HDMI vs. DisplayPort: What’s the Difference?

Both HDMI and DisplayPort serve as the two popular choices when it comes to connecting a video source like a laptop, gaming console, or any video source to display. Both standards are known for their high-speed data transmission and advanced video & audio feature support.

These standards use a single cable to transmit the audio and video signal from the male port to the female port present in the display. Even though HDMI has more widespread usage in the consumer segment, DisplayPort still serves as a relevant choice for many users using monitors.

Most modern monitors either use HDMI or Display and sometimes both as the primary connecting port. But you can’t say the same for TVs or projectors, as most of them come with HDMI as the primary source.

Needless to say, both of the display connection standards have their own set of advantages and disadvantages. To understand which one to use, you have to understand the difference between the two. So through this article on HDMI vs. DisplayPort will know about their differences.

Here we will discuss the difference based on various aspects so that it is easy for you to understand;

HDMI vs. DisplayPort: The Difference

HDMI and DisplayPort are known for carrying high-quality video and audio signals, but they have some differences. Here we will look at all the differences between HDMI and DisplayPort and help you choose which one would be helpful. But before we go on, let’s take a look at the comparison chart of the two;

HDMI Vs. DisplayPortHDMIDisplayPort
ConfigurationHDMI is an easy-to-connect port based on a 19 to 29-pin configuration.DisplayPort is a similar hot pluggable port that gets a 20-pin configuration. The internal configuration gets 20/30 pins.
Origin & FounderHDMI was introduced in the year 2002, and it was founded by the HDMI foundation.DisplayPort came in the year 2006 and was founded by VESA.
TypeVideo and audio signal.Video and audio signal.
External and InternalOnly suitable for external connection.Used for both internal and external connections.
Maximum Video ResolutionHDMI can produce a maximum resolution of 10K and a maximum refresh rate of 120Hz.DisplayPort has the capability to provide a maximum resolution of 8K at a maximum refresh rate of 60Hz.
Maximum BandwidthIt has a maximum bandwidth of 48 Gbps with a data rate of 42 Gbps.It has a maximum bandwidth of 77.37 Gbps.
ProtocolIt follows the TMDS and Fixed Rate Link protocol.It follows a packetized data transmission protocol.
BitrateIt offers a bitrate of up to 48 Gbps per lane.It offers different bitrates for four different lanes with a maximum speed of 20 Gbps.
Audio TransmissionDolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, DTS-HD, LPCM, Dolby TrueHD, Dolby ATMOS, DTS-HD Master Audio, and DTS: X.1 to 8 channel audio with 32-192 kHz sampling rate. The maximum audio bitrate is 36,864 kbit/s.
Color FormatY’CBCR 4:4:4, RGB, Y-Only, etc.Y’CBCR 4:4:4, Y’CBCR 4:2:0, RBG, etc.
Color DepthMaximum color depth support of 16 BPC or 48 bit/pixel.The maximum color depth of 16 BPC or 48 bit/pixel.
Height & Width13.9 mm in width and 4.45mm in height.16.10mm in width and 4.76 in height.
LicensingEvery prominent manufacturer has to pay $10,000 and $0.04 per device.It is totally free, and the manufacturer won’t have to pay a royalty fee.

Now, let’s start with the difference in details;

Physical Difference: The Connectors

The most apparent difference between HDMI and DisplayPort is in their connector’s shape and size. A standard HDMI connector comes with a 19-pin configuration and is integrated into a friction latch.

The overall dimension is vertically symmetrical, and you can easily identify the HDMI connector from a distance due to its distinctive look. However, the micro and mini HDMI are smaller than the standard one but get the same 19-pin configuration. It is straightforward to use and found in most modern devices, whether it is a TV, gaming console, laptop, soundbar, projector, monitor, etc.

DisplayPort, on the other hand, comes with a rectangular-shaped connector having a 20-pin configuration. Even though it is rectangular in shape, it has a notched corner at one side to ensure it is correctly oriented during insertion.

However, the significant distinction it has in its connector with HDMI is that DP comes with a small hook in the cable, and you will have to hold it to enter it. Like HDMI, DP also comes in mini form, and it was primarily used in Apple MacBooks, but it is rarely used nowadays. You won’t have any difficulty in connecting the DisplayPort, and it is primarily used in monitors.

The difference in Maximum Length Limit

When it comes to the maximum length limit, HDMI gets the edge over DisplayPort because the latter has some limitations. A standard HDMI cable can go up to 100-inch length for transmitting full HD signals.

But for transmitting 4K resolution signals, the maximum permissible length is 30 inches. Significantly, using active HDMI cables or HDMI integrated into HDBaseT, you can easily exceed the length of 100 inches. The length of the HDMI cable can be extended using specialized techniques so that the signal strength isn’t lost.

But you can’t say the same for DisplayPort, which has a maximum limitation of 10 inches for the standard resolution that it is designed for. It doesn’t mean that it isn’t possible to extend the length, as DisplayPort comes with a longer length. But with an increase in length, the maximum resolution and refresh rate decreases.

The difference in Bandwidth Availability

Differences are not only restricted to connectors and maximum length but there are differences in bandwidth too. The bandwidth difference has propagated throughout the versions that have come out over the years for both HDMI and DisplayPort.

With each new version, the bandwidth has improved for both the video connecting standards, and accordingly, the difference has also increased. The latest HDMI 2.1 and 2.1a versions can offer a maximum support of 48 Gbps bandwidth with a maximum data rate of 42 Gbps.

Whereas the latest DisplayPort 2.0 and 2.1 versions can offer a maximum support of 80 Gbps with a max total data rate of 77.37 Gbps. The popular HDMI 2.0 could handle up to a max bandwidth of 18 Gbps, but the highly demanded DisplayPort 1.4 has the capacity to support up to 32.4 Gbps bandwidth.

The difference in Maximum Resolution and Refresh Rate Support

The difference in maximum bandwidth between DisplayPort and HDMI in each version has also resulted in a disparity in maximum resolution and bandwidth. As there were limitations in maximum bandwidth for both HDMI and DP, the resolution and refresh rate support also changed accordingly. At the start of 2020, the widely used HDMI 2.0 could offer only a maximum resolution of 4K at 60 Hz.

But DP 1.4, on the other hand, could handle up to 4K at 120Hz and also offer support for 8K at 60Hz. DP was also more powerful in previous versions than HDMI, as HDMI 1.4 had maximum resolution support of 4K at 30Hz.

However, DP 1.3 could handle up to 8K at 30Hz and 120Hz refresh rate at 4K resolution. But things changed as newer HDMI 2.1 and DP 2.0 came into the consumer industry as both of them can support the 8K high resolution at 120Hz refresh rate.

The difference in Vital Features

In the HDMI v/s DisplayPort debate, another thing to mention is the different features of both video connection standards. Even though both standards have similar visual capabilities with the latest standards, HDMI gets the edge in audio.

HDMI comes integrated with ARC and eARC technology that ensures not only top audio output but also two-way processing of audio. It also allows daisy chaining of devices and reduces the need for extra cables.

On the other hand, DisplayPort also comes with colossal channel support but doesn’t get the two-way process of audio data. But both of them are capable of supporting many audio technologies like Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, Dolby HD, etc., although the total count is more in favor of HDMI.

DisplayPort’s underlying technology has become an adopted choice for USB-C and Thunderbolt connectors. The makers of USB-C and Thunderbolt utilize DisplayPort’s video transmission technology to transport video and audio data through the respective cables properly. However, HDMI hasn’t been adopted by anyone as it comes with royalty, and the HDMI forum is separately used by most of the devices.

Multiple stream transport is another vital feature that puts DisplayPort slightly ahead of HDMI. With MST, you can connect multiple displays to your computer through a single DP port.

The daisy chaining process will help you to connect multiple displays, but your total bandwidth will be limited to the maximum bandwidth of the DP port you are using. HDMI also can utilize the connection of multiple stream transport, but it isn’t possible natively. It needs a DP to HDMI hub to utilize the MST feature. There are many other techniques for multiple streaming in HDMI, but you will have to use hubs.

Ethernet support is a big thing that makes HDMI popular in the consumer market because it lets you use one ISP server for many displays. Through one broadband, you can connect multiple displays and use the same internet for each of the devices.

It also lets’s create a home or office network without needing a separate internet connector for every display. However, DisplayPort doesn’t sport such capability as it is mainly designed for computer monitors.

DisplayPort is well-known for offering USB-C Alt-Mode, where you can send a video signal over the USB-C port. It utilizes USB PD technology and allows you to use the USB port as well as the display using a single cable. However, your monitor has to come with an inbuilt USB port to utilize the feature. HDMI also offers USB-C Alt-Mode features, but the connection procedure isn’t simple. You need to go through a complex connection process as you will have to convert the signal from DP to HDMI.

The Difference in Variable Refresh Rate

Both HDMI and DisplayPort come with their own respective support for VRR or Variable Refresh Rate. Nvidia G-Sync and AMD FreeSync are two widely used VRR technologies in the market, and both of them offer impressive performance. HDMI only comes with the support of FreeSync, whereas DisplayPort comes with support for both FreeSync and G-Sync.

If you are using an AMD GPU or an AMD-based APU, then you can choose between HDMI and DisplayPort-based devices. However, if you are using a G-Sync-based GPU from Nvidia, then you will have to settle for DisplayPort as it is the one that supports this variable refresh rate.

The Difference in Applications

HDMI was developed by HDMI Forum for connecting varied types of displays to video sources. It is a compact interface for transmitting uncompressed video and audio to the display from an HDMI-based source.

DisplayPort, on the other hand, was developed by VESA, and it helps in the transmission of high-bandwidth video and audio signals to DP-compliant monitors. Even though both of them serve the same purpose, HDMI has the advantage in the consumer market as it is supported by a large number of devices.

From High-definition TVs, PC, cameras, tablets, and gaming consoles to smartphones, Blu-Ray players, and soundbars, the HDMI port is utilized by a lot of devices. It has a considerable market presence in the market and in most sectors.

In contrast, DisplayPort is only limited to specific devices like monitors, especially high-end ones. Some specified Apple Macbooks have DisplayPort, but the number is relatively low. We can conclude by saying HDMI has more applications than DisplayPort; thus, HDMI has more widespread coverage in the market.

Adapter Compatibility Difference

When it comes to finding adapters, and that too from different brands, you will be more in luck with HDMI because it is widely used by different devices. The number of adapters associated with DisplayPort is also a lot, but it is not close to HDMI. There are many other adapters that come with the support of both connectors.

HDMI vs. DisplayPort: Which One You Should Choose?

Whether you want to choose HDMI or DisplayPort, it entirely depends upon your usage and devices. Both HDMI and DisplayPort are well-known connectors for connecting video sources to displays.

HDMI is compatible with most devices; whether it is TV, household devices, or smartphones, you can use HDMI cable to connect to a lot of devices. However, DisplayPort should be your only option if you want to use the connector for computer monitors and utilize its specialized feature and multiple display setup.

Both of them come with high bandwidth and many advanced features that will maximize your visual experience. So you have to choose the video connection standard that caters to your requirement.

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