You Need to Use the HDMI Cable That Comes With the Xbox Series X

You Need to Use the HDMI Cable That Comes With the Xbox Series X
Image: Supplied

We’re all guilty of sometimes unplugging one device from our TVs and then just using the same HDMI cable to plug in the newer, better thing. The lovely versatility of the HDMI port allows this to seem like a good idea, and frankly it’s much easier than climbing behind the TV and rerunning the cable through the entertainment unit.

But, despite how similar they look, not all HDMI cables are created equal, and you could find yourself missing out on some of the new Xbox Series X’s most exciting features.

There are four basic speeds of HDMI:

  • Standard HDMI, which is capable of HD resolution at 30Hz.
  • High Speed HDMI, which can display up to 4K resolution at 30Hz.
  • Premium High Speed HDMI, which is where you start to get 4K and HDR with a refresh rate of 60Hz.
  • Ultra High Speed HDMI, which goes to a super impressive 10K HDR at 120Hz, or 4K HDR at 240Hz, just to get really ready for the future.

The names are really confusing, so it’s easy to get them mixed up. But basically they’re all capable of transmitting data at different speeds. The faster it can get the data to the TV, the more data it can transmit and the prettier stuff looks.

The big new feature of the Xbox Series X is its 4K HDR 120FPS (or 8K HDR 60FPS) gaming, and you can’t get that without two things: a 4K HDR TV with HDMI 2.1 and an Ultra High Speed HDMI cable.

Given the fanciness and expense of the Ultra High Speed cables, chances are you don’t already have one plugged into your old Xbox One, so you will need to run the new cable and pack away the old one with the old console.

On the flip side, the Series S only comes with a regular High Speed cable, so if you want to get that 60FPS 4K HDR, or 120FPS at 1440p, you might want to consider upgrading to a Premium High Speed cable.

This article was originally published in November 2020.


  • It’s just as overlooked as USB cables until they started moving to USB-C (which just moved the trouble back to the power source, not the cable or the phone/device)

    Plus, some longer HDMI cables are directional, they won’t send a signal if you reverse the plugs, and, they will have arrows, labels and source plug size differences (and, cost ~$100+ more)

    There’s often no way to accurately determine if a HDMI cable is 1.2, 1.4, 2.0 or 2.1, just like USB can carry 0.5A, 1A, 2A+ or QC fast charge voltages until you have a protocol “handshake” because of signal speed, shielding, braiding or gauge differences that are tested, and fail.

    You won’t know until it doesn’t work.

    Even if it says it supports 48gbps [email protected] Hz, until you test it and there’s a problem with the various devices that can’t be upgraded or changed.

    Or you have a tester / diagnostic dongle with a protocol / current screen to show what the source and destination device(s) are able to negotiate. For USB, you can get these for ~$20, for HDMI, these are often $300 to $3000+ for testing the cables, but also testing the source and receiving TV can handle the newer features like HGIG, VRR, Dolby Vision, eARC, and the new 4K and 8K resolutions which often require upgrades.

    For HDMI 2.0/2.1 these devices are mostly 18gbps ([email protected]) and operate as EDID or signal/video processing dongles. At the higher end, they can create VRR or HGIG signals, HD Audio like DTS-HDMA or Dolby Atmos, and Dolby Vision/HDR test signals to allow for room calibration and cable / TV testing.

    Because it’s interpreting the EDID handshake between HDMI devices, these devices are expensive, but allow bizarre combinations of devices to combine, bypassing or allowing older devices to continue to work without being upgraded to devices that don’t yet exist, or can’t exist for DRM or Licensing reasons & problems, e.g. DTS audio or eARC, Dolby Vision, HDR and so on, with TV’s that can’t or won’t get those features.

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