If you’ve ever wondered why cables are so expensive, you’re not alone. How can something so small cost so much?
There are some cases where the materials are expensive, or where the actual production is difficult. And with analog cabling, the quality can vary widely. But most cables, especially digital ones, are simply overpriced.
Stores like Best Buy, for example, make most of their money on accessories. If you buy a TV from them, they make very little profit on the TV. But they have a very healthy profit margin on the cables and extras that go with the TV.
Here’s an example for a 5′ HDMI cable:
$79.99 at Best Buy
$5.95 at Monoprice
Ah yes, if you haven’t heard of Monoprice, I recommend that you start buying all of your cables from monoprice.com from now on. They are simply the best place to buy cables, period. They have good quality, fast shipping, and great prices. And no, they don’t pay me to say that, I’m just a happy customer (many times over).
But Best Buy has a Price Match Guarantee! Yes, but they restrict it to certain retailers (seven of them, specifically). And not surprisingly, Monoprice isn’t on that list, which means they wouldn’t price match them.
Does Gold Plating Make Cables Better?
If you read the packaging on many of these cables, they tell you they are gold plated to improve signal quality or connectivity. The thing is, that was true for analog cables, where the signal would degrade over distance. So for something like RCA cables, then yes, gold plating helps. But for digital cables, it either works perfectly or not at all. There is no gradient of quality.
That means there is no difference in image quality, technically speaking, between using a $6 HDMI cable and an $80 HDMI cable. And if that’s true, that means there’s no reason to buy the more expensive one.
Don’t fall victim to the rationale that says “I don’t understand this stuff, but if it’s that much more expensive, it must be better quality.” Now you know better! (And when in doubt, buy from Monoprice. Many of their cables are gold plated too, just to make you feel better.)
But Price Matching Is Good, Right?
Yes, of course price matching is good. If you can use price matching to your advantage, then by all means, do so!
I have definitely made use of price matching policies — I have gone to Micro Center and I’ve gotten them to price match against Newegg and Fry’s on separate occasions.
All stores will have variations on what is allowed or excluded in their price matching policies. The thing is, it’s getting harder and harder for brick and mortar retailers to compete with online retailers like Newegg and Monoprice. That’s why those two sites get most of my business when it comes to cables and computer parts.
Bottom Line: Don’t Overpay
- Don’t buy overpriced gold-plated digital cables
- Buy all cables from monoprice.com
- Shop around and take advantage of price matching
- Keep more money in your pocket!