HDMI cable is one of the most common cables used for interfacing multimedia devices.
Whether you are connecting your PC to your monitor or your gaming console to your TV, you will probably be using an HDMI cable for that.
While HDMI is not the only interface for connecting multimedia devices to displays and audio systems – there are other interfaces such as VGA, DVI, DP – HDMI is the most popular interface out there.
Almost all multimedia devices ranging from TVs to PCs and DSLR cameras use HDMI interface in one form or another and hence for the uninitiated, it is worthwhile to understand what does an HDMI cable look like.
So What Does an HDMI Cable Look Like?
A picture is the best way to understand what an HDMI cable looks like.
This is What a Typical HDMI Cable Looks Like
The cable above is a typical HDMI cable, also known as Type-A HDMI Cable that we use to connect PCs, gaming consoles, set-top boxes, Blu-Ray players etc to display devices like monitors and TVs.
Pay close attention to the connectors.
A typical Type-A HDMI cable, has 19 pin connectors on each end. Male connectors on both ends.
A typical HDMI cable connector is trapezium in shape and measures about 13.9 mm x 4.5 mm. This is almost the size of a USB port but a bit larger.
The HDMI cables go into, well, HDMI ports on both the source device such as the PC, laptop, gaming console as well as on the display device such as TVs or monitors.
Since a typical HDMI cable has male-to-male connectors on both ends, the input and output on the source and display device are both female receptacles.
The following image shows one end of an HDMI cable connected to a laptop. This cable is connected to an external display.
The following image shows the relative size of common display input ports. You can see that the HDMI port is much smaller compared to ports of other video interfaces such as VGA, DVI and even DisplayPort.
HDMI Cable Pinout Diagram
The following image shows the pin arrangement on the HDMI Type-A port.
Each of the pins carries a different purpose. This is summarized in the table below:
|Pin 1||TMDS Data2+||Pin 11||TMDS Clock Shield|
|Pin 2||TMDS Data2 Shield||Pin 12||TMDS Clock−|
|Pin 3||TMDS Data2−||Pin 13||CEC|
|Pin 4||TMDS Data1+||Pin 14||Not Connected|
|Pin 5||TMDS Data1 Shield||Pin 15||SCL (DDC)|
|Pin 6||TMDS Data1−||Pin 16||SDA (DDC)|
|Pin 7||TMDS Data0+||Pin 17||Ground|
|Pin 8||TMDS Data0 Shield||Pin 18||+5 V (50 mA max)|
|Pin 9||TMDS Data0−||Pin 19||Hot Plug Detect|
|Pin 10||TMDS Clock+|
Also Read: Does HDMI Carry Power?
There Are Also Other Less Common Types of HDMI Cables
There are HDMI cables with smaller connectors as well.
However, these are rarer and often serve specialized purpose. They include:
- Mini HDMI Cable
- Micro HDMI Cable
Both of these HDMI cable types are intended for smaller and portable devices such as Cameras and Tablets.
The good news is that the different HDMI connectors are all compatible with each other.
For example if you have a DSLR camera with Mini HDMI port and a PC with a Standard HDMI port, then you can use a Standard HDMI-to-Mini HDMI cable to interface them such as shown below:
There are Also Different HDMI Cable Version
Another important point to note is that while all HDMI cables look the same on the surface, they may have entirely different performance rating.
Take for instance the following HDMI cable from Belkin.
On the surface it looks like an ordinary Standard Type-A HDMI cable with 19-pins.
However, in reality it is far superior compared to an average HDMI cable in terms of performance.
The HDMI cable above conforms to HDMI 2.1 version and certified as Ultra High Speed HDMI cable.
The following table should explain this further:
|Max Data Rate|
|Specs Supported||Best Port|
|Standard||4.95 Gb/s||720 or 1080P @ 60Hz||<1.4|
|High Speed||10.2 Gb/s||FHD @ 60Hz|
QHD @ 60Hz
4K @ 30Hz
|Premium High Speed||18 Gb/s||4k @ 60Hz||2.0|
|Ultra High Speed||48 Gb/s||4K @ 60Hz|
8K @ 120Hz
10K @ 120hz
In other words, there are four HDMI cable versions:
- Standard HDMI
- High Speed
- Premium High Speed
- Ultra High Speed
The more robust and advanced your TV or monitor is, the better the HDMI cable you will need.
Hence, the key-takeaway here is that while HDMI cables may look the same and have the same connectors, their performance quality can differ drastically.
Often higher quality cables have labels indicating if they certified for a certain HDMI version.
Also Read: Are All HDMI Cables 4K?
TL:DR: What Does an HDMI Cable Look Like?
A typical HDMI cable has a trapezium shape connector with 19-pins.
If there is one type of HDMI cable that you MUST learn to recognize it is the Standard Type-A HDMI as shown above.
There are also many other specialized kind of HDMI cables including those with male-to-female connectors, and also adapter HDMI cables that switch from HDMI to different interfaces such as HDMI-to-VGA, HDMI-to-DVI.
You can read about these here: How Many Types of HDMI Cables Are There?
But for the purpose of this article familiarizing yourself with the Standard Type-A HDMI connector should suffice for most of the rookies out there.
How Do I Know If I Have an HDMI Cable?
Well, you must first learn what an HDMI cable looks like. I have explained this in detail above.
Sometimes there are very subtle difference in connectors of different interfaces. For instance a DisplayPort connector looks very similar to HDMI connector in appearance, but there are subtle differences.
DP connector is slightly larger and has an asymmetrical rectangular shape. HDMI, on the other hand, has a symmetrical trapezium shape.
How Can Tell What Version of HDMI Cable I Have?
It is not easy to tell what version of HDMI cable you have by just looking at it.
There is also no driver or software that can tell you what version the cable conforms to either.
The only way to tell is by looking at its specs or by performing trial and error.
I have a comprehensive guide on this: How to Check HDMI Cable Version?
Are All HDMI Cables the Same?
As mentioned earlier, not all HDMI cables are the same. They can have different connectors as well as different versions.
The most common connector type is the Standard Type-A connector. In addition to that, the most common version of the HDMI cable is High Speed or 1.4.
Hence, if you have a very old cable in hand and if you are unsure of what type it is, then there is a high chance it is an HDMI 1.4 cable with Type-A connector.
Read in Detail: How Many Types of HDMI Cables Are There?
There are different types of HDMI cables. The most common is the Type-A Standard HDMI cable and it is the cable we are most familiar with.
So what does an HDMI cable look like? The standard Type-A HDMI cable has a trapezium-like shape with 19 pins.
HDMI cables can be found in various lengths ranging from small 1 meter cables all the way to 15 meter cables.
You require one HDMI cable to connect one source device to a display device. You cannot use one HDMI cable to connect to multiple devices.
HDMI cables also cannot be daisy-chained.
When you buy a display device such as a monitor, TV or a projector you often do get a complementary HDMI cable.