These days HDMI is everywhere and a commonly known interface in consumer electronics. DisplayPort may be used less but there are still plenty of devices with it onboard. These two video/audio standards are similar but different so we’ve outlined what types you can get and how they compare.
When it comes to DisplayPort and HDMI cables and connectors, there are different types and sizes. It’s not a one-size-fits-all situation.
On the HDMI side of the fence, you’ll find three main variations, each with 19 pins: The standard size (Type A) commonly found on TVs, projectors, set-top boxes and laptops; a smaller edition is called mini-HDMI (Type B) and will be mainly found on some laptops and tablets; the smallest is micro-HDMI (Type C) found on devices like tablets and smartphones. Find one on Amazon.
Meanwhile, DisplayPort is available in just two main sizes and has 20 pins. Like HDMI, there is the full-size version but only one smaller alternative which is called Mini DisplayPort (made by Apple) and is the same physical port as Thunderbolt. Find one on Amazon.
It’s worth noting that some devices come with both DisplayPort and HMDI ports rather than just offering one.
Resolution, picture quality and bandwidth
DisplayPort version 1.2 can support video resolutions of up to 3840 x 2160 pixels (4K) at a refresh rate of 60Hz, and it supports all common 3D video formats. In terms of bandwidth, it can manage 17.28Gbps. Version 1.3, when it arrives, will support up to 8192 x 4320 (8K) resolution, or two simultaneous 4K streams. It will also double bandwidth to 32.4Gbps.
The downside of DisplayPort at the moment is that it doesn’t support ethernet data, and the standard doesn’t have an audio return channel. However, it is capable of multiple video outputs which means more than one display. See also: How to connect two displays to a laptop with one DisplayPort connector.
Meanwhile, HDMI version 1.4 is the most common at the moment. This supports the same 4K resolution as DisplayPort 1.2, but at just 30Hz (or 4096 x 2160 at 24Hz). HDMI 2.0 is newer on the scene in a few devices such as this Sony TV. This doubles the refresh rate to 60 Hz as well as increases bandwidth from 10.2- to 18Gbps.
Unlike DisplayPort, all HDMI supports return audio and you can buy versions which include up to 100Mbps ethernet.The former means you can upstream audio to a device like an AV receiver if, for example, your TV gets broadcast TV but you don’t want to hear the audio from the built-in speakers.
It also supported Consumer Electronics Control (CEC), a feature which lets users control enabled device with one remote control.
In terms of audio, there’s really no difference as both the latest versions of HDMI and DisplayPort support up to eight channels of digital audio at up to 24-bit and 192kHz.
Most HDMI cables are short (a metre or two) and if you want to cover a long distance you might need to use a signal booster or an ‘active’ cable which amplifies the signal itself. The HDMI standard doesn’t specify a maximum length.
For DisplayPort, you can deliver 4K video over a length up to 2 m using a passive cable. You can run a passive cable up to 15 m but you’ll be limited to 1080p (full-HD) resolution, as defined by the standard. In practice it should manage up to 2560 x 1600-pixel resolution over 5 metres without issue.