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The best HDMI cable for PC gaming in 2021

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

Yeah, the best HDMI cable for gaming. That's a thing. At least it behoves us to try and stop you spending $100 on a gold-plated cable in the mistaken belief that it's going to make you a better Call of Duty: Warzone player. But, although HDMI cables might at first glance all be a standard spec, they can actually come rated at different bandwidths—getting a cable that isn't rated high enough will mean your resolution and refresh rates take a hit. 

The best monitor

(Image credit: Future)

The best gaming monitor
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This is especially true if you're packing an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090, which comes with the promise of 8K gaming. So, whether you want to future-proof your gaming setup, or just get the bare minimum cable specifications that'll let your hardware choices sing, this is the guide for you.

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, if you're connecting to a TV (or older monitor), a HDMI is the next best thing. And having the wrong sort of HDMI cable will only do you a disservice.

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

The best budget HDMI cable for gaming

Transfer speed: 18 Gbps | Length: 6–35 ft (1.8–10.6 m) | Certification: CL3-certified

Lots of length options

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

The best high-end HDMI cable for gaming

Transfer speed: 48 Gbps | Length: 6.5 ft (2 m) | Certification: HDMI 2.1

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.

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(Image credit: Onyx)
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3. Onyx HDMI

The best durable HDMI cable for gaming

Transfer speed: 18 Gbps | Length: 3.2–10 ft (1–3 m) | Certification: HDMI Premium Standard

HDMI Premium certified

The Onyx HDMI cable is for anyone who has concerns 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. In terms of performance, 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

Transfer speed: 27 Gbps | Length: 10 ft (3 m) | Certification: N/A

Flat cabling
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, which is always a plus.

(Image credit: Vivify)

5. Vivify Arquus W73

The only RGB HDMI cable

Transfer speed: 18 Gbps | Length: 9–15ft (2.7–4.5 m) | Certification: 4K 18G Deep Color certification

Frickin' RGB
Frickin' laser beams
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, right? It's also an HDMI 2.0b fiber optic cable too, so it ought to 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. 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 as well as supporting 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 obsessed with gaming since the days of Zaxxon 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. Thankfully it's a lot easier to build a gaming rig now there are no motherboard jumper switches, though he has been breaking technology ever since… at least he gets paid for it now.