If you need an HDMI cable, whether it's for your TV, game console, Blu-ray player, or laptop, our recommendation—simple as it might be—is a two-pack from AmazonBasics(available at Amazon for $11.99), Amazon's house brand. Our testing has consistently revealed that, as far as picture quality goes, most HDMI cables are basically the same, so there's no reason to buy majorly pricy ones.
Why are some HDMI cables so expensive? For the most part, there's no good reason. Though some come with right-angle adapters, braided cables, and slim connectors, buying an expensive cable doesn't improve picture quality—it's just typical marketing hooey.
How do we know? Well, we tested a bunch of them down to the nitty-gritty details, and they all performed about the same. Unless you need a durable cable or you're willing to pay more for style, the cheapest HDMI cable is the best HDMI cable—whether you're using one of the best-performing TVs on the market or a TV that's on the more affordable side.
This 2-pack of 6-foot cables is one of the cheapest on the list, but considering all of them passed muster in our cable test, this is the one to go with if you just want to save money, as each cable technically only costs about four bucks.
They don't seem like the most durable cables out there, but that's only a concern if you're moving it around a bunch. The heavier/stiffer cables are great in longer lengths where wear and tear are more of an issue, but for a basic six-foot cable you don't need anything fancy. Even if you're installing it in a wall, all modern HDMI 2.0 cables should be just fine for years to come.
Hi, I'm Lee. I've been covering home theater and tech products for Reviewed since 2012. I received certification as a TV calibrator back in 2013 and never looked back. But one thing I've discovered during my time covering TVs is that pricy HDMI cables are one of the chief ways that consumers get fleeced during a purchase.
There's a bit more to know about cables in the time of 4K and newer 8K resolution, but for most purposes (unless you're trying to play games at very high refresh rates or watch something in 8K, which isn't really possible yet) you just need a basic, affordable HDMI cable.
To test TVs, we use a device called a "signal generator." It's essentially a pure source device for sending test patterns of various resolutions and refresh rates to TVs for measuring their performance.
Our signal generator, the Quantum Data 780a handheld HDMI test instrument, has a really cool feature: it can test HDMI cables. Because it has both HDMI input and an HDMI output, you simply plug both ends of the cable into the generator, and it runs a series of tests to determine whether the cable passes muster.
We ran every cable through our generator's test pattern and—surprise, surprise—They all perform exactly the same! Below you can see what the report looks like for an error-free cable, which was identical for every cable we tested.
What's the difference between HDMI 2.0 and HDMI 2.1?
Most contemporary mid-range and high-end TVs offer at least one HDMI 2.0 port, and if you've bought a TV in the last couple of years, there's a good chance that all of your TV's HDMI ports are either of the 2.0a or 2.0b variety. The difference between 2.0a and 2.0b is relatively minor, so let's focus on 2.0 versus 2.1.
Essentially, it all comes down to bandwidth: The current bandwidth capacity for HDMI 2.0 is 18 Gbps, but HDMI 2.1 clocks in at a robust 48 Gbps. This increase in bandwidth allows HDMI 2.1 to transfer way more information; in a nutshell, this means higher-resolution video and higher frame rates.
Currently, HDMI 2.0 cables are needed to achieve a 4K picture at 60 FPS or an 8K picture at 30 FPS. HDMI 2.1, on the other hand, promises 4K resolution at 120 FPS, 8K resolution at 60 FPS, and a ceiling that will ultimately support 10K resolution—whenever the industry happens to reach that point.
There's also a host of other benefits to HDMI 2.1 that are a little more in the weeds but nevertheless exciting. For example, HDMI 2.1 supports something called "Dynamic HDR," which allows HDR metadata content to be adjusted on a frame-by-frame basis. HDMI 2.1 also features eARC, a more robust version of Audio Return Channel, which allows high-quality, uncompressed audio signals to be transferred via HDMI cable.
With consumer-facing 8K content still a long way from primetime, gamers will likely be the first group of people to feel the advantages of HDMI 2.1, since 4K games will be able to run at 120 FPS with the proper hardware. In addition, HDMI 2.1 features Variable Refresh Rate (VRR) and Quick Frame Transport (QFT)—two features that will reduce latency and possibly eliminate input lag altogether.
What are CL2 and CL3 HDMI cables?
Most people casually shopping for HDMI cables won't need CL2- or CL-3 class cables—the former, CL2, are intended for in-wall installation and can carry up to 150 volts, while the latter, CL3, are intended for commercial installation.
It's likely if you're looking at six-foot HDMI cables that range between $5 and $15 dollars, you aren't intending any commercial installation projects—at least, we hope not. However, if you do intend to run one of these cables through a wall, you should double-check to make sure that it's CL2-rated, which would make it appropriate for in-home wall installation.
This six-foot cable from SecurOMax is a decent choice, especially if you want more cord durability. The braided cable and reinforced connectors supply a more robust physical presence than something like an AmazonBasics cable, but you're also paying more for that.
Outside of the design elements, however, you're still getting a 4K-capable cable that can transfer formats like HDR and is HDCP 2.2-compliant. Just remember that you're more likely to run into limitations based on the HDMI ports in your TV or computer monitor, as opposed to cable limitations.
This 3-pack from Twisted Veins is a pretty solid deal overall. The per-cable price is comparable to our favorite AmazonBasics cable, but there's a bit more durability here (and the cables feature a bright blue coloration, which gives them a little more pizazz).
Twisted Veins throws in an HDMI angle adapter, too, which is always a nice touch. This is a really good choice if you need a few six-foot HDMI cables at once, and want some stylistic parity. Twisted Veins claims HDMI 2.0b compatibility (see above for more info on what that means), but also claims these cables "may only support 4K at 30 Hz on some devices," something to keep in mind if you especially need 4K/60 Hz.
This product from Cable Matters is another great choice if you're looking to buy a few cables at the same time. This 3-pack comes in a range of colors (red, yellow, and blue) and can also be bought in a larger variety of lengths compared to a lot of the cables on this list: 3 feet, 6 feet, 10 feet, and 15 feet.
While these cables aren't as durably appointed nor as robust as some of what's on this list, I'd have to reiterate that more durable cables are really an if-you-really-need-it basis. In all my years handling HDMI cables and plugging them into varieties of sources and TVs, I've only ever seen one of them break.
This BlueRigger cable is priced well for how robust and heavy it is. It almost looks and feels like an HDMI cable that's suitable for the outdoors, but isn't braided, meaning it'll bend easily so you can tuck it away behind your desk or TV stand.
Like most cables these days, the BlueRigger is also perfectly kitted out to handle whatever DVDs, Blu-rays, or 4K game consoles you want to throw at it. While that doesn't really help it to stand out from the other cables on the list, it's worth mentioning.
This PowerBear HDMI cable is one of the most affordable braided options around, and it works great for everything but cutting-edge HDMI 2.1 operations. The black-and-white braided design helps this otherwise chonky cable to fit in easily amongst most entertainment centers, especially if you have the common black furniture, white walls setup.
Just a small caveat with this one: don't be fooled by the "24 karat gold" branding the company has doused it with. All HDMI cables are fitted with gold connectors and pins—you're not getting anything special here. That said, it's still a high-value cable.
If you're not stranger to buying well-made but budget-friendly products, especially on Amazon, I'm willing to bet you've already purchased something from Monoprice. Well, the company also makes highly reliable, affordable HDMI cables—who knew?
The "Monoprice Select" HDMI cable isn't particularly special—like the rest of these, it offers 4K resolution compatibility, 18 Gbps transfers, gold-plated connectors, etc. etc.—but it is notably affordable, especially at certain retailers.
The MediaBridge is a good alternative to the AmazonBasics cable. It's a bit pricier at $9.99 for a single cable, but has additional thickness and durability, which may appeal to some shoppers.
It's not nearly as thick or durable as some of the other cables, but at this price, it delivers more than enough reliability to last through normal wear and tear. If for some reason you hate Amazon Basics, this is a good backup.
The Kabel Direkt brand kind of smacks of misdirection, but at $10.99 this High-Speed HDMI cable isn't the worst choice. It delivers more durability than the pricier Belkin, though the braiding is so stiff it's actually hard to use.
My one concern here is the connectors. The cable is so stiff/heavy I'm that its weight will wear out the connectors, which aren't very well reinforced.
The Fusion4K High-Speed HDMI cable delivers a robust form factor and strong connections, but so do many of the cables on the list. For its asking price, the Fusion4K feels like a bit of a ripoff, frankly.
While the connector metal is of a nicer quality than some of the other durability-facing cables, it's not nearly enough to justify the price tag. When a cable is transmitting digital signals—like all HDMI cables do—the quality of the connector just doesn't make a big difference and isn't worth paying extra for.
Okay, I can't even feign my disbelief here. At nearly (if not over) $100, what are you paying for with this one? It's indeed the most svelte combination of durable braiding, reinforced connectors, and slim/stylish design approach in the bunch. That said, it's really expensive.
I love the "Cinnamon" red color, and if I had unlimited money, ALL of my cables would be Cinnamon. But for just sending a 4K/UHD or other signals? 3D? ARC? All of these cables work, so if you're like me and don't have unlimited money, don't get bamboozled.
Lee has been Reviewed's point person for most television and home theater products since 2012. Lee received Level II certification in TV calibration from the Imaging Science Foundation in 2013. As Editor of the Home Theater vertical, Lee oversees reviews of TVs, monitors, soundbars, and Bluetooth speakers. He also reviews headphones, and has a background in music performance.
We use standardized and scientific testing methods to scrutinize every product and provide you with objectively accurate results. If you’ve found different results in your own research, email us and we’ll compare notes. If it looks substantial, we’ll gladly re-test a product to try and reproduce these results. After all, peer reviews are a critical part of any scientific process.