HDMI has streamlined connecting devices to transfer digital audio and video information. Before HDMI, DVI and component video shouldered that responsibility.
The two, unfortunately, were not very reliable, broke easily, and created a cable clutter like it just didn’t care—particularly component video that required three separate (red, green, and blue) cables to work.
Perhaps, the biggest letdown was that both couldn’t carry audio signals. That is probably why when HDMI was introduced at the end of 2002; people had a sigh of relief. HDMI transmits audio and video data through a single cable.
However, the positive side to DVI and component video was that their cables could get pretty long. DVI signals travel up to 49 feet (15 meters), whereas component video lines reach lengths close to 100 feet (30.5 meters).
You may be wondering how the HDMI cable stacks up against that. We’ve highlighted that in great detail below and discussed related topics for a holistic understanding. Keep reading to learn more.
Does HDMI Cable Length Affect Signals?
Yes, HDMI cable length affects signal quality.
Generally, any HDMI cable up to 25-feet long will do 1080p at 60 Hz and 4K at 30 Hz without breaking a sweat.
When the cable length increases, however, it struggles.
In other words, the signal attenuates or loses strength, making it harder for the receiver in the setup to interpret the data received or differentiate between the ones and zeroes.
That inability to comprehend the data received results in flickering screens, choppy visuals, etc. The audio also may not sound as rich as it should. It may screech or could be completely cut off.
How Far Can You Run HDMI Without a Booster?
Like most data and audio-video cords, HDMI cables can be only so long—particularly the passive cables or those without a booster.
Generally, a length of 50 feet (15.25 meters) is considered the maximum stretch for a passive HDMI cable—after which there’s an apparent degradation in signal quality.
But the particular length limit may not apply to all HDMI cables or work with all kinds of HDMI setups. The ones with higher bandwidth and video resolution capability may not stretch up to or anywhere close to 50 feet.
An off-the-shelf, standard HDMI cable can get up to 15 feet (around 5 meters) long without any issue. These are category 1 HDMI cables that can do a maximum speed transfer of 4.95 Gbps and up to 1080i resolutions.
Category 2 cables are the 50-feet cords mentioned above. These are high-speed cables offering speeds touching the 10.2 Gbps mark and support 1080p, faster refresh rates, deep color, etc.
For an HDMI line to span longer than 50 feet, you’d need an HDMI repeater or a similar solution. (More on that later.)
How Long Can a 4K HDMI Cable Be?
A premium HDMI cable is your 4K HDMI cord. It pushes the bandwidth threshold to 18 Gbps, facilitating 4K at 60 Hz streaming. The cable also supports a wide color gamut and all forms of HDR.
A high-speed (category 2) HDMI cable can also transfer 4K signals but not at the refresh rate or quality you’d desire for the 4K video experience to look truly unique.
On the length front, a 4K HDMI cable can stretch up to 10 feet (3 meters) without exhibiting any drop in signal quality.
Since 4K’s bandwidth requirements are more significant than 1080p, cables cannot move the resolution’s data across distances greater than 10 feet.
In some instances, the distance could be even shorter.
How to Extend an HDMI Cable?
Using an external device to send HDMI signals across a length of more than 25 or 30 feet is a much better approach than pushing an HDMI cable to its limits or using a single HDMI cable to cover the whole distance.
With signal-boosting devices, you are pretty much guaranteed the promised signal quality and speeds. A cable that’s carrying the burden by itself may not be as adept or could feel too much under duress, possibly resulting in the shortening of its life.
Let’s look at the specific kinds of tools used for boosting HDMI signals and how to use them.
1. HDMI Signal Equalizer
An HDMI signal equalizer also called an in-line extender or repeater, offers a fairly straightforward solution to mitigate signal degradation when long-throwing HDMI signals.
It corrects digital inaccuracies and offers input equalization to make amends for the loss of transmission, and eliminate noise.
To incorporate the equalizer into your setup, follow these steps:
- Ensure the input and output devices are turned off.
- Once the primary devices are powered off, connect one end of an HDMI cable to your input source—for example, your laptop.
- Plug the other end of the cable into the source or input port of the equalizer device.
- Grab another HDMI cable and plug it into the display or output port of the equalizer.
- Insert the other end of that cord into the HDMI port of your display device.
- You may now power on the respected devices and roll.
Kindly note, the video resolutions and the connection length would vary with the type of equalizer you pick.
If an HDMI equalizer sounds like what you need for your setup, look at the Cable Matters Active HDMI to HDMI Repeater .
2. HDMI Over Cat Extenders
To extend your HDMI line in a restaurant, office, hotel, conference hall, or any place (home or business premise) where the length of the connection needs to be more than 150 feet (around 45 meters), consider an HDMI Over Cat extender kit.
The kit comprises the transmitter that receives the signal from your input source and a receiver with an output port for the setup’s display end.
The transmitter converts the HDMI signal to transfer high-definition video and audio data over a Cat 5e, Cat 6, or Cat 7 Ethernet cable, commonly used for an Internet connection.
Once the transformed signal reaches the receiver end of the setup, it is converted back to HDMI so that your TV or display device can process the signal and output it.
Unlike setting up the HDMI equalizer, installing this extender kit entails extensive work. To learn more on how to set up things from scratch, watch this video:
With HDMI over CAT, you can send HDMI signals to up to 100 meters or 328 feet. If you need such an extension tool for your HDMI setup, any of the following extenders would fit the bill:
- Cable Matters Wall Mount HDMI Extender (up to 300 feet)
- OREI HDMI Extender Over Cat 5e/Cat 6 (up to 164 feet)
- J-Tech Digital 4K Ultra HD HDMI Extender Over Cat 5e/ Cat 6 (up to 230 feet)
Last update on 2023-03-21 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API.
Extender kits that use optical fiber technology could send HDMI signals up to 1,000 feet (305 meters). Such length requirements, however, are rare, even for commercial establishments.
3. HDMI HDBaseT Extender
The HDBaseT extender is ideal for transmitting high-definition audio and video signals and other added signals over a single long-distance cord.
The device is typically used to transmit video and audio signals from a Blu-ray player to your television.
Like the HDMI over Cat extender, the HDBaseT extender comes as a kit comprising two devices: a transmitter and a receiver.
To learn more on how they work in tandem and how to install the extender device, follow the instructions below:
- As always, begin with powering off your input source and output devices.
- Grab an HDMI cable and plug it in the output port of your input device—for instance, your Blu-ray player.
- Plug the other end of the cord into the input port of the HDBaseT transmitter box.
- Insert another HDMI cable into the input port of your television.
- The other connector must go into the video/output port of the HDBaseT receiver.
- Link the HDBaseT transmitter and receiver by plugging a Cat 5e or Cat 6 cable into their RJ45 ports.
- Supply power to the transmitter and receiver with a 5V power adapter.
- Turn on the Blu-ray player and the TV, and enjoy the action.
If you have a Blu-ray player as your source device, you need the HDBaseT extender the most of the three. Here are our product recommendations:
- J-Tech Digital 4K HDBaseT HDMI Extender
- OREI HDBaseT UltraHD HDMI Extender Balun
- Monoprice Blackbird 4K Pro HDBaseT Extender Kit
Last update on 2023-03-21 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API.
The HDMI cable length isn’t much of a concern for the average user. Most people get by fine with HDMI cables no longer than 10 feet.
Most users’ real concerns with HDMI are the number of HDMI ports at their disposal, what specific standards those ports are, whether there are enough HDMI cables at the ready, etc.
Only people who run HDMI cables between rooms or behind the wall for a cleaner setup wonder about cable length and whether the line would transmit the information across seamlessly.
If you must employ a relatively long HDMI cable for your setup, we hope the above information was of great help.
On the other hand, if you don’t need to run HDMI cables across rooms or at great lengths, do not bother buying a long HDMI cable since HDMI signal transmission is always better with short HDMI cables.
Catherine Tramell has been covering technology as a freelance writer for over a decade. She has been writing for Pointer Clicker for over a year, further expanding her expertise as a tech columnist. Catherine likes spending time with her family and friends and her pastimes are reading books and news articles.