An interesting development in HDMI cables was brought to my attention over the weekend. Marseille’s mCable Gaming Edition is a HDMI cable that promises to improve image quality in your games. It acheives this by adding anti-aliasing and enhanced colour detail.
One topic that is sure to start a war of words on any HiFi forum is the subject of cables and what they do/don’t bring to your equipment. My take on this, if you’re interested, is that anything you add to your system will take something away from the tune you actually hear in the end. So, every component should be designed to minimise that loss. Let’s face it, you can’t add anything to the source (CD, record, FLAC), can you? So, good cables, or anything else for that matter, should retain as much information as possible.
However, the mCable Gaming Edition actually does add something.
Marseille’s mCable Gaming Edition
What does the mCable Gaming Edition bring to the table when you can pick up a HDMI cable up from Poundland? As many people will be keen to point out, “HDMI is a standard so there can’t be any difference between the pound store version or the hyper-expensive ‘snake oil’ sold by unscrupilous high end vendors”. There’s also the “Ha! Does it make the zeros rounder and the ones sharper, then?” crowd.
The fact is that this particular HDMI cable is fitted with an ASIC processor at the TV end of the cable.
This is an integrated chip dedicated to processing each frame it receives. Edge detection, artifact removal and colour management are some of the main points of note. As all of this requires power the cable features an integrated USB cable. I guess that the company is taking it as read that most modern TVs have a USB slot near the HDMI ports.
The mCable works with several resolutions up to 1080p outputting from the source, so if it receives a 480p, 720p, or 1080p signal, the ASIC automatically kicks in and carries out its processing.
However, that does mean that if it gets a 60Hz 4K signal from a PS4 Pro or Xbox One X, it switches off any processing and you get the picture without tweaks from the cable.
Is it worth it?
Eurogamer has actually put the cable through its paces.
The upshot is, for PC gamers, it really isn’t worth it. Yes, it might take a little bit of work from the GPU but you probably won’t notice any improvements.
They went on to test titles on PS4 and Xbox One. Here they found some improvements but nothing that should send you parting with cold hard cash for the cable, from my understanding. Although, they did say that the mCable would be most effective on TVs where processing and upscaling aren’t a strong point.
Finally, the Nintendo Switch. On native 1080p titles such as Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and Minecraft, as they free of any anti-aliasing, are perfect candidates for the cable.
When switching between a standard HDMI and the mCable, their findings were that,
…jagged edges are smoothed off and Mario Kart 8’s visual quality gets some notable returns.
Price and availability
You can buy the cable now from Amazon for £131.43 + postage.