Definition Wednesday: HDMI vs. DisplayPort vs. DVI vs. VGA

If you're looking to connect a computer to a TV or monitor, your choices are HDMI, DisplayPort, DVI, and VGA. What's the best connection?

HDMI

HDMI Cable

DisplayPort

DisplayPort Cable

DVI

DVI Cable

VGA

VGA Cable

 

With televisions, HDMI is the most common connector. But if you want to connect a computer to your TV (or you've got a new computer monitor), the options tend to be HDMI, DisplayPort, DVI, and sometimes old-school VGA.

Each connection has its pros and cons, and perhaps the best cable to use with your display is more than just "what it came with."

Here are the differences.

Before we start, it's important to note that with the exception of VGA, all the other connections here are digital. So while the pixel resolution potentials vary with each connection, the quality otherwise does not. As in, 1,920x1,080/60 over HDMI is going to look the same as 1,920x1,080/60 over DVI and DisplayPort (assuming all other settings are the same). The logical extension of this is that the cables themselves also don't make a difference, in terms of picture "quality." Any cable capable of a specific resolution is either going to work over a certain distance, or not work.

HDMI
All TVs and most computer monitors have HDMI. It's easy to use, the cables are cheap, and best of all, it carries audio. If you're plugging your computer into a TV, your first choice should be HDMI. It will save you lots of hassle.

HDMI has limitations, though, and isn't always the perfect choice. For example, your TV likely has HDMI 1.4 connections, which max out at 3,820x2,160-pixel resolution at 30 frames per second. If you've gotten a new 4K monitor, you're limited to 30fps. Not until HDMI 2.0 will you be able to do 4K over HDMI at 60fps.

So in most cases HDMI is fine, but for really high resolutions and frame rates, one of these other options might be better.

DisplayPort
DisplayPort is a computer connection format. There are not many televisons with DisplayPorts. It's capable of 3,840x2,160-pixel resolution at 60fps, if you have at least DisplayPort 1.2 and the Multi-Stream Transport feature. If you're looking to connect a computer to a monitor, there's no reason not to use DisplayPort. The cables are roughly the same price as HDMI.

DisplayPort can also carry audio.

DVI
The video signal over DVI is basically the same as HDMI. The maximum resolution potential depends on the equipment, though. Some cables and hardware (called single-link) can only do 1,920x1,200, while others (dual-link) can do more.

DVI generally doesn't do audio. So if you're using a TV, use HDMI. Since computer monitors don't usually have speakers, this isn't an issue.

Source: http://www.cnet.com/news/hdmi-vs-displayport-vs-dvi-vs-vga-which-connection-to-choose/

Last Updated: August 23, 2016