Many people do not think about the importance of interfaces that carry video signals until they face the problem of connecting monitors to external devices. Let’s compare the two most popular connectors, DisplayPort and HDMI, Difference Between HDMI And DisplayPort, which do just that.
HDMI vs DisplayPort
The image quality and the number of frames per second (FPS) depend not only on the conventional “monitor” and “computer” but also on the connectors used when connecting them. The most common among modern displays and multimedia devices are HDMI and DisplayPort.
Each of them has its own advantages – depending on how and to what you plan to connect the cable. In short, any port is fine for universal use with any display, including 4K, although monitors with only HDMI are generally cheaper.
Seriously thinking about the choice is worth it if the user is going to play, work with graphics, or will collect a configuration with multiple displays.
See also the Difference Between DVI And HDMI.
Difference Between HDMI And DisplayPort
The HDMI digital interface transmits not only video, but also multichannel audio over a single wire . This option is good for a monitor with a built-in audio system.
Before purchasing a cable, be sure to consider the connector version. A more recent specification offers increased bandwidth — that is, more information passes through the cable over a period of time.
The higher the value, the higher the resolution and frame rate the interface supports. All of this is true for both HDMI and DisplayPort.
Key HDMI specifications:
- 1.0 is an outdated interface standard capable of transmitting a picture in Full HD resolution at a refresh rate of 60 Hz.
- 1.4 is one of the two most common HDMI options. The first version of the connector, designed to transmit 4K images (albeit at a low frequency – 24-30 Hz).
It is also the earliest interface specification to support Audio Return Channel (ARC) technology. It delivers TV sound to a connected soundbar or audio system via a single HDMI cable – no extra wires needed.
- 2.0 is the second common specification. Offers increased bandwidth and support for Full HD resolution at 240Hz or 4K at 60Hz. The preferred option for many 4K monitor owners.
- An updated version of HDMI 2.0a supports high dynamic range content, including HDR10 and Dolby Vision (exceptional surround sound). Most 4K TVs released in the past five years are built specifically for HDMI 2.0a.
- 2.1 is the latest and most advanced standard with the highest bandwidth, so far supported by only a small number of monitors and only the latest graphics cards.
For the first time, HDMI offers support for 8K and even 10K resolutions or 4K @ 120Hz or higher. All thanks to Display Stream Compression (DSC) technology.
The higher bandwidth has also improved the functionality of the HDMI 2.1 ports. Instead of ARC technology, it now has an updated version of eARC – improved audio return channel, added automatic low latency mode (ALLM) and other improvements.
DisplayPort, like HDMI, supports audio transmission, ultra-high definition and multi-display operation at the same time. But this interface is best suited for connecting a monitor to a computer because it was originally created for this very purpose – as opposed to the more universal HDMI.
DisplayPort is not yet so widespread and will be more interesting for PC owners with a high-end monitor.
The connector also has several standards:
- 1.2 – in use since 2010 and offers bandwidth to handle video processing up to 4K @ 75Hz, as well as any lower resolution. The updated 1.2a specification adds support for AMD FreeSync technology.
- 1.3 – The standard was introduced in 2014 and became the first single-cable option for 8K resolution at 30 Hz. For 4K, a high refresh rate of 120Hz is offered.
- 1.4 is the most popular DisplayPort standard. This is a slightly improved version of the previous specification, supporting HDR and Display Stream Compression.
- 2.0 is the latest connector option that offers even higher bandwidth than HDMI 2.1 – and nearly three times the performance of DisplayPort 1.4. In theory, this allows you to achieve 16K resolution or reproduce the picture at a lower resolution, but with a much higher refresh rate than ever before.
More importantly, the standard supports dual 8K displays at low frequency or three 4K displays at 90Hz. But in the middle of 2021, the appearance of monitors and video cards with DisplayPort 2.0 support is still only expected.
Externally, the connectors of different versions do not differ. Backward compatibility of the new specifications with the older ones is also suggested. At the same time, when connecting an older version cable to a new monitor, the user will notice that the image quality and smoothness will be poor. To prevent this from happening, both the monitor and the video card must have the same standard.
Winner: bye HDMI
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HDMI vs DisplayPort: Multithreaded transmission
Since DisplayPort is designed specifically for monitors, it has an important advantage first introduced in the 1.2 standard. This is MST (Multi-Stream Transport) technology that allows you to connect multiple displays to a single output connector without additional converters.
In theory, MST supports up to 63 monitors, but the aggregate bit rate requirements for all screens cannot exceed the maximum bandwidth of a single DisplayPort.
You can calculate the maximum number of connected displays by resolution: if the specification is designed for one 8K screen, then the interface will conditionally cope with two 4K monitors, four 2K displays or eight Full HD.
This multi-threaded connection is done using an external hub or from one display to another in a chain. The latter method is not automatically supported by all monitors, so it is worth checking the device specifications beforehand.
HDMI is not natively MST compatible, but achieves similar results with hubs and splitters. The 2.0 standard supports simultaneous connection to four Full HD monitors, two 2K screens, or one 4K display.
HDMI 2.1 capabilities have doubled to 10K, allowing you to connect twice as many monitors.
HDMI vs DisplayPort: Variable refresh rate (VRR)
The function helps to synchronize the refresh rate of the monitor screen in accordance with the output frame rate of the game console or computer. This gives a smoother gameplay without temporary image artifacts and picture “tearing” – when elements of two frames are visible for a moment at the same time.
Since there are two main VRR technologies on the market (AMD FreeSync and Nvidia G-Sync), it is important that the connector chosen meets the needs of the user.
- To connect to an AMD or Xbox graphics card, you’ll need a FreeSync – capable display – both DisplayPort and HDMI are compatible, so there’s nothing to worry about.
- With G-Sync, the situation is different. As of mid-2021, the technology is only supported by the DisplayPort connector, so this is the best fit for an Nvidia graphics card.
HDMI vs DisplayPort: USB-C Alternate Mode
The technology, supported mainly by compact laptops and some phones, sends the video signal through the USB-C port. DisplayPort has been offering this feature since 2014.
With sufficient bandwidth, both video and USB information are transmitted over the same cable . It also allows the USB Power Delivery mode to be used to charge the connected device – in addition to the transfer options already listed.
HDMI also supports sending information and video over USB, but this requires a more complex cable – the signal must first be converted from DisplayPort to HDMI.
HDMI and DisplayPort Interface Specifications
|Connector version||Bandwidth||Maximum resolution||HDR support||VRR support|
|HDMI 1.0||4.9 Gbps||Full HD (60 Hz)||No||No|
|HDMI 1.4||10.2 Gbps||4K (30 Hz)Full HD (144 Hz)||No||FreeSync|
|HDMI 2.0||18 Gbps||4K (60Hz)Full HD (240 Hz)||Yes||FreeSync|
|HDMI 2.1||48 Gbps||8K (30Hz)4K (144Hz)||Yes||FreeSync|
|DisplayPort 1.1||10.8 Gbps||4K (30 Hz)Full HD (144 Hz)||No||No|
|DisplayPort 1.2||21.6 Gbps||4K (75 Hz)Full HD (240 Hz)||No||FreeSyncG-Sync|
|DisplayPort 1.3-1.4||32.4 Gbps||8K (30Hz)4K (120Hz)||Yes||FreeSyncG-Sync|
|DisplayPort 2.0||80 Gbps||8K (85Hz)4K (240 Hz)||Yes||FreeSyncG-Sync|
Physical differences between HDMI vs DisplayPort
HDMI and DisplayPort are physically very similar. The first has a symmetrical plug with a 19-pin connector inside, the second has an asymmetrical shape and looks like a rectangle with one cut off corner – while it is equipped with 20 contacts.
There is also an important difference: in most cases, the DisplayPort cable not only connects to the video card and monitor, but also snaps into place – that is, the wire will not fly out if you carelessly move and will hold firmly in place. To disconnect the cable, you need to press the latch.
HDMI cables very rarely have a fixing system – without it, the cable can begin to dangle over time, especially if the user is constantly moving the equipment.
The HDMI connector is offered in three versions. Each of them differs from others only in physical size and purpose, while maintaining the same technical characteristics.
The bandwidth does not depend on the form factor – it is bound only to the interface version.
All three form factors have 19 contacts each, creating the declared data transfer rate.
- The standard HDMI-A connector is the full-size option that is most commonly seen. Used by TVs, most of monitors and other large equipment.
- mini-HDMI (Type C) – smaller connector. Designed for tablets, laptops and similar devices.
- micro-HDMI (Type D) is the most compact option most often used by cameras and smartphones.
DisplayPort is similarly offered in a variety of options, with the most common being the full-size connector. There is a compact Mini DisplayPort, but as with HDMI, the form factor and physical dimensions do not affect the performance.
Maximum cable length
This characteristic is approximately equal for two interfaces, if we take modern specifications:
- The DisplayPort cable carries signals up to 15 meters away without loss of quality – enough for users who don’t want to clutter up their workspace with wires.
- A standard HDMI cable reaches a length of 10 meters, but with the help of built-in or external amplifiers, the wire can transmit the signal without loss for tens or hundreds of meters, which is very convenient for large offices.
HDMI vs DisplayPort: Compatibility
Originally designed for HDTVs, HDMI is supported by almost any audio or video device , including game consoles and home theaters. Computers without a discrete graphics card also most often only have an HDMI interface. The cable is compatible with most of the displays on the market, from the smallest portable screens to the largest TVs.
The less versatile DisplayPort was developed as a replacement for VGA and DVI connectors. The standard is specially “sharpened” for the connection of a computer and monitors, so the choice of compatible devices such as TVs in the case of DisplayPort is limited . The connector is not supported by mainstream game consoles or most streaming media players.
Both interfaces can be combined using cheap and easy-to-use adapters. The DP to HDMI adapter will be useful when several types of equipment are used at once. In this case, it is better to leave DisplayPort for the monitor, and HDMI for other peripherals.
In addition, adapters increase the transmission distance without loss of quality . By connecting an adapter to HDMI to a standard 3m DisplayPort cable, for example, you can achieve lossless signal transmission over a distance of over 5m.
There are adapters on the market for connecting Mini DisplayPort to HDMI – most often they are used to connect laptops to monitors and TVs.
|External media players||Yes||No|
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The latest versions of the two interfaces have relatively similar performance, but each connector has its own advantages and disadvantages.
HDMI is supported on more devices, DisplayPort is most commonly available on expensive high-end monitors and is much better suited when connecting a display to a computer.
The final choice depends on the equipment available and the goals set for the technique. Using the right interface, you can make the connected devices work as efficiently as possible, using all the reserves.
|The connector is an excellent choice for monitors with high resolution and frame rate, as it has a higher bandwidth when compared to the most popular standards. These screens are most commonly used by advanced gamers or graphics professionals. DisplayPort is clearly better if the computer is equipped with an Nvidia graphics card and the user plans to use G-Sync. Another adaptive sync technology – AMD FreeSync – can also perform better when connected to this interface. For working with color when editing photos and videos, it is more profitable to use DisplayPort due to the better technical characteristics. Higher bandwidth means that the standard compresses colors less or does not do it at all – especially in 4K resolution. DisplayPort is suitable for multi-monitor configurations, although it is advisable to use both connectors, including HDMI. In addition, the characteristics of the connected monitors are of great importance.||The interface is good as a universal solution for monitors with lower resolutions, displays with built-in audio, and other equipment. The connector is found in almost any device, while HDMI 2.0 will handle most 4K monitors – except for special gaming monitors. HDMI is the most common type of connection and is suitable for those who are going, for example, to connect a laptop alternately with different monitors. To work with a laptop, you should make sure that the device has a full-size HDMI connector, although you can always buy the required adapter (USB-C to HDMI or mini-HDMI to HDMI).|
Ultra-compact laptops do not have a DisplayPort interface at all. Extreme versatility makes HDMI the format of choice for home equipment including TVs and game consoles. Even the ultra-modern PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X are equipped with only this type of connector.
If the monitor has two interfaces at the same time, then it is better to connect it via DisplayPort, and leave the HDMI connector free – in case you want to connect a game console or other device.