Types of Monitor Connections for PC
Updated: August 16,2022
Trying to determine the best way to connect your monitor to your PC can be confusing. There are several types of monitor connections for PC, each with its own strengths and weaknesses.
Today, we will take a look at several types of monitor connections and discuss which ones are best for specific situations. We will also provide tips on choosing the right monitor connection to suit your needs. So if you're looking to buy a new PC or want to learn more about monitor connections, you are right where you need to be.
Computer Monitor Connection Types
There are various types of monitor connections that you can use to connect your monitor to your PC. The most common type of connection is HDMI, the standard for most new monitors and PCs. Other types of connections include DVI, DisplayPort, and VGA.
Video Graphics Array is a computer display port type that was popular in the 1990s and early 2000s. Today, it has largely been replaced by digital display standards like HDMI and DVI.
If you have an outdated computer or monitor that still uses a VGA connection, you’re not alone. Many of us have at least one device with a VGA port gathering dust in a closet somewhere. And while the technology may be obsolete, it can still be used. All that’s required is an adapter to connect it to a newer PC.
As a VGA connection can only support resolutions up to 1080p, you will need to use a different connection type if you have a higher resolution monitor.
The Digital Visual Interface is a video interface standard designed to provide high-quality digital display connectivity. There are five DVI video port types:
- DVI-D single link
- DVI-D dual link
- DVI-I single link
- DVI-I dual link
DVI-A, just like VGA, transmits only an analog signal, whereas the DVD-D can only transmit digital signals. On the other hand, the DVI-I can carry both types of signals.
Single and dual links indicate the maximum resolution possible. The maximum resolution for a single link is 1920x1080 @ 60 Hz, while the maximum resolution for a dual link is 2560x1600 @ 60 Hz.
The DisplayPort is a high-speed digital interface developed by the Video Electronics Standards Association (VESA) to replace older analog standards like VGA and DVI. It can be found on everything from high-end gaming monitors to budget displays and offers several advantages over its predecessors.
Specifically, the DisplayPort is capable of significantly higher resolutions and refresh rates than older types of display connectors. Because it's digital, there's no degradation in image quality, which can sometimes occur with analog standards. It’s also capable of transferring power, allowing you to daisy-chain multiple monitors and thus saving you a power outlet slot.
There are seven types of DisplayPort cables:
- DisplayPort 1.0 (2006)
- DisplayPort 1.1 (2007)
- DisplayPort 1.2 (2009)
- DisplayPort 1.3 (2014)
- DisplayPort 1.4 (2016)
- DisplayPort 1.4a (2018)
- DisplayPort 2.0 (2019)
Each subsequent type expanded the bandwidth limits, allowing higher resolutions and faster refresh rates. The DisplayPort supports 4K resolution as of version 1.2 and has supported HDR since version 1.4. From 2.0 onwards, it supports uncompressed 8K resolution as well.
Being quite versatile, the DisplayPort can be used to connect a PC to a monitor or to daisy-chain multiple monitors together. You can even use it to connect your PC to a TV or projector.
The High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) is another computer monitor connection type used to connect PCs and other devices to HDTVs and monitors. It’s the most common type of connection found on the latest models of TVs and PCs, and it’s also found on some laptops, tablets, and smartphones.
HDMI can carry both digital audio and video signals, and it’s capable of extremely high resolutions. The latest version, HDMI 2.1, supports 8K resolution at 60 Hz and 4K resolution at 120 Hz.
Like all preceding cable types, it has several iterations, seven to be exact, and each pushes the boundaries of the bandwidth limit. Still, when comparing the DisplayPort vs. HDMI, the former delivers more bandwidth and a higher frequency range without compression, making it better for gaming.
Why Is Bandwidth Important for Monitors?
Computer monitors have come a long way. They’re now capable of resolutions and refresh rates that would have been unthinkable just a few years ago. That has been made possible by the ever-increasing bandwidth limits of types of video cables like DisplayPort and HDMI.
Bandwidth is the number of bits that can be transferred over a digital connection in a specific amount of time. Essentially, it's the maximum speed that data can travel from your computer to your monitor.
Vital for any digital connection, bandwidth is particularly significant when discussing display screens. The higher the bandwidth, the higher the maximum possible resolution and refresh rate.
Having more bandwidth than your monitor requires will not magically allow you to have a higher resolution or more frames per second than your hardware can handle. However, choosing the wrong cable can negatively impact your experience and handicap the system.
The required bandwidth will also increase as resolutions and refresh rates continue to increase. This is why you should ensure that your monitor and graphics card are compatible with the latest standards. Otherwise, you may be unable to take full advantage of your monitor's features.
Why Does Cable Type Matter?
The type of monitor cable will matter depending on what you’ll be using your monitor for. If you’re a casual user who primarily browses the web and checks email, any of the cables on this list will work just fine.
However, if you’re a power user who’s into video editing or gaming, you’ll want to pay closer attention to the capabilities of each type of cable.
For example, if you want to use a 4K monitor with a high refresh rate, you’ll need a DisplayPort 1.4 or an HDMI 2.0 cable. You'll also need a DisplayPort cable if you want to connect monitors to each other. And if you want to connect your PC to a TV, you’ll need an HDMI cable.
The display cable types you need will also depend on the devices you will be connecting. For example, if you have an older laptop with a VGA port, you’ll need a VGA cable to connect it to.
Which Connection Type Is Best?
There are a few factors to consider when deciding which type of connection is best for you.
- Compatibility. Nowadays, most monitors and graphics cards will have different monitor connection types, so you’ll usually have a few options to choose from.
- Bandwidth. As discussed earlier, bandwidth is the maximum speed data can travel from your computer to your monitor. A higher bandwidth means higher resolution and/or refresh rate.
- Latency. This is the time it takes for the signal to travel from your computer to your monitor. A shorter latency is better for gaming, while a longer latency is acceptable for general use.
As long as your PC isn't miles away from your monitor, the length of the connection has a limited effect on latency. However, you should avoid overly long cables since they may cause issues.
- Price. As you might expect, more expensive cables tend to offer higher bandwidth and lower latency.
To summarize, the best type of connection depends on what you want to use your monitor for and how much you’re willing to spend.
The most important thing is to ensure that your cable is compatible with your monitor connector type and graphics card. Otherwise, you won’t be able to take full advantage of your hardware.
There are various types of monitor cables, and the type you need will depend on the devices you’re trying to connect and what you want to use your monitor for. In general, the DisplayPort is the best all-around option, the HDMI is best for connecting to TVs, whereas the DVI is best for older devices.
If you are planning a gaming setup, cable management may prove a challenge, especially if you plan to add PC gaming speakers. For that reason, you may want to find the best gaming desk that can accommodate a grommet to make your cable management easier.
All in all, for optimum results, the most important thing is to ensure that your cable is compatible with your monitor and graphics card.
Frequently Asked Questions
Your best pick is either the HDMI or the DisplayPort, with the latter being slightly better if you plan to use it for gaming.
No, that isn’t possible without an adapter. Even with an adapter, you won’t get the full benefit of a DisplayPort because the HDMI will limit the quality.
There are four types of monitor connections for PC: HDMI, DVI, DisplayPort (DP), and VGA.
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While Damjan started his career in humanities, his interests quickly moved on to the tech and IT world. VPNs, antiviruses, firewalls, password managers - cybersecurity is what he knows best. When Damjan’s not losing hair over the dwindling of our collective sense of tech safety, you’ll find him looking for solace in 100-hour-long RPGs and rage-inducing MOBAs.