You are in the process of setting up your new gaming PC. But wait… there are two different ports to connect your monitor to your PC. What are DP and HDMI and does it matter which port you use? What is the best for PC gaming?
DP and HDMI ports. Image Credit: Spiceworks
DisplayPort and HDMI are both popular digital display interfaces used to connect devices such as PCs, laptops, monitors, TVs, and consoles. While they share some similarities, there are also notable differences between DisplayPort and HDMI ports. Here’s an informative guide to help you decide on what is the best option for your PC gaming setup.
HDMI vs DisplayPort pins. Image Credit: Beebom
DisplayPort connectors have a rectangular shape with one corner cut off. It features a 20-pin connector with an asymmetrical shape. DisplayPort connectors feature a latching mechanism, often referred to as a “lock,” which helps to secure the cable to the port.
HDMI connectors have a rectangular shape with a flat bottom and symmetrical beveled sides. It has a 19-pin connector and a symmetrical shape. Unlike many DisplayPort cables, HDMI connectors do not have a latching mechanism. They rely on a snug fit between the plug and the port, but the connection is not physically locked.
HDMI: Widespread Usability
HDMI connector. Image Credit: Rtings
One major advantage of HDMI is that it’s commonly found in many devices for transmitting uncompressed audio/video data. Consumer electronics devices like TVs often provide three or more HDMI ports. Developed for HD TV initially, HDMI is now supported by PCs, laptops, game consoles, and home theater systems. Most gaming consoles, such as PlayStation and Xbox, come equipped with HDMI ports. This makes it easy to connect the console to your TV using an HDMI cable without any adapters or converters.
Higher HDMI versions (such as HDMI 2.0 or HDMI 2.1) offer more features and bandwidth for higher resolutions and refresh rates, including standard HD (720p or 1080p) and Ultra HD (4K) resolutions. Additionally, for longer cable runs or specific requirements, it may be necessary to choose higher-quality cables that ensure reliable signal transmission.
One of the big advantages is that high-quality HDMI cables can be up to 15m in length, although it is unlikely you would need that much cable length for PC gaming.
DisplayPort: Mostly for PCs
DisplayPort connector. Image Credit: Rtings
DisplayPort was primarily designed for PCs, and specifically as an alternative for VGA and DVI. Standard budget TVs and monitors usually only come with HDMI, but higher-end monitors support both HDMI and DisplayPort.
It generally offers higher bandwidth compared to HDMI, which enables support for higher resolutions and color depths. DisplayPort 2.0 can deliver up to 80 Gbps of bandwidth, allowing for resolutions of 8K at 60Hz or 4K at high refresh rates. Many gaming monitors with DisplayPort connections support refresh rates of 144Hz, 165Hz, 240Hz, or even higher, depending on the monitor’s specifications and your graphics card’s capabilities. This can provide a visually immersive gaming experience, particularly on high-resolution monitors.
DisplayPort natively supports Adaptive Sync technologies like AMD FreeSync and NVIDIA G-Sync. These technologies synchronize the refresh rate of your gaming monitor with the output of your graphics card, reducing screen tearing and providing a more seamless gaming experience. If you have a compatible gaming monitor and graphics card, using DisplayPort can enable these adaptive sync features without requiring additional hardware.
GPUs released today typically sport three DisplayPort sockets and just one HDMI socket. This is perfect if you want to set up multiple monitors, and have a high refresh rate gaming system. The monitors can be attached to their own DP sockets or, using DisplayPort’s daisy chaining feature, hooked up to just one port and then to each monitor. Nvidia’s card only supports a maximum of 4 monitors, unlike AMD’s which supports up to six.
HDMI vs DP resolution test. Image Credit: RTings
Higher refresh rates result in smoother and more fluid motion on the screen. This can be particularly beneficial for fast-paced gaming genres like first-person shooters or racing games, where quick movements and responsiveness are important. DisplayPort can support higher refresh rates than HDMI.
Past 4K resolution, DisplayPort 2.0 has an advantage over HDMI 2.0. HDMI 2.0 can only support a 4K display at 60Hz (maximum bandwidth of 18 Gbps), while DisplayPort 2.0 offers bandwidth speeds (maximum bandwidth of 80 Gbps), to support 8K at 120Hz or even 16K at 60Hz — much greater frame rates and much higher resolution.
Graphics card for high refresh rate PC gaming
But wait, don’t forget about your graphics card too! When it comes to high refresh rate gaming, using DisplayPort or HDMI is dictated by the graphics card – if the GPU cannot deliver high resolution at 144 fps or more, then which socket you connect your monitor isn’t all that important.
It’s important to note that to take full advantage of high refresh rates, your gaming hardware needs to produce high frame rates to match your display’s refresh rate. Additionally, not all games and applications may support or benefit from high refresh rates.
For modern AAA games, you would typically need a mid-range to high-end GPU to achieve good performance at 1440p. Radeon RX 6600 and GeForce RTX 3070 are both good graphics cards for 1440p at 120 Hz or 1080p at 240 Hz. This also depends on the game and what graphics settings are used.
HDMI vs DisplayPort: What should I use for PC gaming?
DP and HDMI cable. Image Credit: buscape
While both HDMI and DisplayPort can be used to connect a PC to a display, there are some key differences between the two standards. HDMI is more commonly used. DisplayPort is better for high-resolution displays and can transmit more data, making it a more popular choice for high-resolution PC gaming.
If you’re doing couch gaming on your widescreen HD TV, using an HDMI cable is a common and convenient choice. HDMI cables are widely supported by modern TVs and gaming consoles. It provides a straightforward connection that carries both high-definition video and audio signals. There are no consumer TVs, major game consoles and cable boxes that currently support DisplayPort.
HDMI can support high refresh rates for PC gaming, depending on the HDMI version and device compatibility. HDMI 2.0, for example, supports AMD FreeSync and 1080p gaming at up to 240Hz and 4K gaming at 60Hz. However, if you’re looking for higher refresh rates (such as 144Hz or 240Hz) and support for adaptive sync technologies like AMD FreeSync and NVIDIA G-Sync, DisplayPort may be a better choice.
In conclusion, using a DisplayPort cable for PC gaming can provide many advantages. This includes higher refresh rates, support for adaptive sync technologies, multi-monitor capabilities, and high bandwidth for high-resolution displays.
All gamers should use a DisplayPort cable to connect their monitors to a graphics card. Most graphics cards and gaming PCs include this port in their design. Additionally, DisplayPort offers a bandwidth of 32.4 Gbps which will provide better resolution, refresh rate, and color depth. If your gaming setup includes a DisplayPort-compatible monitor and graphics card, using a DisplayPort cable can help you unlock the full potential of your gaming experience.
If you require a gaming PC, head out to our customiser and check out the latest gaming PC configuration and pricing.