How many HDMI cables do you need for a TV?

The number of HDMI cables you need for your TV depends on a few factors:

How many devices are you connecting?

The main consideration is how many devices you want to plug into your TV. Examples of devices you may want to connect include:

  • Cable/satellite box
  • DVD/Blu-ray player
  • Gaming console (PlayStation, Xbox, etc.)
  • Streaming device (Roku, Apple TV, Fire Stick, etc.)
  • Soundbar or audio system

Each device will need its own HDMI cable to connect to the TV. So if you have 3 devices, you’ll need 3 HDMI cables minimum. Keep in mind you may need extra cables if you have more than one way to get content to the same device (e.g. using both the built-in streaming apps and a streaming stick on your TV).

How many HDMI ports does your TV have?

The number of HDMI ports on your TV will physically limit how many cables you can use. Most modern TVs have between 3-5 HDMI ports, while some very high-end models may have more. If your TV only has 3 HDMI ports, you’ll max out at 3 cables even if you have 4 devices.

Here’s a quick breakdown of how many HDMI ports are typically available on different TV sizes:

TV Size Typical Number of HDMI Ports
32-43 inches 3-4 ports
50-60 inches 4-5 ports
65 inches and up 5-6 ports

Keep in mind that some older TVs may have fewer ports. For example, a 32″ TV from 5+ years ago may only have 2 HDMI inputs.

Do you need ports for future expansion?

When determining how many HDMI cables you need, also consider potential future expansion. You may not have more than 2 or 3 devices to connect right now, but you may add more down the road. Having unused HDMI ports on your TV gives you flexibility to add devices later without needing to swap cables around.

For this reason, it’s a good general rule of thumb to have at least one extra HDMI port beyond what you currently need. So if you only have 2 devices now but your TV has 4 HDMI inputs, you don’t have to use all 4 cables immediately. But having those spare ports means you won’t be limited if you buy a new Blu-ray player or game console in the future.

Will you connect multiple devices simultaneously?

Another consideration is whether you’ll have more than one device hooked up and actively in use at the same time. If you tend to only have one device plugged in and powered on at a time, you can easily get by with a single HDMI cable that you swap between devices as needed. This approach works if you rarely or never use more than one source at once.

However, if you constantly have 2 or 3 devices powered on simultaneously, like watching cable TV while a Blu-ray player and game console sit idle in the background, then multiple HDMI cables make sense. Having those devices permanently wired up avoids having to constantly plug and unplug cables every time you switch between them.

Do you need audio output or Ethernet?

A couple other advanced ways to use the HDMI ports on your TV involve audio output or internet connectivity:

  • Audio extractor/receiver – Using an external audio extractor or AV receiver for higher quality audio from your TV? This will take up one HDMI port.
  • Ethernet – Some smart TVs have an HDMI port that supports wired internet access in addition to video. Using Ethernet over HDMI takes up an HDMI port just for network connectivity.

So if you need to dedicate an HDMI port for either of those purposes, account for that when deciding how many cables you need overall.


Here are some final recommendations on the ideal number of HDMI cables to get for your TV setup:

  • Match the number of devices you want to connect now, but go up to the maximum number of ports your TV has if possible.
  • Have at least 1 spare HDMI port beyond what you currently need to allow for expansion.
  • If you’ll use multiple devices at the same time, connect them all simultaneously rather than constantly swapping cables.
  • Account for any HDMI ports dedicated to audio or Ethernet purposes.

As a very general guideline, a setup with up to 4 devices should have 4 HDMI cables for full permanent connectivity. Go with 3 cables if you have an older TV with only 3 ports, and consider up to 5 or 6 cables if you have a high-end TV and many sources. With the right number of HDMI connections, you’ll create a clean, clutter-free home theater setup that’s ready for growth and doesn’t require cable swapping.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need an HDMI cable for every device?

In most cases, yes – you should have a dedicated HDMI cable for each device you want to connect to the TV. This allows you to have simultaneous, permanent connections rather than having to plug and unplug cables when switching devices.

What devices commonly connect via HDMI?

Some of the most common devices to connect via HDMI include cable/satellite boxes, Blu-ray/DVD players, gaming consoles, streaming sticks/boxes like Roku and Apple TV, and audio systems or soundbars.

Can I connect more devices than HDMI ports using a switch?

You can use an HDMI switch to connect more devices than ports on your TV. An HDMI switch acts like a hub, allowing you to rapidly switch which device’s signal is passed through to the TV. However, you can still only use one device at a time this way.

Should I buy extra long HDMI cables?

Long HDMI cables are useful if your devices are far from the TV. Optical HDMI cables can reliably transmit signals up to 30 feet. For runs longer than that, look into active/powered HDMI cables or HDMI extension devices.

Can I use regular HDMI cables for 4K HDR content?

For 4K HDR content, you need HDMI cables labeled as “High Speed” or “Ultra High Speed.” Regular HDMI cables only support up to 1080p and don’t have enough bandwidth for 4K video and HDR data.

Do wall plates count as HDMI ports?

Yes, HDMI wall plates that are wired back to your TV can be used in place of the built-in ports. The wall plates simply act as an extension of the ports. This is convenient if your devices are across the room from the TV.

The Pros of Having Multiple HDMI Cables

While one HDMI cable might seem sufficient, there are a few key benefits to having multiple cables for your TV setup:

  • Avoid cable swapping – With permanent connections, you don’t have to constantly plug and unplug cables every time you change devices.
  • Reduce wear and tear – Repeatedly plugging/unplugging HDMI cables can damage the ports over time. Dedicated cables reduce wear.
  • Simultaneous device use – Multiple HDMI cables allow seamless switching between active devices without having to power them off each time.
  • Clutter-free look – Multiple permanent cables can be bundled neatly out of sight, versus having loose cables laying around.
  • Quick device switching – Switching inputs on your TV is much faster than having to get behind it and swap cables manually.

The convenience and flexibility of having enough HDMI cables for each device is worth the small additional expense. With the right amount of HDMI connections, you can create a seamless home entertainment hub.

Tips for Setting Up Multiple HDMI Inputs

When connecting multiple devices via HDMI, follow these tips for the best setup:

  • Label cables at each end for easy identification.
  • Color code cables to match device types (e.g. blue for streaming boxes).
  • Bundle and tie cables neatly to avoid a tangled mess.
  • Connect devices you use most frequently to easier-to-reach ports.
  • Use cable management wraps or boxes to neatly hide excess cable behind TV.
  • Connect devices to the matching HDMI port on your TV if labeled by input.
  • Spread devices across all available HDMI ports to avoid crowding inputs.

Taking the time to organize your HDMI cables makes your setup look clean and professional. It also makes reconnecting devices or swapping inputs quick and easy.

Troubleshooting HDMI Issues

In case you run into problems getting an HDMI device to connect properly, try these troubleshooting tips:

  • Make sure cables are fully inserted into ports on each end.
  • Try connecting the device to a different HDMI port on TV.
  • Test different HDMI cables to rule out a bad cable.
  • Use a flashlight to inspect HDMI ports for any damage or bent pins.
  • Ensure your TV input is set to the correct HDMI port.
  • Check that your devices are powered on.
  • Try disconnecting and reconnecting the HDMI cable.
  • Reset or power cycle the problematic device.

If issues persist after trying these steps, you may need to consult your device manuals or contact customer support. With proper connection and setup, HDMI cables provide a robust digital audio/video interface.

Future of HDMI Cables and Connections

As video resolutions and standards improve, HDMI technology continues to evolve as well. Here is what you can expect from HDMI connections in the future:

  • Higher resolutions – Future HDMI specs will support 8K and even 10K resolution, along with higher frame rates up to 120 fps.
  • Higher bandwidth – Bandwidth will keep increasing to support more data-intensive video formats.
  • Dynamic HDR – Features like Dynamic HDR will optimize video scene-by-scene for the best contrast and color.
  • Virtual reality support – Future HDMI revisions aim to optimize video and audio for virtual reality headsets.
  • Higher audio quality – Lossless compressed audio formats may be supported to rival audio-only interfaces.

However, backwards compatibility will remain a key priority. So your existing HDMI cables should continue to work fine with future devices and standards. But you may need new premium certified cables to get the absolute maximum performance as video quality improves.

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