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When you buy one, the or a , You may be wondering if you need to . In fact, there is a new standard called HDMI 2.1, and this new standard includes new higher bandwidth cables called “Ultra High Speed HDMI cables”. In fact, both new consoles include such a cable.
However, for most people, you probably won’t need new cables. There are a few important exceptions to this statement. Below is a list of possible reasons why you might need to update your HDMI cables. We start with the basic questions.
Do you need new cables if you …
… buy a new television? Probably not
If you buy a new 4K TV and your current sources work with your current TV, they will likely work with the new TV too. If you also want to buy an Ultra HD source, e.g., Ultra HD Blu-ray player or , chances are your current cables will work with these too.
… buy a new 4K HDR streamer, UHD Blu-ray player, PS5 or Xbox X? Probably not
the, and the latest versions of both game consoles can output 4K HDR. If your HDMI cables are less than 3 meters, they are likely working just fine. If so, you can have problems for longer. Even if they worked fine with normal 4K, HDR is additional data and that could be too much for longer runs. If you can’t get your TV to display HDR even though you’re sure your source and content are HDR, the cable could be the problem. However, first check all of your other settings.
… you want to play games with 4K120 and have a TV that supports this resolution or frame rate? Probably
theand have the ability to output 4K at 120 frames per second. Just a handful of televisions . There are also only a few games that can run at 4K120. Most people won’t have all of these parts, so their current cables will likely be fine. If you have one of these consoles and have a TV that supports 4K120 and want to play one of the 4K120-enabled games and need more than the only cable that comes with the console, then you should check out Ultra High Speed HDMI -Cable.
Brett Pearce / CNET
… connect a computer to a television and run 4K resolutions? Maybe
Computers can send the maximum resolution and frame rate possible in the current HDMI specification. If you have a beefy computer and want to connect to a UHD TV, it is probably worth buying ultra high speed, or at least premium certified cables. Uncertified cables might work, but it’s less likely.
… how to deal with a TV picture that is blinking, blinking or otherwise failing? Probably
If the picture on your TV happens to be dropping out (or not showing up at all) it could be a cable problem. If none of your devices have changed this may be a different problem, but the HDMI cable may be worn out (likely if you plug in and unplug it all the time or the cable is lying on the floor and being stepped on). A new inexpensive HDMI cable is a cheap solution at best and a cheap indication that the problem is different at worst.
On the other hand, if you’ve bought a new TV and it isn’t displaying the 4K or HDR content you’re broadcasting, the cable may not be able to handle it. Another, but still cheap, HDMI cable should do the trick. Or, you can spend a little more and get a premium certified HDMI cable that should definitely work. Ultra-high-speed HDMI cables are likely over the top, but if the price is tight, they won’t hurt as they are fully backward compatible with lower resolutions and frame rates.
David Katzmaier / CNET
As a reminder: HDMI cables are “all or nothing”
Your current HDMI cables are likely high speed. They’re just called that, they don’t break the laws of physics to allow electrons to move across them faster. High-speed HDMI cables are designed for 4K resolutions, but not necessarily for higher data versions like 4K HDR or the higher frame rates of the new consoles. Short cables of a few feet or a meter will likely handle 4K60 with no problem. Longer cables may not. Even if the cable works at 4K, it may not work with 4K HDR.
Or it could – that’s the annoying part. There are too many variables for me to say with certainty. “Test and see” is unfortunately the only way to know. The good news is that because of how HDMI works, if your source device is broadcasting 4K HDR and your TV is displaying 4K HDR.
No improvement can be achieved with more expensive cables. Either all or nothing. The most likely scenario when your cable can’t handle the resolution you want is that the image either doesn’t display at all, flickers or fails, or, in a fairly common case, your source is falling back on a lower resolution.
That said, if you set your Roku to send 4K and it flicker for a moment, your TV will show 1080p, which might be because your cable can’t handle enough signal to make it work.
Remember, cheap HDMI cables are fine for most people. If you’re having problems, it might be worth considering upgrading. But just because you’re buying new equipment or because there’s a new HDMI standard doesn’t mean you have to upgrade.
Getty Images / mbbirdy
Save your money
Let’s say you’ve determined that you need new HDMI cables. Should you spend extra cables on Ultra High Speed HDMI cables to be “future proof”? Not usually, no, but Ultra High Speed HDMI cables are usually not much more expensive than “normal” cables. There’s no reason to spend more than $ 10-20 for a 90cm cable regardless of its specification, and you can find ultra-high-speed HDMI cables for that price and less.
The bottom line is, if your current cables are working, keep them. If you get new equipment and the cables keep working, keep them. If you get new equipment and don’t get the resolutions your new equipment should allow, all you will likely need is new, inexpensive, high-speed cables. cashfor more information on specific cables.
If you are a gamer and have one or plan to get oneor and have a TV / intend to support 4K120 input, consider Ultra High Speed HDMI cables. Remember, you don’t have to spend a lot on it either. Usually they are only a few dollars more per foot than the better high-speed cables.
Note: This article was first published in 2017 but has been updated with new links and information.
In addition to covering television and other display technologies, Geoff also runs photo tours of cool museums and locations around the world, including nuclear submarines, giant aircraft carriers, medieval castles, aircraft graveyards, and more.
You can follow his exploits on Instagram and YouTube over his 10,000 mile road trip. He has also written a bestselling science fiction novel about city-size submarines, along with a sequel.