be avoided.
There are also options with a copper coating, which also does not help at all. Therefore, such options do not suit us either. But what kind of conductor material do we need? Perhaps we need to look for cables made of gold or some kind of plutonium? No! A simple copper conductor is ideal for digital signal transmission.
And that’s very good news, because copper is an inexpensive material. Therefore, copper HDMIs are not more expensive than their steel and aluminum counterparts.
But is it worth shelling out for silver-plated copper wire or even pure silver inside? – No! Unless you’re looking to strip the braid off the cable and make yourself a cool silver chain. In other cases, a silver conductor would be redundant.
But what is really important is the thickness of the wiring, which is measured, no matter how pathetic it sounds, in calibers. The American measuring system is designated by three letters AWG – American Wire Gauge or American wire gauge in Russian.
And as counterintuitive as it is, the lower the AWG value, the thicker the wire. For example, here are the AWG values for solid conductors.
Naturally, the thicker the conductor, the lower the resistance. Therefore, thicker wires can be made longer without fear of signal loss. And if the cable manufacturer is serious about it, they will proudly list the AWG value on the specs.
But, unfortunately, we cannot make infinitely thick wires because of the difficulties with soldering, and a thick cable simply will not bend. Therefore, the AWG values for HDMI cables rarely exceed 24 gauge, which allows you to make a cable up to 8 meters long without fear of various interference. In this case, 32 caliber is enough for a maximum of 1.5 m.
By the way, speaking of interference. Often you can see the following thickenings on cables:
They are usually found on power cables, but this is not uncommon on HDMI cables.
Ferrite rings are located inside these nubs. But why are they needed and are they needed at all? The ferrite material helps attenuate noise interference in the cable by trapping the magnetic field and dissipating it as heat. Such a thing can be useful if there are many power cables or any other sources of electromagnetic interference nearby.
But ferrite is not the only way to shield from external noise. A high-quality thick braid copes with this much better. Therefore, the presence of ferrite rings is more likely a sign of a cable with a bad sheath and you should probably not take such wires.
Moreover, if you wish, you can buy an external ferrite filter and simply attach it to the wire. This will help solve the escaping problem if you have one.
But if ferrite doesn’t work, then gold plating on the contacts can be very helpful.
And, of course, I’m not talking about the outer coating of the connector. It doesn’t affect anything at all. It’s like covering a USB-C connector with gold or the interior of a school in Yekaterinburg:
It looks impressive, but:
- the consequences for the psyche can be irreversible.
- how do children learn there, really …
- no use.
But the gold plating for internal contacts, of which, by the way, 19 pieces, will extend the life of the cable, because gold is an excellent barrier against wear and oxidation. But this will only be useful if you often carry a cable with you or live in the subtropics.
So, we figured out the materials, so let’s move on to the most interesting thing – certification!
Contrary to the common misconception, the cables themselves are not divided according to the HDMI 1.4, 2.0, 2.1 specifications we know. These are all connector standards and they have nothing to do with cables.
All that is required from the cable is to have a bandwidth not lower than that specified in the standard. Therefore, HDMI cables are only certified for bandwidth.
There are several versions of certification. If briefly now relevant:
- HDMI High Speed bandwidth – 8 Gb / s, which corresponds to the HDMI 1.4 standard, and such a cable will pull 4K video, 30 K / s
- HDMI Premium High Speed, here already 18 Gb / s, HDMI 2.0 and 4K 60 F / s
- HDMI Ultra High Speed - 48 Gbps, HDMI 2.1, 4K 120 K / s or even 8K 60 K / s – this is the kind of wire you need to take if you plan to take a new generation console and play at 4K 120 FPS or suddenly you have 8K telly.
By the way, there are still varieties of HDMI with built-in Ethernet, that is, an Internet cable, but such a standard somehow did not take root.
Don’t rush to buy a new cable now. First, because such a cable will definitely be bundled with new generation consoles. And secondly, if you have an old high-quality cable, there is a high probability that it will also cope with a data stream of 48 Gbps, even if it was not certified for such speeds.
The fact is that all cables, starting from the long-standing HDMI 1.3, do not differ structurally from each other, so they are, in fact, backward compatible.
All the difference is in the workmanship. For example, the transition from 18 Gb / s to 48 Gb / s was achieved only thanks to improved technology for the production of copper wire, which minimized microdefects inside. Therefore, the only reason why you may need a new cable is a special shape of the connector for TVs that are firmly against the wall, or an increased length.
In this case, choose cables with thick wires and braids. But keep in mind that there are currently no HDMI 2.1 cables available longer than 3 meters. More precisely, they are, but there are no guarantees that they will work. And if you really need such a long cable, you will have to fork out for a fiber optic option for 20-50 thousand rubles. Or already move the set-top box closer to the TV. It’s up to you to decide.
But HDMI 2.1 support is worth it:
- Here you and 4K 120 FPS
- And automatically low latency mode.
- And variable frame rate.
- And a bunch of other features.
- However, we’ll talk about HDMI 2.1 in a separate article.