As gaming consoles get cheaper and gaming companies begin to stay on one main platform, it’s not surprising to learn that most of us own more than one console. With a few of these bulky items dotted around your study or living room, it won’t take long before the wires start to become tangled. Worse yet, if you decide to switch from your Playstation to your Xbox, or from a console to your TV, you have to clamber into that mess of black and figure out which cable is for what, connect the right cable, and then try to leave the overgrowth without being grappled.
It doesn’t matter how well you hide the cable forest you’ve created, when you still need to venture in every day.
But there is a way to switch between your games without having to touch a single wire, and that’s by using an HDMI switch. HDMI switches are little gadgets that connect all of your HDMI cables to your monitor. This way, instead of rummaging through your cable draw to pull out your Vintage GameCube every time you want to play Pokemon Colosseum, you can have it permanently connected and ready to play!
These game-changers aren’t just for console players either. If you like to play Elder Scrolls Online with your LED-backlit keyboard, but need to switch to your racing wheel to play Dirt Rally, then the HDMI Switch will stop you from being put off by the hassle of connecting the cables.
We are here to show you the best HDMI switches on the market so that you can begin your hassle free life!
We have explained what you should be looking for when you purchase an HDMI switch, so you know what you are buying and can feel confident in your choice. We have even compared these details against our top 5, so you can skim past a good switch that doesn’t hold the features you need.
How We Compared The HDMI Switches
There are 6 factors for us to consider when we buy an HDMI switch, but some of these features might not be worrisome to you. If you only have 2 HDMI cables to connect to your monitor, then it won’t matter if a switch has 5 ports. If you have a comfortable bank balance, then the price of a switch might not put you off. Only you know what matters to you and your gaming life, so to make sure we can help you pick out the right HDMI switch, we have gone through everything!
The Price of an HDMI Switch
Let’s start off easy, everyone wants a decent switch at a reasonable price, but some of us have tighter purse strings than others. Because we recognize that our readers come from all walks of life, it is important to show you all a budget version of the HDMI switch. But we also know that you come here for quality, so rest assured that every switch we are showing has passed our testing stage.
If all you want is a cheap and good switch, then have a look at the Benfei switch. It is by far the most affordable switch out of our five. If you want to learn a little more about the gadget before you take out your wallet, then scroll down to our review below.
The Number of HDMI inputs in the Switch
Usually, the number of inputs your switch has will dramatically affect the price of the switch. So if you plan on connecting just 3 or 4 devices, then there is no need to grab a 7 input switch.
Ideally, you want all of the possible consoles and accessories attached to your switch, so you never have to faff around with the cables again. If you think you are likely to buy more accessories, then you should buy a switch with some extra input ports, so you will have room to grow.
Automatic Switching Technology in the HDMI Switch
Now we are reaching the more technical side of an HDMI switch. Some people love them, and some people don’t; we are talking about Automatic Switching Features. If you get a switch that has this feature, it means that the technology will figure out which source has been switched on and therefore, which HDMI cable needs to be used.
Essentially, when you have finished watching TV and want to switch to your PlayStation, simply turning on the PlayStation will tell your switch that you want to change devices. It will automatically prioritize the PlayStation, so you don’t need to do anything. Great right?!
Well, some people aren’t a fan of this feature. Some of you may know that PlayStations (and other consoles) can connect to the main monitor through a cable but can also connect to your laptop or computer through the WiFi. If you share a study/game room with someone and want to play your laptop PlayStation games while that person is working, then an Automatic Switch will disrupt your friend’s work. It won’t recognize that someone else is using the monitor, and so it will swap from their word document to your Grand Theft Auto screen.
The Level of Resolution from the HDMI Switch
Those are some fancy words for picture quality. You don’t want your HDMI Switch to take away the crisps detail that your powerful gaming screen has, so you need to make sure that the switch can match their level.
Ideally, you want to have a switch that can carry 4K and HD streaming, as most monitors are considered to be High Definition now. However, if your screen is a little behind the times, then you can buy a switch that matches its pixels. These could be 1080p, 720p or 360p.
These smaller resolution sizes create dully imagery, but you need your HDMI cable to match your screen. Many HDMI cables can produce images of HD quality and 1080p quality, but to do both, they tend to be more expensive.
We suggest learning your monitor’s current resolution and picking a switch that can copy it.
The Speed and Stability of Transmission from the HDMI Switch
The speed and stability of your switch’s transmission are the difference between a smooth game and a laggy mess. This means you should be looking for a cable that can translate the most significant amount of gigabytes per second, also known as Gbps.
An HDMI switch with a transmission rate of 10.2Gbps means it can connect well with an HDMI 1.3 cable. But HDMI 1.3 cables are considered to be retro in this ever growing technological age. They can produce imagery of 1080p, which means they wouldn’t be suitable for an HD or 4k screen.
A switch with a transmission rate of 18Gbps means it can support an HDMI 2.0 cable. These are the cables that most of us use. HDMI 2.0 cables can support 4K and HD images.
If you are hoping to have multiple HD quality games connected to your switch, then the number you should really be searching for is 48Gbps. These monsters can support HDMI 2.1 cables which are used for high end gaming. Finding a switch to support this large number can be very hard!
Depending on what you want to use your HDMI cable for, these numbers should help you narrow down your search for the perfect accessory.
The Compatibility of the HDMI Switch
Most HDMI cables are interchangeable. They are designed this way so you can plug your console into any monitor which has the input port available. This means that most of the HDMI switches are just as interchangeable. However, as we discussed in the “The Speed and Stability of Transmission from the HDMI Switch” section above, having the correct physical structure doesn’t mean it can keep up with the display.
Many switches will tell you they are compatible with any use, but when they say that, they are talking about the standardized socket for the HDMI cable to slot into. This means their “compatibility” brag is an empty comment.
If the switch doesn’t mention their gigabytes per second speed or their HDMI cable number compatibility, then you cannot be sure that they can support your devices.
For every HDMI switch, we have found, we will tell you if they are as compatible as they say they are.
Best HDMI Switch
Only two inputs
Only 10.2 Gbps
Budget doesn’t mean bad, and the Benfei HDMI Switch is proof of that. Its compact design means it is easy to hide away, keeping your living room, study, or whatever location you are planning on using this in, look tidy.
The resolution of the Benfei can reach 1080p and HD, but it can also be used on lower resolution devices like 720p.
For less than $10, that is a fantastic achievement. That being said, the compliments end here.
It has two inputs, which is enough for some people but probably not worth it for most of us, and the speed is only 10.2Gbps. This means that although the Benfei is capable of producing HD, you cannot use an HDMI cable stronger than the retro 1.3 without causing a lag.
This HDMI switch is compatible with many different consoles, and devices, which is useful
The transmission is quick and seamless, which is great because you don’t have to worry about lag
While 2 ports is great, this does limit you slightly if you want to connect more than 2 devices
The BENFEI 4K HDMI switch is another fantastic option if you are shopping on a budget. It is great value for the money, and does its job well. Featuring a compact design, you don’t have to worry about it taking up too much space on your desk or gaming area.
What is great about this option is that it is an upgraded HDMI switch. This means that it is compatible with even more options, such as Roku, and Firestick. It will also connect to consoles such as Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS3, and PS4 — it has versatile technology.
The transmission is fast and stable. The bandwidth provided runs its data transmission at 10.2 Gbps. It doesn’t experience lag, and the picture and sound quality is crisp and clear. There are 2 HDMI input ports, and 1 output port. The connections can be switched with a touch of a button seamlessly.
The quality is fantastic, and the casing is durable, making the HDMI switch long-lasting. Covered by an 18-month warranty, this gives your peace of mind if the switch becomes faulty.
HDMI 2.0 compatible
4k & HD compatible
5 Input Ports
Optional Automatic Switching
It cannot go lower than 1080p
The Kinico Pro Series is our best pick because it is HDMI 2.0 ready, has a resolution speed of 18 Gbps, and is perfect for 4K HD screens.
If you need an HDMI Switch that can run older consoles, then the Kinivo Pro might not be for you, as the lowest it can go is 1080p. This won’t be an issue for most of us, but for retro gaming fans, this might make you take a step back.
But another reason to bring you forward is to show you its 5 input ports, which the Kinivo can automatically switch to. The automatic function is optional so that you can have control over the level of automation.
4K HD Compatible
HDMI 2.0 Compatible
Automatic Switching Function
5 Input Ports
Not As clear as the Kinivo Pro Series.
The Awakelion is only classed as second place to the Kinivo Pro Series because its speed isn’t as strong, and we know by now that the speed of your switch will affect your resolution in the end. But the Awakelion’s resolution is still really good.
It can support 4K Ultra HD no matter how many HDMI cables you connect to the switch, and you can add up to 5. This means it can produce sound and video transmission without any distortion cracking your immersive feeling.
The Awakelion also has an automatic function which you can activate by holding down the button for 3-5 seconds.
At half of the Kinivo Pro Series’ price, it is worth checking out this HDMI Switch.
4K HD Compatible
HDMI 2.2 Compatible
Automatic Switching Function
4 Input Ports
Not as fast as Kinivo Pro Series
Things To Consider
The best HDMI Switches on the market are the Koopman, the Awakelion, and the Kinivo Pro Series. There is very little between them, so you can go for the cheapest, go for the all rounder, or go for the switch that best suits your aesthetics and still get a fantastic piece of technology.
The most important take away you should have received from this article is that the Gbps and HDMI bandwidth (2.0, 1.3, etc.) should be compared to your current devices so that whatever switch you buy matches your existing technology.