HDMI Cable Guide
Although there are many attributes that work in synergy to ensure optimum HDMI cable performance, probably the single most important factor would be conductor thickness. This is usually measured with the American Wire Gauge (AWG) system.
Please refer to the section below for more information on how conductor thickness relates to HDMI performance.
What is the Difference Between 24 AWG, 26 AWG & 28 AWG HDMI Cables?
AWG is an acronym for American Wire Gauge. This is commonly used as a standard of measurement for electrical wire. This unit of measurement can also apply to audio visual interconnects such as speaker cable, RCA cables and HDMI cables etc.
Within this page we will clarify the relation this has to HDMI cables and what benefits a thicker gauge will offer. It is also important to note here that a lower number in fact pertains to a thicker gauge. For example 24 AWG is thicker than 28 AWG.
In reference to HDMI Cables, there are a number of factors that are important in producing a quality HDMI cable. However, one important aspect that relates to conductive wire is the longer the signal has to travel, the more it will attenuate (lose strength). In an effort combat this loss, it is common practice to implement a thicker gauge wire for longer runs of cable.
Unfortunately, there are many HDMI cable manufacturers that do not produce cables with the required gauge to ensure optimal signal strength, or worse still, list specifications that are not accurate. If in doubt, we recommend using vernier or digital calipers to obtain an accurate measurement and compare the thickness against the figures below.
Naturally as the thickness of the internal wires increase as does the overall diameter of the cable. As an approximate guide, 30 AWG should be between 6.0mm and 7.5mm, 28 AWG should be between 7.0mm and 8.5mm, 26 AWG should be between 8.0mm and 9.5mm, and 24 AWG should be between 9.0mm and 10.5mm.
The reason why there is a variance with these figures could be the result of a number of factors. Some of these include (but not limited to) differences in dielectric materials used, differences with the outer shielding for the individual wires, a difference with the outer braided shield, or a difference in the outer PVC jacket etc.
With this in mind, taking a measurement of the outer cable diameter is not always a guarantee of the internal conductor thickness but it can be used as a starting point. This can however, provide a fairly accurate assessment if the cable diameter is much less than expected. For example, a HDMI cable with an outer diameter of 7.0mm to 8.5mm is almost certainly not going to feature 24 AWG conductors.
For cables that do meet the expected outer cable diameter dimensions, more advanced testing procedures would need to be undertaken to reach an accurate conclusion. However, the end goal is performance and this can easily be measured with consumer level audio and video equipment. Please refer to our recommendations below as to which HDMI cables would be suitable to meet certain performance benchmarks.
HDMI Cable AWG Recommendations and Alternative Solutions
The information below breaks down our HDMI cable recommendations into three bandwidth categories.
Please note that it is impossible to provide absolute rules in this respect as there are far too many variables that can impact HDMI connection performance. Instead we provide these recommendations as a guideline based on many years of experience and testing.
4K at 30Hz (without HDR/4:4:4), 1080p and Below
As a guideline, 28 AWG is recommended for lengths up to 5m. If budget is of concern, you could select a 30 AWG HDMI cable for shorter lengths.
For lengths ranging from 5m to 10m, 26 AWG is recommended. Although, if you are looking to reduce cost slightly, you could select a HDMI cable with 28 AWG conductors in this length range.
For lengths that range from 10m to 20m, we recommend selecting a cable with 24 AWG conductors. Once again if budget is of primary concern, you could select a 26 AWG HDMI cable in this length range. However, for lengths approaching the 20m mark, this becomes increasingly risky and 24 AWG would offer a much safer choice with a stronger signal over this longer distance.
For cable runs over 20m, active solutions such as HDMI repeaters, HDMI over Cat5e/Cat6 extenders or active HDMI cables will be required.
4K at 30Hz with HDR (or 4:4:4) or 4K at 60Hz without HDR
To meet the bandwidth requirements in this category, 26 AWG is recommended for all lengths. However, for lengths up to 5m, 28 AWG will often suffice if you would like to reduce cost slightly. For 5m to 10m lengths, a HDMI cable with at least 26 AWG conductors is strongly recommended.
For cable lengths that are 10m or longer, we recommend selecting a cable with 24 AWG conductors.
Please note that passive (not active) HDMI cable lengths over 15m are not usually recommended for installations in this category. However, some systems are more resilient to signal strength loss and a successful connection can be maintained with a high quality 20m HDMI cable. Otherwise active solutions should be considered (HDMI extenders and active HDMI cables etc.).
4K at 60Hz with HDR (or 4:4:4)
To ensure the highest compatibility with modern equipment, we recommend 26 AWG as a minimum for all lengths, with 24 AWG being preferable (especially above 5m). However, if the goal is to keep cost as low as possible, 28 AWG will usually be adequate for lengths up to 3m.
For HDMI cable lengths ranging from 5m to 10m, 24 AWG is highly recommended as this will provide the highest possible bandwidth, which will result in a far more reliable HDMI connection in this category.
For cable lengths that are over 10m, we strongly recommend active solutions such as fibre optic HDMI cables, HDMI repeaters (amplifiers) or HDMI extenders as these will provide a reliable longer distance connection and are far less prone to attenuation.
Our Fibre Optic HDMI Cables have been extensively tested and are confirmed to support a bandwidth of 18 Gbps (HDMI v2.0b) on all available lengths. Alternatively, we also have available an 18 Gbps HDMI Repeater, a HDMI Extender with IR and Loop Out, or a HDBaseT HDMI Extender, all of which offer reliable longer distance transmision solutions in this category.
How Do I Know If My HDMI Cable is Providing Optimum Performance?
The benefit of HDMI being a digital connection is that signal flaws will become evident in quite an obvious manner.
Some signs of poor signal quality would include sparkles (white dots), screen blinking or drop outs (either sections of the video or the entire screen) or no signal at all. Unlike an analogue connection where differences are possible between different cable grades even when the signal is completely stable, HDMI is far more robust and the signal will generally be perfect or issues will be very apparent.
If you remain unclear on how to identify signal abnormalities, please don't hesitate to reach out and Contact Us.
HDMI Cable Specification Table
Please refer to the information below which provides a summary of the lengths and conductor specifications of our Space branded cables.
|Cable Series||Lengths Available||Conductor Specification|
|Space Saturn Series||0.5m to 20m||24 AWG (10.5mm Outer Diameter)|
|Space Neptune Series||0.5m to 15m||26 AWG (9.0mm Outer Diameter)|
|Space Orion Series||0.5m to 10m||28 AWG (8.0mm Outer Diameter)|
|Space Alpha Series||2m||30 AWG (6.0mm Outer Diameter)|
|Space Polaris Series||10m to 100m||Hybrid Fibre Optic - 4K at 60Hz and HDR Supported on all Lengths|
- Our HDMI cables can be found here: https://www.spacehifi.com.au/cables-and-connectors/hdmi-cables.
- Our range of HDMI extenders can be found here: https://www.spacehifi.com.au/av-distribution/hdmi-extenders.
For more information relating to HDMI compliance and testing procedures, please refer to our HDMI FAQ.