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Which HDMI cable do I need?

Here at Monoprice we offer a very wide variety of cables.  We have HDMI cables that cater to just about any need You may have.  While it is great to have such a wide variety of cables to choose from, it can be overwhelming, and many customers wonder if they are really getting the right cable for them.  The goal of this article is to help you better understand which cables are going to be the right cable for your set up and which cables just might not live up to your expectations.


Resolution

The first thing we want to do is determine the resolution of your display and the resolution that your source device is going to output.  Once we have these we can try to find an HDMI cable that will be able to give both devices what they want.  Keep in mind, if the source and display are not both capable of using the same signal then the lower of the two will be the resolution that will be displayed.  This is also true for the HDMI cable we select.  If the HDMI cable we select is weaker than the display or source, then it will bottle neck the resolution to it's highest resolution, despite what the source or display are capable of broadcasting.


Data Rate

Many of our cables will tell You the amount of data they are capable of pushing through.  These will be either 4.95gbps, 10.2gbps or 18gbps.  These will often determine the speed of the cable with 4.95gbps pushing 720p, 10,2gbps pushing 1080p and 18gbps pushing 4k.  10.2gbps is also capable of pushing through 4k, but only at 30hz.


Length

Our HDMI cables come in many lengths starting at 1.5ft and going up to 330ft.  While all of these cables, no matter their size, are capable of broadcasting a signal, there are some restrictions on length.  Longer HDMI cables will often require some form of extra charge or boost and will usually be thicker than shorter cables.  When determining what the length of your cable needs to be, it is best to try to find the shortest distance between source and display, but there are cables that cater to longer lengths that are still able to give us stronger resolutions.  The longest passive cable we carry capable for 4K is a 20ft length and 50ft with an active cable.  


Gauge 

The gauge, or thickness, of the cable plays a large factor in how much data can be transfer back and forth.  The AWG, American Wire Gauge, of most of our cables can be found on their product page.  The higher the number, for example 36awg, the thinner the cable.  While the lower the number, for example 24awg, the thicker the cable.  A thicker cable will have a much easier time transmitting larger amounts of data than the thinner cable and will often be able to support a higher resolution without needing an amplifier or equalizer.  Generally, longer cables are going to be thicker than shorter cables, but there are exceptions to the rule.  For example, a 28awg cable will not be able to put the same resolution through at 20 feet that a 24awg cable could, and at even longer lengths the 28awg cable might not be able to broadcast at all unless it were an active cable or had an equalizer to help push that data through.


Active and Passive

By now we've mentioned the terms Active and Passive when speaking about our HDMI cables.  Passive cables are your standard HDMI cable in terms of operation.  Passive cables can be run in either direction and will often be much thicker at longer runs.  Passive cables at longer length will have problems with higher resolutions.  For a passive cable, max length for a 1080p signal is approximately 15ft for a 24awg cable.  Active cables come with more rules.  Active cables are directional and will have a label or marker on each head to tell if that end goes to a source device or a display device.  Active cables draw extra power from the display device and WILL NOT work in reverse. There is no way to reverse their direction if installed incorrectly.  We strongly encourage double checking an active cable before it is run in wall to ensure that the proper ends are going to the device they are meant for and if the cable works.  Active cables are capable of sending signals over longer distances over passive cable.  We also do not recommend running an Active cable between two distribution devices or in conjunction with any type of extension.  We recommend running Actives cable directly to a Display device.  In a setup using switches or splitters an active can be used on the output side of the distribution devices.  


HDR

High Dynamic Range, abbreviated HDR, is a format we are seeing more and more frequently from higher end TVs.  HDR, also sometimes referred to as HDMI 2.0a, has the exact same plug in as any other HDMI, but requires more data to be drawn through the cable.  Because of this we advise the usage of our 18gbps HDMI cables, in particular our Certified Premium HDMI cables.  

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