DisplayPort Vs HDMI - What Is The Difference Between HDMI & DisplayPort
Just to be crystal clear, these two i/o connectors (DisplayPort [DP] and High-Definition Multimedia Interface [HDMI]) have one thing in common, they both output video/audio signals. They are designed for transmitting video and audio signals from a player (source - laptop, Desktop, Video Player, Projectors, etc) to displays - TV's.
Over the years, there has been a spike to achieve a greater and better video quality in the display industry, as well as a better audio quality and this has fueled the rise of various types of video connectors. Bearing in mind that displays are not only dependent on connectors, the main objective is to invent a connector that can carry more pixel density and better audio signals from a "source-board" in order to output a better and crisp displays.
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HDMI has been around for a long time and they keep improving. HDMI was introduced in 2003 by a consortium of (mainly) display manufacturers, including Panasonic, Sony, Toshiba and Philips. These are undoubtedly the large corporations that primarily target purely image-driven applications. This is why HDMI is the standard you most commonly find on appliances like television sets, projectors and home computers/laptops.
Consequently in 2006, another large consortium of PC and chip manufacturers created DisplayPort (DP), a follow-up of the older VGA and DVI standards which are inherent with VHS, DVD, SDVD etc. The main focus was computer displays and professional IT equipment. The question is, how does HDMI differ from DisplayPort, and which of this two connectors is best.
Difference Between HDMI and DisplayPort
The difference between these two connector depends on the year of comparism and depends on the version you are using. Presently, available standards are DisplayPort 1.4, and HDMI 2.0 (as of 2020). Although you'll find more devices that support HDMI than DisplayPort because of the popularity.
1. Speed & Bandwidth
HDMI 2.0 supports a maximum bandwidth of 18 Gbps, which is enough to handle 4K resolution at up to 60Hz, or 1080p at up to 240Hz. On the other hand, DisplayPort 1.4 has a maximum bandwidth of 32.4Gbps, which opens up much greater resolution and frame rate potential. It supports 4K resolution at up to 120Hz without compression, and 8K resolution at 30Hz – something HDMI 2.0 can't even manage.
In 2021, the standard is shifting. More devices and displays have started supporting the new, HDMI 2.1 standard, which makes DisplayPort vs. HDMI comparisons far more exciting. HDMI 2.1 more than doubles the maximum bandwidth to 48Gbps. That opens up support for 4K resolution at 144Hz, or 8K at 30Hz – and far more besides if you employ Display Stream Compression (DSC).
Before 2021 elapses, DisplayPort 2.0 is likely to change things again, but adoption of that standard seems much further off and HDMI 2.1 fills any additional bandwidth demands that exist with current-generation hardware.
2. ARC - Audio Return Channel & EARC Technologies
Apart from the speed and bandwidth differences, HDMI & DisplayPort also differs in features. One of the important ones is ARC, and EARC technologies. HDMI have enjoyed this feature since HDMI 1.4 version. This feature enables the two-way processing of audio data, thereby allowing for a daisy chain - (connect several devices together in a linear series) of A/V equipment, "source and display", cutting back on cable waste and enhancing the bandwidth of the audio connection.
DisplayPort has its own wits too as it found great success as an adopted standard, outside of its main connector. It's included in Thunderbolt and USB-C connections, enabling video transmission over those alternative cables and ports. Both HDMI and DisplayPort standards support variable refresh rates, but where DisplayPort supports both AMD's Freesync and Nvidia's G-Sync, HDMI only supports AMD's Freesync.
3. Cable Distance Coverage
You can run a DisplayPort cable for longer than its HDMI counterparts, with passive DisplayPort options maxing out around 5 meters before attenuation (the reduction of the amplitude of signal) becomes a problem. In comparison, the latest HDMI 2.1 cables will run into problems around three meters while DisplayPort can go upto 6 meters.
The HDMI standard doesn’t really define a maximum cable length, rather it describes a performance specification from which the cable length can be derived. Usually HDMI cables are quite short. Only very rarely the display and the source are further than 2 meters apart in television and projector setups. For longer distances, you can rely on a signal booster or an active cable which amplifies the signal.
NB: HDMI signals can also run over CAT 5 or CAT 6 cables (up to 50 meters), coaxial cable (up to 90 meters) or over fiber (more than 100 meters).
4. Physical Differences
The HDMI port is usually bigger in size when compared to its counterpart, DisplayPort. Though both look very similar with the only physical difference being TWO indentation on the HDMI and ONE indentation on DisplayPort.
The image below shows the physical difference between the HDMI and the DisplayPort.
In conclusion, though HDMI and DisplayPort is similar for about 92%, there are a number of distinct features. Since HDMI supports ARC, which can be handy when using a smart-TV. But the possibility to drive multiple displays with one cable is for many professionals a must. This feature sets DisplayPort apart.
In terms of image/video quality, there is practically no difference between HDMI and DisplayPort. Keep in mind - the newer the version, the higher the maximum bandwidth and the supported resolution. And is much more important to pay attention to version than the standard (HDMI or DP) itself.
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