The history of video cables is long and convoluted, starting with the Composite RCA in 1956 before landing on widespread standards like DVI, all the versions of HDMI, and Displayport cables. But even today, we can find each of these ports in use.
Displayport was originally created by the Video Electronics Standard Association (VESA) to directly replace DVI. As such, Displayport can support a much higher resolution, transmit both video and audio signals, and are generally just a simpler kind of video cable to use. Still, there are situations where you’ll end up using DVI ports instead of Displayport technology.
We’ll go over the actual differences between the two so you can make informed decisions about which to use.
DVI vs. Displayport: A Side-by-Side Comparison
|Displayport 1.3||DVI-A||DVI-D (Single-Link)||DVI-D (Dual-Link)||DVI-I (Single-Link)||DVI-I (Dual-Link)|
|Created by||Video Electronics Standards Association (VESA)||Digital Display Working Group (DDWG)||Digital Display Working Group (DDWG)||Digital Display Working Group (DDWG)||Digital Display Working Group (DDWG)||Digital Display Working Group (DDWG)|
|Max Resolution||4k (3840 x 2160p) or 8k (7680 x 4320p)||1920 x 1080p||1920 x 1080p||1920 x 1080p or 2040 x 1536p||1600 x 1200p||1920 x 1080p|
|Refresh Rate||120 Hz or 30 Hz||85 Hz||60 Hz||144 Hz or 75 Hz||60 Hz||60 Hz|
|Bandwidth||21.6 Gbit/s||n/a||4.95 GB/s||9.9 GB/s||4.95 GB/s||9.9 GB/s|
|Good for gaming?||Great for high-res gaming||Only 1080p gaming||Only 1080p gaming||Only 1080p gaming||Only 1080p gaming||Only 1080p gaming|
DVI vs. Displayport: What’s the Difference?
Displayport was made to be the successor of DVI, but their differences go beyond that. Displayport isn’t always the superior option.
In order to show you how these differences matter, we first need to cover what these connection cables are really made for.
What is a DVI Cable or Port?
After the DDWG introduced them in 1999, DVI quickly became the standard video connection cable. DVI was developed with the explicit purpose to usurp the even older VGA connector standard.
DVI cables were a clear winner at the time and, over the years, many versions of DVI connectors were invented. There are three main categories of DVI cable: DVI-A, DVI-D, and DVI-I. Each category has a different connection method.
DVI-A and DVI-D use analog and digital connections, respectively. DVI-I, with an I standing for ‘integrated,’ can connect to either analog or digital devices. DVI-D cables are the most commonly used, thanks to the dominance of digital devices. But DVI-I and DVI-A both have invaluable compatibility with older analog electronics.
The different categories can make DVI more confusing to use than other types of video connection cables. On top of those distinctions, there are also dual-link and single-link versions of DVI-I and DVI-D cables.
Dual-link DVIs support higher resolutions than their single-link counterparts. You can tell the difference because dual-link DVI ports have a full 24 pins. Single-link ports will have 8 fewer pins, for a total of 16. Both dual-link and single-link DVI ports tend to be bulkier than other kinds of video connectors. At the very least, this makes them recognizable!
Dual-link DVI-D ports can use a maximum of 2040 x 1536p resolution with 75 Hz. These aren’t great specs, especially for things like gaming that are very visually intensive and demand high refresh rates. If you use DVI-D with 1080p resolution, though, you can get as high as 144 Hz. This actually makes DVI a reasonable choice if you have a 1080p 144 Hz monitor.
Unlike later connection cables, DVI transmits exclusively video. That means a DVI cable alone can’t give your device audio connectivity. If you wanted to use a DVI cable for your TV, you would also need to use an AUX or RCA cable for the audio to work.
What is Displayport?
Displayport is one of the most popular choices for gaming, or for high-quality computer visuals in general. It was born when VESA created it as a cleaner, easier, and all-around better alternative to DVI.
The reason why Displayport is so much better than DVI for most computer applications, like gaming, is that it was literally made for computers. With Displayport 1.3, you can get a resolution of 8k with 30 Hz or 4k with 120 Hz. The port is regularly upgraded at a close to yearly pace.
With regards to compatibility, these updates make Displayport easy to use. You don’t need to worry about there being several different models–-instead, you just need to know the version number.
The only specialty version of Displayport is the Thunderbolt, a port used by Apple in some of their products (such as iPhones). Thunderbolts are actually mini Displayports and share the same high-quality video connectivity as all other Displayports.
Since Displayport is a recent technology with a focus on personal computers, it uses exclusively digital signals. It can also transmit audio signals as well as video signals. Both of these details fit right in with our current technological landscape.
DVI vs. Displayport: 5 Must-Know Facts
- In almost every regard, Displayport is a direct upgrade to DVI.
- No Displayport can communicate using analog.
- DVI can be a match for Displayport in gaming applications if you’re using 1080p 144hz monitors.
- DVI was invented in 1999, before even HDMI. It may become obsolete within the next decade.
- The VESA website publishes upcoming updates for Displayport almost every year, so it’s unlikely to ever fall behind other cables.
DVI vs. Displayport: Which is Better?
Displayport can handle audio/video with one cable and high resolutions with solid refresh rates. But it is limited in that it can only communicate through digital. Some DVI cables, like DVI-I or DVI-A, are your best option for analog devices. Displayport can’t be used at all!
Generally speaking, Displayport is the best option for gaming because it has better resolution and refresh rate specs. The audio/video capabilities in one cable are also great for television. On the flip side, DVI-D is a fine choice for gaming if your monitor can only handle 1080p and 144 Hz anyway.
In that case, Displayport’s higher resolution will go to waste. The fact that DVI only can transmit video signals doesn’t even matter for computer monitors. After all, computer monitors rarely (if ever) have built-in speakers, so you’ll be using multiple cords regardless.
Although Displayport is always pushing the boundaries of what video connection cables can do, sometimes that’s just not necessary. DVI-D is a fine option for everything that Displayport has moved past, like 1080p and analog devices.
Still, Displayport is the better video connection cable overall. DVI is an older technology that isn’t being updated, so there’s no way for it to keep up with Displayport’s advancements.