Best HDMI Splitters

Updated July 2021
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How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

59 Models Considered
10 Hours Researched
2 Experts Interviewed
80 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best hdmi splitters

Numerous situations warrant the need for a new HDMI splitter. Perhaps you have a Blu-ray player or cable streaming device and several televisions scattered about the house that you would like to use for home entertainment purposes. Perhaps you have an Xbox and would like to set it up with several different monitors for ease of play during an Xbox party friends. Or perhaps you want to run presentations at trade shows, or a wall of televisions at the best Super Bowl party ever, or training videos for a large group at work or school.

An HDMI splitter is now the overwhelming choice for carrying high-definition audio and video from a source to a display. The problem is, the majority of sources only have one HDMI port on them. This makes it difficult to view video or listen to audio on more than one monitor or television at a time.

An HDMI splitter is a handy solution for those who are tired of swapping out cords in their home theater or entertainment systems. It is vital for anyone running presentations, security, retail kiosks, corporate training seminars, or other situations that involve multiple monitors. This buying guide will walk you through the features, tech specifications, and other considerations you need to know about to select a high-quality HDMI splitter that meets your needs.

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HDMI splitters vs. HDMI switchers

The simplest way to conceptualize the difference between splitters and switchers is that they are opposites. With a splitter, you take the signal from one source and send it to a number of monitors or televisions. The original signal is split into identical signals so that each monitor/television shows the same source at the same quality.

With an HDMI switcher, on the other hand, you can run a variety of signals — gaming consoles, media streamers, PCs, and the like — into one monitor or television. You can physically switch from one source to another. For example, you could go from playing on an Xbox game console to watching a show through Roku or Chromecast without having to swap out cables.

You can also buy HDMI switchers/splitters that combine functionality. With these, you can use one item for two different purposes.

Some HDMI splitters do not offer functionality with HDMI cables over a certain length. Before you buy, make sure your chosen product will work with your cord length.

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HDMI splitter construction

The task of an HDMI splitter is a fairly simple one. As such, these items tend to be compact and lightweight by design. If you are planning on travelling with one, though, you might decide to buy an HDMI splitter that’s even more compact and lighter than average.

Also consider the durability of an HDMI splitter before you buy. A unit made heavy-duty plastic will naturally resist corrosion, whereas an all-metal splitter won’t overheat quite so easily.

Power options

You have two options in terms of how splitters are powered. Cable splitters are the more straightforward option. These usually split just once, although some split twice. As such, they require less power and usually do not need an external power source, such as an AC adapter.

Box splitters usually need to be powered via an AC adapter or by way of a USB plug. (The latter is less common.) Box splitters often give you more splitting options (four or eight ports), but due to this fact, they also need more power. If you want more splitter ports, you are also going to need an external power supply to power them. Be sure that if the splitter you select needs an AC adapter, it ships with one.

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Did you know?
You can save yourself having to buy an extra cable by purchasing a splitter where the “in” side of it features a built-in cable.
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Video resolution

Video resolution is one of the biggest considerations in terms of buying a splitter. The primary reason for this is the sheer number of possible resolutions available out there.

Resolutions that might be supported by a splitter include Ultra HD 4k/2k, full HD 1080p, 3D, 1080i, 720p, 576p, and 576i. Luckily, the majority of HDMI splitters support a wide range of resolutions. But to be on the safe side, this is a feature you will need to take note of if you want the splitter to match a particular resolution supported by the rest of your system, such as 4K resolution.

For the best picture quality possible, buy an HDMI splitter that supports high resolution — the highest resolution possible, if you can. This is particularly important if the rest of your system also supports high-quality resolution.

Audio

Like video, there are a variety of audio options that your splitter will probably support. Some of these include Dolby Digital, Dolby TrueHD, DTS, DTS-HD, Dolby-AC3, and LPCM. If the rest of your system uses a particular audio format, verify that the splitter you plan to buy does, too.

What devices are supported?

Make sure that any splitter you are considering will work with the various devices you own. These include your particular versions of gaming platforms like Nintendo, Xbox, and PlayStation; your computer operating system; media streamers like Roku and Chromecast; Blu-ray players; Amazon Fire TV Sticks; and so on. On the other end, the splitter should also fully support any monitor, TV, or projector you are going to want to use it with.

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Did you know?
HDMI 2.0 is an improvement over the old standard. The current HDMI 2.0 standard is capable of supporting bandwidths of up to 18Gbps. The older standard, HDMI 1.4 b, topped out at a bandwidth of 10.2Gbps.
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Refresh rate

The refresh rate of your monitor or TV will largely determine how fast the video reaching it will be displayed and how smoothly it will play. Both your source and the splitter should support your monitor/TV refresh rate.

Color depth

Color depth refers to the number of colors your display is capable of showing. Deep color contrast is typically preferred to enjoy the best picture quality. Try to buy the best color depth you can find in a splitter so you don’t wind up with washed-out colors.

HDMI splitter prices

As mentioned earlier, an HDMI splitter is a simple, no-frills addition to your entertainment or work system. As such, prices sit on the low side. A basic 1 x 2 cable splitter of high quality will start out around $10, while box splitters tend to be a little more expensive, particularly if they offer a larger variety of splitting options. Expect to pay around $40 for a 1 x 4 splitter and $50 or more for a 1 x 8 splitter.

For a box splitter, you should check to make sure that it ships with an AC adapter. If it doesn’t come with one, add a few more dollars into your budget so you can get one. Finally, ask if the splitter comes with some form of warranty as insurance against receiving a defective or inferior one.

An acronym to know is HDCP, which stands for “high bandwidth digital content protection.” Make sure your splitter is HDCP compliant so you don’t have issues accessing content or getting good picture quality.

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Tips

  • HDMI splitters generally do not ship with HDMI cables. Be sure you purchase the correct number and type of quality HDMI cables that you will need to use the splitter. The cables should be long enough to stretch from the source to the displays.
  • HDMI splitters are available with a variable number of output ports. When purchasing one, verify that it has the number of output HDMI ports you need. Consider one with even more output ports than you currently need in case your setup changes in the future.
  • Bi-direction is a feature some splitters have that incorporates a switch. With bi-directional switching, you can use the device to connect two displays to one source, or you can use it to connect two sources to one display.
  • Powered HDMI splitters can also act as HDMI repeaters, which can boost the signal and bypass HDMI cable length restrictions.
  • While it can vary depending on the quality of your cable, any HDMI cable that is 50 feet long or less should suffer no problems with significant loss of signal quality.
  • When shopping, stick with offerings from a known manufacturer. This is one area where cheap knock-offs with poor quality abound.
  • Higher-quality cables are also recommended when using a splitter, as the splitter will introduce added resistance to your video/audio stream that a top-shelf cable can help to overcome.
  • Physical vents built into the splitter can help prevent it from overheating.
  • For those who work with 3D graphics, 3D support in a splitter improves both fluid motion and color capabilities on the monitor end.

FAQ

Q. How hard is it to set up an HDMI splitter?

A. Patching a splitter into your system is a pretty basic process. To avoid any potential problems, follow these steps.

  • Connect the splitter to your Blu-ray player or other source.
  • If the splitter is externally powered, plug it in and power it up.
  • Connect the displays or monitors you plan on using (attach the cables to the splitter, then to the displays).
  • Turn on the source, then the displays, and verify that everything is working.

Q. What is HDCP, and should I worry about it?

A. HDCP is short for high-bandwidth digital content protection. As the name implies, it is an anti-piracy feature that is built into some streaming devices, TVs, cables, and yes, splitters. An inexpensive splitter may not be HDCP-compliant, which could result in error messages or a “fallback” resulting in lesser-quality video. Check the product description carefully to verify that any splitter you are considering is HDCP-compliant.

Q. Can I use two different resolution monitors with my splitter?

A. Yes, you can, although the splitter will send out both signals at the lower resolution. For example, if you have a 720p monitor and a 1080p monitor, you will unfortunately not receive the high resolution; both monitors will instead receive a 720p signal from the splitter.

 

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