If you’re in the market for a new monitor display, you’ll be interested in finding out the monitor connection types that come with the display.
Most modern monitors will feature up to 6 connection types, including HDMI, DVI, DisplayPort, USB-C, VGA, and Thunderbolt.
The connection types serve a range of different purposes. For example, if high-quality streaming is your priority, HDMI is the most reliable connection type. For gaming, a DisplayPort provides the best performance.
In this article, we will go in-depth on the most common monitor connection types to give you a quick overview of their capability and purpose.
Monitor Connection Types Summary
- HDMI: Video and audio, used for PC and TV connections.
- DVI: Only for video connections and ideal for 144 Hz at 1080p or older systems.
- DisplayPort (DP): Able to transmit from 144 Hz to 4K, this is the best connection port for video and audio signals.
- VGA: Only used when no other modern connections are available, this is the old video connection type.
- USB-C: In long form, it is referred to as USB Type-C. It is a modern-day replacement for other connectors including USB-A, USB-B, DisplayPort, HDMI, and 3.5mm audio connectors.
- Thunderbolt: An interface designed by Intel (and Apple) to allow external displays or peripheral equipment to connect to a computer. The latest Thunderbolt 3 uses a USB-C connector while earlier versions 1 and 2, use a Mini DisplayPort.
- AV (RCA): A well-known label on RCA connector types, the AV input enables analog visual and audio signals from electronic devices that produce an AV output.
- NDI: Referred to as the Network Device Interface, this connection enables video and audio to be sent via an ethernet cable.
- SDI: Commonly used by professional production teams, Serial Digital Interface reliably transmits video signal across a long range of approx. 300 feet. BNC cabling tends to be used with connectors placed at either end.
What Are The Most Frequently Used Monitor Ports?
On the majority of monitors, one of the following three connection types will be available: DisplayPort, HDMI, or USB-C.
You can also find older legacy ports such as DVI and VGA which will most likely require adapters.
Unfortunately, most monitors do not include all of the connection types. Therefore, the availability of certain connection types should be a factor to consider when choosing a monitor.
Also, the benefits and drawbacks of each connection type need to be understood, so that you know the relevant capabilities and cables required.
Below, we explain the most frequently used monitor ports in more detail.
The DisplayPort (DP) was developed by PC manufacturers as a digital display interface. The connection type was then standardized by the Video Electronics Standards Association (VESA).
The DisplayPort connection type is mainly used to connect a computer monitor to a video source. The connection can also carry USB, audio, and additional data forms.
The design and manufacture of the DisplayPort was to replace older connector types such as VGA and DVI.
The technological advancement is that the DisplayPort can transmit audio and video signals using a single cable, where previously multiple cables were required.
Another advantage of DisplayPort is its ability to enable daisy chaining multiple displays from a single video source.
DisplayPort also has backward compatibility with HDMI and DVI, allowing it to connect to older monitors.
There are three main versions of DisplayPort cables in use, outlined below.
DisplayPort 1.2 is ideal for displays with 4k streaming capability at 60 frames per second (3840 x 2160).
DisplayPort 1.3 can accommodate the most recent high-quality graphics such as 8k video streaming at 30 Hz.
DisplayPort 1.4 is the latest in the DP family of connections. 1.4 is the highest functioning connection type, which can support High Dynamic Range (HDR) video and 8k video streaming.
It is an ideal connection port for gamers wanting to use ultra settings on the latest games.
Given the versatility of DP 1.4, it is growing in popularity and will most likely be included as a connection standard for new electronic devices and computers.
Mini Display Port
Developed by Apple in 2008, the Mini Display Port is a proprietary interface for audio and video.
It is used in multiple Apple products such as the Mac Pro, Mac, Mini, iMac, MacBook Air, and the MacBook Pro.
Additionally, the Mini Display Port enables the use of dual-mode adapters to connect to VGA, DVI, and HDMI displays as it is compatible with the DisplayPort++ standard.
High-Definition Multimedia Interface, more commonly known as HDMI is acknowledged as the King of multimedia connections.
Created as far back as 2002 as a form of digital display controller, the first HDMI-supporting devices came to market in 2003.
The main reason behind the popularity of HDMI is its reliability in transmitting uncompressed video and audio to a range of devices, including video projectors, TVs, computer monitors, and digital audio devices.
Other benefits of HDMI connections include:
- Ultra-high-resolution streaming.
- High-quality sound transmission, reducing the need for external speakers.
- Conveniently small connectors.
- Compatible with game consoles.
- Can enable 3D graphics when combined with ultra-high resolutions (e.g. HDMI 2.0 and 4b).
HDMI Mini is the latest HDMI cable standard utilizing Type-C technology. The cable was developed to replicate the HDMI Type-A specifications while remaining significantly more compact.
The difference between the two is purely the size point. The Mini is 2.42mm in depth and 10.42mm in width, making it around 60% more compact compared to Type-A.
Video Graphics Array, otherwise known as VGA, is a common, albeit dated video output for computers.
VGA was developed as far back as 1987 and is designed with a 15-pin connector. VGA was the original connection type, connecting to all major electronic equipment including TVs, monitors, PCs, and projectors.
Technological advances have seen the VGA become outshone by connections such as DisplayPort, DVI, and HDMI.
A normal VGA connector is used by most computers but certain systems and computers use the Mini-VGA connector, making it VGA’s proprietary, non-standard replacement.
Thunderbolt is an input/output technology created by Apple and Intel. It enables data transfer between devices at high speeds of up to 10 Gbps.
You can use Thunderbolt to connect a range of devices such as monitors, external hard drives, and other peripheral devices.
Thunderbolt versions 2 and 1 use the Mini DisplayPort (MDP) connector while versions 4 and 3 use the USB-C connector.
USB Type C
The USB Type C is the latest USB connector that is now becoming the standard for connecting devices using USB.
Connecting devices using USB Type C is easier because it is more reversible and smaller than traditional USB connectors.
Additionally, USB Type C is suitable for data-intensive devices such as video cameras and external hard drives as they can transfer higher data speeds than traditional USB.
USB Type C can be used by any device that has a USB connection including cameras, laptops, tablets, and phones.
DVI-I cables are integrated cables that can carry a digital-to-digital signal or an analog-to-analog signal.
For instance, DVI cables can send analog signals to displays like CRT monitors as well as send signals to digital displays like LED-backlit LCD monitors.
Digital Visual Interface (DVI) was developed in 1999 and is one of the connection types to supersede VGA.
DVI-D is the digital DVI version and connects DVI cards to LCD monitors. The connection comes to the main formats, the dual link, and the single link.
Generally, the dual-link is more powerful and has a higher rate of data transfer compared to the single link.
DVI-D is used when both the monitor and graphics card have DVI-D connections. It delivers superior image quality with a resolution of up to 1920*1200 without any possibility of analog interference.
DVI-D Dual Link
This is another variation of the standard DVI connectors apart from DVI-I and DVI-D.
DVI-D Dual Link is mostly used on 27 to 30-inch monitors as they have resolutions greater than 1920*1200.
This cable comes with an extra pin which allows it to transfer larger amounts of digital information and take the second link.
This will only deliver the full 2560*1600 resolution if the graphics card can provide a Dual Link signal.
Mini-DVI is the digital option for the Mini-VGA connector that is commonly used by Apple computers.
Mini-DVI connectors are smaller versions of DVI connectors and can be found on devices such as the Intel-based iMac, the 12-inch PowerBook G4, the Intel-based Xserve, the MacBook laptop, multiple late-model eMacs, and the 2009 Mac Mini.
The Mini-DVI connection can only produce a maximum of 1920*1200 resolution.
Some adapters can be used to convert Mini DVI to VGA and also Mini DVI to DVI-D.
The Micro-DVI port was included in the design of the original MacBook Air as a video output connector. This connection is smaller compared to the Mini-DVI port found on other MacBook versions.
The Micro-DVI was a very short-lived connector and was replaced in late 2008.
If you’re using a MacBook Air with a Micro-DVI, you will need a DVI adapter or a Micro-DVI to VGA adapter to connect the device to an additional display.
When using EDID, Mini-VGA ports can be used to output S-Video and composite signals as well as VGA signals. Mini-VGA connectors have recently been overtaken by mini DisplayPort and mini-DVI.
Typically, the AV or RCA is a kind of video connector used in consumer electronics.
It is round and comes with prongs that fit perfectly into the device’s matching holes. It takes in video and audio signals from devices that produce AV signals.
Also known as the 10 Gigabit Ethernet cable, an NDI cable is used to connect devices such as scanners, printers, and personal computers to a network.
Serial Digital Interface is often preferred in production environments as it produces professional video signals that can travel up to 300 ft without any degradation.
It uses a 75 Ohn coaxial cable to send uncompressed digital video signals.
SDI comes with a locking mechanism which makes it more secure when connecting your equipment.
Hopefully, you’re now clear on the most common monitor connection types you can expect to find on modern displays and what each connection is able to deliver.
The optimal connection type will depend on the type of activities you want to do, so it is useful for you to consider the functions and capabilities of each connection type in this article, to inform your home computer setup.
Most modern displays will include a HDMI and USB-C which will cover most of your connection needs.
Gamers may especially benefit from DisplayPort connections as they support HDR which enables users to maximize the game settings.