With the recent surge of high-resolution and high-refresh-rate monitors hitting the market, choosing the right cable to use to connect your computer (or, graphics card) to your monitor has never been more important of a task.
Four to five years ago, when higher resolution gaming was rare and higher refresh rate monitors weren't as prevalent, any of the three common display interfaces (DVI, HDMI, & DisplayPort) would be a viable option to use to hook up your monitor to your computer.
Nowadays, though, choosing the wrong display interface can actually limit the quality of the picture your display will be able to output in certain scenarios. So, in this guide, we're going to go over the main differences between DisplayPort, HDMI, and DVI and how those differences can affect your gaming experience.
Quick Overviews of Each Display Interface
Before we dive into the different scenarios where the three common digital display interfaces will (or won't) make sense to use, let's first give a brief overview of each.
The DisplayPort interface is the result of a bunch of manufacturers in the PC hardware and peripheral industry getting together to create a display interface that would replace the DVI and VGA interfaces and help them avoid the royalty fees associated with using HDMI ports. The DisplayPort interface's primary function is to, obviously, connect a video source to a display device. However, DisplayPort can also transfer audio data, USB data, and other forms of data as well. DisplayPort can support displays up to 8K resolution and 4K monitors with refresh rates as high as 240Hz. DisplayPort comes in both standard DisplayPort format and mini-DisplayPort format.
*NOTE: It should be noted that DisplayPort 1.4—the latest version of DisplayPort—can support displays up to 8K resolution and 4K monitors with refresh rates as high as 240Hz. However, while Displayport 1.4 was released a couple of years ago, compatible monitors are just now finding their way onto shelves.
HDMI, which stands for High-Definition Multimedia Interface, is an interface that is capable of transferring both video and audio data from a video/audio source to a display or audio output device. While, in the past, HDMI lagged behind DisplayPort in the maximum resolution it supported (and the maximum refresh rate it could deliver at higher resolutions), with the release of HDMI 2.1, HDMI currently now support displays with as high as 10K resolution, and it can also support 4K displays that have a refresh rate up to 240Hz. HDMI comes in three different formats: Type A (standard), Type B (mini-HDMI), and Type C (micro-HDMI).
*NOTE: While HDMI 2.1 can support displays with as high as resolutions as 10K and 4K displays with 240Hz refresh rates, the new HDMI 2.1 specifications have only just been released and so there still isn't any hardware currently available that runs HDMI 2.1 natively.
DVI, which stands for Digital Visual Interface, is another common display interface. Unlike HDMI and DisplayPort, DVI only transfers video data. And, while it is worth mentioning as one of the more common display interfaces, the reality is is that in comparison to what HDMI and DisplayPort offer, there really isn't anything that DVI brings to the table that the other two don't. As a result, DVI is likely in its latter stages as a commonly used display interface. DVI does have two different formats, single-link, and dual-link, and of the two, dual-link has a bit more flexibility in what it can support (we'll discuss that in a moment).
DisplayPort vs HDMI vs DVI For 1080P Gaming
In terms of standard 1080P 60Hz monitors, all three of the common display interfaces are viable options. While DVI doesn't have as extensive support for ultra-high definition resolutions as DisplayPort and HDMI do, it can handle 1080P gaming just fine.
And, even if you want to game on a 1080P 144Hz monitor, all three of these interfaces will work. It's important to note, though, that a single-link DVI cable will not support a 144Hz refresh rate at 1080P resolution. You'll need a dual-link DVI cable in order to use the DVI interface to push a 1080P 144Hz display.
So, the reality here is that for basic 1080P gaming, any of these interfaces will work. And, so, if you already have a 1080P monitor and a DVI/HDMI/DisplayPort cable, keep using that as long as your graphics card has a DVI/HDMI/DisplayPort port on it.
DisplayPort vs HDMI vs DVI for 1440P and 4K Gaming
For higher resolution gaming, namely 1440P and 4K (really, there aren't a lot of people gaming at higher than 4K) any of DisplayPort, HDMI, or DVI (dual-link) will work. However, when you bring refresh rates into the fold, your options will narrow a bit.
And, really, it's at these higher resolutions and higher refresh rates where the different versions of HDMI and DisplayPort need to be considered. So, let's just run down the different scenarios and which interfaces will work with them.
1440P Display Interface Options
- At 1440P and a 60Hz refresh rate, DisplayPort, HDMI, and dual-link DVI will work.
- At 1440P and a 144Hz+ refresh rate, DisplayPort 1.2 (and later) and HDMI 2.0 (and later) will work. DVI will not work.
HDMI 1.3 and 1.4 (which most GPUs have) can support 1080p at 144Hz, but is limited when you move to higher resolution (4K limited to 24Hz, for example).