If there’s one thing I’ve learned about cable quality in my years in IT, it’s this: Some cables are definitely better than others, but premium cables are almost never worth the money unless you’re spending it on an extremely specific feature. There are some specific scenarios in which you might want a higher-end cable if you’re doing a very long run and need high transmission speeds. There are, for example, cases where Cat 6 provides a demonstrable performance improvement over Cat5e. But when companies claim to have HDMI cables that have special electron properties through the use of a phase-compensated samoflange, we recommend everyone tune out and do something productive, like fight with people on YouTube comment threads.
At least, that’s what we’ve always recommended before. But Marseille has an HDMI cable out, called the mCable Gaming Edition, that visibly improves game performance–and they pulled it off by embedding a microchip directly into the cord. According to Marseille, the chip inside its HDMI cable performs contextual antialiasing and adaptive resolution scaling, can handle high frame rates, and introduces less than 1ms of lag. That’s a pretty tall set of claims, though the company does provide a few game screenshots to illustrate its point.
Click to enlarge. Image by PC Perspective
PC Perspective got their hands on one of these cables and put it to the test. The results are… good. They’re unilaterally good. While we’ve only grabbed one screenshot (pictured below), we recommend checking out their article to see how the cable performs on everything from modern games to old classics.
At $120 to $140 per cable (with 3-foot, 6-foot, and 9-foot variants), the Marseille mCable Gaming Edition is anything but cheap–but it’s also unique. It’s the only cable I’ve ever heard of that could perform anti-aliasing in-line and with no discernible impact on frame rate or monitor lag. Marseille sells two different versions of the cable, one supposedly optimized for gaming, and the other for cinema and film. According to the company’s YouTube video, these distinctions aren’t trivial–there’s different hardware in each cable, and the data processor is optimized differently. Combining the two functions into a single cable and allowing it to switch between them depending on what type of content is detected is still a ways off.
It’s also not clear if the device can accept a higher base signal than 1080p. PC Perspective tested at that resolution, and it’s not clear if the cable can still upconvert 1440p to a 4K screen or not (or if it continues to function if fed 1440p video and a 1440p monitor). And at these price tags, it’s extremely expensive. It might not make much sense for a PC gamer to drop that much cash on a cable if its 1080p-limited–$150 might be better spent on a more powerful GPU.
Despite this, I’m curious to see the cable in action. As someone who hates jaggies with the passion of a thousand flaming suns, any AA processing I can introduce into the video stream that doesn’t adversely impact image quality and handles the workload for free is that much more progress towards a jaggie-free image. The other major use of this cable might be in console games, where features like AA aren’t usually user-adjustable, and the game itself runs at a lower base resolution. We’re hoping to get one in to test and will report on it if we do.