If you purchased a new 4K monitor recently then it is very obvious that the number of ports on the back might puzzle you. HDMI, DisplayPort, and USB-C are all common. But, which is best, and why?
Here we will see each of them, differences between them and which one to buy:
High Definition Multimedia Interface is the full form of HDMI. It is a common display interface today and widely used in televisions, game consoles, and Blu-ray players. It provides a stable digital signal which can be swapped i.e. plugged and unplugged without turning devices off.
HDMI 2.1 is the latest version adopted by manufacturers. It supports data throughput of 48 Gbps and has a drive of 10K display at 60 frames per second in full 10-bit color. HDMI 2.1 is adequate for 4K displays.
Daisy-chaining from the computer to a monitor and then connecting that monitor to another is possible with HDMI 2.1. Monitors that support this are rare and you can only daisy chain two displays at once.
HDMI 2.1 includes limited power delivery and the ability to act as an Ethernet adapter. They are cheap when it comes to cost but remember to upgrade them timely.
HDMI 2.1 is capable of supporting the old HDMI 2.0 standard. This means it is limited to output a 4K signal at 60 fps in 8-bit color. You will have a limit of 44.1 kHz and 16-bit pass-through audio with only two uncompressed audio channels.
For gamers, HDMI 2.0 does not support the FreeSync standard. HDR content limits to static metadata in comparison to 2.1. The old HDMI 2.0 if useful in 4K monitors will save you money but you will not get access to all features of HDMI 2.1.
If you are going to use a 4K monitor with HDMI 2.1 you are less likely to get any issues. But, if your monitor supports HDMI 2.0, DisplayPort can provide a better experience in terms of overall features especially when you want to daisy chain more than two displays.
DisplayPort cables have been a go-to solution for PCs for decades now. The upcoming DisplayPort 2.0 standard can handle the throughput of 80 Gbps. We expect that the new version might release in late 2020.
Till then most people will use DisplayPort 1.4 standard; it is still favorable when we compare it with HDMI 2.0.
DisplayPort 1.4 can handle 8K resolution at 60 frames per second at 10-bit color using display stream compression. Uncompressed performance is similar to HDMI 2.0 at 4K/60/8-bit. You can connect two displays via daisy-chaining at 4K resolution and provide support to your monitor.
There are no limits on pass-through audio like they have in HDMI 2.0. DisplayPort 1.4 can handle 192 kHz and 24-bit sound with 7.1 channels of uncompressed audio. DisplayPort 1.4a supports dynamic metadata for HDR content means Dolby Vision and HDR20+ support for wide brightness. Many times, your monitor’s capabilities can be disadvantages.
HDMI can support Ethernet whereas DisplayPort lacks the same. It is because DisplayPort is useful for computers to monitor connections. On the other hand, HDMI has broad applications like connecting AV receivers, TVs, and other consumer devices.
DisplayPort has some advantages over HDMI 2.0 but they apply only if you are daisy-chaining multiple monitors. Once DisplayPort 2.1 launches then it can support 4K at 60fps if your monitor supports it.
Pro tip: DisplayPort cables are available in many variations so choose the one you need, wisely.
USB type C has lots of variants. It uses USB-C Alt Mode to send signals over USB-C. In short, it is just DisplayPort via USB-C plug. The throughput supports resolutions depending on the DisplayPort standard.
With the help of display stream compression, you can possibly get a 4K signal at 60 fps with 8-bit color through 8K resolutions in 10 bit. USB-C ports are on all laptops. Just make sure that your laptop supports display output over USB-C Alt Mode. You can check this in the technical specifications section of the manufacturer.
USB type C is the perfect choice for laptops. USB-PD means that you don’t have to bring the charger with you to plug in the monitor. Additionally, you also get benefits of DisplayPort 1.4.
We can understand that in this ever-evolving technology-centric world, it can become difficult to decide which type of cables you should use for the optimal results. Hence, make sure to understand the difference between each of them and then make an informed decision.