Save money on cables by not buying at retail

I’m ashamed to say I own one Monster cable. Hopefully if I tell you I bought it at a garage sale for $2, I’ll regain your respect. But there’s an easier way to save money on cables than buying at garage sales.

Unless you need it immediately, there’s no reason whatsoever to buy Monster and other overpriced cables at big-box consumer electronics stores. Profit margins are really thin on most electronics, even the big-ticket items, and they use the cables to make up for that. That’s the reason nobody includes cables in the box.

You’re always better off ordering cables online. Then you can get that $20 cable for much closer to its wholesale price, which will be single digits. If that.

Places like Newegg.com and Mwave.com sometimes run specials on certain cables (dealnews.com is a good place to look) but if you can’t snag a special, check pricing at Monoprice.com and, if you don’t mind futzing around with a wonky search engine and waiting a few days extra for shipping straight from Hong Kong, Dealextreme.com. For that matter, good old Ebay usually has a good selection of inexpensive cables too.

For example, I priced a 6-foot HDMI cable. At the home of blue shirts and extended warranties, you’ll pay $13 for a low-end, house brand cable. A “premium” house brand cable will run $40, and a Monster cable runs an insane $99.

There’s no reason to buy any premium HDMI cable. But even $13 is too much, considering something virtually identical will set you back 3 bucks from Monoprice, and about $6 from Dealextreme. Generally speaking, if you’re ordering one cable, Dealextreme may end up being cheaper. If you’re ordering multiple cables, Monoprice will probably be cheaper.

And if you think that price differential is crazy, try pricing Ethernet cables. At Monoprice, Ethernet cables are cheaper than garage sale prices.

There’s little, if any, truth to the claims you find on Monster packaging, especially when you’re dealing with digital signals. The only claim that has any validity is that gold oxidizes more slowly than other metals, but guess what? I have cables from the 1980s that still work just fine, including the cable connecting the very keyboard I’m typing on now. If they were oxidized, unplugging them and plugging them back in is usually enough to knock the oxidation off and get them working again. Failing that, a blast of De-Oxit will do the trick.

I keep a can of De-Oxit on hand, but I can’t think of a time that I’ve needed to use it on a cable. Keep in mind I live in St. Louis, and if there’s one thing St. Louis is known for, it’s humidity. If my cables can go 25 years here without getting oxidized, yours can too.

One thought on “Save money on cables by not buying at retail

  • October 16, 2010 at 1:17 pm
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    Finally a decent Website that has some good info on it. Keep up the great job you’ve done on the site.

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