How to Split an HDMI Signal to Multiple Displays And 3 best HDMI Splitters

How to Split an HDMI Signal to Multiple Displays And 3 best HDMI Splitters

How to Split an HDMI Signal to Multiple Displays And 3 best HDMI Splitters

HDMI splitters can help you solve HDCP errors. Here are our best HDMI splitter recommendations and why they’re valuable to have.

HDMI splitters (and graphics cards) can send video output to two HDMI monitors at the same time. But not just any splitter will do; you need one that works well for the least amount of money.

How to Split an HDMI Signal to Multiple Displays (And 3 High-Quality HDMI Splitters)

HDMI splitters can help you solve HDCP errors. Here are our best HDMI splitter recommendations and why they’re valuable to have.

We’ll discuss why finding the right splitter is so hard and recommend the three best HDMI splitters, plus an HDMI splitter alternative and HDMI cable.

What’s an HDMI Splitter?

An HDMI splitter takes an HDMI video output from a device, like a Roku, and splits it into two separate audio and video streams. You can then send each video feed to a separate monitor.

Unfortunately, most splitters suck. Many don’t work because of an anti-piracy measure built into hardware called High-Bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP).

HDCP Is the Problem With HDMI Splitters

HDCP is an anti-piracy measure built into streaming devices, televisions, and cables. It protects content by using a verification process between the video-playing device and the screen.

Once it establishes a verified connection, HDCP encrypts the signal to prevent unauthorized recording of the content. This arrangement also prevents content owners from viewing their own content.

If the video is HDCP-protected but one part of your setup isn’t HDCP-compliant, the video won’t play (sometimes with an error message). That means a lot of people with older equipment can’t watch legally purchased content.

HDMI Splitters That Bypass HDCP: Fallback Mode

There is a fallback mode inside of HDCP that allows for HDCP-compliant content to fall back to a lower resolution (usually 720p) if the equipment isn’t HDCP-compliant. Fallback mode rarely gets triggered by devices other than a splitter, which is why they’re a great solution to this issue.

Some cheap splitters bypass HDCP entirely by accident. Because cheap splitter manufacturers didn’t bother paying for an HDCP license, they shouldn’t be able to play protected content at all. However, because they trigger fallback mode, the content gets downgraded to a lower resolution and plays normally—most of the time.

Here’s a video that explains how an HDMI splitter can mirror content from pretty much any streaming device, like an Amazon Fire or Roku:

If you’d like to find a splitter on your own, some features to look out for are:

  • Self-powered (meaning it comes with a power adapter)
  • HDMI 1.3a, HDMI 1.3b, and 1.4 splitters are known to work
  • Cost $40 or less

If you just want a splitter that’s reported to work for mirroring your video, with a high probability of working, keep reading.

There are two common kinds of HDMI splitters: 1×2 and 1×4. A 1×2 splitter has two outputs and one input. A 1×4 splitter comes with one input and four outputs.

The Best 1×2 HDMI SplitterOrei HD-102 or ViewHD VHD-1X2MN3D

Both these splitters have identical features, which suggests they’re made by the same manufacturer. Each supports and strips HDCP and includes a power adapter. On Amazon, they also both get great reviews. The Orei gets an average score of 4.4 stars out of five. The ViewHD gets an average score of 4.3 stars out of five. Does that mean the Orei is a better device? Judging from the reviews, they’re almost identical.

ViewHD 2 Port 1×2 Powered HDMI 1 in 2 Out Mini Splitter for 1080P & 3D | Model: VHD-1X2MN3D

Something like 90 percent of all 1×2 HDMI splitters are made by the same company and rebranded.

For example, at Walmart, a cheaper HDMI splitter sells for less than $14 and appears identical to the Orei and ViewHD devices. Judging from the reviews on Walmart, it provides the same function as the other two splitters.

The Best 1×4 HDMI SplitterIkkegol 1×4 HDMI Splitter

iKKEGOL 4 Port 1 x 4 HDMI Splitter Switch Video HUB Box 1080P HD Amplifier HDTV + Power Adapter BUY NOW ON AMAZON

If you’re looking for a 1×4 splitter that works on non-HDCP-compliant hardware, the Ikkegol 1×4 should work. This splitter sells on Walmart, but you can also get it on Amazon. Unlike the 1×2 options, a 1×4 HDMI splitter supports up to four displays.

Split HDMI With a Graphics Card and Computer

If you own a desktop (or a laptop with an external graphics card), you can split an HDMI signal using a graphics card with dual video outputs.

It works just like a splitter, except it doesn’t strip HDCP. You only need to plug in a GPU and set your operating system to mirror the screens. This process is ideal for people who own desktops.

While prices are currently artificially high for graphics cards, you can still find good options on used markets, Walmart, Amazon, and other online retailers.

The Best Graphics Card With Dual HDMI OutputsGigabyte Nvidia GTX 1050Ti

Gigabyte Geforce GTX 1050 Ti OC Low Profile 4GB GDDR5 128 Bit PCI-E Graphic Card (GV-N105TOC-4GL) BUY NOW ON AMAZON

I don’t recommend buying anything expensive, particularly if all you’re doing is watching video on two screens. The best card with two HDMI ports is the low-profile Gigabyte GTX 1050Ti.

This particular model handles budget gaming needs and 4K Netflix streaming (using Microsoft’s ReadyPlay digital rights management).

 At the same time, it allows for a rock-solid video playback experience. Above all, it’s also the least expensive option around for 4K Netflix streaming.

Like all low-profile graphics cards, it should also include a modular full-sized bracket.

If you plan on doing hardcore gaming, virtual reality, or some other intensive task, you might want to look at an Nvidia GTX 1070, although the price is far too high at the moment. (Should you buy a GPU now or should you wait?)

For those who already own a GPU, you can split your video output to two HDMI-equipped monitors using a converter.

The most common video display port is DVI. That’s why a DVI-to-HDMI adapter can turn any DVI port into an HDMI video output. Unfortunately, you can’t pass audio through a DVI port. So it’s best used if you have some other way of getting sound working, like an auxiliary cable.

The “HDCP Unauthorized Content Disabled” Message

A common error that you might see on set-top-boxes and gaming machines is the HDCP Unauthorized Content Disabled message, particularly on the Roku.

If you got the error, consider yourself lucky. Most people only get a blank screen and (if you’re like me) rage. In this situation, one component of your setup lacks HDCP support. Normally, that’s either the splitter or the cable.

If you know your display and video source are HDCP-compliant, consider just getting an HDCP-compliant HDMI cable.

HDCP-Compliant HDMI CableOnn 3-Foot HDMI Cable

If you’re stripping HDCP, you won’t need any compatible equipment. However, in case you want to one day play high-definition HDCP-protected content, you might want an HDCP-certified HDMI cable.

The cheapest one I could find is a two-pack of 3-foot Onn HDMI cables. It costs $7 and comes with an average review of 4.7 stars out of five.

Is Splitting an HDMI Signal Illegal?

If you plan on illegally copying and distributing the content, yes, it’s probably illegal. However, for the purposes of recording yourself playing video games, making legal backups of property you own, and other fair-use applications, it’s not illegal.

Curious about the gold HDMI cables in regards to picture quality? Check out our helpful article to learn more.

What is an HDMI Splitter and do I need one?

Why do we need HDMI Splitters?

With the advent of HDMI as the premier signal format for high definition video, the range of options for boosting, modifying, or regulating that signal have grown into an exciting and dizzying array.

One of the simplest and most versatile devices for modifying HDMI signal is the HDMI Splitter. These simple, powerful, and reliable devices are everything you need to send a single HDMI signal out to multiple displays.

Whether you want to share HDMI between 2 TVs in your house or set up 8 TVs for a restaurant or bar, we have the HDMI Splitter you need. Our 1×2, 1×4, 1×8, and 1×16 HDMI splitters are full featured HDMI v1.3b compatible for 1080p and 3D support.

How Do I Use My HDMI Splitter?

Deploying an HDMI splitter is as simple as plugging it in, setting it somewhere unobtrusive, and forgetting about it.

Imagine, for instance, that you have one Blu-ray player, cable television box, or game console in your living room. That device has one HDMI port through which it outputs video.

 But you have a television in the living room and a television in the den too. How do you get the signal to both displays? Simple!

All you need is a 1×2 HDMI splitter and the HDMI cables to run out to your devices. The Blu-ray player will plug into the HDMI splitter, and the HDMI splitter will plug into both televisions.

 Both televisions will get the same picture, full high definition; full surround sound audio; that the Blu-ray player is sending out.

How do HDMI Splitters Work

An HDMI splitter is a small electronic device used to duplicate a single HDMI signal and output it several times.

 Powered HDMI splitters will act as a repeater to boost the digital HDMI signal and allow you to surpass the normal 15ft length limitations of the format.

 Splitters will also dynamically handle the EDID handshaking and HDCP signal that HDMI sources and displays need in order to function.

HDMI splitters take a signal in from a source device and then send that exact same signal out to multiple displays.

Since HDMI as a signal format is capable of digital handshaking the splitter can read and match the signal that each display device is expecting.

This cuts down on signal incompatibilities and setup hiccups, it also means that the splitters will output video at the lowest common denominator (e.g.: if you have a 720p television and a 1080p television both displays will receive a 720p input).

Looking for a specific brand? View more HDMI Splitters.

Are you getting the best resolution out of your HDMI splitters?

The Problem

One of the most common problems on setups that use HDMI splitters is that some of the displays do not match the resolution of the other displays.

For example: one display may support up to 1080p resolutions, while the other display may support 4k.

Since the EDID (Extended Display Identification Data) handshake requires the splitter to send out an identical signal to all the displays, when the splitter detects that one display only supports up to 1080p, it then sends an identical 1080p signal to all of the 4k displays.

Most of the time this goes unnoticed. But for people that want to get the most out of their expensive TV’s this is very noticeable. Especially when watching 4k content since the lower resolution will make all the other displays look inferior.

The solution

To solve this, you can use an HDMI Downscaler between your splitter and your 1080p display. The way a downscaler works is that it receives a 4k signal, and “downscales” it into a 1080p signal. This way, the splitter is forced to send a 4k signal to all the displays because it thinks that all of the displays are 4k.

Here is a video explaining more about the Echo Downscaler by Sewell.

NOTE: The Echo used in the video is an old model, but the same principle applies. The new model of the Echo is a Downscaler AND Upscaler, meaning you can also “Upscale” a video signal that is only 1080p and turn it into a 4k signal.

How to Split an HDMI Signal to Multiple Displays And 3 best HDMI Splitters

How to Split an HDMI Signal to Multiple Displays And 3 best HDMI Splitters

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