DisplayPort vs. HDMI: Choosing the Right Connection for Your Monitor

DisplayPort vs. HDMI: Choosing the Right Connection for Your Monitor

When connecting your computer to your monitor, you have three main choices: DisplayPort (DP), HDMI, and USB-C. All three digital interfaces transmit video and audio signals, but they have key differences that can affect your viewing experience. DP and HDMI have been the standard options for quite some time, while USB-C is a newer and increasingly popular choice for laptops and some monitors. In this blog post, we'll focus on the key differences between DP and HDMI to help you decide which connection is right for your needs.

Bandwidth and Resolution

The most significant difference between DP and HDMI lies in their bandwidth capabilities. Bandwidth refers to the amount of data a cable can transmit per second, which impacts the resolution and refresh rate your monitor can display.

  • DisplayPort: DisplayPort offers higher bandwidth compared to HDMI, especially in older versions. For instance, DisplayPort 1.4 has a maximum bandwidth of 32.4 Gbps, allowing for resolutions like 4K at 144Hz or 8K at 60Hz without compression. The latest DisplayPort 2.1 raises the bar even further, supporting resolutions up to 10K at 60Hz or even 16K with compression.

  • HDMI: HDMI 2.0, a commonly found version, offers a maximum bandwidth of 18 Gbps, which can support 4K resolution at 60Hz or 1080p at 240Hz. However, the newer HDMI 2.1 standard significantly improves bandwidth to 48 Gbps, matching DisplayPort 1.4 in raw capability. HDMI 2.1 can achieve 4K at 144Hz and even 8K at 60Hz with compression.
Monitor connection ports with DP and HDMI

Understanding Compression

Compression is a technique used to reduce the amount of data required to transmit a signal. In the context of video, compression algorithms discard some visual information deemed less critical to the overall image quality. This allows for higher resolutions and refresh rates to be delivered through cables with limited bandwidth.


Impact of Compression on Resolution and Refresh Rates

Both DP and HDMI can use compression to achieve higher resolutions or refresh rates than their raw bandwidth would otherwise allow. However, DisplayPort often prioritizes uncompressed transmission for superior image quality.

For instance, DP 1.4 can deliver 8K resolution at 60Hz without compression, whereas HDMI 2.1 achieves the same resolution with compression. The compressed 8K signal on HDMI may exhibit minor visual artifacts compared to the uncompressed version on DP.

Here's a table summarizing the bandwidth and resolution capabilities of common DP and HDMI versions:


DisplayPort 1.4

DisplayPort 2.1

HDMI 2.0

HDMI 2.1

Maximum Bandwidth (Gbps)





Maximum Resolution

8K @ 60Hz

10K @ 60Hz

4K @ 60Hz

8K @ 60Hz (compressed)

Refresh Rate

Refresh rate refers to the number of times per second your monitor updates the image on the screen. A higher refresh rate translates to smoother visuals, especially noticeable in fast-paced games. Both DP and HDMI can support high refresh rates, but as discussed earlier, DP often offers an edge in achieving them at higher resolutions.


Additional Features

  • Audio: Both DP and HDMI can carry audio signals, eliminating the need for a separate audio cable.
  • Multi-Monitor Support: DisplayPort 1.2 and later versions offer a feature called Multi-Stream Transport (MST), allowing you to daisy-chain multiple monitors from a single DP output. HDMI doesn't offer this functionality.


Choosing the Right Connection

Here's a quick guide to help you pick the best connection for your monitor:

  • For Everyday Use (1080p or Lower Resolution): Both DP and HDMI will work well.
  • For High-Resolution Gaming (4K or Higher): If you prioritize high refresh rates alongside high resolution, DisplayPort 1.4 or later is ideal. However, HDMI 2.1 is also a strong option, especially with its wider compatibility.

Ultimately, the best connection for your monitor depends on your specific needs and priorities. If you're a casual user, either DP or HDMI will suffice. However, for high-resolution gaming and content creation, DisplayPort offers additional advantages, particularly with the latest DisplayPort 2.1 standard. Consider the factors discussed above to make an informed decision and get the most out of your monitor's capabilities! 

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