Looking to connect? The Ultimate Guide to HDMI vs DisplayPort.

Use cases, benefits, and how to know what’s right for you.

March 27, 2024

Whether you're setting up a home entertainment system, connecting a computer monitor, configuring a gaming rig, or generally transmitting any audio and video from one device to another -- understanding the differences between HDMI and DisplayPort will help you get the best results. Here’s what you need to know.

Looking to connect? The Ultimate Guide to HDMI vs DisplayPort: Use cases, benefits, and how to know what’s right for you.

HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface)

You will have likely connected to an HDMI port at some point – for example, if you’ve ever plugged something in to play through your TV.


What is HDMI?

HDMI is a widely supported digital interface used for transmitting high-quality audio and video signals between devices such as TVs, monitors, projectors, and gaming consoles to ensure superior picture and sound quality. HDMI is convenient and widely used. It offers a single-cable solution that eliminates the need for separate audio and video cables.

But wait – what's a "digital interface”?

A digital interface is the medium through which humans interact with computers. Interfaces represent the action or process of uniting or merging two or more things of visual, auditory, and functional components that people see, hear, touch, or talk to as they interact with computers (digital devices).

How do I use HDMI?

First check compatibility by making sure your device and display have HDMI ports. Then, plug an HDMI cable into the HDMI ports of the device and display you wish to connect. Select your Input Source. On your display device, navigate to the input/source selection menu using the device’s controls. Select the HDMI Input Option to switch to the HDMI connection.

Why would I use HDMI?

  • Home Entertainment: If you want to watch something on your TV from an external device, you will need to plug it in with an HDMI cable. E.g., gaming consoles, and streaming devices.

  • Computer Monitors: Most monitors come equipped with HDMI ports for easy connectivity with other computers, laptops, media players, and more.

  • Projectors: Plug in your laptop to deliver high-definition video and audio content in presentations, classrooms, or home theater setups.


What are the benefits of HDMI?

  • Widely adopted: HDMI is the standard interface for most consumer electronics, ensuring compatibility across a wide range of devices.

  • Audio and video in one cable: HDMI supports high-definition video and audio through a single cable. This makes setup easy and reduces clutter caused by the need for separate cables. To make sure you take full advantage of the necessary specifications, make sure your cable is capable of the correct bandwidth.

  • Consumer-Friendly Features: HDMI supports features like Audio Return Channel (ARC) which sends audio from a TV to a receiver, and Consumer Electronics Control (CEC) for device control over a single remote.


DisplayPort

DisplayPort looks like HDMI but is more commonly found on PCs.

What is DisplayPort?

This digital display interface is usually used to connect a video source, such as a computer or graphics card, to a display device, such as a monitor or television. Like HDMI, it provides high-definition video and audio, but it is slightly different than HDMI in that it offers higher bandwidth compared to HDMI and enables you to daisy-chain multiple monitors together.

But wait, what’s bandwidth and daisy-chaining?

Bandwidth enables the transmission of high-resolution video and audio signals. Daisy-chaining is when you connect multiple monitors/devices together using a single cable and port.

How do I use DisplayPort?

Check compatibility by making sure that both your device and and display have DisplayPort ports. Then plug a DisplayPort cable with the appropriate bandwidth needed into both the device and display, e.g., a computer into a monitor. Then, select your Input Source. On your display device, navigate to the input/source selection menu using the device’s controls. Select the Display Port Input Option to switch to the DisplayPort connection.

Why would I use DisplayPort?

  • Computer Monitors: Widely used in computer displays, especially in professional settings where high resolutions and refresh rates are required.

  • Gaming Monitors: DisplayPort offers features like variable refresh rates (VRR) and support for high refresh rates, making it popular amongst gamers. The option to daisy-chain multiple monitors with high resolutions is also great for smooth and responsive gameplay.

  • Multi-Monitor Setups: DisplayPort supports daisy-chaining, allowing multiple monitors to be connected to a single source.


What are the benefits of DisplayPort?

  • High Performance: DisplayPort offers higher bandwidth than HDMI, allowing for higher resolutions, refresh rates, and color depths. If you want to take full advantage of those specifications, you'll also need a cable that is suitable for the required bandwidth.

  • Adaptive Sync: DisplayPort supports Adaptive Sync technologies like AMD FreeSync and NVIDIA G-SYNC, reducing screen tearing and stuttering during gaming or video playback.

  • Daisy-Chaining: DisplayPort allows multiple monitors to be connected in a daisy-chain configuration, simplifying cable management in multi-monitor setups.

  • DisplayPort output. You can also drive multiple monitors from one DisplayPort connection, rather than having to use multiple ports. Laptops can send DisplayPort signals through a USB-C port providing even more flexibility.


What are the different versions of DisplayPort?

 

How to Choose the Right One for You?

When selecting between HDMI and DisplayPort, consider the following factors:

  • Device Compatibility: Ensure that your devices support the chosen interface. DisplayPort is not as ubiquitous as HDMI, so it is not as commonly available.

  • Resolution and Refresh Rate: If you require higher resolutions or refresh rates, DisplayPort may be the preferred choice.

  • Specific Features: Consider whether features like daisy-chaining or Adaptive Sync are important for your setup.

  • Future-Proofing: Assess what you may need in future setups and choose the interface that best accommodates potential upgrades or advancements in technology.

FAQs

Yes, adapters are available to convert between HDMI and DisplayPort, but they may not support all features of the original interface.

HDMI 2.1 and DisplayPort 1.4 offer sufficient bandwidth for 4K and 8K video at high refresh rates. Choose the version that matches your display and device capabilities.

DisplayPort is often preferred by gamers due to its support for features like Adaptive Sync and higher refresh rates, but HDMI can also provide a satisfactory gaming experience.

HDMI supports Audio Return Channel (ARC), allowing audio to be sent from a TV to an external audio device like a soundbar or AV receiver.

When choosing DisplayPort, make sure your chosen cable is listed in the DisplayPort database.


Looking to connect? The Ultimate Guide to HDMI vs DisplayPort. Use cases, benefits, and how to know what’s right for you.


What to consider when looking for the right HDMI or DisplayPort cable:

1. Certification: Products should go through USB-IF certification and HDMI certification, where applicable.

2. Chipset and partnerships: Chipsets and partnerships used should be popular in the marketplace to ensure widespread compatibility.

3. Meeting major device manufacturers' standards: I.e., WWCB and Apple's Accessory Guidelines.


Depending on your needs, HDMI and DisplayPort each offer different advantages. Hopefully, this guide has given you the confidence to choose the right interface to maximize your viewing experience.

FAQs

HDMI is a digital interface for transmitting high-definition audio and video signals between devices. It provides a single cable solution for connecting devices such as TVs, monitors, gaming consoles, DVD/Blu-ray players, and computers.

HDMI versions include HDMI 1.0 through HDMI 2.1, with each version offering improvements in bandwidth, audio/video support, and features like 3D and 4K resolution.

HDMI cables come in several types, including Standard HDMI, High-Speed HDMI, Premium High-Speed HDMI, and Ultra High-Speed HDMI. These cables differ in their capabilities and bandwidth, with higher-speed cables supporting features like 4K resolution, HDR (High Dynamic Range), and higher refresh rates.

Yes, for optimal performance with 4K resolution and HDR content, you should use High-Speed HDMI cables or newer (Premium High-Speed or Ultra High-Speed HDMI) to ensure sufficient bandwidth and compatibility with these features.

Yes, HDMI cables can transmit both audio and video signals, making them a convenient solution for connecting devices without the need for separate audio cables.

HDMI ARC (Audio Return Channel) allows the transmission of audio signals from a TV to an external audio device (e.g., soundbar or AV receiver) over the HDMI cable. HDMI eARC (Enhanced Audio Return Channel) is an updated version that supports higher-quality audio formats and bidirectional communication for advanced audio setups.

Yes, HDMI cables with sufficient bandwidth (High-Speed HDMI or newer) can transmit 3D content between compatible devices.

Yes, HDMI is commonly used to connect computers to displays, providing high-quality audio and video transmission with a single cable connection.

Yes, HDMI cables and ports are generally backward compatible, meaning newer devices with HDMI 2.0 or 2.1 ports can typically work with older HDMI cables and devices. However, you may not get access to all the features of newer HDMI versions when using older cables or devices.

The maximum length of an HDMI cable depends on the version and quality of the cable. For standard HDMI cables, the maximum recommended length for reliable signal transmission is typically around 50 feet (15 meters). However, for longer distances, you may need to use signal boosters or active HDMI cables.

DisplayPort is a digital display interface primarily used to connect a video source (such as a computer or graphics card) to a display device (such as a monitor or TV). It supports high-definition audio and video transmission.

DisplayPort versions include DisplayPort 1.0 through DisplayPort 2.0, with each version offering improvements in bandwidth, resolution support, and features like HDR (High Dynamic Range) and higher refresh rates.

Yes, DisplayPort is typically backward compatible, meaning newer versions of DisplayPort can work with older cables and devices. However, you may not be able to access all features of newer versions when using older cables or devices.

Yes, DisplayPort cables can transmit both audio and video signals, making them a versatile solution for connecting devices without the need for separate audio cables.

DisplayPort connectors come in various sizes, including standard DisplayPort, Mini DisplayPort, and USB Type-C with DisplayPort Alternate Mode. These connectors are used based on the specific devices being connected.

DisplayPort MST allows a single DisplayPort connection to support multiple displays, known as daisy-chaining. This feature enables users to connect multiple monitors to a single DisplayPort output on a computer or graphics card.

DisplayPort Adaptive Sync, also known as FreeSync, is a technology that synchronizes the refresh rate of a compatible display with the frame rate of the content being displayed. This helps to reduce screen tearing and stuttering during gaming and other high-motion content.

Yes, DisplayPort cables with sufficient bandwidth (such as DisplayPort 1.4 or newer) can transmit 4K resolution, HDR content, and high refresh rates to compatible displays.

The maximum cable length for DisplayPort depends on the version and quality of the cable. Generally, DisplayPort cables can reliably transmit signals up to 15 meters (about 50 feet) without the need for signal boosters or active cables.

Yes, DisplayPort is commonly used to connect computers, laptops, and other devices to displays, providing high-quality audio and video transmission with a single cable connection.

Explore HDMI and DisplayPort products

USB-C™ to HDMI Cable
USB-C 6-in-1 Core GaN Dock 130W
SUMMER TRAVEL SALE
Universal USB-C 11-in-1 Pro Dock
USB-C to DisplayPort 1.4 Cable
Universal USB-C® Triple Display Dock
SUMMER TRAVEL SALE

*This device contains a 130W GaN chip that provides a total power output of 118.5W (96W to host, 7.5W to each USB-A port, & 7.5W to USB-C port.

**For the best user experience, it’s recommended to download Silicon Motion driver depending on your laptop type. Please consult your laptop’s user manual for compatibility information. Learn more.

***USB-C port supports pass-through charging up to 100W, minus 15W for the dock’s operation. Performance depends on laptop requirements.

Chromebook supports up to 2 extended monitors.