If you learn only one thing from this post, learn this: almost all HDMI cables are the same.
More expensive HDMI cables don’t necessarily offer a better picture, and you don’t have to buy a special one for your smart TV. A cheap HDMI cable does the same job as a nice HDMI cable with a braided cord and gold-plated connectors.
You may have noticed all the cables we suggested above are from AmazonBasics. That’s because they’re cheap as dirt but still meet all the latest HDMI standards.
Best for Most TVs
Meets Speed and Internet Connection Needs
This cable is good in most connecting situations. It’s “high speed,” as opposed to the old “standard speed.” High-speed HDMI cables provide a crisp 4K Ultra HD picture that won’t appear jerky during your sports games or action movies.
It even comes with an Ethernet Channel, which allows it to provide internet from one connected device to another.
Honestly, the Ethernet feature is superfluous at this point. The original idea was that your internet-connected TV could work as a hub for your game consoles, DVRs, and other devices that require internet.
But since most devices are Wi-Fi enabled and next to none are HDMI Ethernet Channel enabled, it’s not going to do you a lot of good.
Luckily, this feature won’t cost you more (again, AmazonBasics is practically giving away its HDMI cables), and you can feel secure knowing you’ve future-proofed yourself for the unlikely event that ethernet HDMI becomes useful.
Best for Length
Meets Speed, Internet Connection, and Length Needs
If you need a little more length to connect your TV to your devices, this long HDMI cable will go the distance.
You’ll need a special cord for long distances because HDMI quality sharply degrades after about 33 feet. But an “active” cable like this one is equipped with circuits that boost the digital signals and maintain quality.
This technology was developed by a company called RedMere and is offered in a variety of HDMI cables, so if you need more than 50 feet of length, you can fork out a bit of dough for a longer cable like this one from Monoprice.
Please note that active cables work by drawing power from the source device. As a result, active cables are directional, so you have to hook the end with a TV logo into your TV. Otherwise, you won’t get any signal at all.
Best for In-Wall Installation
Meets Speed, Internet Connection, and Fire Code Needs
Installing HDMI cables in your wall gives a mounted TV a clean look, but you want to be sure those cables are up to code. No one wants to risk a fire for a few hidden cables.
Article 725 of the National Electric Code requires CL2- or CL3-rated cable jackets, which protect against voltage surges of up to 150 volts and 300 volts respectively. This cable has a CL3-rated jacket, which will do a lot to help keep your home safe.
If you’re installing a wire from your TV to a device across the room, this HDMI cord comes in 35-foot and 50-foot lengths as well. It uses RedMere technology on those models, so the image will stay clear over the long distance.
Whatever your TV setup, one of these HDMI cables should help you out. In rare cases where setup is especially difficult, you might want wireless HDMI. You can get that with this kit from IOGEAR, but it’s a lot more expensive.
Keep it simple and get a cheap HDMI cable that meets your speed, internet connection, length, and fire code needs. Save your cash for something cooler, like a sound system or new 4K TV, and leave the expensive cables for the other guys.