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Extending Cable Lengths

All types of computer and home theater connections have a maximum cable length associated with them. So the question is: what do you do if you need to run a cable longer than the specified maximum? We have the answer you've been looking for! In this article we talk about some of the solutions that we have to overcome limitations on cable length for many common connection types.

In each section you'll see the name of the interface, the maximum cable length without using boosters/repeaters and then what products we offer to extend that limitation. Some extenders use ethernet cables (also known as Cat5, Cat5e, or Cat6 cables) and they are indicated in the "Length" section of each product. Ethernet cable is much less expensive than normal cables, so for running very long cables it will usually save you a lot of money! Also, some extenders use fiber optic cable, those are noted as well.

Click on the links below to go directly to the section you're interested in:

Audio

Component Video

Composite Video
DVI
Firewire
HDMI
USB
VGA

USB

USB devices actively "talk" to the computer that they are connected to. For this communication to work they must be able to talk back and forth very quickly and accurately and for that reason USB has a strict maximum cable length. If you go beyond 16 feet your USB devices will start to lose their communication and as a result won't work properly.

Maximum Length: 16 feet

Product Name Maximum Length Additional Information
USB Active Extension Cable - 16 feet 16 feet (up to 64 feet with additional cables) Four of these cables can be chained together for an extension of 64 feet
USB 1.1 Extender 200 feet (over Cat5) Only supports USB 1.1
USB 2.0 Extender 330 feet (over Cat5) Using powered USB hubs you can connect up to 14 devices total!
USB 1.1 Extender 1640 feet (over fiber) Only supports USB 1.1

Firewire

Firewire is similar to USB in the sense that it actively talks back and forth with the computer that it's connected to. It also has a strict cable length of 14.5 feet. Anything longer than that and you must have an extender/repeater.

Maximum Length: 14.5 feet

Product Name Maximum Length Additional Information
Firewire Active Extension Cable - 14.5 feet 14.5 feet (up to 60 feet with additional cables) Four of these cables can be chained together for a maximum of 60 feet
Firewire 400 Repeater 33 feet Using multiple boosters you can run a maximum of 250 feet
Firewire 800 Repeater 33 feet Using multiple boosters you can run a maximum of 250 feet
Firewire 400/800 Extender 1640 feet (over fiber) Uses 2 strand LC-LC fiber optic cable

DVI

Typically you can use up to a 50 foot cable with monitors up to around 19 inches (up to 1280x1024 resolution). For bigger monitors we recommend that you use cables no longer than around 15 feet in length.

Maximum Length: Up to 15 feet at high resolutions (above 1280x1024), or up to 50 feet at lower resolutions (1280x1024 and below)

Product Name Maximum Length Additional Information
DVI Extender 100 feet (over Cat5) Supports 1024x768 up to 100 feet, and 1600 x 1200 resolution up to 33 feet
DVI Booster (Single Link) 100 feet Resolutions up to 1080p or 1920x1200 guaranteed up to 100 feet
DVI Booster (Dual Link) 200 feet Resolutions up to 2560x1600 guaranteed up to 200 feet
DVI Super Extender 1640 feet (over fiber and Cat5) Uses one CAT-5 cable and a multi mode LC fiber optic cable

HDMI

Since HDMI is digital it can be thought of as an "all-or-nothing" kind of connection. Either the signal is strong enough to display the picture properly or it isn't. If you go beyond its limitations you will see either picture distortion or no picture at all. You can safely run a full HD (1080p) signal over a standard HDMI cable up to 16 feet without any problems. If you have a higher quality cable it is possible to reach cable lengths up to about 50 feet, but it depends on the devices that you are using.

Maximum Length: 16' with a standard cable, Up to 50' with a high quality cable

Product Name Maximum Length Additional Information
Cables with Built-In Boosters 33 feet - 147 feet Uses a single cable with a built-in booster for easy extending
HDMI Repeater 100 feet Attaches to a regular HDMI cable, no power adapter needed!
HDMI Extender 200 feet (over Cat5) Resolutions up to 1080p up to 200 feet
Wireless HDMI Extender 30 feet Supports full 1080p at 30 feet (less distance when going through walls)

VGA

VGA is an analog signal and so as distance increases the quality will decrease. A lot of factors can determine the maximum cable length, but for low resolutions (up to 800x600) you can reach 100 feet and beyond without too much trouble. For mid-range resolutions of 1280x1024/1024x768 you can typically reach somewhere between 50 to 100 feet. For higher resolutions (1600x1200, 1920x1200) we recommend that you go a maximum of around 25 feet. Once again, every setup is unique and it's hard to say a maximum length for every situation.

Maximum Length: No set maximum

Product Name Maximum Length Additional Information
VGA Extender 150 feet (over Cat5) Supports up to 1920x1200
VGA Extender with Audio 1000 feet (over Cat5) Supports up to 1920x1200 and includes audio

Audio

Maximum Length: Around 25 feet without quality loss

Product Name Maximum Length Additional Information
Stereo Audio/Mic Extender 1000 feet (over Cat5) Can be used to extend both L/R audio and Microphone
Digital Audio Extender 330 feet (over Cat5) Used for digital audio (S/PDIF) over digital coaxial or optical (TOSLink)

Component Video

A lot of factors can determine the maximum cable length when using component video devices, such as cable quality and device output strength. With a standard definition video signal (such as a regular DVD player, VCR, etc) you can reach cable lengths up to about 100 feet if you are using a high quality cable. If you are transmitting a high definition video signal then the maximum distance we recommend is about 16 feet.

Maximum Length: At standard definition up to 100 feet (depending on cable quality), at high definition up to about 16 feet.

Product Name Maximum Length Additional Information
Component Video Extender (no Audio) 330 feet (over Cat5) No audio, good if you are going to run audio separately
Component Video Extender (with audio) 330 feet (over Cat5) Includes stereo RCA audio
Wireless Component Video/Audio Extender 60 feet HD video up to 60 feet from source

Composite Video

As with all analog signals, a lot of factors can determine the maximum cable length that can be used. The longer you go the less detailed the image will get, looking "softer" than the original image. If you are using a good cable then you should be able to reach around 100 feet without noticeable quality loss. Often you can reach around 300 feet with high picture quality, but results will vary.

Maximum Length: No set maximum.

Product Name Maximum Length Additional Information
Composite Video/Audio Extender 1000 feet (over Cat5) Can extend 1 Composite with Audio, or 3 Composite signals
Composite Video Extender (BNC to RJ45) 2200 feet (over Cat5) Works with BNC style composite video, no audio
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