Standard HDMI cables, also known as passive HDMI cables, have length limitations. They can only be a certain number of feet long before risking performance issues. So what can you do to extend the length of your HDMI connection?
HDMI Cable Length Limitations
High Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) is very helpful in reducing the cable clutter by allowing a device to send audio and video signals over a single cable. As a result, it has been widely adopted by televisions, computers, projectors, digital signage, and various other devices. But as the standard’s capabilities have grown over the years, so has the demand for longer HDMI cables.
But like the USB and Ethernet cables, standard HDMI cables have practical length limitations. For example, a passive Ultra High Speed HDMI cable can only be around five meters. Similarly, passive Premium High Speed HDMI cables have a maximum length of about 25 meters.
Fortunately for you, there are ways to bypass these cable length limitations and extend an HDMI connection over far longer distances without any performance issues.
HDMI extenders are the most common way to extend the length of an HDMI connection without losing the quality of audio or video. An extender has three main parts: a transmitter, a receiver, and a cable. Many extenders use Category 5 or 6 Ethernet cables, whereas others use fiber optic cables.
HDMI over Ethernet extenders can typically support up to HDMI 2.0 (18Gbps) bandwidth and up to 100-meter lengths. But if you want to go even further, HDMI over fiber optic extenders are your best bet. These will allow you to extend your HDMI connection up to 1000 meters or even more in some cases, though that’s going to be overkill for most people.
HDMI Over Ethernet Extender
HDMI repeaters or boosters are most helpful in extending an HDMI connection when you need a little extra length but not a football field’s length. A repeater amplifies the HDMI signal to compensate for the increased connection length. It’s a small device with two female HDMI ports that allows you to connect two HDMI cables to extend the overall HDMI connection.
An HDMI repeater is typically placed about halfway along the run, and it helps almost double the connection length possible with a passive HDMI cable. However, some repeaters may need external power to enhance the HDMI signal.
Wireless HDMI Extenders
A wireless HDMI extender is a relatively less popular way to increase the length of an HDMI connection, but it’s helpful when running a cable between the source and display is challenging. It includes two parts—one connects to the source and the other to the display. Both parts communicate via a radio wave signal, usually on the 5GHz or 60GHz bands.
Unfortunately, most wireless HDMI extenders on the market are only capable of successfully carrying a 1080p 60Hz signal. A few rare options exist, like the Monoprice Blackbird Pro, that can extend a 4K 30Hz signal across a room.
Active and Optical HDMI Cables
HDMI extenders and repeaters are great for increasing the length of an HDMI cable that you already own. But if you don’t want to extend an existing cable and would rather buy a new but longer than standard HDMI cable, you have two options: Active and optical HDMI cables.
Active and optical cables are different from the typical passive HDMI cables you find on the market. Active cables use electronic circuits to enhance the HDMI signal to travel longer distances, while fiber-optic or optical cables completely change the data transmission medium.
Unlike passive and active HDMI cables, which use copper wiring, optical cables use glass strands to transfer data using light. Light is less prone to resistance and signal degradation, so as a result, optical HDMI cables can be significantly longer than both active and passive HDMI cables.
You can find up to 25-meter long active HDMI cables and 50-meter long fiber optic HDMI cables on the market. However, remember that cables supporting the latest generation HDMI features, such as Ultra High Speed HDMI cables, are typically available in shorter lengths than older generation HDMI cables.
Multiple Ways to Get Around Cable Length Limits
HDMI is more popular than ever. It’s in almost all popular home entertainment devices these days and has also seen widespread adoption on the PC front. So while passive HDMI cables may be of limited length, you have several ways to bypass those limits. You can either opt for an HDMI repeater while extending the connection across a room or go for an extender to wire your entire house. Lastly, you can also use a wireless HDMI kit when you don’t necessarily need to push a 4K signal.
If you’re going with an extender or repeater, though, it’s important you start with reliable and high-quality HDMI cables as your baseline.