Getting hold of the best HDMI for gaming doesn't have to cost loads of money. In fact, the cheaper priced ones are all you really need for Xbox One X and PS4 Pro, because they do the same job for less. Same with Switch and PC too. While hardcore cinephiles and audio enthusiasts will likely demand those flashy, $100 gold-plated cables you see for sale, the benefits they bring are slight if (whisper it) there even is a benefit at all. Unless you need a really long cable between your gaming set-up and your TV, then you can pick up the best HDMIs for gaming real cheap. However, if you're going above 3m with your cable, things get a little trickier. Here's all you need to know...
What sets different HDMI cables apart?
If you're getting flickering or artifacting on your display, and can't seem to isolate the source, a common culprit is your HDMI cables. A lot of times, particularly in the case of cables you're regularly plugging and unplugging from your display, the fault may be with the cable's terminals. Better quality cables will tend to on the whole be much more durable than cheaper alternatives, one good incentive to spend a little bit extra to ensure the cables you buy will last. However, if you're not constantly unplugging your HDMIs this really isn't an issue.
Another possible problem is limited bandwidth across the cables you're using. You want, ideally, the fattest possible pipe, so you never have to worry about your cables acting as a bottleneck in your gorgeous 4K, HDR powered setup. Look for cables rated at at least 18Gbps. This is especially important if you're buying a much longer cable; for a 1m shorty, cheap is fine, but if you're stretching across the room, you need to invest in something a little more robust. A quick way to check the quality of the cable you're buying is to look for the HDMI Licensing Forum's Premium seal of approval. Certified cables come with an anti-counterfeiting seal that proves the cables are legit and have been ATC-tested.
For a guide to some of the more complicated terms in tech, head over to our sprawling hardware glossary.
1. AmazonBasics High-Speed HDMI
The best HDMI cable for gaming, balancing price and performance
Transfer speed: 18Gbps | Length: from 1.8m - 10.6m | Certification: CL3-certified
Amazon has its own range of low-price tech accessories, including a smart-priced HDMI. You’re looking at $6 / £6 for a 1.8m version. Beat that, un-named high street retailer. It’s a low-frills black plastic affair, but does have gold-plated terminals to avoid looking like it came bundled free with something. This one isn’t certified to the HDMI Premium standard, but it has the part we’re after anyway: 18Gbps bandwidth.
The AmazonBasics HDMI comes in lengths up to 10.6m, and the design appears to scale up a little as you get to the higher lengths too. For example, that longest version is CL3-certified. This is a spec for custom installers, and means the cable is designed to handle higher voltages.
This cable does everything you need it to - delivering 4K connections between your gaming set-up and your display, for a ridiculously low price and in a range of sizes.
2. Belkin HDMI 2.1 Ultra High Speed
Best for future-proofing
Transfer speed: 48Gbps | Length: 2m | Certification: HDMI 2.1
Are you one of those insufferable people who always has to have the latest iPhone, the latest watch and every new game on the day of release? You also need Belkin’s new Ultra High speed HDMI.
This is one of the first cables to be primed for HDMI 2.1, a spec designed to wave in 10K-resolution video. Just don’t mention that to the Xbox One X, let’s give it at least five minutes of 4K glory.
The cable can handle up to 48Gbps video bandwidth, which today’s consoles can’t even get close to. It also proves why Belkin is such royalty among tech accessory makers. Despite being better-specced than some cables costing £2000, this one costs just £29.99 for 2m.
It also has conveniently small connectors and, to be frank, we just trust Belkin a lot more than most no-name accessory makers.
3. Onyx HDMI
Best for durability
Transfer speed: 18Gbps | Length: 2m/3m | Certification: HDMI Premium Standard
If you want a cable that should take a bit more abuse than the one you might find in Poundland, take a look at the Onyx 4K HDMI cable.
It has thicker-than average cabling, with an extra mesh sheath on top to act as armour against chair legs or the teeth of bored pets. The connectors also have metal outers, making them more rigid than most.
We don’t usually advise people get too worked up about gold plating but, sure enough, there’s “24ct” gold bling on the terminals too.
And, the bit that really matters, the Onyx 4K is certified to the latest HDMI Premium standard. You’ll find cheaper options that work just as well, but this is a good pick for those who demand the finer things in life.
4. OMARS Premium HDMI
A great all-rounder
Transfer speed: 21Gbps | Length: 2m/3m | Certification: HDMI Premium Standard
The OMARS Premium HDMI has just about everything we look for in a cable, particularly after spending a packet on new hardware. First, it’s fairly cheap. At under $10 / £10 for a 1.5m cable, and a little more for a 2m or 3m cable, it won’t eat into your games budget too much. These cables are also certified to the HDMI Premium standard. At present this is the main seal of quality to look for. OMARS also claims bandwidth of 27Gbps on the shorter cables, higher than the 18Gbps gold standard.
The design is about as plain as HDMI cables come, but the connectors aren’t too bulky. This is important if you wedge your consoles up near the wall to save space. You’ll usually find the OMARS cable sold in lengths up to 3m, which should do the trick for most setups.
5. Rhinocables Flat HDMI
Best for discrete cabling solutions
Transfer speed: 27Gbps | Length: 2m | Certification: N/A
If you want to run your HDMI under a rug, perhaps to reach a projector without tearing up your walls’ plasterwork, a flat cable is the best option. Just a few millimetres thick, it’s a lot less obtrusive than the average round type.
The cable itself is also nylon braided for added toughness.
There’s no mention of the HDMI Premium standard, but Rhinocables claims bandwidth of at least 27Gbps, which is well in excess of what we need for 4K and HDR. We don’t really care too much about how our HDMI connectors look as, with any luck, they’re out of sight 24/7. However, the Rhinocables HDMIs are chromed if you must have a bit of glamour to everything you own.
Best for space saving
Transfer speed: 4K compatible | Length: 3m | Certification: N/A
In the saturated world of HDMI cables, it’s good to have something to help you stand out. SlimHDMI’s name gives its game away. This is one of the lowest-profile HDMI cables around.
It’s not the cable itself that is ultra-slim, which would have a knock-on effect on performance, but the terminals. This is handy if there’s not much free space behind your game console or TV.
There are no grand claims about its performance, but it is ready for 4K. Given an ultra cut-down design probably won’t do any favours for durability, this is a cable for a specific situation. At the same time, it may be exactly what you need if normal designs are just that bit too chunky.
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