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The best HDMI cable for PC gaming in 2021

The best HDMI cable for gaming
Getting the best HDMI cable for gaming is important for your games to look their best. (Image credit: Amazon)

The best HDMI cable for gaming is totally a thing. However, I'm certain the last thing anyone ever thinks about when setting their perfect gaming setup is what kind of HDMI cable to use. It turns out; not all HMDI cables are created equal. HDMI cables adhere to various specifications and bandwidths, so getting a cable that isn't rated high enough for your output can cause resolution and refresh rate issues. So, think about that before considering using that HDMI cable you found at the bottom of your junk drawer. 

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The best gaming monitor
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This is especially true if you're packing the exceptional power of an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090, which comes with the promise of 8K gaming so, whether you want to future-proof your gaming setup or get the bare minimum cable specifications and not risk losing out on any performance boons that come from the best components inside your desktop. 

Things are changing, and there are new next-gen video connections on the way, with HDMI 2.1 and DisplayPort 2.0 going head-to-head this year. Realistically DisplayPort will continue to be the superior connection for PC gamers, offering higher bandwidth for high-res, high-refresh-rate displays. But, HDMI is the next best thing if you're connecting to a TV (or older monitor). And having the wrong sort of HDMI cable will only do you a disservice.

If you're unsure as to which cable rating you need for your setup, our handy FAQ at the bottom of the page should clear up the confusion.

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(Image credit: Amazon)
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1. AmazonBasics High-Speed HDMI

The best budget HDMI cable for gaming

Specifications
Transfer speed: 18 Gbps
Length: 6–35 ft (1.8–10.6 m)
Certification: CL3-certified
Reasons to buy
+Great value for money+Lots of length options
Reasons to avoid
-Not HDMI Premium certified

Don’t be put off by the own-brand label and a lower cost; this is still a fantastic cable. It’s the perfect example of not needing anything too showy or expensive to get the job done, and you’ll save some money. As well as providing the coveted 18Gbps, this comes in an extensive range of lengths and is built to handle higher voltages. The only downside is that it’s not HDMI Premium certified. However, you can’t complain too much when you’re getting excellent 4K visuals at under ten bucks.

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(Image credit: Belkin)
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2. Belkin HDMI 2.1 Ultra High Speed

The best high-end HDMI cable for gaming

Specifications
Transfer speed: 48 Gbps
Length: 6.5 ft (2 m)
Certification: HDMI 2.1
Reasons to buy
+High-specs+Reliable brand+Supports 10K

If you want a high-quality HDMI cable that’ll last you a good few years, look no further than Belkin’s HDMI 2.1 Ultra High Speed. As the name would suggest, it offers superior performance at an affordable price. That’s not the end of it, though; an excellent refresh rate and ludicrous transfer speeds of 48Gbps make this a big deal. Unsure why that’s worth the cash? In short, it’s ready to serve up 10K resolution when the time comes. Better still, Belkin is a brand we’d trust with… well, not quite our lives, but definitely the connection between our graphics card and monitor. So, if you're looking for a future-proof cable, here ya go. 

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(Image credit: Onyx)
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3. Onyx HDMI

The best durable HDMI cable for gaming

Specifications
Transfer speed: 18 Gbps
Length: 3.2–10 ft (1–3 m)
Certification: HDMI Premium Standard
Reasons to buy
+Durable+HDMI Premium certified

The Onyx HDMI cable is for anyone concerned about wear and tear or a pet that enjoys nibbling on electrical appliances. Durable and heavy-duty, a mesh sheath gives this HDMI all the protection it needs to withstand everything you throw at it. What’s more, metal outers protect the connectors. Onyx’s HDMI also comes through; it manages 4K at 60Hz just fine. There are cheaper options that’ll do much the same job, but none are as sturdy as this.

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(Image credit: Rhinocables)
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4. Rhinocables Flat HDMI

The best space-saving HDMI cable for gaming

Specifications
Transfer speed: 27 Gbps
Length: 10 ft (3 m)
Certification: N/A
Reasons to buy
+Flat cabling+Sturdy
Reasons to avoid
-Not HDMI Premium certified

Keen on saving space? Here's the HDMI for you. The Rhinocables' flat cabling is the right solution for those playing with limited real estate or anyone who needs to run a cable under their carpet. Stocky casing emphasizes this sense of reliability, as does the fitting brand name. Rhinocables' HDMI can hit 27Gbps as well. The flexible build doesn't compromise the quality of the cable, and versatile enough to fit just about anywhere you need it to go. 

(Image credit: Vivify)

5. Vivify Arquus W73

The only RGB HDMI cable

Specifications
Transfer speed: 18 Gbps
Length: 9–15ft (2.7–4.5 m)
Certification: 4K 18G Deep Color certification
Reasons to buy
+Frickin' RGB+Frickin' laser beams
Reasons to avoid
-Frickin' expensive

You don't need this cable. No one needs this cable. It's an HDMI lead that costs as much as some graphics cards, and that's mostly down to the fact that it comes with an RGB strip down one side of its length. I mean, that's cool? It's also an HDMI 2.0b fiber optic cable, so it should allow significantly less signal loss over distance and avoid any potential electrical or RF interference if that's an issue for you.

But, let's be honest, you'd try talking up the benefits of fiber optics, but really you'd only want this Arquus W73 cable because of the RGB lighting, which you can change at the press of a button or via Razer's Chroma app. As if you care, you're just looking at the pretty lights, aren't you?

Best HDMI cable FAQ

Q: What HDMI cable do I need for 8K gaming?
A: A key component of 8K gaming is HDMI 2.1, which will see bandwidth requirements of up to 48Gbps, up from 18Gbps, and cable requirements to match. Ultra High-Speed HDMI cables can hack a 48Gbps bandwidth and support 8K at 120Hz. Of course, these cables sell at a premium, but if you're targeting more than 60Hz at 4K, then this is what you want.

Q: What HDMI cable do I need for 4K gaming?
The most basic HDMI cable for gaming is a High-Speed HDMI cable. These support a bandwidth of 18Gbps, which covers you for 4K gaming at 60Hz and supports HDR content. Make sure it's certified to support the faster HDMI 2.0 standard, too. Of course, you'll need one of the best graphics cards around, as well as a 4K monitor or 4K TV (or both), or it won't matter how fancy your cable is.

Q: What are CL2 and CL3 ratings?
You'll see reference to CL2 and CL3 ratings for HDMI cables, and this is to do with how the copper cables are coated and define their abilities to handle high voltages for in-wall installations. CL2 HDMI cables can handle up to 150 volts and are designed for residential use, while the CL3 cables are intended for commercial installations and can handle up to 300 volts.

Dave has been gaming since the days of Zaxxon and Lady Bug on the Colecovision, and code books for the Commodore Vic 20 (Death Race 2000!). He built his first gaming PC at the tender age of 16, and finally finished bug-fixing the Cyrix-based system around a year later. When he dropped it out of the window. He first started writing for Official PlayStation Magazine and Xbox World many decades ago, then moved onto PC Format full-time, then PC Gamer, TechRadar, and T3 among others. Now he's back, writing about the nightmarish graphics card market, CPUs with more cores than sense, gaming laptops hotter than the sun, and SSDs more capacious than a Cybertruck.