If you’re in the market for a PC and need to understand the cable connector selection or want to know about the available connectors in general, you’ve probably run into these terms: HDMI, DVI, VGA and Displayport. Each of these connectors has its own set of uses and shortcomings.
Here’s a breakdown of what each of the terms means, and how they matter to consumers for content consumption. But before we delve deeper into each one of the connector types, here is a summary explaining their use case.
HDMI: Audio and video signal, best for TV to PC connections.
DisplayPort (DP): The best connector for an audio and video signal, and can transmit 144Hz up to 4K.
DVI: Video only, perfect for older systems.
VGA: Old, legacy video connector. Only to be used when nothing else available.
HDMI stands for High-Definition Multimedia Interface and is one of the most common connectors on the market. Most set-top boxes, computers and game consoles use HDMI as it can carry both uncompressed video and audio. HDMI comes with support for features such as HDMI-CEC, which allows for universal remote control.
HDMI has been updated continuously, since its inception in 2002. The most common and versatile version is HDMI 1.4, as it has an available bandwidth of 10.2 Gbps, and this is more than enough for standard consumer content consumption. It’s only when with the advent of 4K content that HDMI 2.0 became more prevalent. The updated version brings with it support for 4K at 60FPS or 1080p content at 144Hz. HDMI 2.0 also comes with support for HDR, as it can display 10-bit or 12-bit colours without compression.
This makes HDMI the most versatile connector for almost all consumer devices.
While older versions of DisplayPort, like DP 1.2 have always come with support for 4K at 60FPS, more recent advancements have brought the updated DP 1.4. DP 1.4 can output 144Hz 4K content using Display Stream Compression (DSC). DisplayPort also comes with support for Multi-Stream Transport (MST), allowing usage of one DisplayPort to daisy-chain multiple monitors. With its extremely bandwidth capabilities, DisplayPort has been chosen as the optimal connector for both Nvidia’s G-Sync as well as AMD’s FreeSync.
Reduced screen-tear and support for high refresh rates make DP connectors the go-to choice for gamers.
Also read: USB Hubs: Yay or Nay?
DVI stands for Digital Visual Interface, and it is another standard connector in the PC ecosystem. There are three types of DVI: DVI-A (analogue signal), DVI-D (digital signal) and DVI-I (integrated analogue and digital signal). There’s also, DVI-D and DVI-I with single-link and dual-link versions. DVI is exceptionally uncommon, and is almost entirely unheard of, like VGA.
The differences between single-link and dual-link refer to how much bandwidth the cable can carry. A single-link DVI-D or DVI-I cable can carry 3.96 Gbit/s, which tops out at 1920×1200 resolution. Dual-link, on the other hand, physically has extra pins on the connectors, allowing a maximum bandwidth of 7.92 Gbit/s and 2560×1600 resolution.
For lower-end PCs, DVI-D can output 144Hz at 1080p, but high-resolution display outputs need HDMI or DisplayPort connectors.
VGA stands for Video Graphics Array and is a dated, legacy connector. VGA connectors have been in play since the age of CRT monitors, and can technically output at 1080p. The only issue lies in the connection methodology, as it is an analogue connection. Higher resolution image output leads to image quality degradation due to signal conversion from analogue to digital.
In simple terms, refrain from the use of VGA unless you don’t have any other option.
Hoping this article makes the difference between VGA, HDMI, DVI and Displayport clear. If you’ve any questions or anything to add, feel free to comment down below.
Also read: USB Connectors: Type C vs Type B vs Type A
I’m a tech enthusiast, amateur motorcyclist and also an Android purist. You can find me spending most of my time gaming on my PC, or binge watching on Netflix.