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Proof That All HDMI Cables Are Created Equal

Posted by AndrewH at 8:19 AM on June 7, 2012

Turns out that higher price doesn’t really equal higher quality with HDMI cables. They are all equally awesome.

An experiment with HDMI cables is being touted as showing definitive proof that expensive HDMI cables perform no better than cheaper competitors.

Posted to Expert Reviews, the study compared HDMI cables – from relatively cheap (just a few dollars) to painfully expensive (a couple hundred dollars). What sets this experiment apart is the thoroughness employed to make sure as many variables as possible were controlled – essentially creating a conclusion that it would be nearly impossible to refute.

Focusing on the output from the HDMI cables led author Tom Morgan used a PC to output a Blu-ray version of an open-source film called Sintel and recorded the output on capture card. That allowed him to look at raw, un-corrected frames of this film.

Utilizing identical screenshots (those on the PC and those on the capture card), he compared the before and after using programs that identify individual pixel variations, as well as documenting the “digital fingerprint” of the frame on each end of the HDMI cable.

The result?  “What’s clear from our tests is that we got no errors on any of the cables, and more expensive cables did not improve image quality at all. Given our results, we’d definitely buy cheaper HDMI-certified cables.”

In other words – the higher price on some HDMI cables appears to be hype. Unless you subscribe to the “I just got new sneakers and I can run faster and jump higher” school of thought, don’t waste your money on pricey HDMI cables when the cheap ones work just as well.

Photo Credit: HDMI Cable from Big Stock Photo

One Comment

  1. From Hugouf at 10:38 pm on June 7, 2012

    I think that overpriced cables are useless too for almost every cases.
    But to prove this, this is not the right test to do. As HDMI holds only numeric streams, a “little” image degradation is not possible as if your TV has enough data to decode, the image is perfect, if your TV does not have enough, it will display big ugly things like macro blocks, wrong colors till the next ref frame, big black screens for seconds etc.

    The tests must be installation-specific and focused on :
    - cable length : does it work if it is “this” long ?
    - interferences : does it work if it is next to my micro-wave and wifi router etc. ?
    - amount of data : does it work if i set my source to full-hd 3D on 40 mbit/s source + DTS HD Master Audio ?
    - norms : is it HDCP (and other ugly drms) compliant (only for the very firsts hdmi cables) ?
    - toughness : will it last X years if I put some things over it or if I plug/unplug it often.
    - all of the above at once :)

    If you see and hear it works normally in your particuliar installation (without obvious big degradation like wrong display or big cracks in the sound) then you know you don’t need a more expensive cable.

    A last point : flat cables are more expensive but really useful depending on your installation.

    Sorry for my english :)