Here’s Why You Should Use a Long HDMI Cable
HomeHome > Blog > Here’s Why You Should Use a Long HDMI Cable

Here’s Why You Should Use a Long HDMI Cable

May 11, 2023

Last week we wrote about ethernet cables and the reality of ethernet cables retaining high internet speeds over longer-than-normal cables. This week, dear reader, I’m happy to confirm that I am not done talking about cables, because I have another secret: I have a 10-metre HDMI cable, that I use for playing games on my TV from my computer. It's completely fine – and I want people in similar situations to know that it's a valuable thing to try out.

While I was trying to resolve internet latency issues with a 10-metre ethernet cable, by running it from my lounge room HFC NBN connection to my bedroom gaming PC, my 10-metre HDMI cable is being used to solve a similar problem.

I was trying to set up my PC to play games on my TV without needing to move the physical computer between rooms. The alternative was to rely on streaming, which is physically possible over a local area connection if you have a Steam account on the computer with all of your installed games streaming to your TV or streaming device, but this had a greater latency than what I was comfortable with. Also, no, cloud gaming wasn't an option (it still sucks).

My solution? More cables.

Just to get it out of the way before we jump in, an HDMI cable is an audio-visual cable that runs between a display (such as a TV or monitor) and a device processing content (like a PC, game console or DVD player). You’re more likely to find this cable in living rooms than in offices, due to the ability for HDMI to transmit both audio and video signals (though newer versions of Display Port, the cable more commonly used for high-spec PCs, can do this).

Historically, one of the things holding HDMI back was a limitation on framerate, however, this is no longer much of an issue – the newest version, HDMI 2.1, can produce a refresh rate of 120hz (meaning up to 120fps when playing a game) while transmitting a 4K display.

The length of an HDMI cable, if too long, simply will not work. According to popular mechanics, to stay within a safe length, HDMI cables are typically sold at 15-metres at maximum (though some types can be longer). After this length, you’re likely to start encountering issues, so it's widely recommended that you stay within the 15-metre safe zone. It's also difficult to find cables that are longer than this, but not impossible.

In the context of an HDMI cable and what it's designed to do, 15 metres is a lot. For most purposes, where you’d be connected to a console or media playing device to a TV, you’re unlikely to need any more than five metres, however, in some circumstances, you’re likely going to need a bit more than that.

Good question. If you’re trying to send visual and audio data over a room-to-room distance (say, up to 10 metres), your options are either streaming the data wirelessly or using a big ol’ cable. Or, if you want to use your laptop or a device situated on your couch as your multimedia device, without needing to use your TV's operating system to stream content, having a long-enough HDMI cord lets you do just this.

In my own specific example, I’m using a long HDMI cable to transmit the gameplay of my PC (which is located in my bedroom) into my lounge room. To do this, I’ve got the 10-metre HDMI cord plugged into the back of my computer and running across the walls of my bedroom, and then under my door, where it traces the walls of my apartment to the TV. It works perfectly for what I’m trying to do, but if you want to replicate what I’m doing, you might want to use USB extension cords as well for your wireless keyboard, mouse and controller that you’ll likely be using in another room (as the signal will likely drop off if the receiver is not close enough)

To avoid tripping hazards, you’ll want to be smart with the cable. HDMI cables are thick and you’ll want to reduce them bunching up in walkways as much as possible.

If you can, gather the excess cable in parts of the room where you don't walk and don't see, such as behind cupboards or shelves.

For the parts of the home where the cable must run over a walkway, try running the cord under a thick rug.

It's not a particularly good idea to use tape to fix cords to the edges of a room, as this can rip the paint. Rather, it's better to use cable covers.

Finally, if you own the property, you can of course modify it and put a hole in the wall to allow the HDMI cable to pass through seamlessly, although this is a very extreme solution that would require a lot of effort and planning.

HDMI cables vary in cost dramatically depending on the type and length. The type that allows for the greatest FPS on a display is HDMI 2.1, which typically costs between $15 and $30 on Amazon for a standard 2-metre length.

However, if you’re interested in buying an HDMI 2.1 cord that runs for 10 metres, you may need to spend between $60 and $220.

Alternatively, if the length matters more than the fps, you can pick up an HDMI 2.0 cord for less. HDMI 2.0 cords can still produce 120fps at 1080p resolutions, but only 60fps at 4K.

An HDMI 2.0 cord at a fairly standard 3-metre length typically costs between $10 and $30. If you’re after a longer 10-metre cable, you may need to spend around $30.

If you’re looking for a solution to play games on a TV in another room, or use your PC on your lounge room TV, this could be the perfect solution.

Zachariah Kelly is a writer at Gizmodo Australia.