The Maximum Length of Cables You Use

The maximum length of standard cables used in your home every day, regardless of quality or shielding.

Steve Smith talks about the maximum length of cables of every day cables in your home.

Episode #5-20 released on February 5, 2015

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There are two truths about the cables you buy, the length you can buy is always going to be limited, and the type of signal can decide the quality of cable you may need.

The majority of you, I am sure, have thought at some point or another, my cable is not long enough, how much is an extension? Some may wonder if they manufacture a longer cable instead. In reference to your living room, office, computer, etc... there is a limited length a cable is going to work reliably.

Let us be clear, all the lengths of cable I will be explaining to you, will allow you to maintain a present resolution or signal strength without a signal booster. And this, regardless of quality. In a later episode I will talk about cable build, quality and its relevance, if any.

In the case of USB cables, many of us have several thoughts. Some of you may hate dealing with wireless keyboards and mice, noting latency as the issue. A USB cable, however, has a maximum length of 15 feet, including all extensions.

For those with sound systems, the optical Toslink option seems like a great idea. Having light transfer a digital signal usually means you can get some distance out of your cable. Even though the specification clearly states 10 feet, the optimal length of cable for optical Toslink a maximum of 5 feet.

For those wanting to use the S/PDIF digital coax option to export sound from your device to your sound system. This was designed originally for HIFI racks, and hence has a 1 meter (3.5 feet) length recommended length. Some may suggest longer, but usually with the catch of a better quality cable.

Your Ethernet cable is a special beast. While it is true that there are solutions for feeding cables longer distances, for home users, you can expect a cable to work without issue as long as it does not exceed 100 meters, or 328 feet, while maintaining sufficient signal reliability for speeds up to a Gigabit.

For people who love their movies, especially those of you wanting 1080P or even 3D, your HDMI cables cannot exceed 25 feet.

For display port cables, you can have a 3M cable for passive cables, optionally active cables can be as long as 33 meters.

If you are like me, you don't use VGA cables for anything, you are probably using DVI on your cable, and those cables can allow for resolutions up to 1920 by 1200 at 60 hertz, but only if the cable is 4.6 meters (15 feet) or less.

VGA cables are still in use, and for good reason, the cable is usually supported by lower end computers and graphics cards. The cable is usually provided with screens that support it, and they are quiet inexpensive. If you are expecting a reliable resolution of 1600 by 1200 at 60 hertz, you can only really use a cable of about 3 feet, which explains why they, also, tend to be short.

These are the most common cables you will encounter with your computers, laptops, and home entertainment systems. If you are in need for distances that exceed these suggestions you can either use a signal booster, or go wireless. Some wireless solutions can be better and have less latency over the longer cable, because of signal degradation caused by the resistance of the cable.

Host : Steve Smith | Music : Jonny Lee Hart | Editor : Steve Smith | Producer : Zed Axis Productions

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