We recently covered the best HDMI Switches here on PC Guide, and there is always some confusion as to what the difference is between Splitters and Switches. In fact, they actually do completely opposite things. A Splitter, like those we have here, take one HDMI input and splits it to multiple displays – for example, you could take the signal from your GPU and send it to a 4K TV as well as your monitor.
An HDMI switch takes multiple inputs and outputs them to the same display. Are you confused yet? In truth most people won’t have a real need to send one signal to multiple devices, but when you do need to do it, it is a round-up like this that will save you the trauma of hunting around yourself.
We have picked three of the best on the market to put through their paces. While you are here, you might want to check out our roundup of the best HDMI cables too.
How We Picked
As ever we have tried to cover all budgets – not everybody has an endless supply of cash to spend on peripherals, so read our recommendations carefully before you decide which is the right HDMI Splitter for you.
The Best HDMI Splitter in 2020 & 2021
Multiple input and output options
Sturdy case design
Might be more than you actually need
There are simple splitters, and then there are the more complicated Matrix-style that are often used in commercial settings to send the same signal to multiple displays – an example of this might be the screens around a concourse at a sports stadium. This, although certainly not a professional option, is one of these such matrix splitters and as such, has a lot more features onboard than the standard, signal in, multiple signals out of the cheaper models.
That said, it certainly won’t break the bank and is quite reasonably priced. As with the switchers we looked at most of these units come from unheard of Chinese manufacturers, and it is easy to select the wrong model when you don’t really know what you are looking for.
Matrix switches are slightly different in that they take an input and can output it to several screens, or they can take an input and output it to every second screen, and they take a second input and output it to the others. Basically, you can configure things a lot more and have much more control over what gets routed where. I use an Extron Matrix for connecting multiple retro consoles to a single screen.
This model also has a Picture in Picture options, which takes it even further ahead of the pack in terms of functionality.
More expensive than other options
Orei also fared well in our round-up of HDMI Switchers, and here they are again taking the splitter market by storm. This unit will easily duplicate a single signal to up to four 4k displays (it comes in both two and four output models)
They even do a model that will dispense with HDMI and output over ethernet too, which is sometimes used in commercial settings.
Again it’s steel construction and slim form factor means it should survive wherever you choose to tuck it away. Orei is definitely a good brand that you’d never heard of before!
The red version is a strange design choice
Now, this is a splitter that won’t sit discreetly in the corner. The bright racing red box is very specific and we can’t think of a single-use case where this would fit in with any existing AV equipment. It’s a slightly bizarre choice. Thankfully it is also available in a black box, which is surely the choice to go for?
Internally though it comfortably passed our 4K signal with no additional artifacts appearing, and the fact you can get it in either 3, 4, or 8 port varieties means you can certainly buy the version you need without overextending yourself needlessly.
It’s also HDMI 2.0a and fully compliant with HDCP, so you won’t find yourself running into any issues passing a signal through it.
Things To Consider
Copy protection and HDCP
The HDCP is an anti-piracy protection built into HD Tvs and cables and is designed to prevent you from stealing the final episode of Homeland or Game of Thrones. Naughty. It’s actually a licensing method where each piece of HDCP compliant equipment asks (metaphorically) to see the license of where’s it is sending a signal. If the receiver complies, it can display the image. If not you get an error message.
Where it goes wrong is HDCP is rubbish, much like the majority of DRM it causes headaches for the legitimate end-user. All you need to worry about here though is that the equipment you buy states it is HDCP compliant to minimize the risk of running into problems further down the line.
The Newpower Matrix is both a switch and a splitter combined, and once you get your head around the power that brings in a variety of setups, it becomes the obvious choice. The ability to put multiple inputs and route them to different outputs is geek heaven. It’s reasonably priced, well built and all you will ever need for a good while to come.