If You’re Spending More Than $10 on an HDMI Cable, You’re Getting Ripped Off

If you’ve purchased a TV in the last decade, it’s more than likely the sale included an HDMI cable or two. HDMI—an acronym for High-Definition Multimedia Interface—has become the industry standard for carrying HD video and audio signals from a video source (such as your PVR, Blu-Ray player, gaming system or streaming device) to your television.

Do you remember what you paid for the HDMI cable? Let me help you: you paid too much.

Why? The simple truth is that all HDMI cables are essentially the same regardless of price.

I’m no scientist, but I love a good experiment as much as the next guy. A couple of years ago I did a tour of all the big box stores in town to check out the price of HDMI cables; the cheapest I could find was $30. Although you can now find a cable for $4, prices still range all the way up to nearly $200. So I decided to test the cheapest HDMI cable I could find versys the most expensive.

Before I continue, I should make something clear. When doing a similar test with Component video cables several years previous, the results were dramatically different: the $90  cables blew away the $20 dollar alternatives. However, this was not at all the case with the HDMI cables. 

Competing against a cable costing 20 times as much, the $3 HDMI cable I bought online performed exactly the same. No difference. Nada. Just in case, I compared the two using as many video sources as I could: Blu-Ray, PS3, my laptop, Apple TV, several HD channels as well as non-HD channels—all the same quality. 

This didn’t surprise me. But what did come as a shock was the ability of the Monster Component cables to keep up with their HDMI counterparts. As hard as I tried, I couldn’t decipher a difference in video quality between either of the three cables tested. All this means to you is if you do happen to have high quality Component cables, you shouldn’t need to go to HDMI.

So take it from me: if you’re spending more than $10 dollars for your HDMI cable you’re paying too much. It’s not often the “you get what you pay for” adage gets turned on its head, but in this case it doesn’t apply. Some people take comfort knowing they’ve paid a lot for something; the fashion industry immediately comes to mind. But you can’t wear an HDMI cable. 

I don’t care what the salesperson at the electronics store tells you—the higher priced cables do absolutely nothing to improve video quality. I could go into technical detail explaining this, but why bother? (If you absolutely must know, CNET has a great piece on the specifics.)