HDMI vs DisplayPort, Which is Better for Your PC Monitor? — There are numerous factors to consider before making a purchase, but port availability is a major one. Different ports have varying capabilities and compatibilities, so check the back of your PC to see what you’re dealing with.

If you want to connect a new monitor to your gaming computer, you’ll probably notice two ports that look eerily similar. There will be HDMI and DisplayPort ports to choose from, but what is the difference, and does it really matter which one you use?

As always, the answer is “it depends.” What exactly are you hoping to accomplish? For example, your requirements will differ depending on whether you’re gaming, photo editing, or simply looking to connect your Mac to something that works. Even if your monitor supports both connections, it may only support specific versions of each, limiting the resolution, refresh rate, and other features it can support. Here’s what you should know.

HDMI vs DisplayPort, Which is Better for Your PC Monitor?
credit: pcmag
What’s the Difference: HDMI vs DisplayPort?

Before delving into which connector is best for which applications, it’s important to understand how they differ in terms of both physical appearance and features supported.

HDMI

HDMI (High Definition Multimedia Interface) connectors resemble DisplayPort connectors but have 19 pins and no locking system. Type A (standard), Type C (mini), and Type D are the three most common sizes (micro).
This type of connector may be familiar to you because TV manufacturers frequently include it in their products. On modern displays, you could find:

  • HDMI 1.4: Has a bandwidth of 10.2 Gbps and can support video resolutions of up to 4K (4096 x 2160 pixels) at 24 Hz and 4K (3840 x 2160 pixels) at 30 Hz.
  • HDMI 2.0: Supports video resolutions up to 4K at 60 Hz, with later versions adding HDR capabilities, and has an 18 Gbps bandwidth.
  • HDMI 2.1: Has a bandwidth of 48 Gbps and supports video resolutions up to 10K at 120 Hz, improved HDR, and enhanced Audio Return Channel.
2HDMI vs DisplayPort, Which is Better for Your PC Monitor?
credit: pcmag

HDMI can only handle one video and one audio stream at a time, so it is only compatible with one monitor at a time. They also have an Audio Return Channel (ARC), which allows you to send audio from your TV to your soundbar or AV receiver.
One disadvantage of HDMI is that there are four distinct cable types, and selecting the incorrect one may result in a poor display. Examine the distinctions:

  • Standard HDMI cable: Enough bandwidth for 720p and 1080i video resolutions.
  • HDMI standard cable with Ethernet: The same bandwidth as standard cable, but with 100 Mbps Ethernet support.
  • HDMI High-Speed Cable: Supports 1080p and higher video resolutions, 3D video, and has increased bandwidth
  • HDMI High-Speed Cable with Ethernet: The same features as the high-speed cable, but with 100 Mbps Ethernet support.

DisplayPort

DisplayPort resembles HDMI in appearance, but it is a connector found on PCs rather than TVs. It still supports high-definition video and (in many cases) audio, but the standards are a little different. On modern monitors, you’re likely to see one or more of the following:

  • DisplayPort 1.2: Up to 4K at 60Hz is supported; some 1.2a ports may also support AMD’s FreeSync.
  • DisplayPort 1.3: Up to 4K at 120Hz or 8K at 30Hz support.
  • DisplayPort 1.4: Up to 8K at 60Hz and HDR support.
  • DisplayPort 2.0: Supports 16K resolution with HDR at 60Hz and 10K resolution without HDR at 80Hz.
HDMI vs DisplayPort, Which is Better for Your PC Monitor?
credit: pcmag

When shopping for a DisplayPort cable, I recommend selecting one from the list of certified cables to ensure it performs as advertised.

DisplayPort also has a few other useful features. First, it supports AMD’s FreeSync and Nvidia’s G-Sync, ensuring a tear-free gaming experience regardless of the brand of card you use (as long as your monitor supports the technology, of course).

You can also drive multiple monitors from a single DisplayPort connection, saving you from having to use multiple ports. DisplayPort signals can even be sent from a laptop via a USB-C port. Many DisplayPort cables also have clips to keep them securely in your monitor, which is both a plus and a disadvantage because they can be difficult to remove!

Which Cable Should You Choose?

One cable is not necessarily superior to another in every way, but each has its place. If you must choose between DisplayPort 1.4 and HDMI 2.0, DisplayPort is the superior option. In other cases, if a monitor only offers the option of HDMI 2.0 or DisplayPort 1.2, HDMI may be the better option for HDR support, as long as all of your devices support the HDMI version in question.

And here’s the catch: which port you use is determined by the capabilities of both your monitor and video card. If you want to use HDMI 2.1 features, for example, you’ll need a monitor with an HDMI 2.1 port and a video card with an HDMI 2.1 port—if one of them is running HDMI 2.0, you won’t be able to use the newer features.

What is best for your specific setup is the best choice you can make. Before purchasing a cable, inspect each link in the chain to determine the best combination for optimal performance.