The HDMI cable is one of the most popular cables used to connect multimedia devices. Whether you’re connecting your computer to your monitor or a game console to your TV, chances are you’ll be using an HDMI cable for that.
While HDMI isn’t the only interface for connecting multimedia devices to monitors and audio systems – there are others such as VGA, DVI, and DP – HDMI is the most popular interface out there.
Almost all multimedia devices ranging from TVs to computers and DSLR cameras use the HDMI interface in one form or another, thus for starters, it is helpful to understand
what an HDMI cable looks like.
So, what does an HDMI cable look like?
A photo is the best way to understand what an HDMI cable looks like.
This is what a typical HDMI cable looks like
The above cable is a typical HDMI cable, also known as HDMI Type A cable that we use to connect computers, game consoles, set-top boxes, Blu-Ray players, etc. to display devices such as monitors and TVs.
Pay close attention to the connectors.
A typical Type A HDMI cable has 19 conductors on each end. male connectors on both ends.
The connector of a typical HDMI cable is trapezoidal in shape and measures approximately 13.9mm x 4.5mm. This is roughly the size of a USB port but is slightly larger.
HDMI cables, well, go into the HDMI ports on both the source device like PC, laptop, and game console as well as on the display device like 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 female receptacles.
The following image shows one end of an HDMI cable connected to a laptop computer. This cable is connected to an external monitor.
The following image shows the relative size of the common display input ports. You can see that the HDMI port is much smaller compared to the ports of other video interfaces such as VGA, DVI, and even DisplayPort.
HDMI cable diagram
The following image shows the pin arrangement of the HDMI Type A port.
Each of the pins has a different purpose. This is summarized in the table below:
There are other, less common types of HDMI cables as well
There are also HDMI cables with smaller connectors.
However, they are rare and often serve specialized purposes. They include:
Mini HDMI cable
Micro HDMI cable
Both types of HDMI cables are intended for small, 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 a Mini HDMI port and a computer with a standard HDMI port, you can use a Standard HDMI to Mini HDMI cable to connect them as shown below:
There are also different versions of the HDMI cable
Another important point to note is that while all HDMI cables look the same on the surface, they may have a very different performance rating.
Take the following HDMI cable from Belkin, for example.
On the surface, it looks like an ordinary standard Type A HDMI cable with 19 pins.
However, it is actually much better compared to an average HDMI cable in terms of performance.
The above HDMI cable is compatible with HDMI version 2.1 and certified as High-Speed HDMI Cable.
The following table should explain this further:
In other words, there are four versions of HDMI cables:
The high speed
Excellent high speed
The more powerful and advanced your TV or monitor, the better the HDMI cable you need.
Hence, the key takeaway here is that although HDMI cables may look alike and have the same connectors, their performance quality can vary greatly.
High-quality cables often have labels indicating if they are certified for a particular HDMI version.
TL:DR: What does an HDMI cable look like?
A typical HDMI cable has a trapezoid-shaped connector with 19 pins.
If there is one type of HDMI cable that you should learn to identify, it is the Type-A HDMI standard as described above.
There are also many other specialized types of HDMI cables including those with male-to-female connectors, and also HDMI adapter cables that convert from HDMI to various interfaces such as HDMI-to-VGA and HDMI-to-DVI.
You can read about these here: How many types of HDMI cables are there?
But for the purpose of this article, getting to know the standard Type A HDMI connector should be enough for most beginners out there.
How do I know if I have an HDMI cable?
Well, first you should know what an HDMI cable looks like. I explained this in detail above.
Sometimes there is very slight difference in the connectors of different interfaces. For example, the DisplayPort connector looks very similar to the HDMI connector in appearance, but there are subtle differences.
The DP connector is slightly larger and has an asymmetric rectangular shape. HDMI, on the other hand, has a symmetrical trapezoidal shape.
How do I find out which version of my HDMI cable I have?
It is not easy to tell which version of HDMI cable you are using just by looking at it.
There is also no driver or software that can tell you which version the cable is compatible with either.
The only way to find out is by looking at its specifications or by doing trial and error.
I have a comprehensive guide about 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 type of connector is the standard Type A connector. In addition, the most common version of the HDMI cable is High Speed, or 1.4.
Hence, if you have a very old cable on hand and if you are not sure of its type, then there is a good chance that it is an HDMI 1.4 cable with a Type A connector.
There are different types of HDMI cables. The most common is a standard HDMI Type A cable which is the cable we are most familiar with.
So what does an HDMI cable look like? A standard HDMI Type A cable has a trapezoidal shape with 19 pins.
HDMI cables can be found in various lengths, from as small as 1 meter to as long as 15 meters.
You need one HDMI cable to connect one source device to a display device. You cannot use a single HDMI cable to connect to multiple devices.
HDMI cables also cannot be connected.
When you buy a display device such as a monitor, TV, or projector, you often get an extra HDMI cable.