HDMI has been the standard connection device for many years, supporting high quality video output as high as 10K and counting. Since it transmits both video and audio, you no longer need to wield several separate cables or connect two or more cords into their own ports. All you need is one!

Because HDMI is so integral to the equation, it becomes a problem when you immediately experience connection problems. When it happens, how do you troubleshoot HDMI connection problems? Let’s take a look.

Before You Get Started…

Before you dive into the frustrating task of troubleshooting, you should do a quality check with your HDMI cable. There’s nothing worse than going through the process of elimination, only to realize your HDMI cable isn’t up to snuff.

Take your HDMI cable and connect it to a device you know it’s worked with before, such as a gaming console, computer, TVs, and so on. If the HDMI cable works there, then it means the problem may lie with the device rather than the cable. However, that isn’t always the case as every device has their own settings and problems.

While you’re at it, give the cable a once-over. Is the outer covering damaged in any way? Are wires exposed? Check the connectors themselves for anything bent out of shape or broken off, including the device you’re attempting to connect to. If you find signs of damage, switch to a different HDMI cable and plug it in. If it solves your problem, then you don’t have to move forward with troubleshooting.

In the event that the device itself has a damaged HDMI port, switch to a different port if one is available. Ideally, you should have the port repaired ASAP.

How to Troubleshoot HDMI Connection Problems

It’s difficult to pinpoint the exact reason you’re having HDMI connection problems. However, one thing is for certain: there isn’t a shortage on the number of solutions. Use the process of elimination to discover where the problem is linked to.

1. How Secure is the HDMI Cable Connection?

The first obvious solution is to check how well the HDMI cable is connected. When you touch the connector, is it loose? If so, gently but firmly push the end into the HDMI port. Furthermore, try another HDMI cable to rule out that it’s the port itself. If every cable plugged in is loose, then you have a problem with the port.

Additionally, consider buying an HDMI cable with a locking mechanism. They’ll keep the cable from slouching and causing the picture to go out.

2. Switch the Input on Your Device

Are you on the right input channel? If the device you’re using is a TV, check in the back where the HDMI ports are located. Generally speaking, TVs come with at least two HDMI ports—each one is labeled “HDMI” followed by a number, like “HDMI 1.” That also corresponds with the input or source channel it’s on.

On your remote, locate the Input or Source button and press it. Choose the correct HDMI channel.

3. Firmware or Driver is Out-of-date

Depending on your device, you may have a driver or firmware out-of-date. For example, TVs that are equipped with HDR, also known as “High Dynamic Range,” have been known to cause HDMI connection problems when firmware is out-of-date.

Computers, on the other hand, need driver updates every now and then. If it’s equipped with an HDMI port—which it likely is—check for any recent updates. An outdated drive can cause connection problems.

4. Clean the HDMI Ports

Have some dusty HDMI ports? It could be the source of your frustration. If there’s built up dust and dirt inside the ports, they can block the connection your cable is attempting to make with the port itself. Remove the dirt and dust, and you fix the issue.

How do you do that? Well, for starters, do NOT use water. Keep that away! Instead, use compressed air. Keep the can upright and about 6 to 8 inches away from the contact point. Do not tilt the can or else you run the risk of shooting compressed liquids into the port.

5. Which Device Did You Turn On First?

Strangely enough, the sequence in which you turned on your devices can occasionally affect the connection. For example, let’s say you turn on your gaming console, then your TV. That might cause a hiccup. Instead, turn your display device first, then the device that’s using an HDMI cable. For example, turn on your TV before you power on your gaming console.

6. Make Changes to Your Video Output Settings

The settings of your device may be causing a conflict. By default it’s set to some form of “Auto,” where it picks the resolution the device wants to output in. For example, if your PC monitor is, at max, 1080p, it generally sets the resolution to 1080p. However, for one reason or another, that’s not happening.

With the device you’re using, instead of choosing “Auto,” pick the resolution you want the video output set to. TVs, computers, gaming consoles, and monitors all have some form of video output settings.

7. The HDMI “Handshake” is Denied

Believe it or not, your HDMI cable does more than transmit audio and video with a single cable. It also comes equipped with anti-piracy measures, otherwise known as an HDMI “Handshake.”

Let’s take your TV, for example. You can watch Netflix, Hulu, and games just fine, right? That’s because your TV and other devices involved are HDCP compliant, or known as “High-Bandwidth Digital Content Protection.” If you’re gaming and see the images just fine, both your console and TV are HDCP compliant.

So, what happens if it isn’t? Well, you don’t see anything and it comes off as a connection problem. This is because the HDMI “Handshake” never happened due to one of the devices involved not being HDCP compliant. For the most part, this is a rare event. The only time you’d ever come across this problem is with older devices, like a 10-year-old television. The older the device, the less likely it’s going to be HDCP compliant.

8. Wireless HDMI Transmitters

Wireless HDMI transmitters suffer when a connection is lost or a poor connection. Like all streaming devices, you need the connection speed to make it happen. If your Wi-Fi has to go through several walls just to get to the HDMI transmitter and then to the device, it’s going to cause connection problems.

To fix this, move the Wi-Fi closer or the device itself closer.

9. Reduce the Number of Devices in the Equation

How many devices do you have connected together? If you have a web of devices all leading to a single HDMI cable, you’re inviting a lot of room for error. You need to lessen the strain on the cable.

For example, if you have a video cable connected to an HDMI adapter that’s then connected to an HDMI splitter, and the HDMI splitter is connecting multiple devices together into one. Do you see the problem? Instead, go for a direct connection.

Bottom Line

If you tried everything from A to Z, then it’s time to have a professional check the devices for any damage that’s unseeable to the untrained eye. It’s unfortunate, but take solace in the fact that this doesn’t happen very often and it’s merely a stroke of bad luck.

In the future, consider buying quality HDMI cables. Cheap ones are more prone to problems than a quality, well-liked, well-documented brand.