HDMI, DisplayPort, DVI, VGA – What is the difference?

1. HDMI

HDMI Interface

High Definition Multimedia Interface

High definition multimedia interfaces are the standard for any gadget that plugs into your TV. HDMI cables play both audio and video through your TV, though you might have to do a little fiddling with your audio settings if you’re running a media center PC to your TV.

As with most gadgets, even HDMI cables have generational differences. HDMI 2.0, released in 2013, boasts support for 4k video formats and stronger signal strength. This basically means that you’ll be seeing more frames on the biggest TV you can get your hands on.

2. DISPLAYPORT

Mini DisplayPort

Mini DisplayPort

DisplayPort is slowly taking over the market by the power of simplicity. There’s only one DisplayPort plug. Oh, and it runs your gadgets through your TV at 60 frames a second.

It handles audio, too. The only real limitation of the DisplayPort tech is that its ability to ferry information to and from a TV dips as the cable lengthens.

For most everyone’s purposes, though, it’s a single dongle that will connect all of your gadgets straight into your TV at the highest possible quality. If your computer doesn’t have a slot for DisplayPort connections, you can find adapters online for relatively cheap (at the cost of some quality).

The other limitation of DisplayPort is market penetration. It’s a relatively new format, and it will take most tech manufacturers a hot minute to warm up to it. Like I said, though, adapters are cheap and easy to find.

3. DVI

DVI Female to DVI Male Port

DVI Port

You’ve most likely linked your home PC’s monitor to a digital video interface port at some point. The signal is basically the same as an HDMI port, but DVI cables generally don’t support audio. Most modern TVs will probably have a DVI port, but DVI cables aren’t going to plug all of your gadgets into your TV.

DVI cables come in single and dual links. Single links can support resolutions up to 1900 x 1200. Dual links can support higher resolutions and multiple screens at the same time.

The biggest reason that DVI ports didn’t exactly catch on was the lack of a standard feature-set. Different DVI cables can do different things, and that’s confusing for most people.

4. VGA

VGA Male to VGA Male

VGA Port

VGA or Video Graphics Array is the oldest of the video connectors. It’s been around since 1987, if you can believe it, but it just won’t go away. It’s on many TVs, monitors and computers.

Unlike the other video connectors, VGA is analog. That means not only does it not support high definition, it doesn’t have as clear of a picture.

If VGA is your only option, then go ahead and use it. Otherwise, you’ll want something a bit better.

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