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Component Cable Best Buy

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component cable best buy


HDMI is the established standard for sending both video and sound from a home entertainment device to a TV over one cable. It's the best way to hook up DVD, Blu-ray, and Ultra HD Blu-ray players, video game consoles, and streaming media devices. If you're connecting anything that's less than a decade old to your TV, HDMI is the way to do it. If you don't already have an HDMI cable (and your new device doesn't include one) or if you just want to reconfigure your home theater setup, it's time to buy a new one.

Shopping for HDMI cables should be a simple process. However, the wealth of choices, the wide range of prices, and a handful of potential holes to stumble upon can make it seem confusing and difficult. You need the right cable for the job and, ideally, you want to spend as little as possible. After all, it's just a cable. Right?

A lot of the news around HDMI in the last few years has focused on the different versions of the cable standard. These are the fundamental specifications all HDMI cables and devices have to follow, based on the features they support and defined by the HDMI Licensing Administrator(Opens in a new window) and HDMI Forum(Opens in a new window). In a broad sense, they're very important. However, you can effectively ignore them.

The HDMI 2.0 specification marked its debut in 2013. It was revised to HDMI 2.0a in 2015 and then HDMI 2.0b in 2016. This specification increased the maximum bandwidth of HDMI cables from 10.2Gbps to 18Gbps. It also expanded support to 4K video at 60 frames per second with all the forms of high dynamic range (HDR) and laid the groundwork for 8K.

HDMI 1.4 and 2.0 don't matter nearly as much as their speed ratings, which the HDMI Forum and HDMI Licensing Administrator also define. Those specifications indicate maximum bandwidths, but they don't specifically define every cable. That's why HDMI cables are classified under one of four speed categories: Standard, High Speed, Premium High Speed, and Ultra High Speed.

Each category has sub-categories based on additional features like an Ethernet channel built into the cable or a stronger signal for automotive use, but you only really need to worry about the main label.

Standard is the most basic (and slowest) HDMI cable you can get. It has a bandwidth of 4.95Gbps, which is enough to send a 1080p signal to your TV, but not much more than that. Standard HDMI cables are rare to find in stores, but if you find an unmarked cable in a bucket somewhere or hooked up to a home theater system that hasn't been upgraded in five years, it might be Standard. These don't support 4K video at all.

High Speed is over twice as fast as Standard, with a minimum bandwidth of 10.2Gbps. The vast majority of new HDMI cables you shop for will be High Speed or above, which means they can carry a 4K signal. The hitch is that the bandwidth will support only 4K video at 24 frames per second. That's fine if you want to watch movies on Ultra HD Blu-ray, but if you are streaming TV shows or have gaming hardware that can push 4K at 30 or 60 frames per second, it won't be sufficient. High Speed HDMI cables do, however, support HDR and wide color gamuts.

Premium High Speed pushes the bandwidth up to 18Gbps, which covers any consumer-level video source you deal with. They're also very common now. Premium High Speed cables support 4K60, or 4K video at 60 frames per second, with the capacity for BT.2020 color space and 4:4:4 chroma sampling. Basically, they can handle any 4K video you throw at them. These are future-proof cables that will keep you running for the lifespan of 4K content. They can also support 8K and higher resolutions, though with certain frame rate and feature restrictions.

Ultra High Speed cables are the most extreme home theater future-proofing, and they're becoming more common. Ultra High Speed cables have up to 48Gbps bandwidth and allow for uncompressed 8K video with all the trimmings. More important for most 4K users (and specifically gamers) is support for 4K at 120Hz. If you have a gaming PC or a console capable of pushing 4K speeds greater than 60 frames per second, this cable can handle it.

If you've been keeping count, that's no less than three different cable types with High Speed in the name. Unfortunately, a lot of cable companies don't really care about the other qualifiers when packaging them. If you want to be absolutely sure your cable can handle 4K60 video, look for one that has the Premium High Speed QR code on the packaging. And if you want 4K120 or 8K60, look for the Ultra High Speed label. It's the most official way to be sure without testing it yourself.

Otherwise, if you just see the High Speed descriptor on the cable package, be sure to look for any associated numbers; specifically, the bandwidth and video resolution. It should clearly say 18Gbps or 48Gbps, and possibly 4K60 or 4K120 or 8K somewhere on the box, bag, or listing, depending on the rating. If those numbers aren't there, you can probably watch 4K24 video, but that's about it. And if it doesn't say High Speed anywhere on the package, save it for your old DVD player.

All signals, digital and analog, degrade over long distances. How they degrade depends on the strength of the transmitter, the sensitivity of the receiver, and how much interference the carrier picks up in between. It's this last part where cable metrics begin to matter. The longer a cable you plan to run, the better you need to insulate it. Even then, at some point, it needs an active component to amplify or repeat the signal to get it all the way to its destination. As a general rule, that point is around 50 feet. You can get longer cables without active components, but they won't be able to handle the full 4K60 HDR signal.

If your components are three, six, or even 15 feet from each other, you should be fine with regular cables. If you're running long cables between, say, a projector and a closet full of home theater components across the house, you need to make sure your cables can handle that distance. For commercial and high-end home installations that use long runs, you should seriously consider an extender system that either amplifies the signal so it can travel further along the HDMI cable or sends the signal over Ethernet for most of the distance, switching back to a shorter HDMI cable once you run the easier-to-manage Ethernet through your walls or ceiling.

On paper, if you have a 4K TV or plan on upgrading to one, you should get a Premium High Speed or equivalent cable. The HDMI Forum would likely recommend going with a certified Premium High Speed cable with a QR code for security, but after looking at the variety of cable options available, we're not so sure.

Many "high speed" cables claim to support 4K60 video, deep color, 4:4:4 sampling, and other features without boasting a Premium High Speed status or certification. These cables also all claim to support the same 18Gbps bandwidth as Premium High Speed cables. In fact, the vast majority of HDMI cables you buy new in stores say they have these features and bandwidth; you have to hunt to find a 10.2Gbps or 4.95Gbps HDMI cable that hasn't been sitting in a drawer for years. They just don't all have the QR code on the package, while means the HDMI Licensing Administrator and the HDMI Forum didn't officially certify them.

Packaging can be deceiving, but cable prices can also be inflated. To determine whether you should err on the side of caution or frugality, we decided to run in-house tests, and the results were slightly surprising.

We tested a dozen HDMI cables from various sources. Monoprice provided us with a range of its HDMI cables, including a commercial-grade extra-long cable. We also tested an AmazonBasics HDMI cable, several unbranded cables also available from Amazon, and even a few unmarked cables we simply found in a bucket in our test lab.

To test these cables, we connected each one to a Murideo SIX-G signal generator(Opens in a new window) and a TV capable of displaying 4K and HDR 10 content. The Murideo can output test signals at a variety of resolutions, frame rates, and color depths, so we could confirm whether each cable could actually carry those types of signal. We displayed a full-color test pattern at 1080p60, 4K24 both with and without HDR, 4K60 both with and without HDR, and 4K60 with HDR and 4:4:4 uncompressed color sampling. Although we used seven different signal types, we found no change in signal fidelity between non-HDR and HDR signals at different color depths and sampling rates for each resolution and frame rate combination. The chart here has been truncated to reflect that.

Note that all these tests are for up to 4K60 video, and not 8K or 4K120. You should be well covered to watch any content on your 4K TV with these cables, but as both 8K TVs and 4K120 sources are still a rarity, we haven't tested those higher rates yet.

To our considerable surprise, every cable we tested worked with every test signal, with two exceptions. The Monoprice 75-foot Commercial Series Standard Speed HDMI Cable could carry a 4K24 signal both with and without HDR, but once we moved up to 4K60, the signal failed. The Zosi HDMI cable (a brand that primarily sells home security cameras) we ordered from Amazon, which specifically said on the product page it's only intended for up to 1080p, also failed when we tried to send a 4K60 HDR signal with 4:4:4 color sampling through it. But even then, the cable managed to handle a 4K60 HDR signal with compressed colors well enough; it was only when we bumped up the color sampling that the screen flickered and blacked out.

If you have a 4K TV but don't have a 4K120-capable gaming system and don't plan on keeping your home theater components too far away, nearly any HDMI cable you buy new will work for video content. In fact, some of the cables you already have lying around might work just fine, though you should test that by making sure your Blu-ray player, media streamer, or gaming system is set to output at the highest possible resolution and display HDR when it can. 041b061a72


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