“4k” is a term that gets thrown around a lot these days, particularly pertaining to TVs and HDMI cables. Consumers constantly see packaging and marketing saying things like “Supports 4k” or “4k image quality”. If you buy a new TV at a big-box electronics store, employees there may tell you to remember to get a 4k HDMI cable to go with it only to tell you that that cable costs $100. The correct answer to that question is, “No, thank you.” All HDMI cables built to modern standards today support 4k, from cost-effective $3 cables and up. Many general stores will sell them much more expensively simply because most consumers do not know that and will buy them even when they are horrendously overpriced.

This article will cover why a $3 HDMI cable at ShowMeCables is just as good as a $100 one at a big box store by explaining what 4k is and what the legitimate differences are between low-end and high-end HDMI cables.

What is 4k?

Most people know that 4k means a TV, monitor, or other display device will have a clearer, nicer image. While that is true, the explanation goes a bit deeper than that. Electronic images are made using pixels, small colored squares that blend together to display the pictures from the movie, TV show, video game, etc. being displayed onscreen. As more pixels are used, they blend together more smoothly to make clearer images. If a picture with a small number of pixels is enlarged, it becomes blurrier because the pixels are stretched larger.

The amount of pixels used in an image is called the resolution. Take a look at the two images of an HDMI cable above. The original picture (left) has a resolution of 400 x 265. This means it is 400 pixels horizontally and 265 pixels vertically. These two numbers can be multiplied to get the total number of pixels used in the image: 106,000. That may seem like a big number, but when zooming in 5x closer (right), the image becomes much blurrier.

Most 4k images use a resolution of 3840 x 2160, meaning it is almost 100 times clearer than the pictures above. As technology has gotten better, generating 4k images from computers, Blu-ray players, and video game consoles became possible, as did making TVs and computer monitors that could interpret those images. And over time that technology became less expensive. It used to cost a lot of money to get a TV capable of supporting 4k. We’re talking several thousand dollars for a television. Nowadays, you could get one for a few hundred dollars. The only reason 4k TVs are not in every home yet is that plenty of older TVs are still running and have not needed replacing since 4k became widely available.

Why are some 4k HDMI Cables so Expensive?

Let us start by reiterating: all modern HDMI cables support 4k. There have been multiple versions of HDMI over the years as improvements have been made to HDMI technology. The current industry-standard is HDMI 2.0, which is fully capable of supporting 4k. That means that even the most basic HDMI cable currently on the market will support a 4k signal. Some places sell basic HDMI cables for $50, $75, or even over $100 because they know people will buy it. Many consumers will not take the time to learn about HDMI before buying so salespeople are able to upsell.

Now, that is not to say all HDMI cables are the same. Conventional HDMI does have a distance limit of 65-feet and basic HDMI cables usually cannot go to that maximum distance. Getting something longer than around 20-feet typically requires a higher quality HDMI cable. It still should not cost anywhere near $100, even for a maximum distance HDMI cable. There are also cables made with strong jackets to prevent damage to the cable, cables made with special computer chips to exceed the normal 65-foot limit, and cables designed to go to other video formats like DisplayPort or DVI.

These additional options are all a bit more specialized and are typically unneeded in the average living room. Those flavors of HDMI are more commonly see use in businesses for applications like connecting televisions in waiting rooms or sports bars, hooking up equipment outdoors, or getting a computer or monitor that uses a different video port than HDMI connected.

Get Your 4k HDMI Cables at ShowMeCables Today

ShowMeCables carries a wide variety of HDMI cables, connectors, adapters, extenders, splitters, switches, and more. Shipping from our central location in St. Louis, MO with same-day shipping for orders placed before 5:00 pm CST, ShowMeCables is ready to get your HDMI cables to you today.

Have questions about HDMI or any of our other products? You can reach our Sales team at 1-888-519-9505 or Sales@ShowMeCables.com