The 9 Best HDMI Switchers of 2021

Don't let your TV limit your port selection

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The Rundown
Best Overall:
Kinivo 550BN at Amazon
The switcher features a 9-second auto switch and an included remote for manual switching.
Best for Power Users:
Zettaguard 4K at Amazon
This switcher exudes a premium feel with an all-aluminum build.
If you have a smaller setup and you're on a budget the Newcare HDMI switch is a great choice.
This switcher supports four inputs and two independent outputs.
Best Picture-in-Picture:
Orei HD-201P 2 X 1 High Speed at Amazon
This is the unit to get if you want PiP, as long as you only want to switch between two devices.
If you're a gamer who has a dual PC setup, this could be ideal.
This is a very attractive piece to add to your home theatre setup.
What's most interesting is that this splitter is reversible. You can have two inputs into one output, or you can flip it around and make it two outputs for one input.
The switcher will support 3D video, 1080p and 1080i and lower, plus it's HDCP compliant.

You may have a nice TV or home entertainment system, but you might need one of the best HDMI switchers to fill things out. TVs and entertainment centers tend to have limited HDMI inputs which can limit the number of devices you can connect. But, with an HDMI switcher, you can expand that capability by quite a bit. 

So many entertainment devices have HDMI outputs because it's an easy way to transmit audio and video in a single cable. As such, Blu-ray players, video game consoles, and even computers have HDMI outputs. If you want to connect more devices than you have ports on your TV or monitor, that's where a switcher comes into play. Moreso, if you're using a device like a projector, your options may be even more limited.

When looking for an HDMI Switcher, you'll want to make sure it can play the resolution you want (1080p, 4K, etc). Additionally, you'll want a switch that supports as many audio and video formats as possible like Dolby Vision, Atmos, DTS:X, and more. A remote is a nice-to-have as well. Once you find the switcher you're looking for, head on over to our roundup of the best HDMI cables as well!

Best Overall: Kinivo 550BN HDMI Switch

What We Like
  • Five inputs

  • Supports 4K at 60Hz

  • Included remote

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

  • Output placement

One HDMI input is nice, but five inputs are so much better. The Kinivo 550BN switcher has just that. Our reviewer Emily tested the switcher along with a BenQ HT3550 4K projector. It's a great use case because the projector only has a single input. This switcher is very small, which is great because it can be unobtrusive, but keeping it small meant putting two of the plugs on either side of the switcher. This makes cable organization a bit unsightly. 

The switcher features a 9-second auto switch and an included remote for manual switching. There is no PIP with this unit which is a little disappointing, but it is capable of routing 4K video at 60Hz which is awesome. The Switcher 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

One of the nicer HDMI switchers that we tested is definitely for power users. This switcher exudes a premium feel with an all-aluminum build, and all ports located on the back of the switcher. This makes it a lot easier to manage your cables. Not only that, but the switcher supports true 4K resolution at 60Hz making it great for gaming. Plus, you can preview all four HDMI feeds with PIP mode on the included remote.

There is no audio splitter here, so if you have a separate audio device, you'll need to use a third-party solution. 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. If you're looking for a really solid switcher for some hard-core usage, this is a great choice.

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

If you have a smaller setup and you're on a budget the Newcare HDMI switch is a great choice. It supports 4K at 60Hz, HDMI 2.0, HDCP 2.2. It also can handle 12-bit deep color and 18Gbps throughput. It can do everything the big boys can do, except have more than three inputs. That's the key weakness here, plus those inputs are on the opposite side of the box from the output. That makes the cables running to and from this box fairly ugly.

Unfortunately, you need to keep this box accessible because there is no remote. There's a button on top of the unit that switches your feed. The box also auto-switches to the active signal when necessary. The switching is fast and accurate, but we'd still like to see a remote for those times you sit down and realize that the switcher is on the wrong device. Beyond that, for the price, this is a great option.

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 have a complicated setup, involving multiple monitors, your choices get very limited. Fortunately, Cable Matters has you covered with its HDMI Matrix Switch.  This switcher supports four inputs and two independent outputs. That means you can use the same four devices for two distinct monitors. That opens up a lot of possibilities. The switch supports 4K at 60Hz and also has 3.5mm and an optical output for audio. That's not something you see in a lot of splitters.

The 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 there are indicator lights on the front to show you which monitor is watching what device. This might be more of a niche device, but we're glad it's out there. If you're looking to get the most out of four of your HDMI device on two different TVs this will do the job for you.

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

If you have two sources you want to switch between often or watch at the same time using PiP, the Orei HD-201P is built for exactly that. The switcher does not support 4K. It only supports 1080i and 1080p and down from there, which is unfortunate. On the audio end, it supports PCM2, 5.1, and 7.1 surround sound, Dolby 5.1, and DTS 5.1. The switcher also does not turn itself off, nor does it allow your monitor to turn off as long as the switcher is on, so that can be a little annoying.

But what really sets this switcher apart is its advanced PiP functionality. You can adjust your second picture to up to four different sizes, and position the second window anywhere you want. The remote supports all of this functionality as well, even better than the controls on the device do. You can quickly switch between the two pictures as well, with very low latency.  This is the unit to get if you want PiP, as long as you only want to switch between two devices.

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

Gamers love being able to switch their consoles to different devices depending on what game they're playing. You can do that with this HDMI switcher with the full range of features that it offers. 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. 

All of this comes at the cost of being very complicated to set up. There are firmware updates and drivers you may have to install manually, which also requires a Windows PC (Not Mac or Chromebook). There are EDID codes that you might need to set to get the switcher to work best with your TV.  It's not for the faint of heart.  But if you're a gamer who has a dual PC setup, this could be ideal.

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

People with home theaters typically have a number of devices they want to connect to a single TV or projector. But they're also concerned with looks, and that's where this switcher comes into play. This is a slim and small 3/1 switcher with all the inputs on the back of the device. That makes it easy to manage your cables and keep your home entertainment center neat and attractive. 

The switch supports 4K UHD and 3D motion pictures for a more immersive experience. It's also powered by microUSB and while it does come with a power cord, you probably have others laying around the house as a backup. Our only qualm with the switcher is that it doesn't have a remote, nor does it have auto-switch capability. In short, you'll want to make sure the correct input is selected before you sit down. But beyond that, this is a very attractive piece to add to your home theatre setup.

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

Best Value: Techole 4K HDMI Splitter

What We Like
  • Great price

  • 3D and 4H UHD Support

  • Solid build quality

  • Reversible

What We Don't Like
  • Only two inputs

Those of you with smaller requirements shouldn't have to pay for a bunch of ports you won't necessarily use. This little switcher from Techole (we enjoy the name too) supports 4K UHDS, and 3D picture, plus HD audio as well. You can use HDMI 2.0 cables for your gaming system. You'll get 10.2 Gbps transfer speeds which isn't the highest out there, but at this price, it's understandable.

What's most interesting is that this splitter is reversible. You can have two inputs into one output, or you can flip it around and make it two outputs for one input.  You cannot broadcast to both outlets at the same time, but you can easily switch between a computer monitor and a larger TV for example. It's that kind of versatility that we love in a device like this.

Input/Output Ports: 1/2 or 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 simply require more inputs. This box has eight inputs and a single output for really big systems. The switcher 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.

FAQs

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. 

An HDMI switcher may also be referred to as an HDMI hub.

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.

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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