Normally this kind of thing is nonsense. But this product really works.Well, this is a turn-up for the books. Normally an HDMI cable that claims to improve your picture quality would be just so much audiophool [editorial standards prevent me from using an appropriate noun here]. HDMI cables carry digital signals, and bits are bits, right? Add to that a “directional” claim—you’ve gotta plug the right end into the TV—and normally our eyes would be rolling.
But the Marseille mCable Gaming Edition appears to be a working, legitimate product. It’s an HDMI cable that makes the kind of claims that we’ve come to expect from audiophile con men, but there’s a key difference: Marseille isn’t making its performance claims on the basis of specious nonsense about construction, materials, and chakras. Rather, this cord works because the Gaming Edition HDMI cable has a microchip in it. That microchip performs anti-aliasing of the signal passed through the cable.
The cable is intended for console gamers. While the Xbox One X is set to shake things up a bit when it’s released later this year, the consoles currently on the market are, especially from a GPU perspective, relatively underpowered. While PC gamers can readily achieve 1080p or better with a wide range of anti-aliasing options—which offer all kinds of trade-offs between performance, image quality, and the visibility of jagged edges—console gamers have far fewer options. Their graphics processors just aren’t strong enough to offer the same kind of flexibility and image quality.
That’s where the embedded chip comes in: it’s an anti-aliasing chip that processes the image sent over the cable to reduce the visible appearance of jagged lines, without making the picture soft and fuzzy. The chip is at the TV end of the cable, and to power it, that end also has a USB connector.
PC Perspective took a look at the cable and compared it to some of the software anti-aliasing options provided on PC games. From their testing, the little chip does a decent job, smoothing jagged lines without eliminating essential detail. It also introduces minimal display lag in so doing. Although the post processing must take some amount of time, it’s below 1 millisecond and hence unnoticeable.
The PC Perspective testing was somewhat narrow—all the games were striving for more or less “realistic” graphics. It’s not clear how well the chip’s algorithms would treat something more stylized, such as Cuphead or more purely geometric such as Tetris. The same questions linger for the console user interfaces, much less streaming media and cartoons. If the effect of the anti-aliasing is unsatisfactory in these contexts, the cable is a little awkward. There’s no way to bypass the processing, so you’d have to replace it with a different cable. The chip also performs upscaling to 4K and supports 1080p at up to 120Hz.
But for gaming, at least, this cable appears to do exactly what its maker claims. In the world of expensive HDMI cables, that is truly a marvel.