Which display technology to choose

Not all ports are created equal, especially when it comes to enjoying high-resolution media or playing on your computer. While the HDMI standard is the ubiquitous choice for consumers. Whether it’s audio equipment for a 4K HD TV, everyone searches for one of these ports. Meanwhile, DisplayPort catches up quickly. Currently, DisplayPort 1.4 is considered one of the best performing and most efficient display technologies. But what is the difference between HDMI and DisplayPort? Which one should you choose?


Which display technology to choose

So how is this upcoming display technology different from popular HDMI 2.0 technology? Or, are they bundling the same technology with just another different fancy name?

Well, this is what we are going to explore today as we pit HDMI 2.0 against DisplayPort 1.4 and see which technology should you choose when buying your next monitor.

So what are we waiting for? We don’t want to bombard you with intricate technical details and we will try to keep it as lucid as possible. Let’s start.

Specifications that matter

PropertyHDMI 2.0DisplayPort 1.4
PropertyHDMI 2.0DisplayPort 1.4
Number of screens supported24
Maximum resolution supported4K at 60 Hz8K at 60 Hz
HDCPYes, 2.2 only on HDMI 2.0bYes, 2.2
FreeSyncNoYes
HDRStaticStatic
audio32 channels max32 channels max

A brief history

HDMI, or high definition multimedia interface, was introduced in 2002. It has gradually spread over the years and is found in consumer electronics such as televisions, streaming sticks, game consoles, monitors, etc.

Img 0012

Which display technology to choose

If you take a look, most smart TVs today bundle at least two HDMI ports. This allows for greater flexibility as you can switch between two or more different sources.

Since its launch, HDMI has seen many iterations with HDMI 1.4 and HDMI 2.0 being two of the most used standards. The consortium announced HDMI 2.1 in 2017, and we don’t yet see many products that contain it.

Unlike this, DisplayPort was introduced much later in 2006.

Display port cables

Which display technology to choose

There have been many DisplayPort versions over the years. DisplayPort 1.2 and DisplayPort 1.4 are two of the popular and readily available standards. It should be noted that DisplayPort 2.0 was introduced in June 2019, although there are no products widely available on this market yet.

Bandwidth, resolutions and HDR

Ok, let’s talk about the specifications and the numbers that really make a difference.

A DisplayPort 1.4 cable can push approximately 25.92 Gbps of bandwidth. Here, HDMI 2.0 sees a massive drop in speed and can only handle transmission up to 18.0 Gbps. Of course, we are talking about the theoretical limits suggested according to the actual documentation of the respective standards.

This jump in data transmission speed allows 8K resolution at 60Hz or 4K at 120Hz in DisplayPort 1.4. And not only that, but you also get a 10-bit color HDR experience.

Speed

Which display technology to choose

On the other hand, HDMI 2.0 can support 4K at 60 Hz with a data rate of 14.4 Gbps (DisplayPort 1.4 supports up to 25.92 Gbps).

However, the increase in bandwidth compared to its predecessors means greater HDR accessibility which results in deeper colors, greater contrast and gradient. Note that HDR support was only included in HDMI 2.0a, while DisplayPort 1.4 can handle 4K @ 144 Hz with HDR.

This ultimately puts DisplayPort to the benefit, however for a short time. For those who don’t know, HDMI 2.1 brings 10K @ 120Hz with improved HDR.

It goes without saying that you need compatible systems and monitors to get the most out of these two display technologies. And unless you increase the resolution and the refresh rate, you probably won’t see the difference with the naked eye.

HDMI 2.0 vs DisplayPort 1.4: Cable length

At the same time, you should keep in mind the length of the cables. If you were to switch to a PC with DisplayPort, you can use a short cable – 3 meters or ~ 9 feet to be precise.

Cable length

Which display technology to choose

Well, if we were specifically talking about PC configurations, that shouldn’t be a problem. However, keep in mind that the resolution will be limited to 1080p if you increase the game to 50 feet.

HDMI is more liberal in this area since HDMI cables can measure up to 15 meters (~ 49 feet) and well, I don’t need to tell you how much flexibility this cable brings to the table. If you are very concerned about the consistency of video quality, then you should definitely invest in HDMI fiber optic cables (yes, they do exist) for longer runs.

Audio and ARC

You should obviously know by now that the HDMI and DisplayPort cables can also transmit several audio channel signals. The question here is which one plays the game best.

Audio and ARC

Which display technology to choose

Here, HDMI is to the advantage because it supports the audio return channel. ARC, as it is more commonly known, allows you to direct sound from the TV / monitor to a compatible speaker or soundbar without the need for a separate audio cable. Yes, everything is done on a single HDMI cable.

Unlike HDMI, DisplayPort does not have an audio return channel. On the upside, you can get rid of the limitation by simply adding a DisplayPort adapter to the mix.

Did you know: DisplayPort (all recent versions) cannot carry Ethernet.

Multi-stream transport: the DisplayPort advantage

One of the biggest advantages DisplayPort 1.4 brings to the table is MST or multi-stream transport. This technology allows multiple monitors to be daisy chained using a single cable.

Configuration of several monitors 1

Which display technology to choose

DisplayPort 1.4 allows you to link up to 4 compatible monitors in a single display interface. Yes, you read that right. Increasing bandwidth allows you to link and run two 3840 × 2160 monitors together, increasing your 4K gameplay.

Just connect the DisplayPort output of the first monitor to the DisplayPort input of the second monitor, etc. Naturally, you will have to take into account the GPU of your system to succeed in this feat.

As you might expect, this plays an important role in a multi-screen configuration to reduce clutter and keep connections as simple as possible.

Verdict: to play or not to play

HDMI is more popular than DisplayPort, thanks to its implementation on consumer electronics like TVs, streaming sticks, laptops, game consoles, etc. (** Phew **). There is a consortium of several companies which includes the manufacturers of the products we just mentioned to promote goodwill and the presence of HDMI in the market.

On the other hand, you will only find monitors and graphics cards offering DisplayPort. Since this is a standard heavily focused on the IT segment, you will mainly find NVIDIA and AMD graphics cards that support it with PC monitor manufacturers.

Gaming P Cs

Which display technology to choose

Fortunately, most monitors offer more flexible options. Whether for games or creative work, there are many monitors with two HDMI ports or two display ports.

So which one to choose? Well, if you only look from a game point of view, it’s better to use DisplayPort 1.4 as it guarantees you a great gaming experience with a compatible monitor. It supports FreeSync from AMD and G-Sync from Nvidia, it gives you the flexibility to upgrade to a GPU of your choice. And the adaptive refresh rate is the icing on the cake.

In addition, DisplayPort is very flexible. You can convert and add an inexpensive adapter to the mix to make it compatible with any of the display ports. If you plan to wait for products with HDMI 2.1 or DisplayPort 2.0 support, it will take at least a few years for them to hit the global market.

So which one will you choose?

Then:

Thinking of buying a pair of wireless Bluetooth headphones? Find out everything there is to know about Bluetooth codecs in the article below to find the one that works best for you.

Last updated Jul 7, 2020

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