Which is better: HDMI or DisplayPort?

HDMI vs DisplayPort – which is better?

In times of ever thinner laptops, there is often not enough space for an HDMI or DVI-D connection. The older VGA connection has even fallen so far out of fashion in recent years that it is hardly ever used anymore.

In addition to the HDMI connection, there is another modern and fast connection, the DisplayPort or Mini-DisplayPort. This is often found in extremely thin notebooks such as Surface laptops or MacBooks. But which connection is actually the better one, what are the differences? And is it worth paying attention to a specific connection when buying a laptop? You can find out all of this here!

Same functions, but different connector types: Mini DisplayPort at the top, HDMI in the middle and DisplayPort at the bottom (Photo: Adrian Hancu/iStock).
Same functions, but different connector types: Mini DisplayPort at the top, HDMI in the middle and DisplayPort at the bottom (Photo: Adrian Hancu/iStock).

First of all: Mini-DisplayPort and DisplayPort

I know the Mini DisplayPort primarily from my MacBook laptops. This is no coincidence, because this port was originally introduced by Apple to make the MacBook models even flatter. However, in terms of functions and electrical values, Mini-DisplayPort and DisplayPort are the same. So you can with one Mini DP to DP Adapter Cable Connect devices that rely on these two ports. Here is a model:

Rankie Cable Mini DisplayPort (Thunderbolt) (Mini DP) to DisplayPort (DP), 4K, 1,8m, Black
  • The 1,8 m long cable connects a Mini DisplayPort with Thunderbolt TM port-enabled computer to a monitor or...
  • The gold-plated conductors resist corrosion and increase connectivity. The inner braided foil shielding...
  • Supports video resolutions up to 4K (3840 x 2160 @ 30Hz, Ultra HD) and 1080P (Full HD) and flawless...

What are the ports capable of?

Both sound and video can be played back via the HDMI port and the DisplayPort. In contrast to VGA and DVI ports, which are often installed in older devices such as a projector or monitor, they are also significantly smaller and more space-saving.

Another upgrade to VGI and DVI can be found in the transfer rate. Both of the newer connections, HDMI and DisplayPort, are able to transmit videos in 4k, which contain up to 60 frames per second.

How are DisplayPort and HDMI different?

While the function of both ports is the same, that doesn't mean they don't differ. Although both connections can play videos in 8k at most, both connections can only do this in their latest version. (For DisplayPort 2.0 and for HDMI 2.1)

The HDMI connection can be used with a maximum cable length of ten meters. If the length of the cable exceeds this value, there may be difficulties with the transmission. DisplayPort, on the other hand, only manages a maximum cable length of five meters. In large rooms, it can become a problem to only have one DisplayPort connection available.

HDMI cable with fiber optics for long distances

Exceptions are fiber optic cables, where the signal is converted into pulses of light and then transmitted over fiber optics. This means that longer distances can also be bridged - unfortunately with a hefty surcharge, as you can see here:

FIBBR 8K HDMI fiber optic cable 15M, 48Gbps 8K HDMI 2.1 cable/AOC support 8K@60Hz,...
  • 【Unique Design】 This active optical cable (AOC) uses an industry-leading integrated injection molding ...
  • 【Ultra High Speed】Follow HDMI2.1 specification with 48Gbps bulk capacity bandwidth. The optical...
  • 【8K resolution】 8K HDMI cables support the resolution and refresh rates of up to 8K@60Hz and ...

Transmission speeds of HDMI and DisplayPort

The latest version of the two connections also differs in the transmission speed. The DisplayPort 2.0 manages to transmit 77 gigabits per second, while HDMI 2.1 manages to transmit a maximum of 43 gigabits per second.

MacBook Pro laptops usually have both an HDMI port and a Thunderbolt 3 or 4 port, which is also suitable for image and sound transmission (Photo: TheRegisti/Unsplash).
MacBook Pro laptops usually have both an HDMI port and a Thunderbolt 3 or 4 port, which is also suitable for video and audio transmission (Photo: TheRegisti/Unsplash).

Special functions of the two ports

However, the comparison becomes interesting when we take a closer look at the "special abilities" of the two connections.

Via the HDMI connection it is possible, for example, to control a Playstation with the remote control of the television to which the Playstation is connected. The Playstation can be operated using the arrow keys or the OK button, and the fact that there is an HDMI cable with an integrated LAN function (Ethernet) could also be interesting, especially for users of a PS4. In this way, a cable can be saved and the cable clutter is no longer quite as extensive as before.

DisplayPort, on the other hand, has a decisive advantage for users of a PC equipped with a graphics card from NVIDIA. Through the cooperation of the DisplayPort with the graphics card, the cable manages to match the performance of the two devices to such an extent that jerks can be minimized. Furthermore, using DisplayPort, two different screens can be connected to each other much more easily. So if you use more than one monitor, you are also better off with a DisplayPort connection.

In contrast to the HDMI connection, the DisplayPort connection is also compatible with the two older connection types, VGA and USB-C. So if you need these connections, you should better use a DisplayPort connection.

HDMI vs. DisplayPort: Which Connection Should I Choose?

If you use your device more for gaming, it is advisable to use a DisplayPort connection. Due to its advantages in the mediation between graphics card and monitor, it is clearly ahead and the design of the components also tends towards DisplayPort.

If, on the other hand, you need the cable to use a television, a games console or a projector, you are better off using an HDMI connection, since the HDMI connection offers a few amenities that DisplayPort does not have enough of.

Which is the better connection?

It is not possible to say which of the two is the better connection. Both connections simply have too different areas of application and can score unsurpassed in their respective areas. Unfortunately, the decision as to which connection you should choose cannot be made for you in such a general way.
It simply depends on the purpose for which you want to use the respective device.

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2 comments on "Which is better: HDMI or DisplayPort?"

  1. Thank you Jens I've been around with computers for ages, but had never thought about the differences.
    I always just look for the right cable and take the first connections that come along.
    It always works.

    1. Totally legal tactic! 😊 And with the new MacBook Pro models, the question of USB-C or HDMI arises anyway. And there is always the answer for me: Let's see which cable I can find faster. 😂

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