DisplayPort Connectivity Primer: What You Need To Know

October 20, 2013 at 8:45 AM

 

You may wonder why there’s a need for DisplayPort when HDMI® is as ubiquitous as it is, and with all of its capabilities above traditional analog video.

 

Well, DisplayPort is similar to HDMI® in a lot of ways: smaller connectors, digital video, audio/video on one cable, high definition video, 3D capabilities, etc. For most consumers, especially in the home theater market, if they plug it in and get a display on the screen then it works! And little else matters. As you'll see, however, not all audio/video applications are the same.

 

DisplayPort wasn't necessarily developed to improve on HDMI®, so when we compare HDMI® to DisplayPort, we're not saying it should be either/or. Instead, we're saying before you assume all the personnel in your business need HDMI®-only video cards and laptops, consider taking a look at DisplayPort's capabilities.

 Close Up View of DisplayPort Connector

HDMI® vs. DisplayPort

 

 

HDMI® is in many ways the successor to DVI, which was in many ways the bridge between analog video like VGA and digital video. Improving on DVI, HDMI® includes audio with the video in one cable, does away with the screw locks, and can provide up to 1080p HD video which is necessary for most of the latest TVs used in home theater applications. That's really what HDMI® was developed for and it does a great job.

 

DisplayPort was developed by VESA (Video Electronics Standards Association) as a standard for higher resolution computer display devices. It has most of the features of HDMI® plus some capabilities that are important for the high-graphic demands of some business applications.


Among the top benefits of DisplayPort are:

 

1. Unlike HDMI®, which does not support a very good refresh rate at the higher resolutions, DisplayPort maxes out at 3840 x 2160 pixels with a refresh rate of 60Hz, allowing it to handle very demanding video and 3D applications.


2. The DisplayPort standard can support multiple monitors (up to 4) with a single card, each receiving independent audio/video streams. This is important for individuals working on high resolution graphics, but needing more than one screen to handle the different tool bars or multiple applications running at the same time. In some cases, monitors may be "daisy chained" together, simplifying the setup.


3. DisplayPort has some other minor benefits such as longer cable lengths and a latching feature that makes them more secure in vibration applications than HDMI®'s friction fit connectors.Engineering Drawing of a DisplayPort Connector Calling Out Latches

4. Though DisplayPort is nowhere near as common as HDMI® for peripherals, that is changing. For instance, Thunderbolt, the standard developed by Intel based on the DisplayPort standard, is present on nearly all of Apple's MacBooks and other laptops and computers. Manufacturers of peripherals to be used on MacBooks and elsewhere are designing in either Thunderbolt or Mini DisplayPort to comply.

 

HDMI® isn't going away. Nor should it! It works great for the vast majority of applications. However, there are several applications that will benefit from DisplayPort. In time the technology for DisplayPort will probably be as relevant for those applications as HDMI® is for home theater.

 

 

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