HDMI and Display Port are the two main video connection ports found on today’s PCs.
HDMI is the universally-accepted audio/video interface that’s found on everything from gaming consoles to tablet computers.
DisplayPort, on the other hand, is a relative newcomer to the scene. First developed in 2008, DisplayPort is the less popular younger brother to HDMI (not literally).
DisplayPort, like HDMI, is capable of handling HD video and audio. Although DisplayPort was ignored by PC manufacturers for years, it’s started to make a resurgence today.
What’s the difference between DisplayPort and HDMI? Should you care? Here’s what you need to know about the two most popular HD audio/video connection ports available today:
Where does HDMI come from?
HDMI stands for High Definition Multimedia Interface. It was created as part of a unique collaboration between Hitachi, Panasonic, Philips, Sony, Toshiba, and Silicon Image. Today, the HDMI specification standard is wholly owned by HDMI Licensing, LLC, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Silicon Image. Manufacturers pay a royalty fee for using HDMI.
Where does DisplayPort come from?
DisplayPort, like HDMI, was developed by a collaboration of manufacturers. However, this collaboration was called the Video Electronics Standards Association (VESA) and is much larger and varied than the group that created HDMI. VESA was first manufactured in 2008 in an effort to replace the aging VGA analog interface as well as DVI. DisplayPort, unlike HDMI, can be used without paying royalties.
Ultimately, four of the six companies which created HDMI are also members of VESA – so these two standards aren’t exactly bitter rivals.
There are major technical differences between HDMI and DisplayPort. First, there are three different HDMI connectors:
-Type A – Standard (left)
-Type C – Mini (center)
-Type D – Micro
Where did Type B go? I don’t know. But Type A, standard HDMI, is the most common. All HDMI connectors have 19 pins.
DisplayPort connectors, on the other hand, use 20 pins. There are two types of DisplayPort connectors:
There are four different types of HDMI cables and only one type of DisplayPort cable. The four HDMI cable types include Standard HDMI, Standard HDMI with Ethernet, High Speed HDMI, and High Speed HDMI with Internet. Standard HDMI is only capable of transmitting 720p and 1080i resolution video footage (but not 3D or 4K footage, like High Speed HDMI).
High Speed HDMI, however, cannot transmit 4K footage at 24Hz, which makes it a bad choice for gaming setups.
DisplayPort, on the other hand, consists of just one single type of cable: DisplayPort 1.2 is the current standard. DisplayPort 1.2 can easily carry video input with a resolution as high as 3840×2160 with a 60Hz refresh rate. It also supports all major 3D video formats.
DisplayPort can handle multiple monitors while HDMI cannot
HDMI cables are restricted to a single audio stream and a single video stream. That’s okay if you’re using one monitor or one TV, but it’s not ideal if you’re using multiple monitors (you’ll need multiple HDMI cords).
DisplayPort, on the other hand, can connect four monitors at 1920×1200 resolution or two monitors at 2560×1600 resolution. Each display can receive different audio and video inputs. Today’s modern video cards have multiple DisplayPort connectors, which means you can chain six or eight displays to a single PC.
You can connect multiple monitors to your PC with multiple HDMI cables. But you can connect as many as four monitors to your PC with just a single DisplayPort.
So does HDMI have any advantages over DisplayPort?
Given what we know above, why would people use HDMI over DisplayPort?
Well, HDMI was primarily designed for consumer electronics that aren’t computers. Those electronics include televisions, video projectors, and Blu-Ray Players.
DisplayPort, on the other hand, is specifically designed as the “ultimate display interface for computers.”
Ultimately, DisplayPort and HDMI complement one another: they aren’t competitors. In spite of that fact, many PC manufacturers continue to ignore DisplayPort in favor of the more universal HDMI.
After years of neglect, new video cards like the GTX 980 and 970 are starting to support DisplayPort. In fact, those two cards both have three DisplayPort 1.2 connectors. Yes, that means you can connect up to 6 monitors at 2560×1600 resolution or 12 (!!!) monitors at 1920×1200 resolution.
Why would anyone need that amount of resolution? Well from stock-broking to PC gaming, there are plenty of modern activities which can benefit from multiple monitors.
And once you go multi, you’re not going back.