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Which HDMI Cable Should I Choose?

It can appear daunting with all the different specifications there are, and a lot of customers do tend to ask what is right for them.

Generally we would say that HDMI 2.0 is quite suitable for many setups and we sell more of these now than any other cable. They are 4k/60fps compatible and run at higher supported bandwidths , up to 18Gbps, whereas even though HDMI 1.4b can support 2160p, 4K/30fps and HDR mode - to cut on a few extra pounds it is prudent to invest in a slightly more capable cable in case of any near future upgrades.

Also, the higher up the spectrum you go in HDMI Standards, the cables need to be capable of much higher streams of data, up to 48Gbps in HDMI 2.1, so the cables can only be made shorter than their predecessors.

All HDMI cables are backward compliant - so set a budget, and check what formats you are watching things at. If this is Ultra HD look no further than HDMI 2.0.

If it is only HD Format, then you may start at 1.4 and work up, depending on your budget or size of the cables required which may influence your purchasing options.

For more technical information, please refer to the charts below:

[Chart A] HDMI Specifications Summary:

  HDMI version
1.0–1.2a 1.3–1.3a 1.4–1.4b 2.0–2.0b 2.1
Release date Dec 2002 (1.0) Jun 2006 (1.3) Jun 2009 (1.4) Sep 2013 (2.0) Nov-17
May 2004 (1.1) Nov 2006 (1.3a) Mar 2010 (1.4a) Apr 2015 (2.0a)
Aug 2005 (1.2)   Oct 2011 (1.4b) Mar 2016 (2.0b)
Dec 2005 (1.2a)      
Signal specifications  
Max. transmission bit rate (Gbit/s) 4.95 10.2 10.2 18 48
Max. data rate (Gbit/s) 3.96 8.16 8.16 14.4 42.6
Max. TMDS character rate (MHz) 165 340 340 600 N/A
Data channels 3 3 3 3 4
Encoding scheme TMDS TMDS TMDS TMDS 16b/18b
Encoding efficiency 80% 80% 80% 80% 88.90%
Compression DSC 1.2 (optional)
Color format support  
RGB Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Y′CBCR 4:4:4 Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Y′CBCR 4:2:2 Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Y′CBCR 4:2:0 No No No (*a) Yes Yes
Color depth support  
8 bpc (24 bit/px) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
10 bpc (30 bit/px) Yes (*b) Yes Yes Yes Yes
12 bpc (36 bit/px) Yes (*b) Yes Yes Yes Yes
16 bpc (48 bit/px) No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Color space support  
SMPTE 170M Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
ITU-R BT.601 Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
ITU-R BT.709 Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
sRGB No Yes Yes Yes Yes
xvYCC No Yes Yes Yes Yes
sYCC No No Yes Yes Yes
Adobe No No Yes Yes Yes
Adobe RGB (1998) No No Yes Yes Yes
ITU-R BT.2020 No No No Yes Yes
Audio specifications  
Max. sample rate per channel (kHz) 192 192 192 192 192
Max. aggregate sample rate (kHz) ? ? 768 1536 1536
Sample size (bits) 16-24 16–24 16–24 16–24 16–24
Maximum audio channels 8 8 8 32 32
  1.0–1.2a 1.3–1.3a 1.4–1.4b 2.0–2.0b 2.1
HDMI version
a) Although HDMI 1.4 does not officially allow 4:2:0 chroma subsampling, NVIDIA and AMD have added 4:2:0 support to their HDMI 1.4 graphics cards via driver updates
b)  HDMI 1.0–1.2a permit 10 bpc and 12 bpc color depth only when Y′CBCR 4:2:2 color format is used. When using RGB or Y′CBCR 4:4:4, only 8 bpc color is permitted

[Chart B] Refresh Rate Frequency Limits & Video Formats:

Video format HDMI version / maximum data rate
Short  Des. Resolution Refresh rate (Hz/Fps) Data rate required (*a) 1.0–1.1 1.2–1.2a 1.3–1.4b 2.0–2.0b 2.1
3.96 Gbit/s 3.96 Gbit/s 8.16 Gbit/s 14.4 Gbit/s 42.6 Gbit/s
720p 1280x×720 30 720 Mbit/s Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
60 1.45 Gbit/s Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
120 2.99 Gbit/s No Yes Yes Yes Yes
1080p 1920x1080 30 1.58 Gbit/s Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
60 3.20 Gbit/s Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
120 6.59 Gbit/s No No Yes Yes Yes
144 8.00 Gbit/s No No Yes Yes Yes
240 14.00 Gbit/s No No 4:2:0 (*b) Yes Yes
1440p 2560x1440 30 2.78 Gbit/s No Yes Yes Yes Yes
60 5.63 Gbit/s No No Yes Yes Yes
75 7.09 Gbit/s No No Yes Yes Yes
120 11.59 Gbit/s No No 4:2:0 (*b) Yes Yes
144 14.08 Gbit/s No No 4:2:0 (*b) Yes Yes
240 24.62 Gbit/s No No No 4:2:0 (*b) Yes
2160p
or 4K
3840x2160 30 6.18 Gbit/s No No Yes Yes Yes
60 12.54 Gbit/s No No 4:2:0 (*b) Yes Yes
75 15.79 Gbit/s No No 4:2:0 (*b) 4:2:0 (*b) Yes
120 25.82 Gbit/s No No No 4:2:0 (*b) Yes
144 31.35 Gbit/s No No No No Yes
240 54.84 Gbit/s No No No No DSC (*c)
5K 5120x2880 30 10.94 Gbit/s No No 4:2:0 (*b) Yes Yes
60 22.18 Gbit/s No No No 4:2:0 (*b) Yes
120 45.66 Gbit/s No No No No DSC (*c)
8K 7680x4320 30 24.48 Gbit/s No No No 4:2:0 (*b) Yes
60 49.65 Gbit/s No No No No DSC (*c)
120 102.2 Gbit/s No No No No DSC (*c)
  1.0–1.1 1.2–1.2a 1.3–1.4b 2.0–2.0b 2.1
HDMI version
a)  Uncompressed 8 bpc (24 bit/px) color depth with RGB or Y′CBCR 4:4:4 color format and CVT-R2 timing are used to calculate these data rates. Uncompressed data rate for RGB images in bits per second is calculated as bits per pixel × pixels per frame × frames per second. Pixels per frame includes blanking intervals as defined by CVT-R2.
b) Possible by using Y′CBCR with 4:2:0 subsampling (as noted).
c) Possible by using Display Stream Compression (DSC).

[Chart C] Advanced Supported Features:

  HDMI version
1 1.1 1.2–1.2a 1.3–1.3a 1.4–1.4b 2.0–2.0b 2.1
Full HD Blu-ray Disc and HD DVD video (*a) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Consumer Electronic Control (CEC) (*b) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
DVD-Audio No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Super Audio CD (DSD) (*c) No No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Auto lip-sync No No No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Dolby TrueHD / DTS-HD Master Audio bitstream capable No No No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Updated list of CEC commands (*d) No No No Yes Yes Yes Yes
3D video No No No No Yes Yes Yes
Ethernet channel (100 Mbit/s) No No No No Yes Yes Yes
Audio return channel (ARC) No No No No Yes Yes Yes
4 audio streams No No No No No Yes Yes
2 video streams (Dual View) No No No No No Yes Yes
Perceptual quantizer (PQ) HDR OETF (SMPTE ST 2084) No No No No No Yes Yes
Hybrid log–gamma (HLG) HDR OETF No No No No No Yes Yes
Static HDR metadata (SMPTE ST 2086) No No No No No Yes Yes
Dynamic HDR metadata (SMPTE ST 2094) No No No No No No Yes
Enhanced audio return channel (eARC) No No No No No No Yes
Variable Refresh Rate (VRR) No No No No No No Yes
Quick Media Switching (QMS) No No No No No No Yes
Quick Frame Transport (QFT) No No No No No No Yes
Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM) No No No No No No Yes
Display Stream Compression (DSC) No No No No No No Yes
  1 1.1 1.2–1.2a 1.3–1.3a 1.4–1.4b 2.0–2.0b 2.1
HDMI version
a) Even for a compressed audio codec that a given HDMI version cannot transport, the source device may be able to decode the audio codec and transmit the audio as uncompressed LPCM.
b) CEC has been in the HDMI specification since version 1.0, but only began appear in consumer electronics products with HDMI version 1.3a.
c) Playback of SACD may be possible for older HDMI versions if the source device (such as the Oppo 970) converts to LPCM.
d)  Large number of additions and clarifications for CEC commands. One addition is CEC command, allowing for volume control of an AV receiver.
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