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Why are some HDMI cables so Thick?


According to Allied Market Research, the HDMI cable market was worth $2.47 billion in 2018 and is expected to reach $3.87 billion by 2026 at a CAGR of 4.5%. This isn’t surprising if you know how popular High-Definition Multimedia Interference (HDMI) cables are.

From connecting home theater systems to set up security cameras and systems, HDMI cables are used for multiple purposes worldwide. These convenient cables can connect everything from game consoles and projectors to satellite boxes, PC monitors, laptops, smartphones, and more.

However, one problem remains. Sometimes these cables can get extremely thick and don’t fit through pre-drilled holes.

So, why are HDMI cables so thick?

Are thicker HDMI cables better?

Does cable thickness really make a difference?

In this article, we will answer these questions, so you know exactly what you’re dealing with.

Many HDMI cables are thick because of the number of conductors inside them, the sheathing that’s present, and certain installation requirements. This may be dependent on factors like the length of the cable and more.

Keep on reading for a complete breakdown of this idea.

Why Are Some HDMI Cables So Thick?

HDMI cables come in different sizes, with some being much bulkier than others. There are many reasons behind this.

Interior Components

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Your standard HDMI cable may look like any other cable from the outside, but it’s extremely complex on the inside. The interior can house as many as 19 conductors, all of which handle different functions and have to be wired to the HDMI connector.

You may be wondering why these wires take up so much space. This is because they need to be isolated to prevent shorting.

With isolating material, shielding material, structural support, and the rubber or plastic sheath of the wire itself, HDMI cables can get pretty bulky.

Different Installations

Some HDMI cables are extremely thick because they’re built for specific installations. As a result, they have more sheathing than their thinner counterparts.

For example, if you’re using an HDMI cable outdoors or are opting for in-wall or in-ceiling installations, you’ll likely need a thicker cable.

Resistance

Resistance can be a problem in any cable, and this is no different for HDMI cables. If the cables are especially long, thicker cores can help reduce resistance.

Protection

Thicker HDMI cables don’t break as easily as thinner ones. In fact, some manufacturers design them to be thicker so they last longer.

Does a Thicker HDMI Cable Make a Difference?

HDMI cables in many sizes

Yes and no. Both answers are correct depending on different factors. Let’s delve further into this by discussing thickness and where it comes from.

The thickness of an HDMI cable is measured in AWG or American Wire Gauge. This is also used to measure electrical wires and other cables like speaker cables and RCA cables.

It’s important to understand that the lower the AWG, the thicker the HDMI cable. For example, a 24 AWG HDMI cable will be thicker than a 28 AWG HDMI cable. Similarly, a 22 AWG HDMI cable will be thicker than the 24 and 28 AWG cables.

Considering this, yes, a thicker HDMI cable can make a huge difference in the quality you’re going to receive.

However, there’s a catch to this. This only holds true for longer HDMI cables.

Shorter HDMI Cables

Short HDMI cables, which are 6 feet or less, don’t require too much thickness to be effective. Because the signal is traveling a short distance, it’s less likely to lose strength.

If your device is only a short distance from the connection, you should be fine with a short and thin HDMI cable in most cases.

Longer HDMI Cables

Long HDMI Cables

This is very different for longer HDMI cables. The farther the signal has to travel, the more it’s likely to lose strength. Thicker gauge wires combat this loss of strength, so longer HDMI cables usually use thicker wires. As a result, they’re more likely to transmit the signal properly instead of losing it.

As the interior wires thicken, so does the diameter of the cable. Furthermore, this can affect the sheathing around it, especially for longer-lasting cables.

While there can be differences in the materials used in shielding, sheathing, and the outer PVC jacket, generally you can expect the following measurements:

  • 30 AWG: 6 mm to 7.5 mm
  • 28 AWG: 7 mm to 8.5 mm
  • 26 AWG: 8 mm to 9.5 mm
  • 24 AWG: 9 mm to 10.5 mm

Therefore, thicker HDMI cables can transmit more data easily, while this isn’t always the case for thinner HDMI cables. Sometimes, they cannot support high resolutions without adding an equalizer or amplifier.

Do HDMI Cables Have Different Quality?

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Depending on the type and standard of the HDMI cable, the quality can differ. There are more than six HDMI standards to choose from, which range from 1.0 to 2.1.

These are divided into the first and second generations and have different capabilities in terms of transmitting digital content. For example, while HDMI 1.0 had a maximum resolution of 1920 x 1200p60 and a color depth of 24-bit, HDMI 2.1 boasts a maximum resolution of 7680 x 4320p120 and a color depth of 48-bit.

You’ll also see a difference depending on the type of HDMI cable you use. Options include standard HDMI, high-speed HDMI, standard HDMI with ethernet, and high-speed HDMI with ethernet.

While all versions have backward compatibility, the different choices can help you with specifics. For example, if your devices support resolutions of 1080px and more, a high-speed HDMI cable will ensure that you have enough bandwidth.  

Conclusion

HDMI cables and ports

If you were wondering which HDMI cable you should opt for, we hope this article helped. With shorter HDMI cables, which are 6 feet or under, you don’t have to worry about thickness as much as you do when it comes to long HDMI cables.

Additionally, you’ll need to prioritize thickness if you’re opting for a special installation that’s either in the walls, ceiling, or outdoors. Keep this in mind whenever you’re looking at different cables and wondering, “Why are some HDMI cables so thick?” 


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