Optical Cables vs. Optical Adapters

Trade-offs between these two product categories

Active Optical Cables

Active Optical Cables (AOCs) generally use a hybrid cable with parallel optical channels to transmit the high-speed signals and copper for the low-speed and control signals. Parallel optical cables transmit each channel over a different fiber, similar to a differential pair in an electrical cable. This approach is easy to implement because each channel can use the same transmitter laser since they are all on separate fibers. However, having 4 or more fibers in the link prevents field termination of the cables, so the delicate optical connector must be carefully pulled through the conduit during installation, and any damage renders the cable unusable. 

What Are Optical Adapters?

Optical adapters are a unique solution for point-to-point implementations. Optical adapters that support 4K/60 with HDR and up to 18 Gbps without compression all over a single, industry-standard multimode fiber. This allows the fiber to be pre-installed between the endpoints and the adapters are just connected directly into HDMI ports at the ends to provide a high-quality link up to 1000 m. Plus, it’s entirely upgradable – just swap out the ends when it is time to implement an 8K solution… the fiber doesn’t need to change.


Optical Solutions Pros Cons
Active Optical Cable Easy to understand “fixed length” solutions similar to existing HDMI cables Quality and interoperability problems
Least expensive optical solutions Some optical cables are not 18 Gbps (only 10.2 Gbps)
Many different brands Repair requires cable to be pulled from walls
  Upgrade requires cable to be pulled from walls
Optical Adapter Designed and manufactured in the USA, including US-based training and technical support More expensive than AOCs
Future proof – fiber has enough bandwidth for 8K & beyond More complex – must decide desired fiber type
Easy field termination and repair – fiber stays in the wall if repairs are required