Do HDMI Cables Go Bad?

This is a common question asked by many 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 an organic material; they wouldn’t just decompose independently. So if an HDMI cable is safely sitting in a container, it is unlikely to go wrong. Unless if it rust takes over.

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

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

In the following text, I’ll talk about identifying if an HDMI cable has gone wrong. I will talk about the signs and symptoms of a bad HDMI cable. I will also chat about the different versions of the HDMI interface and compatible HDMI cables for the respective version.

So Do HDMI Cables Go Bad?

If sitting idly on their own in a safe container, HDMI cables go smoothly. UNLESS you have a cheap quality cable making, it is prone to rusting.

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

Therefore, before jumping the gun and concluding that the issue 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 going rancid if sitting idle on its own is if it accumulates rust over time.

Generally, most HDMI cables are worth their salt; even the cheapest ones are galvanized or gold-plated. However, cheap HDMI cables that may have cut corners in their manufacturing process can accumulate rust, leading to them going bad naturally.

hdmi cable rust
Rusted HDMI Connector. Source:

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 obvious issue that can arise due to a bad HDMI cable.

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

2. Sound Issue

Since HDMI cables also carry sound along with video, so if you do not hear sound from your multimedia device, that could be caused by 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, pixelated, monochrome pictures – whereby you only see the image in black and white, discolored pictures and stutters in movies, animations, or any moving frame.

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

Also Read: Does HDMI Cable Cause Lags?

What Can Cause an HDMI Cable to Go Bad?

As mentioned earlier, only one organic factor can make an HDMI cable go bad: rusting.

Other than that, the factors that can cause HDMI cables to go wrong are all related to your usage. These include.

1. Dust Accumulated on the Connector

It can only be helpful if an HDMI connector accumulates dust in its small nooks and keys. 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 relatively easy to resolve as you can take rubbing alcohol and a brush to give the connector a clean bath.

2. Damaged HDMI Pin

Another prevalent cause of an HDMI cable going wrong is a damaged pin if you have ever been rough with plugging the HDMI cable in and out of the devices, that could break the delicate pins of the HDMI cable.

damaged HDMI pins
Damaged HDMI pins. Source: Pinterest

Perhaps Your HDMI Cable is Obsolete

Another common issue is that your cable may have 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
Effective Bandwidth
HDR?Audio Technology
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
- Dolby TrueHD
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 have higher resolution and frame rates. A 4k monitor or a TV with a 60Hz refresh rate would intrinsically feature an HDMI 2.0 port.

Now corresponding to the HDMI interface version, you also have different cable quality certifications. 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, using a Standard HDMI cable for an 8K @ 60Hz TV or a monitor is a bad idea. If you are okay with it, you may experience picture quality or frame rate quality issues in this arrangement.

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

Also Read: Is HDMI Backwards Compatible?

Final Words

So do HDMI cables go bad? Yes, HDMI can go bad organically due to use and abuse. In most cases, they do not just organically go bad by sitting idle. If you have a cheap HDMI cable, it can rust over time.

However, in most cases, an HDMI cable can go bad due to wear and tear or go obsolete as newer and better interfaces hit the market.

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Ojash Yadav is the lead technical writer and resident tech guru at PCGuide101. He is a computer science graduate with over 8 years of experience in the IT field and a wealth of knowledge about computer peripherals. He has a passion for breaking down complex technical concepts and his goal is to make sure that our readers understand the technical details of the products they're interested in without getting lost in jargon. Ojash has over a decade of experience writing about the latest and greatest in the tech world, his articles have been featured in many popular tech publications and he's known for his thorough and unbiased reviews. He conducts extensive research and testing on the latest products to ensure our readers always get the most reliable information possible.

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