Getting a new TV or gaming console this Holiday Season?

In time for the latest high frame rate 8K and 4K Ultra HD displays, advanced gaming consoles and PC graphics cards, new HDMI 2.1 Ultra High Speed cables have become widely available over the past year from multiple suppliers providing sufficient bandwidth (48Gbps) to support advanced new high resolution and gaming features.

The good news is that the various HDMI coordinating bodies run a certification labeling program to help you ensure the cable you purchase has been tested to comply with the format’s “Ultra High Speed” features. This ensures it will pass higher band digital signals between source devices . This includes advanced gaming consoles, certain PC graphics cards, the newest and best HDMI 2.1-supporting AV receivers and many of the premium 8K and 4K television sets available this year.

The bad news is that there might be fake 8K cables out being sold out there that won’t support some or any of these new features, so it’s important to look for the Ultra High Speed 8K HDMI certification label to ensure against failure. Also, when ever purchasing an HDMI product, its good practice to make sure the packaging or marketing materials specifically list support for the exact features you are looking for.

Today, the best cables you can select will be the Ultra High Speed HDMI variety.

Also, be aware that Ultra High Speed HDMI Certified cables aren’t just for 8K TVs. They will work with any resolution signal and with any of today’s available frame rates. They are also backward compatible with all HDMI products new or old and because signals today are digital in nature, they should all pass these signals more or less with the same good results.

Also, if you don’t play enhanced video games and don’t plan on needing to support the highest frame rate 8K video, you can get by with so-called “Premium High Speed HDMI” (2.0) cable for most purposes. These typically will be less expensive and more commonly available, but they won’t be as future friendly if you plan to reuse them when you go to upgrade your components.

Also, when selecting an HDMI cable, be wary of purchasing any that run longer than 10 feet, unless specifically engineered and indicated to support longer cable runs (these will be fiber optic or active cables). Cables that are too long are a common trouble source when images aren’t passing from a source device.

Also, for most common installations, HDMI adapters and extenders can be problem spots in long cable runs. In general, when it comes to HDMI cable, the shorter the better, to ensure signal strength isn’t degraded, and Ultra High Speed HDMI cables will be best at preventing interference from electro magnetic fields.

If you must run cable behind walls for applications like wall mounting a TV, note that special cables made of fire-safe certified materials will be required to keep within local building codes and avert potential disaster from potential fires or electrocution. When running HDMI cable behind walls, look for those that have a CL2 or CL3 fire rating, and always check local building codes for rules of compliance in your particular neighborhood.

Where super-long cable runs are required, special optical Ultra High Speed HDMI cable or active HDMI cables that use a small chip to draw small amounts of power from the connected devices can be used to maintain signal strength over some longer distances. These will be more expensive.

The primary differences between various series and brands of Ultra High Speed HDMI cables will be in length, design/look, metal contact types, wiring types and sheathing construction. These will all determine flexibility and the best protection to prevent damage and signal failure in usage application. Various cables will also provide how secure the contact point are with the connected device, thus ensuring a connection won’t be accidentally separated when swapping components or moving cables around the setup.

As always, pricing for these cables will vary according the build, materials and brand name. The more complicated the setup, the better the quality of the cables should should be to ensure functionality, safety and durability over time.

According to the HDMI Licensing Administrator: “To ensure [consumers] are purchasing authentic Certified Ultra High Speed HDMI Cables, holiday shoppers should look for the `Ultra High Speed HDMI Cable Certification Label’ on the packaging with a QR code and holographic image that can be scanned to verify certification.

The following is a list of Ultra High Speed 8K HDMI cables consumers can use with confidence. Keep in mind, the particular requirements of the installation will determine which of the cables below is right for your job. Look for the features and application specifics you require in the product marketing information.

AudioQuest offers its Pearl 48 HDMI Cable designed for Xbox with 48Gbps high frame rate support. All of the HDMI 2.1 features will be supported, including 4K/120 FPS (3840×2160) gaming, VRR up to 120 FPS/144Hz, ALLM and QFT.

Pricing for the Pearl 48 series is as follows: 5 foot/1.5m $49.95; 7.4 foot/2.25m $64.95; 10 foot/3m $79.95; and 16.4 foot/5m $179.95.

Like all AudioQuest 48 Series HDMI cables, the Pearl 48 handles resolutions up to 10K, refresh rates up to 8K/60Hz, 4K/120Hz, and offers a superior, immersive audio/video experience when streaming shows, concerts or movies in 2K or 4K.

All AudioQuest 48 HDMI cables, including the Cinnamon 48 and Forest 48 series, provide control and signal conductors that are Direction-Controlled to minimize RF Noise by “directing” (draining) it away from the most vulnerable circuits. Signal conductors employ Solid Long-Grain Copper, a high-purity metal that minimizes noise and ensures overall performance.

Austere now offers a premium line of 8K Ultra-High-Speed HDMI 2.1 cables in 4.9 foot/1.5m ($99) and 8.2 foot/2.5m ($149) lengths.

Austere 8K Ultra-High-Speed HDMI 2.1 have been certified for HDMI 2.1 connectivity with bandwidth sufficient for 48Gbps by the HDMI Forum. Austere’s cables are engineered to support all of the 8K UHD specifications and can support resolutions and refresh rates of 8K@60, 4K@120 and all the way up to 10K resolution.

To authenticate the Ultra-High-Speed Certification, the cable comes with a label that can be scanned using the HDMI Cable Certification app.

Austere Ultra-High-Speed HDMI cables will work with 8K videos and video games on the latest HDMI 2.1 (Ultra High Speed) supporting TVs and monitors, AV receivers and gaming consoles and gaming PCs, playing the latest high-resolution games like Resident Evil Village. The Austere cables are backward compatible.

To further heighten the entertainment and gaming experience, Austere’s 8K HDMI support enhanced Audio Return Channel (eARC) technology supporting the latest 3D surround sound formats, and advanced gaming features including Variable Refresh Rate for smooth performance that minimizes lag, stutter, and frame tearing.

The Austere 8K HDMI cable are made from Kevlar-reinforced windings and Austere signature WovenArmor cable, which is thinner than most other 8K cable options, to provide flexibility and strength. Also used is pure endurance gold shield contacts. The cable’s aDesign housing provides a slim design for tight cable runs and a LinkFit Connector assures connections stay firm.

C2G (a brand of Legrand) offers more advance enthusiasts and professional home theater installers in need of longer cable runs its Performance Series Ultra High Speed HDMI cables with Ethernet. These cables support 48Gbps throughput and all of the latest HDMI 2.1 features — including uncompressed 8K/60Hz and 4K/120Hz, dynamic HDR, and eARC.

An in-wall (CMG/FT4) rated jacket allows installers to safely run the cables inside walls for a clean, clutter-free look. For high-density environments, they feature compact overmolding. Integrated finger grips on the connectors allow for easy insertion and removal. The cables’ gripping connector shells deliver twice the port retention to keep devices firmly connected, while gold-plated connectors allow for better shielding, increased electrical conductivity, and durability.

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The cables are certified to ensure low EMI reducing interference with wireless networks, streaming media players, Bluetooth devices, mobile phones, and other devies. C2G’s Performance Series Ultra High Speed HDMI cables with Ethernet are available through retailers and direct to users from C2G.

They are offered in five lengths from 2 feet to 12 feet, the cables are backed by a “lifetime warranty.”

Cable Matters also offers an active optical HDMI cable solution designed for next-generation gaming and media over longer distances. The Cable Matters Active HDMI Fiber Optic Cable is one of the longest certified Ultra High Speed HDMI cables on the market with full 8K/60Hz and 4K/120Hz resolution support as specified for Ultra High Speed HDMI 2.1 at 48Gpbs.

With the increased bandwidth as specified in HDMI 2.1, traditional copper cables won’t work much beyond 9 feet at normal thickness. But fiber optic HDMI cable utilizes active optical modules developed by Silicon Line to enable long-distance connectivity without the need for external power. Gamers and movie buffs can enjoy their programs without bandwidth loss or signal degradation. This cable is available in 16 foot/5-meter $64.99, 32 foot/10-meter ($99.99), and 49 foot $129.99 providing maximum flexibility for most media center or gaming setups.

Monoprice provides one of he better values in certified Ultra High Speed HDMI cables, with various lines and lenths, for different job requirements. The company’s products also carry lifetime warranties. One of the better Monoprice series is the Monoprice 8K Certified Braided Ultra High Speed HDMI Cable that has been certified by an HDMI authorized testing center for 8K/60Hz and 4K/120Hz at 48Gbps bandwidth. The high strength braided cable is said to resist damage like cuts, kinks, wear and tear. This cable also carries a CL2 in‑wall fire safety rating.

The brand offers its Ultra High Speed HDMI Braided cables in four lengths: 3, 6, 10 and 15 foot lengths, at street prices of $12.99, $14.99, $17.99 and $22.99, respectively.

Zeskit is a supplier of high quality Ultra High Speed HDMI 48Gbps cable solutions with multiple degrees of quality and decision. One of the best is found in its braided Maya line.

For most standard applications, Zeskit Maya 1.5, 3, 5, 6.5, and 10-foot lengths will suffice. These are available at retail prices of $14.99, $17.99, $19.99 and $23.99, respectively.

For longer and in-wall cable runs, Zeskit also offers a Maya CL3 line available in lengths of 13-, 16- and 23-feet. Prices are at $29.99, $34.99 and $54.99, respectively.

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By Greg Tarr

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