The 9 Best HDMI Switchers of 2021

Don't let your TV limit your port selection

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The best HDMI switchers can greatly expand your TV or home entertainment system's capabilities. One of the most limiting factors in any TV or monitor is the limited number of ports you can attach devices to. But an HDMI switcher can greatly expand that capability.

HDMI is one of the easiest and best ways to transmit video and audio in a single cable. Because of this BluRay players, game consoles, and even computers typically use HDMI outputs. If you want to connect more devices to your TV or monitor, that's where you need a switch. It allows you to seamlessly switch between HDMI devices for a single TV.

When shopping for an HDMI switcher, one of the key things you'll be looking for is output resolution. Look for 4K or 1080p, depending on your needs. Plus, you'll want your switch to support as many audio and video formats as possible, such as Dolby Vision, Atmos, and DTS:X. A remote is a good thing to have as well; it's no fun to plop down on the couch for some gaming only to realize your switcher is on the cable box. Once you find the switch of your dreams, make sure you pick up some of the best HDMI cables you can buy as well!

The Rundown
Best Overall:
Kinivo 550BN at Amazon
It supports Dolby digital encoding, HDCP, HDR, 3D video and an 18 Gbps connection, all of which is great for this price.
Best for Power Users:
Zettaguard 4K at Amazon
The Zettaguard 4K HDMI switcher was also one of our favorites. It has a premium look and feel that comes from its all-aluminum build.
The Newcare HDMI switch is a great choice for you if you're on a budget or if you have a smaller setup.
The HDMI Matrix switch from Cable Matters is a great choice because it has two outputs along with four inputs.
Best Picture-in-Picture:
Orei HD-201P 2 X 1 High Speed at Amazon
If you want advanced PiP functionality, this is the switch you should buy.
This is a 4 in/2 out switcher with low latency that allows you to hook up all your boxes into up to two monitors.
If your home theatre has multiple devices you want to connect together, and you want it to be attractive with neat cable management this is the switcher for you.
What we like the most is that the splitter is reversible. You can have two inputs for one output, or two outputs for a single input.
This box has eight inputs and a single output for really big systems.

Best Overall: Kinivo 550BN HDMI Switch

What We Like
  • Five inputs

  • 4K at 60Hz

  • Remote

What We Don't Like
  • No picture-in-picture mode

  • Output placement

Expanding your HDMI port selection from one to five is exactly what makes an HDMI switcher so powerful. The Kinivo 550BN supports up to 5 HDMI inputs for a single output. Two of those cables go on the sides, which Kinivo did to make the box as small as possible, but in doing that created some cable organization difficulties. It'd be one thing if both sides were inputs but one side has an output which means that side always has to have a cable running from it. 

Our reviewer Emily tested the switcher along with a BenQ HT3550 4K projector. The projector only has one input, so it's a perfect use case for a switcher. She found the nine-second auto switch to be convenient if a tad slow by modern standards. She found the lack of Picture in Picture (PiP) to be disappointing. The remote is handy though if you don't want to wait for an auto switch. Otherwise, she found picture quality and frame rates to be really good.

The switcher is capable of routing 4K video at 60Hz which is awesome. It supports Dolby digital encoding, HDCP, HDR, 3D video, and an 18 Gbps connection, all of which are great for this price. That's why it's our best overall pick.

Input/Output Ports: 5/1 | HDMI Standard: 2.0 | Remote/Voice Operation: Remote

"This little switcher is packed with features. It displays up to 4K at 60Hz, can output from up to five devices, and has automatic switching." — Emily Ramirez, Product Tester

Kinivo 550BN HDMI Switch

Lifewire / Emily Ramirez

Best for Power Users: Zettaguard 4K HDMI Switcher

What We Like
  • PIP Preview

  • 4K 60Hz

  • Premium build

  • Rear ports

What We Don't Like
  • No audio splitter

The Zettaguard 4K HDMI switcher was also one of our favorites. It has a premium look and feel that comes from its all-aluminum build. Our reviewer, Emily tested this and she writes, "We also had a good experience with the 4K film content we streamed on our PC. The HDR coloring really made the video pop, and we were able to playback our HDCP 2.2-reliant videos. Dolby TrueHD lets us hear the audio with remarkable fidelity to the original recording. If the switcher also functioned as an audio splitter, it would have been a comprehensive solution."

One of the other features that we enjoyed is the PiP preview mode with the included remote which puts all four feeds up on your screen at the same time. Plus, all the inputs and outputs are on the back making it much easier to manage cable organization. This switcher also supports HDR, HDCP 2.2, and Dolby True HD. An indicator light on the front indicates which input is active, which is a nice extra touch. Overall, we like this for power users because of the remote and the four-feed display.

Input/Output Ports: 4/1 | HDMI Standard: 2.0 | Remote/Voice Operation: Remote

"The Zettaguard is thoughtfully designed with ports in the back of its solid aluminum case to mitigate the nightmare of modern cable management." Emily Ramirez, Product Tester

Zettaguard 4K HDMI Switcher

Lifewire / Emily Ramirez

Best Budget: Newcare HDMI Switch 3-in-1

CARE HDMI Switch 3 in 1
What We Like
  • 4K at 60 or 24Hz

  • Included HDMI cable

What We Don't Like
  • Input and output on opposite side

  • Only 3 inputs

The Newcare HDMI switch is a great choice for you if you're on a budget or if you have a smaller setup. It supports 4K at 60Hz, HDMI 2.0, HDCP 2.2. It also can handle 12-bit deep color and 18Gbps throughput. In short, it can do anything the others can do, but it only has three inputs. It's great for smaller setups, but only for smaller setups. Plus, the inputs and outputs are on opposite sides of the box, which makes cable organization a challenge. 

You also need to keep this box accessible because there's no remote. A button on top of the unit switches the feed and the box can auto-switch when it detects an active signal. While the switching is fast and accurate, we'd like to see a remote here just for those times that you forget to switch before you sit down. But, if this option fits your setup, this is a solid device you should consider.

Input/Output Ports: 3/1 | HDMI Standard: 2.0 | Remote/Voice Operation: None

Best for Multiple Displays: Cable Matters 4K 60 Hz Matrix Switch

What We Like
  • Dual outputs

  • 3.5mm and optical audio out

  • Four inputs

What We Don't Like
  • Remote isn't that good

If you're using multiple monitors, your choices for HDMI switchers get a little more limited. The HDMI Matrix switch from Cable Matters is a great choice because it has two outputs along with four inputs. The same four input devices can work for either of your two monitors, which opens up a lot of possibilities. The switch supports up to 4K/60Hz and it includes a 3.5mm and optical output for audio switching as well. You don't often see that in splitters or switchers. 

In terms of protocols, the HDMI Matrix switcher supports HDMI 2.0, HDCP 2.2, 10-bit color depth, and on the audio side, Dolby Digital, DTS, and 5.1 or 7.1 surround sound. The included remote is not the best, but indicator lights on the front of the switcher help you know what device is showing on which monitor. This might be a niche device since not everyone uses a multi-monitor setup. But we're glad that it's out there.

Input/Output Ports: 4/2 | HDMI Standard: 2.0 | Remote/Voice Operation: Remote

Best Picture-in-Picture: Orei HD-201P 2 X 1 High Speed

What We Like
  • Remote does everything

  • Four size options for second picture

What We Don't Like
  • No auto off

  • Confusing controls

  • No 4K

One of the more common uses of an HDMI switcher is Picture in Picture. That allows you to watch two videos sources at the same time. The Orei HD-201P is built specifically for advanced PiP functionality. You can adjust your second picture in one of four different sizes and you can place that second picture anywhere you want on the screen. You can accomplish all this using controls on the switcher or make it easier using the remote control. Plus you can swap the pictures back and forth with very low latency.

The switcher does not support 4K; you can only get 1080i and 1080p and down from there. Also, the swither doesn't turn itself off, nor does it allow your monitor to turn off if the switcher is on. Those are both a little annoying, but the Orei HD-201P supports PCM2, 5.1, and 7.1 surround sound, Dolby 5.1, and DTS 5.1 as well as HDMI. Bottom line, if you want advanced PiP functionality, this is the switch you should buy.

Input/Output Ports: 2/1 | HDMI Standard: 2.0 | Remote/Voice Operation: Remote

Best For Gamers: EZCOOTECH HDMI Matrix Switch 4x2

HDMI Matrix 4 in 2
What We Like
  • Two outputs

  • 4K upscaling and downscaling

What We Don't Like
  • Setup is complicated

If you're a gamer with multiple boxes, an HDMI switcher is a good idea for you too. This is a 4 in/2 out switcher with low latency that allows you to hook up all your boxes into up to two monitors. On the video side, you've got 4K HDR, Dolby Vision, and HDR10. For audio, you get Dolby Digital 7.1, Dolby Atmos, and DTS:X. Additionally, you get 4K upscaling and downscaling, so it's compatible with any number of monitors and TVs. 

But this is a very complicated box to set up. Some reviewers report on firmware updates that are needed out of the box, and to make matters a little harder, you can only update the firmware with a PC, not a Mac or Chromebook. You may need to configure an EDID code to get the switcher to work well with your TV.  Overall, it's not for the faint of heart. But if you're a gamer with a multi-monitor setup, this could be an ideal solution for you.

Input/Output Ports: 4/2 | HDMI Standard: 2.0 | Remote/Voice Operation: Remote

Best for Home Theater: Insignia 3-Port HDMI Switch

Insignia
What We Like
  • Slim and attractive

  • Powered by microUSB

  • 4K UHD and 3D picture support

What We Don't Like
  • No remote or auto switch

The home theatre is the center of many homes. If your home theatre has multiple devices you want to connect together, and you want it to be attractive with neat cable management this is the switcher for you. This three-in/one-out switcher has all the inputs on the back, which makes cable management easier and keeps your home theatre neat. 

The switch supports 4K UHD and 3D motion pictures. It's powered by microSD and it comes with a power cord in the box, but you might also have extra MicroUSB cables laying around. One big qualm that we have with the switcher is that it doesn't have a remote, nor does it have auto-switch capabilities. That's a pretty big downside; you'll want to make sure your theatre is on the right input before you settle down for a movie. But beyond that, this is an attractive piece to add to your home theatre setup.

Input/Output Ports: 3/1 | HDMI Standard: 2.0 | Remote/Voice Operation: None

Best Value: GANA Aluminum Bidirectional HDMI Switcher

What We Like
  • Great price

  • 4K Support

  • Solid build quality

  • Reversible

What We Don't Like
  • Only two inputs

Those of you with fewer components to worry about shouldn't have to pay for ports you don't need. This switcher from Gana supports 4K at 30Hz but not 60Hz. The manufacturer specifies that devices that run at 4K/60Hz such as the PSP4 Pro will not work with the switcher. The build quality is quite good. 

What we like the most is that the splitter is reversible. You can have two inputs for one output, or two outputs for a single input. You cannot broadcast to both outlets at the same time if using it in that configuration, but you can switch between a computer monitor and a larger TV.  In a device this small, we like to see that kind of versatility.

Input/Output Ports: 2/1 | HDMI Standard: 2.0 | Remote/Voice Operation: None

Best for 1080p: IOGEAR 8-Port HDMI Switch

What We Like
  • Eight inputs

  • Bi-directional RS-232 port

  • Includes remote

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

  • No 4K

Some home and professional theatre setups require more inputs. This box has eight inputs and a single output for really big systems. This box includes a remote, but you can also change inputs using the push buttons of the front or you can use the RS-232 bi-directional control and plug it into a more advanced system.

The switcher will support 3D video, 1080p and 1080i and lower, plus it's HDCP compliant. For the price, we'd like to see 4K support, especially in this day and age. Presumably, if you have a system advanced enough to use a serial controller, you'll have a 4K setup as well. It just seems like a huge oversight. But for eight inputs, this is one of the only games in town.

Input/Output Ports: 8/1 | HDMI Standard: 1.4 | Remote/Voice Operation: Remote

Final Verdict

Overall, we really love the Kinivo 550BN. It has the best balance of features and power. There are five inputs and one output and it can handle just about every format. It's small and unobtrusive and it comes with a remote for easy switching from far away. 


If you don't need that many ports, we really like the versatility of the Techole 4K HDMI Splitter (View on Amazon). Going from one input to two outputs, or flipping it and using it for two different monitors is pretty great. It has solid construction and an easy button switch. There's a lot to love there.

About Our Trusted Experts

Emily Ramirez has been writing for Lifewire since 2019. She's previously written for the Massachusetts Digital Games Institute and MIT Game Lab, and has a background in narrative design and media. She's very family with games, TV, and audio devices, and particularly liked the Knivo 550BN for its five high-speed HDMI ports and reliability.

Adam Doud has been writing in the technology space for almost a decade and is also the creator and host of the Benefit of the Doud podcast, which reviews and discusses popular technology.

FAQ
  • Will using an HDMI switcher reduce image quality?

    HDMI is a digital signal and won't degrade in the same way as older analog signals even with the addition of a switcher. If you are experiencing a notable loss in signal quality it may be due to a faulty signal either from your switcher or a damaged cable. 

  • What's the difference between an HDMI switch and an HDMI splitter?

    An HDMI switch allows you to swap between inputs transmitted to a single screen, whereas an HDMI splitter takes a single signal and sends it to multiple screens.

  • Can an HDMI switch transmit a 4K signal?

    Yes, as long as your HDMI cable and switcher support HDMI 2.0 you can transmit a 4K signal without any loss in quality.

Kinivo 550BN HDMI Switch

Lifewire / Emily Ramirez 

What to Look For in an HDMI Switcher

HDMI is the most common audio/video connection in use. However, TVs may have as few as one or two HDMI inputs.

If you have a lot of HDMI-equipped source devices, such as an upscaling DVD/Blu-ray/Ultra HD Blu-ray player, cable/satellite box, media streamer, and game console that all need to be connected to your TV, there may not be enough HDMI inputs, but don't panic.

Instead of buying a new TV just to get more HDMI inputs, consider getting an external HDMI switcher to fill the gap. 

"Home users generally need 2 to 4 ports. However, they can go up to an 8-port switch depending on the number of sources they want to connect to a display." — Christian Young, Pro AV Product Manager, ATEN Technology, Inc

Understanding HDMI Switchers

An HDMI switcher is a device that expands the number of HDMI sources you can connect to your TV (or video projector). The number of HDMI inputs on a switcher may range from 2 to 8. All you have to do is connect the output of the switcher to the input of your TV. Just like that, the switcher gives you more input options.

Some switchers even have two HDMI outputs. This allows the connection of the same source to two video displays (such as two TVs or a TV and video projector) or separate sources to each video display. An HDMI switcher with this capability is usually referred to as a Matrix Switcher. On HDMI switchers with two HDMI outputs that send the same video signal to two video displays, if one of the displays has a lower resolution (e.g. one is 720p and the other is 1080p, or one is 1080p and the other is 4K), the output from the switcher may default the lower of the two resolutions for both displays.

"Image quality should not be affected by the HDMI switchers because the source is digital. If the quality of the image is decreased, it can be attributed to a poor connection, damaged cables, or to the quality of the switcher." — Christian Young, Pro AV Product Manager, ATEN Technology, Inc

HDMI switchers plug into AC power and usually come with remote control for more convenient source selection. Some HDMI switchers also incorporate HDMI-CEC support, which allows the switcher to automatically go to the correct input of the most recently activated device.

Key Features

  • HDMI switchers currently available for consumers are at least 1080p and Dolby Digital/DTS compatible.
  • If you have a 4K Ultra HD TV and 4K source components, the switcher also needs to be 4K compatible. If you need to pass HDR-encoded and/or 3D video signals, your HDMI switcher needs to have those capabilities.
  • As mentioned above, all HDMI switchers pass standard Dolby Digital and DTS Digital Surround audio signals, but if you are routing the output of the switcher through a home theater receiver (instead going directly to the TV) that provides decoding for advanced audio formats, such as Dolby TrueHD, Atmos, DTS-HD Master Audio, DTS:X, you need to make sure that your HDMI switcher is compatible.
  • The switcher also has to support HDMI handshake requirements that are implemented via either the HDCP (High-bandwidth Digital Copy Protection) or HDCP 2.2 for 4K devices protocol between source devices and the TV or video projector. This is important when switching between devices, as there is a temporary break in the handshake until the newly selected device locks in with a new handshake.

HDMI Splitters

Don't need an HDMI switcher, but want to send the same HDMI signal to two TVs or a video projector and TV? As mentioned above, you can use an HDMI switcher with two HDMI outputs, but if you don't need a switcher, you can use an HDMI splitter.

HDMI splitters that send two, three, four, or more signals from a single HDMI source are available, but for consumers, two is usually enough. Splitters with more outputs are mostly for business and commercial use where one source needs to be sent to multiple TVs or projectors.

Splitters can be powered or passive (no power needed). It is best to use powered splitters to avoid handshake or signal loss issues. The splitter also has to be compatible with the video and audio signals you may need to pass-through. Just as with a switcher, if one video display device is a lower resolution than the other, the output for both may default to the lower resolution.

Zettaguard Upgraded 4K 60Hz 4x1 HDMI Switcher

Lifewire / Emily Ramirez

Use a Home Theater Receiver as an HDMI Switcher or Splitter

Another option to consider that can add more HDMI inputs for TV viewing sources is a home theater receiver. Low-priced home theater receivers usually provide four HDMI inputs, but as you go up in price, you will find receivers with up to six or eight HDMI inputs along with two or three outputs which allow you to connect to more than one TV or a TV and video projector similar to a splitter.

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