HDMI, Display Port, VGA and DVI are the four standard screen interfaces that we can find for the PC market. Recently, USB Type-C has been added, although it is more indicated as a multipurpose solution or use of some of the main ones, be it DisplayPort or HDMI Alt.
Guide screen interfaces: HDMI vs DisplayPort which is better for games
Most devices or components offer a combination of connectors, just like the display screens. Basically, we connect the data output source to the input of a monitor or other display screen through direct cabling, adapters or the aforementioned connectors of the latest generation of USB.
The source of data output is usually a graphic chip, be it an integrated or dedicated graphics card, and has the primary objective of feeding video content to a screen. Normally, a graphic chip includes several outputs for different standards or for the same in order to connect several screens simultaneously. The choice is usually simple in general circumstances, but if you need to also carry audio, use a higher resolution or generate a greater frequency of updating the screen, it will be good to know the characteristics of each of them.
Going into what should we use? Among the two most advanced HDMI and Display Port, which is the best for games? We recapitulate the characteristics of each of them offering an approach to these interfaces and their possibilities.
Video Graphics Array is the oldest and least advanced of all the interfaces. An exclusive connector for analog video also known as D-sub 15 (for its 15 pins) that is disappearing from the market and only low-level graphics are maintained on the chip to power legacy monitors (especially in the business market) or in the retail segment embedded.
It only supports native resolutions up to 640 × 480 pixels, although clonal extensions like Super VGA allow it to be increased. It has been with us for two decades and obviously, is not a solution for a player on PC or for general use, unless we have no other connection.
Digital Visual Interface emerged to improve the quality of visualization on digital screens. There are several versions, DVI-A (analog signal), DVI-D (digital signal) and DVI-I (integrated analog and digital signal). Not only that, but DVI-D and DVI-I have single and dual link versions. The second allows a maximum bandwidth of 7.92 Gbit / s and a resolution of up to 2,560 x 1,600 pixels.
Although DVI is still a common connection and much more capable than the analog VGA, it is also becoming an interface for legacy devices. It only carries video, although on the positive side it must be mentioned that DVI-D can generate a refresh rate of 144 Hz with 1080p resolution, which may be interesting for players who already have graphics with this type of connector, although HDMI or Display Port are the choice for any new equipment.
High-Definition Multimedia Interface is a video standard proposed by the industry to replace the classic scart. It allows the use of high-definition, encrypted and uncompressed video, as well as uncompressed multichannel audio on a single cable. Other advantages of HDMI are its functions like HDMI-CEC (control of HDMI consumer electronics), which allows you to control numerous devices with a remote control. Therefore, its focus is clear and beyond its use in PCs, it is the interface of choice in multimedia devices connected to large screens such as televisions. Its extension is massive and you can find it on any type of device.
The standard HDMI connector is type A and has 19 pins. Type B, with 29 pins, allows to carry an expanded video channel for high resolution screens. They are available in full size (Type A), mini-HDMI (Type B) and micro-HDMI (Type C). They are less solid than previous screen standards and have more facility for accidental disconnections and thus physical or electrical failures. Another widespread criticism against this standard is the incorporation of a digital content protection (HDCP) that prevents copy of the content transmitted by the user as a digital restrictions manager.
HDMI has received numerous revisions since its inception in 2002. The most widespread version currently is 1.4 and the most advanced version 2.0, a version that has corrected the bandwidth limitations of previous versions up to 18 Gbps / s, to reach 60 FPS in 4K and 144 Hz in 1080p. HDMI 2 also includes important advantages in other sections, support for high dynamic range (HDR) and support for color depth, up to 10 and 12 bits. This version has maintained compatibility at the wiring level and the previous ones can be used to obtain its advantages.
For the future, a new HDMI 2.1 version will appear, which will be a point in the standard due to the impressive increase of the maximum bandwidth up to 48 GB / s. This will allow access to resolutions 8K and 10K at 60 Hz and at 120 Hz in 4K. The dynamic HDR will be available for all resolutions and will have other functions such as the variable refresh rate. Compatible products are expected throughout 2019.
The latest standard to arrive was proposed by VESA and this year marks its first ten years in the market. Especially designed for video transmission between a PC and a monitor, it can also transport audio and data, although its great advantage over the previous ones is its ability to take video content to multiple screens through Multi-Stream Transport (MST) technology.
As for the connector, it has 20 pins (32 in internal connectors for laptops) and has a small mechanism to ensure its fit into devices. As in HDMI, you can find connectors that are either full or small in size (with the same features) Mini DisplayPort (MiniDP or mDP).
The most widespread version is 1.2 with a bandwidth of 17.2 Gbps, to support 4K resolutions with a refresh rate of 60 Hz. The most advanced versions, 1.3 and 1.4, are increasingly available in more products and have a width band up to 32.4 Gbps. This opens the doors to 8K resolutions for 7,680 x 4,320 pixels. The supported audio signal supports a maximum of 8 channels without compression, 192 kHz, 24-bit.
Their range of maximum supported frequencies are different. All DisplayPort versions support 144 Hz at 1080p, while version 1.2 supports 144 Hz at 2K resolutions. The v1.3 supports up to 120 Hz in 4K and only the 1.4 scale up to 144 Hz in 4K using the Display Stream Compression (DSC) function.
It also optionally supports digital restrictions (DPCP) with 128-bit AES encryption and since revision 1.1 supports content protection through the more extended HDCP standard. Supports fiber optic cables as an alternative to copper, allowing a much greater reach without image degradation, up to 3 meters for the full bandwidth and up to 15 meters in 1080p.
Although it is not a dedicated screen interface like the previous ones, we review it because in the last months the monitors that use it are coming to the market. An authentic multipurpose connector gem, tremendously versatile that can offer power, data transfer, Internet, support for others such as Thunderbolt and audio and video transfer through a single thin and reversible cable.
USB Type-C supports a wide variety of other protocols and allows users to move data from native DisplayPort media (as of v1.2) and HDMI Alt (from v1.4). The latter has the same HDMI video output characteristics, including support for 4K or 3D video, surround sound or ARC sound return channel. It also allows an HDMI Ethernet channel (HEC).
And all this in a very simple way making the connection with a single cable and without the need for adapters, joining standards. It is not yet widespread, but it will be a connector to consider in the future when the installed base of USB Type-C is extended.
HDMI vs DisplayPort in games
As a general rule, here is the saying “shoemaker to your shoes”. HDMI was conceived by the big signatures of consumer electronics to work on all kinds of devices preferably connected to large screens like televisions, while DisplayPort was designed specifically to connect computers to monitors. More than competitors, we must see them as complementary interfaces, although we will see with the development of the new versions.
Until the arrival of the HDMI version 2 there was no doubt that DisplayPort was the interface of choice for a player on PC or any use on personal computers. Currently, the terrain has been equaled and next year with HDMI 2.1 will be the first in which the standard exceeds DisplayPort in some sections, such as the maximum resolution supported. Of course, taking into account the large hardware needs we need for 4K, we cannot even imagine the monstrosity of graphics cards that will be needed to power those 8K monitors at 120 Hz or those from 10K to 60 Hz.
Going down to earth and beyond resolutions and frequencies, a player on PC should know that if he opts for an NVIDIA graphics card and will use a monitor that supports G-Sync image synchronization technology , he will have no choice, since that the green giant only supports DisplayPort for this configuration. AMD – almost the same. Although its commitment to DP is total it also supports FreeSync synchronization technology under HDMI 2.
Another aspect to take into account are the possibilities of DisplayPort when working in configurations of multiple monitors. The port is “divisible” through DisplayPort hubs and the displays can be daisy-chained via the Multi-Stream Transport function. It is a section that does not have (nor will it have) HDMI.
In summary, a player will not have too many differences in frame rate, refresh rate or latency using the latest Display Port and HDMI versions in the most commonly used resolution, 1080p. At higher resolutions, DisplayPort is still ahead , at least until the arrival of HDMI 2.1 scheduled for 2019.
For general computer and professional uses, the same. HDMI 2 has improved the support for the depth of color, but DP continues to offer higher levels and its possibilities in multi-screen systems is a great advantage. If you can, use it. If your graphic or monitor does not have this interface, HDMI offers a good result but from version 2.