Do HDMI Cables Go Bad?

This is a fairly common question asked by a lot of people suffering from image or sound quality for their systems. So do HDMI cables go bad? Well the answer to that question is a yes. HDMI cables CAN go bad generally due to wear and tear.

For starters, HDMI cables are not organic material, they wouldn’t just decompose by their own. So if an HDMI cable is safely sitting in a container, then it is unlikely that it will go bad. Unless, if it rust takes over.

On the other hand, they can often go bad by human-use factors such as wear and tear and physical damage.

In addition to that, there is also a high possibility that your HDMI cable could have simply gone obsolete. Hence you may confuse HDMI version incompatibility with a bad HDMI cable. You see, the more robust your video device, the more robust an HDMI cable you need.

In the following text, I will talk in detail about how to identify if an HDMI cable has gone bad. I will talk about the signs and symptoms of a bad HDMI cable. I will also touch base on the different versions of HDMI interface as well as compatible HDMI cables for the respective version.

So Do HDMI Cables Go Bad?

If sitting idle by their own in a safe container, no, HDMI cables do not go bad by their own. UNLESS, you have a cheap quality cable making it prone to rusting.

However, human-use, or rather human abuse, can certainly make HDMI cables go bad. And this is generally the more common cause.

Therefore, before jumping the gun and concluding that the issues lies with your expensive monitor, TV, PC or gaming console, it is always better to check the HDMI cable.

The Issue or Rust Over Time

The only possible cause of an HDMI cable to go bad if sitting idle on its own is if it accumulates rust over time.

Generally, most HDMI cables worth their salt, even the cheapest ones out there are either galvanized or gold plated. However, cheap HDMI cables that may have cut corners in their manufacturing process can accumulate rust over time which can lead to HDMI cables going bad naturally.

hdmi cable rust
Rusted HDMI Connector. Source: Reddit.com

Signs of a Bad HDMI Cable

The following are some of the telltale signs of a bad HDMI cable.

1. No Video Output

This is the most common and also the most obvious issue that can arise due to a bad HDMI cable.

In majority of the cases, HDMI cables are either good and functional, or they do a 180 degrees flip and go completely bad. Meaning you get nothing on output end.

2. Sound Issue

Since HDMI cables also carry sound along with video, if you do not hear sound from your multimedia device, then that could potentially be caused due to a bad HDMI cable.

3. Picture Quality Issues

There are many picture quality issues that you may experience due to a bad HDMI cable. This includes blurred picture, pixelated picture, monochrome picture – whereby you only see the image in black and white, discolored picture, stutters in movies, animations or any moving frame.

Now obviously, most of these issues overlap and are also common with the more critical components as well, such as a bad HDMI port, a bad motherboard, a bad monitor etc., but since replacing the HDMI cable is simple and cheap, this is where you should being your troubleshooting process.

Also Read: Does HDMI Cable Cause Lags?

What Can Cause an HDMI Cable to Go Bad?

As alluded to earlier, there is only one organic factor that can make an HDMI cable go bad and that is rusting.

Other than that, the rest of factors that can cause HDMI cable go bad are all related to your usage. These include.

1. Dust Accumulated on the Connector

If an HDMI connector accumulates dust in its small nooks and keys, then that can render it useless. This is particularly true if the dust is accumulated over any of the 19 pins of the HDMI connector.

do hdmi cables go bad
Keep the HDMI connector and pins neat and clean.

This issue is fairly easy to resolve as you can simple take some rubbing alcohol and a brush to give the connector a clean bath.

2. Damaged HDMI Pin

Another very common cause of an HDMI cable going bad is a damaged pin. If you have ever been rough with plugging the HDMI cable in and out of the devices, then that could break the delicate pins of the HDMI cable.

damaged HDMI pins
Damaged HDMI pins. Source: Pinterest

Perhaps Your HDMI Cable is Simply Obsolete

Another fairly common overlooked issue here is that your cable may have simply just gone obsolete.

You see, not all HDMI cables are the same. They are differentiated by the amount of data they are certified to carry.

Newer HDMI interfaces require more robust HDMI cables.

The following table shows the different HDMI interface versions.

HDMI VersionMax ResolutionMax Refresh RateMax Bandwidth
(Gbit/s)
Effective Bandwidth
(Gbit/s)
HDR?Audio Technology
Supported
HDMI 1.01080p1080p @ 60 Hz4.953.96No- 8 Audio Channels
HDMI 1.1/1.21440p1440p @ 30 Hz4.953.96No- 8 Audio Channels
-Super Audio CDs
HDMI 1.3/1.44096 x 2160 (4K)120 Hz @ FHD Resolution
30 Hz @ 4k Resolution
24 Hz @ 4k Resolution
10.28.16No- 8 Audio Channels
- ARC
- Dolby TrueHD
- DTS-HD
HDMI 2.04096 x 2160 (4K)60 Hz @ 4K Resolution1814.40Yes- 32 audio channels,
- Dynamic Resolution Adaptation (DRA)
- High-Efficiency Advanced Audio Coding (HE-AAC)
HDMI 2.1Upto 10240 x 4320 (10K)Upto 120Hz @ 10K4842.67Yes- 32 audio channels
- eARC

Newer HDMI interfaces can carry more data and hence they can carry higher resolution and frame rates. A 4k monitor or a TV with 60Hz refresh rate would intrinsically feature an HDMI 2.0 port.

Now corresponding to the HDMI interface version, you also have different HDMI cable quality certifications as well. The following table explains this:

HDMI CableMax Specs SupportedGood For
Standard HDMIFull HD @ 60HzHDMI 1.4
High Speed4k @ 30HzHDMI 1.4
Premium High Speed4K @ 60HzHDMI 2.0
Ultra-High Speed8K @ 60Hz
4K @ 120Hz
HDMI 2.1

So basically, if you have a Standard HDMI cable, and if you use it for an 8K @ 60Hz TV or a monitor, that would be a bad idea. You may experience picture quality or frame rate quality issues in this arrangement.

The point being, there is a possibility that your HDMI cable hasn’t gone bad, it has just gone obsolete.

Also Read: Is HDMI Backwards Compatible?

Final Words

So do HDMI cables go bad? Yes, HDMI can go bad both organically as well as due to use and abuse. In majority of the cases, they do not just organically go bad by sitting idle. If you have a cheap HDMI cable, then there is a possibility that it can get rusted over time.

However, in majority of the cases an HDMI cable can go bad due to wear and tear or it could simply just go obsolete as newer and better interfaces hit the market.

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Author:

Atif Qazi
Atif Qazi is the founder of PCGuide101. He is a digital nomad who loves everything PC. He is a PC builder, tech enthusiast, engineer, and a lover of single player lore-rich RPG games.

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