Even if you have a 4K TV, you need the right coaxial cable to get the best performance. A coaxial cable carries the signal from a satellite, antenna, or cable line to a TV. The wrong coaxial cable can weaken your signal. Without a good signal, you may get an inferior image and those frustrating lags while streaming a show.
A coaxial cable is a copper conductor wire surrounded by layers of insulation that protect the line from being disrupted by surrounding radio frequencies and electromagnetic interference. Electrical signal flows through the conductor, carrying video and data to a TV.
This guide will explore what features of a coaxial cable are crucial to making the most out of a home HDTV setup as well as review some of the best coaxial cables on the market.
- BEST OVERALL: Mediabridge Coaxial Cable (25 Feet)
- RUNNER-UP: Ultra Clarity Cables Coaxial Cable Triple Shielded
- BEST BUDGET: Amazon Basics CL2-Rated Coaxial TV Antenna Cable
- BEST FOR MODEM: C2G 28721 RJ11 High-Speed Internet Modem Cable
- BEST FOR 4K TV: Postta Digital Coaxial Cable(75 Feet) Quad Shielded
- BEST FOR TV ANTENNA: PHAT SATELLITE 50ft White DIRECTV Approved 3Ghz
- BEST COAXIAL SPLITTER: GE Digital 2-Way Coaxial Cable Splitter, 2.5 GHz
- BEST COAXIAL ASSEMBLY: PHAT SATELLITE 50ft Direct Burial RG-11 Cable
Types of Coaxial Cables
There are three types of coaxial cables: RG59, RG6, and RG11. While RG6 is the most widely used coaxial cable, RG11 and the lower end RG59 are also useful for specific connections. Here are the basics on each type:
- RG59 is the low end of coaxial cable options. It works for basic TV antenna connections and closed-circuit TV connections with a short cable run. It lacks the insulation to be an effective coaxial cable for satellite cable connections or longer runs. However, because it’s thinner and bends more easily, it’s ideal for short connections in tight spaces.
- RG6 cable is better insulated, providing less signal loss over a longer distance. This makes it ideal for satellite TV and cable TV. Its conductivity makes RG6 a good option for HDTVs.
- RG11 will carry the best signal for HDTV but is also the thickest coaxial cable. That makes it difficult to bend and requires special connectors, making it challenging to install. For that reason, RG11 is only used to cover very long runs, such as from the curb to the house for a cable TV connection. Its sturdier construction also makes it suitable for burying.
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Coaxial Cable
There are several important factors to consider when shopping for a coaxial cable, including how the cable connects to TV, cable construction, and operating frequency.
There are two basic types of connectors:
- BNC (Bayonet Neill-Councelman) connectors are easy to connect or disconnect to televisions, test instruments, and radios. They are typically used for short cables. They are the most suitable connector for RG59 cable.
- F-type connectors are the most common. They’re used with RG6 and RG11 cable to make connections for cable TV, satellite TV, and digital TV. They come in two types: twist on and crimp. Twist-on connectors don’t create as high quality of connection as the crimp style.
Coaxial cables consist of three basic parts:
- Conductor: A solid copper or copper-clad steel, located in the center of the cable, serves as the conductor that carries the signal from the source to the TV. Solid copper wire provides the best conductivity but is stiffer and harder to use. Copper-clad steel doesn’t hold a signal as well but is more flexible, making it easier to use.
- Insulation: The conductor is surrounded by a foil shield and copper braids that act as insulation. These materials are a vital part of the cable because they block out electromagnetic interference and radio waves that can cause signal loss. The better the shield, the longer the line can run without signal loss.
- PVC jacket: The final layer on a coaxial cable is a PVC jacket that protects the cable from water and dirt, allowing it to be used outdoors.
Power & CL Ratings
A CL rating indicates what devices the coaxial cable can safely wire. While coaxial cables don’t present the same fire hazard as a TV’s power cables, it is important to consider their CL ratings. Most coaxial cables have a rating of CL2 or CL3. Cables rated CL2 are suitable for installation inside walls and can withstand power surges up to 150 volts without melting or shorting. CL3 is similar to CL2, but can handle surges up to 300 volts.
Operating Frequency and Transmission
Coaxial cables are designed to have operating frequencies that minimize signal loss. The higher the signal’s frequency, the shorter its wavelength and the more likely it is to escape through the cable’s shields. Most coaxial cables have an operating frequency between 600 and 2,000 megahertz (MHz.) Higher quality R6 and R11 cables, which have more insulation, operate near 600 MHz, while lower quality R59 cables, which have thinner insulation, operate near 2,000 MHz. R6 and R11 cables perform better at longer runs than R59 cables.
Length vs. Attenuation
Attenuation is the loss of signal strength that happens when a signal from a cable line or antenna travels along a coaxial cable. Attenuation is caused by a range of natural factors inherent to the coaxial cable’s materials, like resistance and dielectric loss. The longer the coaxial cable, the greater the loss, because the farther a signal must travel, the more strength it will lose.
A 10-foot R6 coaxial cable will have less attenuation than a 50-foot R6 coaxial cable.
Another factor affecting signal attenuation: frequency. The higher the frequency the coaxial cable operates on, the greater the signal attenuation. This is why RG59, which operates at a frequency near 2,000 MHz, is lower quality than RG6, which operates at 600 MHz. A 50-foot coaxial cable with an operating frequency of 1,000 MHz will have less attenuation than a 50-foot coaxial cable operating at 1,500 MHz.
Coaxial cable can connect an external TV antenna to the TV. It also connects high-speed internet from a modem to a cable line, allowing the user to stream content from the web (like Netflix) onto a TV screen. You can run coaxial cable through a home’s walls to allow cable and antenna connections in different rooms. Outside the house, coaxial cable can connect the main cable line in the neighborhood to individual homes.
Coaxial Cable Splitter
Coaxial cable splitters take a single cable line and separate it into two separate lines. In one side of a small box, a coaxial cable input connects a coaxial cable running from the signal source, such as an antenna, satellite, or cable TV line. The other side of the box includes two or more cable outputs, which send the signal to multiple devices, such as a TV or modem.
Our Top Picks
With the above shopping considerations in mind, here are some of the top picks for coaxial cables in a range of categories.
With triple shielding and a solid copper inner conductor, this coaxial cable from Mediabridge is one of the best options for maximizing the performance of an HDTV. This cable has three layers of insulation—two aluminum foil shield layers and a braided aluminum shield—giving added protection from electromagnetic interference that can reduce signal quality. Many cables have just two layers of insulation.
With its R6 rating, it’s well suited for connecting to a satellite or cable TV connection. It’s CL2 rated, meaning it’s safe for running inside walls. With a PVC outer covering, this cable is also suitable for outdoor use. Convenient grip caps make installing the F connectors easy, eliminating the need for a pair of pliers to make a tight connection.
With its CL-3 rating and triple shielding, this cable is suitable for a variety of purposes, including connections for cable and satellite TV, modems, routers, and external TV antennas. This cable can safely carry up to 300 volts of current, making it safe for installation inside walls. High-quality gold plated connectors minimize interference and connect securely. This cable is also rust and corrosion resistant, so it’s suitable for outdoor use.
Triple shielding around the conductor helps minimize electromagnetic interference over longer runs. This cable comes in lengths ranging from 3 feet to 50 feet. It also features a white outer coating, making it a good choice for installations in which the cable must run along the exterior of a wall.
This budget option from Amazon Basics doesn’t skimp on quality, making it a worthy choice for HDTVs. This R6 cable provides excellent signal strength for satellite, cable, and antennas, even over longer runs. With three layers of aluminum shielding and a solid-core copper conductor, this cable has excellent resistance to electromagnetic interference, so it’s a solid choice for longer runs of up to 25 feet.
Grip caps make attaching the connectors easy and tool-free. A CL-2 rating means this cable is suitable for in-wall use in most cities. Amazon Basics coaxial cable comes in 4-foot, 8-foot, and 25-foot lengths.
This R59 coaxial cable is thinner than standard coaxial cable, allowing it to be easily hidden in nooks and crannies between carpeting and baseboards. C2G’s cable is also more flexible than R6 coax, making it a good pick for connecting modems in tight spaces. Although this cable lacks an R6 rating, limiting its range, the cord still provides plenty of high-speed performance, thanks to a braided shield and gold-plated connectors that protect against interference.
With its lighter design, it’s a good pick for shorter runs from the wall to the modem. With a molded jacket that covers the intersection of the cable and the connectors, this cable is strong enough to handle the bends that come with using them in a tight spot. This cable is available in six lengths, ranging from 3 feet to 50 feet.
Eliminating outside interference is key to getting the best signal possible to support a 4K TV. With its quad shielding, Postta’s coaxial cable has some of the most comprehensive protection against electromagnetic interference. Its four insulation layers include aluminum foil and braid shielding to deflect both electromagnetic interference and radio waves.
This RG6 has a solid copper conductor for excellent signal transfer and nickel-plated connectors that provide an optimal connection between the cable and connectors. A PVC outer layer makes this cable suitable for indoor or outdoor use. A reinforced cap prevents the wire from separating from the connector, even when under stress. This coaxial cable is suited for short or long runs and comes in lengths ranging from 4 feet to 75 feet.
With its durable design and heavy insulation, PHAT SATELLITE’s RG6 coaxial cable is well suited for long runs outdoors, like connecting a TV antenna to a TV. To reduce interference from electromagnetic and radio frequencies over long runs, it uses two shields: a foil one that provides total coverage and a braided shield that provides 60 percent coverage. There’s also a separate copper grounding wire to protect the TV against lightning strikes.
A solid copper conductor provides excellent signal transfer for those long runs from the antenna to the TV. All-brass connectors with rubber o-rings create a secure connection that’s watertight and corrosion resistant. This coaxial cable is also available in lengths up to 200 feet, making it ideal for connecting a roof antenna to a first-floor TV.
High-quality construction and an affordable price make this a great pick for splitting a cable signal. This model will split a signal from an antenna, cable TV line, or satellite TV line to two devices. Gold-plated connectors provide optimal connections, reducing signal loss from the signal split while resisting rust and corrosion.
This connector is compatible with both R56 and R6 cable. At just 2 inches by 2 inches, its small size allows for inconspicuous cable splitting. Mounting brackets on the side of the splitter enable easy wall mounting for a cleaner installation.
Longer runs of cable across lawns require a cable that can carry a signal a long way while resisting interference. With a thicker size and ample shielding, this RG11 cable is a good pick for the job. It features a solid-core copper conductor insulated with a braided shield that provides 77 percent protection and two foil shields with 100 percent protection. A thick PVC jacket and heavy-duty connectors can stand up to the elements and are suitable for burying in the ground.
The ability to maintain signal quality over long distances makes this cable good for HD digital cable, high-speed internet, satellite TV, and outdoor TV antennas. PHAT SATELLITE’s RG11 Cable cable comes in 50-foot rolls.
FAQs About Your New Coaxial Cable
If you still have questions about which coaxial cable is the best one for your home, here’s more information to help you decide.
Q. Does length of coaxial cable affect signal?
Yes. The length will weaken signal strength. A 50-foot cable will experience a noticeable signal loss, while a 100-foot cable can lose as much as a third of its signal. To offset the loss, choose a coaxial cable with more insulation. An RG11 cable with more insulation can reduce signal loss over distances of 50 feet or more.
Q. Do coaxial splitters reduce signal?
Yes. Any time a signal is split, the signal is weakened. To lessen the loss, choose higher quality splitters with gold plating instead of cheaper splitters made of inferior materials.
Q. Does a coax splitter reduce internet speed?
No. A coaxial splitter will not negatively impact a high-speed Internet connection when installed correctly.
Q. How do I choose a coaxial cable?
Select a coaxial cable that best meets your set up. Most RG6 coaxial cable is suitable for sending a quality signal from source to device. If the run between the signal source and the TV is longer than 50 feet, consider using an RG11 cable. If you live in a densely populated area, consider using a coaxial cable with quad shielding to protect your signal from the surrounding interference.