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What is DisplayPort 2.1 and is it better than HDMI 2.1?

No matter how good your display or computer is, you need a connection between the two to be able to see anything, let alone get those high frame rates and 4K graphics. 

Currently, we’re used to seeing DisplayPort and HDMI as two of the most popular connection people use to hook up displays to PCs, consoles and other media devices. However, if you’ve tried pushing a display to its maximum potential, you’ll quickly realise the limitations of the connection and cables that you chose. 

In this article, we’re going what is DisplayPort 2.1 and how it compares to HDMI 2.1 so you can better decide which connection works best for you. 

Also read: HDMI vs DVI vs VGA vs Displayport


DisplayPort 2.1 explained

To be clear, DisplayPort 2.1 doesn’t make any physical changes to the port or cables, meaning it is backwards compatible with DisplayPort 2.0 announced back in February 2022. It instead focuses on improving DisplayPort for USB Type-C and USB4 compatibility. 

HDMI vs VGA vs DVI vs Displayport: Which one to use and when?
Photo by D-Kuru | Wikimedia Commons

DisplayPort 2.1 uses the same physical layer (PHY) specification as UBS4 and has an updated bandwidth management system that allows DisplayPort tunnelling over USB4 connections to function normally with other I/O traffic more efficiently than before. 

Last but not least, DisplayPort 2.1 specs also bring stricter requirements for cables. DisplayPort 2.1 cables operating at up to 40Gbps are required to support lengths of more than 6.6 feet or 2 meters without dropping performance. For higher capacity 80Gbps cables, which also happen to be the spec’s maximum capability, the length requirement is beyond 3.3 feet or 1 meter without loss in performance. The requirements also apply to mini DisplayPort cables. 

DP40 and DP80 cables. | Source: VESA

So while DisplayPort 2.1 doesn’t bring features like increased maximum throughput, higher refresh rates or greater maximum resolutions, it does play well with USB-C. Considering how USB-C is quickly becoming commonplace in laptops and peripherals, it makes sense for DisplayPort to play ball with the port. 

VESA is also no longer certifying products for DisplayPort 2.0. Vendors looking to get a DisplayPort 2.0 certification will have to meet the requirements for DisplayPort 2.1 to be certified for the same. This is a little bit confusing, as this makes DisplayPort 2.0 products, including Ultra-high Bit Rate (UHBR) compatible ones already in existence DisplayPort 2.1 compatible.


DisplayPort 2.1 vs HDMI 2.1 

If you’re on the wall between DisplayPort and HDMI, this quick comparison will help you decide 

SpecsDisplayPort 2.1
(DP80)
DisplayPort 2.1
(DP40)
HDMI 2.1
Total available bandwidth80Gbps40Gbps48Gbps
Maximum refresh rate267142153
Maximum resolution15360 × 8460
(single screen)
15360 × 8460
(single screen)
10328 × 7760
Maximum passive length1m2m3-5m
Data channels444

It’s clear that DisplayPort is the more capable connector. Combined with the better USB-C support DisplayPort is the go-to choice especially if you’re going to be using something like a dock to power multiple displays. That said, there aren’t many DisplayPort 2.0 or 2.1 devices out there at the moment, meaning HDMI’s popularity can get you a good display with respectable specs for cheap.

Also read: Top 7 HDMI 2.1 monitors

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