Welcome to HDMI Hell

Recently I started upgrading my home theater setup to full 4K (with exception of the ChromeCast 2.0 that I have). I picked up the new Samsung UBD-K8500 UHD Blu-Ray Player along with a Denon AVR-X3300W receiver to handle the audio and HDMI switching. I have the Samsung UN65KS8000 4K TV that supports the full 18GBPS on all HDMI ports so I can send a full 4Kx2K 60HZ with 4:4:4 Chroma signal to it for the best possible picture. In addition to that, I have a custom PC that has a GTX 1070 that I use for media playback as well as running a HTC Vive setup that is installed in the living room.

Once I had everything hooked up I noticed that I was getting either “grainy” signals or complete signal dropouts on the TV with my existing random assortment of high-speed HDMI cables. This led me to purchase quite a few cables from Amazon to try and get a stable and high quality 4K signal to my TV. The problem is that most of the reviews currently on most HDMI cables on Amazon are people that are either running 4K @ 30HZ or even just 1080p. Almost all half-way decent cables will handle the [email protected] signal or the 1080p signal just fine. I even read prior to going on this HDMI cables purchasing expedition that the existing “High Speed HDMI” cables would be fine for [email protected] but the HDMI consortium has since changed their stance since most cables (even higher end ones) that were made prior to the [email protected] HDMI 2.0 standard were found to not be able to handle the increased bandwidth that was necessary to push such high amounts of data.

Let’s go over how I plan to “qualify” these cables and the equipment that is involved.

Equipment

Testing methods

  • PC to TV Playback will be tested by playing a 1 hour long 4K video from YouTube and monitored for any dropouts/distortion
  • BluRay to TV Playback will be tested by play 1 hour from a UHD BluRay and monitored for any dropouts/distortion
  • The connection from the BluRay to the Receiver will be with a qualified 6FT HDMI 2.0 cable – I used a MediaBridge brand cable for this.
  • The connection from the PC to the Receiver will be with a qualified 6FT HDMI 2.0 cable – I used a MediaBridge brand cable for this.
  • The reason for not changing the cables between the devices and the receiver is that the dropouts went away when I changed the cable between the Receiver and the TV with a 3FT High Speed cable.
  • This led me to isolate the issue to the cable carrying the signal from the Receiver to the TV as this is the longest one, it requires a 10ft length as the TV is wall mounted and requires the cable to be in the wall for aesthetic purposes.

HDMI Cables

I am going to include ALL the HDMI cables that were used, including existing ones that I had that failed.

Existing Cables

These cables are between 1-2 years old and were acquired from various sources. They are all in good condition with no damage to the cable or plugs.


Newly Purchased Cables

These were all purchased from Amazon.com


Cable Reviews

BlueRigger 12FT HDMI "Latest Version"

BlueRigger 12FT HDMI “Latest Version”

This cable I had purchased before going to full 4K since on the page when I purchased it they advertised that it was “4K” compliant and actually had mentioned that it was 18GBPS tested. Currently their page shows that it is now only 10.2GBPS for the speed.

This cable would not work completely and would drop signal every 1-2 seconds. It was completely unusable.

"Twisted Veins" 10 FT HDMI Cables

“Twisted Veins” 10 FT HDMI Cables

This cable was included with one of the wall mounts that I had purchased in 2014 and had been laying in my extra cable box. This would not display a picture at all when set to a 4K resolution. The only way I was able to get a picture was to set the source to 1080p and even then the picture had artifacts on it and did not look correct.

Even though it says on their Amazon page that it is a “high speed HDMI cable” it cannot even do the minimum 1080p. Stay away even for 1080p only.

e18474e8bcaec5b96faedab933c7b3dcGeneric 12Ft HDMI Cable (From Comcast at some point)

 

This one I received from the Comcast guy when he brought when the cable box was installed years ago. This cable worked for a while but then started dropping out at random times when running a 4K signal into it. This does work with all my 1080p sources without issue and it says “High Speed HDMI” on the outer cable jacket.

 

"Ultra" Brand 12FT HDMI Cable

“Ultra” Brand 12FT HDMI Cable

 

The Ultra brand cable is one that I was actually using with the 4K TV to go from my PC to the TV since I picked up the TV. This cable does work from the PC directly to the TV but for some reason once it is hooked up to the receiver I end up getting a distorted picture and/or drop outs.

 

This cable is a “High Speed HDMI” cable and works fine for 1080p

KabelDirekt 10FT HDMI Pro Series

KabelDirekt 10FT HDMI Pro Series

 

This cable was purchased from Amazon.com (link) in hopes of finding a working cable.

 

I am happy to say that this cable not only is very well made but it passed all the 4K video tests with no distortion or drop outs. I can honestly recommend this cable for [email protected] with 4:4:4 chroma use. Do know that the longer you go, especially after 15 ft, you will be more prone to dropping out no matter what the brand.

OCC 10FT HDMI Cable

OCC 10FT HDMI Cable

 

This cable was purchased from Amazon.com (link) as well.

 

This was a 2 pack of cables and neither could sustain the 4K signal. After about 5 minutes they would drop the signal. They were labeled and sold as 4K HDMI 2.0 compliant cables but they are not. They are also very thin cables so they definitely do not have thicker wire in them. I cannot recommend this cable for 4K use. They do work with 1080p though.

 

"ONN" Brand 12FT HDMI Cable
ONN 12FT HDMI Cable

 

These were purchased in a 2 pack on clearance from WalMart.

 

Surprisingly they actually worked fairly well out of all the cables. I bought 3 of the 2 packs and only 1 cable dropped signal at all. The others worked but had occasional artifacts. They are labeled as a “High Speed HDMI” cable on the outer jacket. They work flawlessly for 1080p but YMMV for 4K sources. For the price you can’t argue.

MediaBridge 10ft HDMI Ultra Series

MediaBridge 10ft HDMI Ultra Series

 

These were purchased from Amazon.com (link).

 

These cables are my favorite out of all of them not only because they are well made and easy to work with but they passed ALL the [email protected] with 4:4:4 chroma tests. These are the ones that I am currently using in my home theater setup, I gave the KabelDirekt ones to my neighbor to use with his 4K TV. They are advertised as 18GBPS cables.

 

I have been using MediaBridge cables for years and they always deliver on what they promise. This is no different.

Vizio TXCH12X-C3 12FT HDMI

Vizio TXCH12X-C3 12FT HDMI

 

These were purchased from Walmart on clearance.

 

They are advertised as 18GBPS cables but fell completely short. They displayed no 4K picture at all.

 

They work fine with 1080p sources and that is it. Stay away for 4K, they do not work at all.


Closing

In the end the MediaBridge Ultra series and the KabelDirekt Pro cables were the 2 that worked for me. This was a long process and I hope this helps alleviate the process for someone else. You can purchase the cables with the links below. I am not affiliated with either of these companies and have not received any free cables in exchange for these reviews, but these are Amazon affiliate links so I will get a commission off of them with no increased cost to you.

Both of these are great cables. I do favor the MediaBridge ones as they are easier to work with due to the lack of mesh sleeving on them.

MediaBridge Ultra Series HDMI Cables

KabelDirekt Pro Series HDMI Cables