How-To Geek

Expensive HDMI Cables Make No Difference

While we’re no strangers to spreading the news that expensive HDMI cables are a ripoff, we’re happy to share yet another study that shows there’s zero difference between a $5 cable and a $95 one.

Over at the British hardware review site Expert Reviews, they subjected a wide selection of HDMI cables to extensive tests in a bid to produce the end-all examination of whether or not a premium HDMI cable could actually produce a better signal.

They used capture cards, pixel-by-pixel comparison of output, and other techniques to pick over individual frames until they ultimately reached the same conclusion everyone outside of the Monster sales staff had already reached: you’re getting absolutely no benefit to spending $100 on cable that can be had for under five bucks.

Hit up the link below to read over their methodology.

Expensive Cables Make Absolutely No Difference [via Geek News Central]

Jason Fitzpatrick is a warranty-voiding DIYer who spends his days cracking opening cases and wrestling with code so you don't have to. If it can be modded, optimized, repurposed, or torn apart for fun he's interested (and probably already at the workbench taking it apart). You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 06/7/12

Comments (14)

  1. spike

    I always thought, due to the nature of the protocol they use, that there couldn’t be any difference. This article takes all question out of it. Thanks!

  2. Cambo

    I’ve compared Monster cables and those sold from Monoprice. Exactly right. No difference other than Monoprice is 95% less. Monoprice has gotten my business ever since.

  3. Reb

    Yep, I bought a cheap HDMI cable at after returning my $120 monster cable. Saw no difference whatsoever.

  4. ITgirl

    I knew it all along! smh anything to make $

  5. Lucky

    There has never been a debate, it’s ALWAYS been a scam.

    HDMI = digital
    Digital = on or off; 0 or 1

    In other words you either receive the signal or you don’t. “High Quality” cables have their place in extreme exposed environments where additional shielding and insulation may be needed but never in the average home, attic, basement, walls!

    Analog is a different story. Even then most pros can see/hear a difference but it’s much harder to determine which is better. Don’t waste your money, spend the money on better devices!

  6. LadyFitzgerald

    The only advantage more expensive cables may have over cheaper cables is better construction of connectors and heavier guage wire which may make a difference over longer runs. One doesn’t have to buy the most expensive cables to get those advantages; just don’t buy the cheapest cable available.

  7. keltari

    @Lucky – “Pros” cant hear the difference either. My favorite test is when audiophiles selected coat hangers as the best sounding audio wire in a blind test.

    @LadyFitzgerald – A lot of those “cheaper” wires are identical to the more expensive wires. They are manufactured at the same plant and are just sold under different brands.

  8. nAMEbOY

    I went to best buy with my ex to purchase an HD TV after I got my taxes back. I didn’t research the HDMI cable before hand but I know better because of my gift for common sense. So while I’m at check out, the bestbuy employee that recommended the tv to us has my ex cornered showing her an array of HDMI cables. He was trying to sell her one that had gold plated connectors or something for around $60! the thing was only 4 feet long! So I went over and gave him that “Nigga is you serious” face, and told my ex exactly what I thought about the situation. I think he made some kind of commission off of the cables because he was trying to sell it hard. either that or he was trying to get my ex’s digits. Either way, Best Buy can go fuck themselves.

  9. LadyFitzgerald

    @ keltari. What you say is true but some of the really cheap ones aren’t as well made as slightly more expensive ones. As I said, it MAY make a difference which means it doesn’t always.

    Heavier guage audio cables will reduce attenuation over long distances; obviously, more amplification can overcome that up to a point after which some higher and/or lower frequencies might suffer. Heavier guage HDMI cables will also reduce losses over longer distances. Even though the signal is digital, it still has be strong enough to be detected at the other end. Longer distances also allow more opportunity for interference to be picked up which can maks the digital signal, something shielding can reduce or eliminate. Still, in almost all cases, the most expensive cables are rarely warranted. Again, there are no absolutes.

  10. Steve

    I bought a 3 foot HDMI cable from the dollar store for $1.00 of all places and it works just fine.

  11. Lucky

    @ keltari – Double blind tests with pros (sound engineers etc) have shown that almost all could hear a difference between cheap and expensive analog cables. However, the results were inconclusive as to which one sounded “better”.

    In other words they guessed which one was the expensive and which was cheap but all could hear a difference.

  12. tufon

    Actually, I experienced a difference with crappy HDMI cables no name brands, cost me about $5 for a pack of 3.

    Turns out your not just paying for the quality but for the usage. The cables I bought don’t last more than 4 months and then they just die and don’t produce an image.

    So I wouldn’t just review a cable for their output but rather their quality and how long they really last.

  13. spike

    @Lucky: You cannot tell which is expensive/cheap in a test like this, because cables don’t ‘sound good’, they ‘reproduce accurately’. Without hearing the signal before and after passing through the cable, nobody can tell if one signal is more accurate than the other, just because they can hear a difference in the two. However, in studio recording, it is vital to have the most accurate cables possible.

    @tufon: You can probably buy a soldering kit and fix them, that’s what I do with failed cables :) That way you can always buy the cheap ones. Also, it’s good for when salesmen try to sell you on expensive ones – “I fix my own if they break”, you should see the looks on their face :) It is pretty tricky for a beginner, though. There are 19 tiny little connections that have to be soldered individually on HDMI. Analog audio cables are child’s play, though.

  14. spike

    correction- “looks on their faces”

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