HDMI vs DisplayPort vs DVI vs VGA easy guide. There are a variety of cables available for video connections. There have been industry efforts to simplify things, but there are still many options on the market today.
Each type of video cable is easily identifiable by its unique size and shape, but the signal quality of each cable also differs. Knowing these differences can help users make smart choices when choosing cables for their electronic devices.
Need a quick explanation of the differences between HDMI, DisplayPort (DP), DVI, and VGA? Here are short, simple, and easy-to-follow explanations and guides.
DisplayPort vs HDMI vs DVI vs VGA
If you’ve just bought a new monitor or TV and the various connector ports on the back of the display are confusing, don’t worry. Let’s go through each port and all related versions.
You’ll know which cables and ports you can and can’t use, and what to use and what to avoid if you have more options. You can immediately properly connect your display and enjoy the best possible image quality.
HDMI (High Definition Multimedia Interface):
HDMI is the most versatile and widespread display connector found on most modern displays. They can be found on all modern TVs, monitors, and graphics cards, but not all are equally efficient.
HDMI 1.4, the most common, is most often used for displays that do not support 4K. It can offer up to 2560×1600 screen resolution at 75Hz and 144Hz at 1920×1080, making it very popular among competitive PC gamers.
HDMI 1.3 also supports 144Hz at 1080p, but older HDMI versions (1.0-1.2) are up to 1920×1200 at 60Hz.
So, all current displays feature HDMI 1.4 or higher that boasts multi-channel audio support, can carry Ethernet data and can deliver great color depth. It can support 4K resolution as well, but only up to 30Hz. Also, HDMI 1.4 does not support 21:9 ultra-wide video or 3D stereoscopic formats.
This is where HDMI 2.0 comes in, extending color depth even further and adding smoothness to 4K with 60Hz support. It also adds support for the 21:9 aspect ratio and 3D stereoscopic formats.
HDMI 2.0 also allows for 1440p at 144Hz and 1080p at 240Hz. Both the 1.4 and 2.0 versions support Adaptive Synchronization, i.e. AMD FreeSync technology.
HDMI 2.0a adds support for High Dynamic Range (HDR), while HDMI 2.0b provides support for the advanced HDR10 format and the HLG standard.
HDMI 2.1 is planned for release in December 2017. Supports Dynamic HDR, 4K at 120Hz, and 8K at 120Hz. Dynamic HDR and upgraded Adaptive-Sync technology (FreeSync 2) will work on existing cables but will require a new 48G cable for 4K and 8K at 120Hz.
Unlike HDMI, DisplayPort is only found on newer monitors and rarely on TVs. Today, DisplayPort version 1.2 is relevant and required for gaming monitors that use Nvidia G-Sync variable refresh rate technology. FreeSync can work with both HDMI and DP (v1.2a), but Nvidia only requires a DisplayPort connector.
The effective bandwidth of DisplayPort 1.2 reaches 17.28 Gbit/s in High Bit Rate 2 (HBR2) mode, allowing wide color gamut support and high resolution/refresh rates up to 4K at 75Hz. DisplayPort also provides the capability of multiple video streams via daisy-chaining (eg DisplayPort-Out).
DisplayPort version 1.3, which isn’t widespread, increases the bandwidth to 25.82 Gbit/s, which is good enough for 4K at 120Hz, 5K at 60Hz, and 8K at 30Hz. Multi-Stream Transport (MST) lets you daisy-chain up to two 4K UHD displays or four WQHD+ resolution (2560×1600) monitors @ 60Hz.
The latest DisplayPort version 1.4 adds support for 8K HDR at 60Hz and 4K HDR at 120Hz, as well as the HDR10 format and the Rec2020 color gamut using Display Stream Compression (DSC) encoding with a 3:1 compression ratio.
Mini-DisplayPort can be found on certain Apple computers and PC notebooks. These ports support resolutions up to 2560×1600 or 4096×2160 depending on which version of DisplayPort is implemented.
You can also use mDP to VGA, DVI, or HDMI adapters. Apple’s ThunderBolt connector is backward compatible with mDP and can be recognized by the small lightning bolt icon on the cable connector.
Digital Visual Interface (DVI):
DVI ports can be found on almost all monitors and graphics cards, including those integrated into PC motherboards. There are three different DVI ports: DVI-A for analog video signals, DVI-D for digital, and DVI-I for both (integrated). Like VGA, single-link DVI is limited to 1920×1200 at 60Hz.
A major advantage of the DVI port is the fact that it is very broad and versatile. This means you can convert to both VGA and HDMI with the appropriate adapter. This is especially useful when you need to attach an additional monitor to your computer, as it provides many options if your GPU or display has limited ports.
The dual-link DVI port includes extra pins and can support resolutions up to 2560×1600 at 60Hz and 1920×1080 at 144Hz for gaming. Most DVI connectors cannot transmit sound, but some modern GPUs can output sound from DVI. Compared to HDMI 1.4, DVI ports have a poorer color gamut and overall performance. So, if possible, use HDMI instead of DVI.
Video Graphics Array (VGA):
Often referred to as a ‘D-Sub’ connector, VGA carries an analog video signal that should be avoided. A VGA can easily support 1920×1200 resolution at 60Hz, but if you get the chance, use a DVI-D or HDMI port instead
. For multi-monitor setups, this will do the job if no other option exists. In practice, the difference in image quality is barely noticeable, but other factors such as cable length, digital conversion, wire gauge, etc. may cause some discomfort.
Finally: For example, a screen resolution of 1920×1080 at 60Hz will look exactly the same regardless of whether you connect the display via the DVI-D, DisplayPort, or HDMI port. So using a better and more expensive cable (not VGA) won’t improve the picture quality.
So use the cable that came with your graphics card or display, and before buying a new cable or adapter, make sure both devices support the resolution/refresh rate you want for each.
What is HDMI?
HDMI is a new standard developed by electronics manufacturers to transmit digital signals between multiple electronic devices. This standard is very useful because it is designed to maintain a signal between set-top players and HD TVs.
It carries video signals equivalent to digital audio on eight channels plus a CEC channel used for communication between different devices. This is very convenient because you only need one cable to connect your devices instead of 3-8 cables.
What is VGA?
VGA stands for Video Graphics Array and is one of the oldest analog video connectors.
A cable with a blue connector on the back of an old computer and screws on both ends. Chances are you have a few VGA cables gathering dust somewhere in your house.
Bigg difference between HMDI and VGA?
Is there a difference between VGA and HDMI? Are VGA monitors still compatible with modern equipment? Should I throw away my old VGA monitor or can I use it? Which one do you like better?
Curious about VGA and HDMI cables, I did some research, and what I found might surprise you. Because the technology is so outdated, many new computers no longer include a VGA output port
VGA vs HDMI
Video Graphics Adapter (VGA) and High Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) are two video standards used worldwide today. The main difference between the two lies in the format of the information they convey. VGA is an analog standard and HDMI is a digital standard. Also, each standard has pros and cons.
VGA is very old and was made for computers by IBM. Many PC manufacturers followed VGA, and it soon became the standard for all personal computers. HDMI, on the other hand, is relatively new and was developed by a group of electronics manufacturers to create a new standard for transmitting digital signals between different devices.
This was especially important with the advent of high-definition TV sets and media players, where current analog standards such as VGA or composite cannot perform at an acceptable level.
VGA was developed with only the transmission of video signals in mind, so it can only accept one video signal. This means that different cables are required for different signals to pass through. Since HDMI was developed to pass signals between HD TV sets and set-top players, it offers a lot more functionality.
It can carry video signals, up to eight digital audio channels, and CEC channels for device-to-device communication. This is very convenient as you only need one cable to connect to your device instead of 3 to 8 cables.
- VGA is an analog video standard while HDMI is digital.
- HDMI is still new while VGA is very old.
- VGA can only carry video signals whereas HDMI can carry lots of other signals along with the video.
- VGA is commonly used in computers while HDMI is used in HD TV sets and media players.
Finally: The main difference between VGA and HDMI video cables and ports is that VGA signals are analog while HDMI is digital. This means that VGA signals transmit information over the radio wave size. HDMI digital signals transmit data as data bits (on or off) at different frequencies.
There are many other differences between the two to help you decide which cable and converter you should use.
VGA vs HDMI
- The adapter can convert to HDMI.
- Send only a video.
- Max refresh rate 60Hz
- Maximum resolution 1600×1200
- Supported by newer devices.
- Transmits video and audio.
- The maximum refresh rate is 240Hz.
- Max resolution 1920 x 1200
The Video Graphics Array (VGA) was the standard video cable for computers when it was first released in 1987 and is easily recognizable by its blue 15-pin connector. At the time, the supported resolution was 640×480, but in 2007 it was phased out to UXGA (Ultra Extended Graphics Array). UXGA was able to support a 15-inch monitor at 1600×1200 pixels.
HDMI (High Definition Multimedia Interface) was developed in 2002 and soon became the new standard in computing. A key feature that HDMI offered that no other video cable could offer was the ability to transmit audio over the same cable as the video signal. HDMI supports HD video at 1920×1200 pixels and 8 channels of audio.
Few devices support VGA anymore. Most computers and TVs have HDMI ports and no VGA ports. However, if you are still using older technology, such as older projectors or older video game consoles, you may need a VGA cable.
Compatibility: Newer monitors use HDMI.
- Can be used with older monitors.
- Supported by older graphics cards.
- The adapter can convert to HDMI.
- Transducers degrade the signal.
- Available on newer monitors.
- The adapter can convert to VGA.
- Supported by most graphics cards.
If you still have a very old monitor with a VGA port, you will need a VGA cable. However, you may need a VGA to HDMI converter to connect to newer monitors. If you have a monitor made between 2000 and 2006, you may need a VGA to DVI converter.
However, since VGA cannot transmit high-definition video signals to a modern display like HDMI, you may find that even with a converter the video quality suffers greatly. If you’re using a newer computer with an older monitor that has a VGA port, you can also use an HDMI to VGA converter.
Audio: HDMI supports high-definition audio signals.
- VGA only transmits video.
- A second audio output is required.
- Newer graphics cards do not support VGA.
- Supports 32 audio channels.
- Supports Dolby, DTS, and DST high-resolution audio.
- No need for a second audio cable.
VGA can carry only a single video signal without audio, whereas HDMI can carry up to 32 channels of digital audio. HDMI supports most high-definition audio signals such as Dolby Digital, DTS, and DST.
If you’re using a VGA to HDMI converter to display from an older computer to a newer monitor, you’ll need a second audio cable to transfer sound.
If you use an HDMI to VGA converter to display from a newer computer to an older monitor, you will still need a second audio cable if your monitor supports sound. If not, you will need to connect your computer’s audio to separate speakers.
Data transfer rate: HDMI is far superior.
- The maximum refresh rate is 85Hz.
- Low input lag.
- more signal interference.
- Hot plugging is not possible.
- The maximum refresh rate is 240Hz.
- Slight input lag.
- Almost no signal interference.
- Hot pluggable.
HDMI cables carry video and audio with either 19 pins or 29 pins. HDMI 2.0 can achieve 240Hz at 1080p resolution. On the other hand, VGA has 15 pins and uses an RGB analog video signal. This analog signal is only capable of a refresh rate of 60 Hz and potentially up to 85 Hz.
Another important difference is that the HDMI video cable can be unplugged and plugged in while the computer is on and the video cable is transmitting (hot-pluggable). This is not possible with VGA. You must stop the video stream or turn off your computer before connecting the VGA cable.
One of the advantages of VGA analog signals is that there is no post-processing of digital signals. That is, there is no “input lag”. However, with HDMI, this input lag is relatively unimportant because data transmission and refresh rates are much higher.
VGA signals are also subject to significant signal interference from external sources such as microwave ovens and cell phones. HDMI cables are much less susceptible to this and are virtually immune to interference due to their thick shielding.
If you have a much older computer with only a VGA port, you will eventually need to use a VGA to HDMI converter to use a modern display. However, you won’t be able to enjoy the much higher detail and refresh rates that full HDMI ports and cables provide.
The only time you should use a VGA cable is if you are still using older devices such as vintage game consoles. In this case, you will need to keep the VGA cable with your device and any necessary converters.
Ultimately, you’ll want to upgrade your desktop or laptop to something newer that provides the best possible video output. Modern video outputs use USB-C, but there are many converters that can output from USB-C to an HDMI display without signal loss.
VGA to HDMI features:
A VGA cable is designed to pass only the video signal from the device to the display. In 1987, when it was first released, analog signals were common. As digital signals became more common, VGA cables were improved with converters that allowed for analog-to-digital conversion.
However, since even modern display devices used digital signals, the process was a two-step conversion from digital to analog and back to digital, which caused signal degradation at the same time.
An analog signal loses some information when converted to digital and more information when converted back to digital. Also, since analog signals carry less information than digital, the raw image in these scenarios will be less “sharp” than what can be achieved with digital.
The HDMI standard allows transmission of both digital video and audio signals over the same interface (port) and cable, providing high-definition (HD) video at a resolution of 1,920 x 1,200 pixels and eight audio channels simultaneously.
Because it supports digital copy protection of all signals, HDMI cables are included with devices such as Apple TV, Blu-Ray players, and other similar electronic products such as game consoles.
VGA cables suffer from crosstalk (signal interference from other cables) and length. Beyond about 4 feet, analog video signals tend to break down. HDMI cables are less susceptible to crosstalk but may be subject to interference from electromagnetic fields.
To avoid this problem in tight spaces with multiple cables, the best HDMI cables provide thick insulation. However, most standard HDMI cables provide great connectivity and solid performance at a premium price without the need for a premium cable.
Input lag can refer to either the delay between receiving and displaying a signal by a display device such as a TV or monitor, or the delay between pressing a button in a video game and seeing the game execute its action.
VGA connections typically have less input lag than HDMI connections because no post-processing is applied to the input. Post-processing is similar to Photoshop filters in that it applies effects such as depth of field, motion blur, and color correction.
Disabling post-processing reduces image quality slightly but reduces input lag. Some TVs have an option called “Game Mode” to disable post-processing.
Another factor in input lag is the use of adapters. Technically, every extra device introduces some delay due to the extra distance the electrons have to travel, but it’s negligible. Using low-quality unofficial adapters can also significantly increase input lag.
VGA cables are not compatible with HDMI ports except for the use of converters. Even with a converter, using a VGA cable significantly degrades the video signal quality, so it is usually used as a stopgap measure. Audio requires a separate cable.
If you are using an HDMI cable with a VGA port, you will need a converter device and a separate cable to connect the video display and provide the audio signal to the separate port.
HDMI vs. VGA quality test
HDMI cables provide both audio and video, while VGA cables can only handle video. Except for input lag cases where VGA is the better option, HDMI cables are generally faster and offer better performance. VGA cables are susceptible to interference and crosstalk from related cables and devices.
FAQ(Frequently Asked Questions)
Which is better, HDMI or VGA?
As per the discussion above of VGA vs HDMI, when compared to VGA, HDMI is very superior for several reasons. HDMI can carry more data and it also carries audio. VGA or VGA can transmit video and much less resolution. Simply put, HDMI transmits very sharp images with good quality.
Watching movies requires the best possible resolution and color. Because the HDMI connector is the best choice. Compared to HDMI, the VGA connector has some drawbacks such as slightly flat colors.
So while watching a movie on television can make a huge difference. Additionally, the HDMI connector carries audio, eliminating the need for special cables for speakers.
A VGA connector can simply support refresh rates from 60hz to 85hz. However, HDMI is the best choice for a variety of video games because it is visually very sharp and can achieve maximum refresh rates. For example, HDMI 2.0 can reach 240hz at 1080p.
Can you convert HDMI to VGA?
Yes. Can convert HDMI to VGA, but requires an active HDMI to VGA converter with external power. The resolution and refresh rate are also very limited.
Which display cable is best for gaming?
DisplayPort is the most popular gaming connector on the market today. It supports both G-Sync and FreeSync, supports 240Hz gaming at lower resolutions, supports 4K HDR gaming at 144Hz, and supports multi-monitor setups.
Is VGA good enough for gaming?
VGA may have been good enough back then for older generations of games that weren’t HD quality, but it’s not good enough for today’s games.
It should be good enough for older games like Baldur’s Gate 2 with great high-definition video quality and not relying heavily on FPS. For today’s high-definition and FPS-dependent gaming standards, it’s definitely not good enough.
Is HDMI better than VGA for gaming?
HDMI is miles better than VGA for gaming. It’s digital instead of analog, so not only does it provide much better and near-perfect picture quality, but it also supports audio, unlike VGA.
The HDMI digital interface supports video resolutions up to 4K and higher, unlike VGA which only supports video resolutions up to 2K. This factor means that games look much better on monitors.
Where VGA was limited to a 60Hz refresh rate, HDMI can go up to around 144Hz, meaning 60+ fps in games. VGA has a very limited refresh rate, which results in much lower FPS in games.
A high FPS is perfect for competitive games like Overwatch, where the quality of the video output to the screen and the accompanying visual fidelity can make or break a game. Undoubtedly, HDMI is far superior to VGA for gaming.
Is VGA good for 1080P?
VGA can support 1080P with almost the same image quality as HDMI. If you have an old VGA monitor lying around, you might consider using it as a secondary display.
Is VGA good for 4K?
no. VGA does not support 4K. VGA has a maximum resolution of 2048×1536, also known as 1440P or QXGA (Quad Extended Graphics Array).
There are some VGA to HDMI converters that claim to support 4K, but the signal is being tweaked. Not true 4K.
Is VGA vs HDMI Better for Gaming?
When it comes to VGA vs HDMI for gaming, HDMI is the clear winner. HDMI supports higher resolutions, higher refresh rates, HDR, and also carries audio. On the other hand, VGA allows you to game at 1080P at 60Hz.
Why is the TV’s image quality better with VGA?
Connecting a VGA cable to a TV may display a clearer picture than an HDMI cable.
In most cases, HDMI will always produce a better picture than VGA. However, there could be several reasons why your display looks better on VGA than on HDMI. This problem usually occurs when connecting a computer to a TV or monitor.
HDMI port switching
Try using a different HDMI port on your TV. Pictures could be clearer.
Set HDMI color to full RGB
Set the HDMI color settings to Full RGB. If you’re using a computer, it’s likely that the HDMI cable is connected to your graphics card.
Whether you have an NVIDIA or Radeon card, you can open your graphics card software management, find color management, and select full RGB. The TV screen is now clearer.
Disable chroma subsampling
The problem can occur because the display is optimized for set-top boxes and cable TV using chroma subsampling.
Because computers usually don’t use it, the TV has to convert the computer’s signal using chroma subsampling, which reduces picture quality.
To fix this, label the TV’s video input port on the PC. The TV should correctly classify the connection as PC and display the actual signal without weird conversions. You may need to use a DVI to HDMI adapter.
So, if your TV looks better with VGA, the problem is most likely with your TV, not HDMI.
It depends on many factors, such as the converter you use and the maximum resolution of your display.
Generally, VGA at 1080P doesn’t degrade the picture quality and it’s pretty much the same as 1080P when using an HDMI cable.
How to connect the laptop to a TV using an HDMI cable or VGA cable?
Determination: If connecting to a TV, our team recommends using HDMI. If you’re a gamer or use your computer all day, DisplayPort might be your best bet. Especially now that it’s so popular that it’s supported.
DVI and VGA are still solid computer monitor connections, but VGA is limited in potential image quality and will no longer be a topic of conversation. At the end of the day, we rank HDMI and DisplayPort as the best connections.