Do Premium HDMI cables make a difference?

Now that we are truly dealing with high bandwidth 4K UHD content, CIE's HowToAV team investigates the latest Premium grade HDMI cables and how they can improve your AV system performance...

Ok, so we've all read it (and perhaps even in the past, I may have stated it!); 'All HDMI cables are the same... zeros and ones... works or it doesn't... don't spend lots of money, it won't make any difference... etc'.
And, back in the days of 'Standard' HDMI cable only, it was probably true; all Standard HDMI cables were (and still are) the same - differing only in quality of build, They either worked, or they didn't; fell apart, or continued to work!

However, as bandwidth-hungry HD, UHD, 4K, HDR and more content continues to put a strain on the speed capabilities of our old friend the HDMI cable, the good people at HDMI HQ have been working hard to get more out of the HDMI cable, with a number of improved HDMI standards providing greater and greater bandwidth capacity, increased power-over-cable capabilities, HDMI with Ethernet and more!

HDMI cable standards and bandwidthsWhat are the different standards of HDMI?

In the world of HDMI there are a number of different standards available in the market, for instance:

HDMI 1.3

The introduction of high speed transmissions up to 10.2 Gbps.

HDMI 1.4 / 1.4a

Introduced 3G 4k which is 4K UHD at 30 Hz 8-bit 4:4:4 LPCM audio.

HDMI 2.0 / 2.0a / 2.0b

The benefits of full 6G processing for content delivered up to 4K UHD at 60 Hz 8-bit 4:4:4 and even up to 32 channels of audio, 4:2:0 chroma sub-sampling that can cut you bandwidth in half by minimising the colour data sent to your panel, 4K at 30 Hz 12-bit deep colour and HDR10 support.

HDMI 2.1

HDMI 2.1 promises full dynamic frame by frame dynamic HDR.

Is there a HDMI cable for every standard?

No, there are actually only 3 categories that you should be aware of; Standard, Highspeed and Premium.

Standard HDMI Cable - is perfectly suited to support resolution outputs such as Sky HD 1080i 50 Hz 8-bit 4:4:4.

Highspeed HDMI Cable - is guaranteed to deliver 3G 10.2 Gbps video transmission or resolutions such as 4K UHD 60 Hz 8-bit 4:4:4. However you must be mindful of cable distance when delivering these types of resolutions and keep them under 7m. But it is advised to keep to 5m where possible.

What are Premium HDMI cables?

Now that we’re truly dealing with high bandwidth video transmission that requires the full capability of your highspeed cable which is 18 Gbps, your may start to find your high speed cables starting to fail and becoming intermittent in performance!

So 4K UHD content that is being delivered at 60 Hz 8-bit 4:4:4 or content that can deliver a wider colour gamut and HDR metadata such as 4K UHD 30 Hz 10-bit 4:4:4 and even the full promise of SKYQ 4K UHD 50 Hz 10-bit 4:2:0 you are likely to start coming across intermittent or full failure issues.

The lastest Premium HDMI cable uses superior materials, improved wire management in terms of how each pair is twisted and soldered and added shielding to minimise Electro Magnetic Interference.

Fundamentally, a basic high speed cable untwists the internal pairs before termination whereas, the Premium HDMI Cable is twisted and soldered right up to the pin.

As we see more and more UHD content coming to our screens, we’re going to find Premium HDMI cables become the new standard for high bandwidth 4K UHD video transmission.

Premium HDMI cable certified labelHow is Premium HDMI cable certified?

Only products featuring this official anti-counterfeit label have beencertified as part of the Premium HDMI Cable Program. Each certified product label will feature a unique QR code & holographic fingerprint which can be scanned and verified using the HDMI smartphone app.

Are Premium HDMI cables more expensive?

Ths latest generation of Premium High Speed Cables are the highest quality material and build versions available and, from launch, will carry an understandably higher price than earlier standards of HDMI leads. However, as with all technology products, as more and more Premium HDMI cables join the market, prices will begin to fall closer to those of Standard and Highspeed. However, the increase in price ensures much greater performance guarantees for faultless 4k UHD 18Gbps audio video content transmisssion.


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