Everything You Need to Know About HDMI Cable Types

Are all HDMI cables the same?

HDMI cables are the primary way to connect devices to a TV or home theater set-up. HDMI cables can pass video, audio, and limited control signals.

Where You'll Find HDMI Cable Connections

Devices that may have HDMI connections include:

  • TVs, video projectors, and PC monitors.
  • DVD, Blu-ray, and Ultra HD players.
  • Cable/satellite boxes and DVRs.
  • Home theater receivers.
  • Media streamers.
  • Game consoles.
  • PCs and laptops.
  • Select digital cameras, camcorders, and smartphones.
Home Theater Receiver HDMI Connections Example
Onkyo USA

HDMI Cable Types

HDMI cables provide different capabilities depending on the signal transfer speed (bandwidth) and the HDMI version the cables are associated with.

For full details on the features of each HDMI version, refer to our companion article What is HDMI? – Versions 1.0 through 2.1 Explained.

Here are the types of HDMI cables:

  • Standard HDMI Cable: These cables are designed for common HDTV broadcast, cable, and satellite TV resolutions (up to 720p and 1080i) with a bandwidth capacity of up to 5 Gbps. It is optimized for HDMI versions 1.0 to 1.2a.
  • Standard Automotive HDMI Cable: This cable type has the same capabilities as a standard HDMI cable, but is used to connect portable or in-car DVD players and other devices to in-car video displays. Extra shielding is provided to suppress interference from other car electrical systems and wiring.
  • High-Speed HDMI Cable: This type of cable is designed to handle video resolutions of 1080p and 4K (30 Hz) as well as provide support for 3D and Deep Color. Bandwidth transfer speeds up to 10 Gbps are supported. It is optimized for HDMI versions 1.3 to 1.4a.
  • High-Speed Automotive HDMI Cable: This type supports the same features as High-Speed HDMI cables but is optimized for the automotive environment.
  • Premium High-Speed HDMI Cable: This cable type is designed for reliable transfer of 4K/UltraHD resolution video, including 4K/60 Hz, HDR, and expanded color range. Cable bandwidth support is 18 Gbps and is optimized for HDMI versions 2.0/a/b.
  • Ultra High-Speed HDMI Cable: This cable type includes all of the capabilities of the other cables with added support for 8K video with HDR and even 10k resolution. It supports up to 48 Gbps bandwidth (transfer speed) and is less susceptible to EMI (electromagnetic interference) caused by some wireless devices. This cable type is optimized for HDMI version 2.1.
HDMI Connector Types
HDMI.org
  • HDMI Cables with Ethernet Built-in: There are also Standard, High-Speed, Premium High-Speed, and Ultra High-Speed HDMI cables that may support an additional HDMI Ethernet Channel (HEC). These cables are designed to allow multiple HDMI-connected devices to share a single traditional Ethernet connection to a broadband router at speeds of up to 100 Mb/sec. However, this feature is not normally implemented on devices.
Ethernet Over HDMI
HDMI.org

HDMI Connector Types

In addition to cables, there are four types of HDMI end-connectors, depending on the application. 

  • Regular Size (Type A): An HDMI cable with a regular size connector is typically used to connect source devices, such as DVD/Blu-ray/Ultra HD players, computers, media streamers, cable/satellite boxes, and video game consoles to TVs, video projectors, and home theater receivers.
HDMI 2.1 Connection Cable Example
Accell Cables
  • Mini Size (Type C): HDMI cables with mini connectors are used on DSLR cameras and standard-sized tablets. The end that connects to the camera or tablet is a mini HDMI connector. The other end of the cable is a standard-sized connector that plugs into a TV, PC monitor, or video projector.
HDMI and HDMi Mini Comparison
Accell Cables
  • Micro Size (Type D): Micro HDMI is used on smaller portable devices such as digital cameras, smartphones, and smaller tablets. A micro HDMI cable has a micro connector on one end and a standard size HDMI connector on the other.
HDMI and HDMI Micro Comparison
Accell Cables
  • Automotive (Type E): There is a special connector for Automotive HDMI cables. 
HDMI Cable Example with Type E Connector
Amazon

Combining HDMI With Select Non-HDMI Connections

HDMI can also be used in combination with other types of connections. For example, there are HDMI/DVI, HDMI/Display Port, HDMI/USB-C, and HDMI/MHL adapter connectors and cables should you require those options. 

More HDMI Cable Features to Consider

HDMI cables may also include additional features designed to improve signal transfer between devices.

  • Passive HDMI Cable: Most HDMI cables are passive. That means one end goes into a source and the other goes to a home theater receiver or video display, and the signal is transferred. The cable is also bi-directional, meaning you can connect either end to an HDMI input or output connection. Passive HDMI cables should be able to provide a stable signal for lengths of up 15 feet.
  • Active (Amplified) HDMI Cable: Longer HDMI cable lengths may require an added boost to transfer a stable signal. Active HDMI cables contain amplification circuitry inside one of the connection heads. In most cases, power is provided internally. However, you may find an active cable that connects an external power source via a small cable that connects from one of the HDMI connector-ends to a USB power or AC adapter power source. 
  • Optical HDMI Cable: In a similar manner as digital optical audio connections, optical HDMI cables transfer signals via fiber optic cable, in this case, both video and audio. Optical HDMI cables have the same types of connection ends as other HDMI cables. An optical HDMI cable can be made very thin. It can transfer stable signals over a longer distance than other HDMI cables without the need for external power.

Active and Optical HDMI cables are directional. This means one end is labeled source or 1 and the other end is labeled TV or 2. The cable must be connected in the proper direction to work.

There are other ways to transfer an HDMI signal across long distances using both wired and wireless solutions. 

HDMI Cable Buying Tips

When buying an HDMI cable, keep these tips in mind:

  • Buy cables with the right connector for your devices.
  • Buy the right cable length. Don't buy a cable that's too long, and make sure the length isn't so short that you can't move the components enough to provide easy connection access. 
  • Don't pay more than you have to. Don't pay $100 or more for a 6-foot HDMI cable. Price doesn't always reflect HDMI cable quality. Also, don't buy inferior cables. If the packaging has an official certification logo, the cable will work with reference to the other specifications listed. There are good quality HDMI cables priced as low as $10 for 6 feet. If you buy online, go through a reputable site such as Amazon, Accell, Monoprice, or CablestoGo.

Premium High and Ultra Hi-Speed cables will be priced higher.

HDMI Premium Certified Package Label
HDMI Licensing
  • Buy HDMI cables that support the capabilities of your devices. For example, if you have or upgrade to a 4K TV/video projector, home theater receiver, and Ultra HD Blu-ray or streaming player, make sure the HDMI cables used between those devices are Premium-rated high-speed cables.
  • Know what to do if you run into HDMI connection problems.

You can use older HDMI components with newer components. If you do, you won't be able to access newer HDMI features, depending on what the manufacturer chooses to include in a specific product.

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