DisplayPort and HDMI Difference and Which to Use?

Still figuring out the differences between DisplayPort and HDMI?

In this corner, with 19 pins and 3 sizes, we have the ever-ubiquitous HDMI! Dominating the consumer market, beating the composite, component and s-video for the title of the most versatile and accepted connection!

And on the other corner defeating the VGA and at 20 pins and 2 sizes, the PC users champion for video card providing that smooth refresh rate of up to 240hz, the DisplayPort! There have been many different standards of connecting a display to a video source but we are now down to the top two. Which is better? Which will win your dollars? Let get into it!

Types, Limits, and Improvements

As you can tell each standard comes from a different lineage. The HDMI is more from a TV, console gaming, and home theater background and the DisplayPort from the PC. These also make things a bit messier when it comes to trying to suit the connection to every consumer product.

The regular size is referred to as type A. Then things are not all the same size, like your tablets or laptop that is limited in real estate, they may use the HDMI standard but miniaturized so why not call it a mini HDMI (HDMI type C) and in even smaller for your smartphones, there is a micro HDMI (type D).

The DisplayPort has two different sizes, the standard, and the mini.

The versions of HDMI and DisplayPort have also improved over each refinement to meet the demands of higher resolution and refresh rates from programs and games.

Below is a simplified chart of each of the versions.

Maximum Resolution Maximum Hz

HDMI

hdmi cable

  • 1.0 1920×1200 (Full HD) 60
  • 1.1 1920×1200 (Full HD) 60
  • 1.2 1920×1200 (Full HD) 60
  • 1.3 2560×1440 (2K) 60
  • 1.4 3840×2160 (4k) 30
  • 2.0 3840×2160 (4k) 60
  • 2.1 3840×2160 (4k) 120
  • 7680×4320 (8k) 60

DISPLAYPORT

display port and display port mini

  • 1.1 3840×2160 (4k) 30
  • 2560×1600 (2k+) 60
  • 1.2 3840×2160 (4k) 60
  • 1.3 7680×4320 (8k) 30
  • 5120×2880 (5k) 60
  • 1.4 7680×4320 (8k) 60
  • 3840×2160 (4k) 120

As you can see, some of the standards allow for a lower resolution in order to increase the refresh rate. This is because each version of the standards allows for a maximum throughput of data, so the higher the resolution, the refresh rate must be lowered or vise versa.

Why Do I Need to Know This?

You bought yourself a brand new 4k TV and you’re super excited to get it hooked up to your PS4 with the 4k game. Then you see that the picture isn’t as clear or crisp. It looks no better than your old HD TV! Why?

You just bought your self a gaming monitor for your PC and can’t wait to get that smooth 144hz refresh rate from your gaming rig. You go to set up the game but then you notice that it’s only playing at 60hz! What’s going on?

Well, the most common reason is that you might be using the wrong cable. Like the HDMI and DisplayPort standards, there are compatible cables that must meet the requirements so much data that is going to the TV or monitor. So when you set up your devices, remember to buy certified cables that are capable of delivering the full bandwidth of the source to your display.

What’s the Difference Between HDMI and DisplayPort?

They both do the same function to deliver information from the source whether it be a Bluray player, console game, or PC to a display, but they evolved from two distinct markets as stated above, because of this most consumer products like TV and receivers for home theaters do not have a DisplayPort in, but on the computer side, they have taken advantage of both standards. The biggest difference between the two besides the shape of the connection is HDMI allows for audio signals to travel both ways, while the DisplayPort is only from source to monitor if a monitor has built-in speakers.

So What’s the Big Deal with That?

Well, it’s a huge deal because HDMI allows you to set up a proper home theater. As good as any TV might be, the built-in speakers of a TV is not what you would call theater-like. Many Streaming services and programs from your local cable or satellite company are aired with 5.1 or now in slowly 7.1 signals for the audio sometimes known as surround sound.

These numbers mean 5 or 7 separate audio channels like the front left and right, center, and rear left and right. The “.1) refers to the sub-woofer channel for the deep base. So in order to get all that sound signal to a home theater set up, you need to feed them to a receiver and if the audio can only go from the source to display, then at most you get stereo.

HDMI allows you to route your audio signal to a receiver which then can separate and process the signals to the individual speakers so that you hear what the programs were meant to sound like.

Wait! Then How Come I can get Surround Sound on my Computer Using DisplayPort?

In the case with PC, the DisplayPort is only feeding the video to the monitor, the sound itself is being processed through the onboard audio chip, and on the back of your motherboard, it may offer 5 discreet outputs for each speaker or in higher-end boards an optical out which can be connected to speakers specifically for surround sound.

Who is the Winner?

There really are no real winners as you can see each has their strengths and weakness. The HDMI is more universal and can offer audio going both ways, but is a bit less capable of delivering the data need to offer higher refresh rates, The DisplayPort offers a bit more bandwidth for data allowing it to run the performance gamers want but only offer one-way audio. So the Short of it is:

HDMI

  • More versatile with consumer products – lower bandwidth (currently)
  • 2-way audio
  • Best for home theaters connection
  • Best for living room TVs
  • Can stream upto 4K × 2K , i.e. 3840 × 2160p (Quad HD) 24 Hz/25 Hz/30 Hz or 4096 × 2160p at 24 Hz

DisplayPort

  • Currently, the best for high refresh rate monitors – only one way audio
  • Best for computers
  • Best for gamers and 3D artist
  • Can stream upto Ultra HD (4k x 2k) at 60Hz

Disclaimer

This is a very simplified version of the Difference between HDMI and DisplayPort. There are other tech specs that have not been included for simplicity sakes, as in the actual bandwidth data in terms of Gb/s or the requirements for HDR which is becoming more and more popular.

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