The Truth About DisplayPort vs. HDMI

Lots of customers I talk to are interested in understanding the  differences between DisplayPort and HDMI display interfaces. Recently, I saw a PC World article from Tom Mainelli where he questioned the benefits of DisplayPort compared to HDMI.  That's why I wanted to take some time to share Dell's perspective on this. In our view, both interfaces will be increasingly important for PC users and will coexist to meet different product applications.

HDMI is intended as an external consumer electronics connection for HDTVs.  It is rapidly replacing S-Video and component video as the primary connection to TV sets.  HDMI appears on consumer monitors so that they can be connected to Blu-ray Disc players, game consoles, and other consumer electronics. This allows the monitor to be used as an entertainment display.  HDMI is also found on PCs to enable connectivity to HDTVs.

In contrast, DisplayPort is the digital interface for connecting flat-panel displays to computer systems. It will eventually replace VGA, DVI, and LVDS in IT equipment such as home and office PCs, projectors, monitors, and data center consoles.  HDMI is not designed to meet these internal and external IT connectivity requirements…it is an external consumer electronics interface.

HDMI is based on legacy CRT raster-scan architecture. DisplayPort is designed for modern flat-panel displays and PC chipsets. DisplayPort has a micro-packet architecture with low voltage signaling that  more easily enables networked displays.  In the future,  DisplayPort will also allow daisy chaining displays at full graphics performance, including 3D. and content protection.  Today's USB-based daisy-chaining solutions do not support high performance 3D graphics or protected content.  

HDMI has rules for how to implement and use the technology. Business and enterprise customers may not want to implement all of the consumer electronics features that are required in HDMI products. In contrast, DisplayPort is the display equivalent of Ethernet….anyone can implement it in any type of application. A VESA compliance program ensures interoperability for products featuring the "DisplayPort Certified" logo.

DisplayPort supports higher performance as a standard feature-every 6-foot cable supports 10.8 Gbps. With HDMI, high performance is optional and comes at a significant cost premium. DisplayPort has better support for projectors and enables cool ultra-thin monitors. It supports native fiber optic cable and offers latching connectors, features that are missing from HDMI.  Down the road, DisplayPort will allow multi-function monitors with a single cable delivering display, audio, and USB connectivity. It will also support multiple monitors on a single connector.

I know there's more to be said on this topic, and we plan to blog more about it in the future.  If you have any questions, concerns or comments please let us know here.

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21 thoughts on “The Truth About DisplayPort vs. HDMI

  1. Bravo! As a designer of computer distribution equipment, we find it less than adequate to use something like HDMI. It's understandable why HDMI fits well with the general consumer markets, but HDMI fall short for the commercial and industrial markets. A silly as it sounds, the most attractive part about DisplayPort is the physical interconnect. A locking connector makes total sense when you are working on mission critical survelliance, traffic monitoring, etc. The DVI connector is bulky but at least you were able to lock down the connection between monitors and PC's. In industrial applications not everyone is thrilled with the embedded audio as it is usually edited and overlayed downstream.

    HDMI will no doubt dominate the commercial world like RCA jacks did over BNC connectors, but when it comes down to HDMI over DisplayPort for non-consumer applications, my bet is on DP.

  2. Awesome blog. I never truly realized the differences between DisplayPort and HDMI. I mean, I knew Dell was/is set to support DisplayPort but now after reading that I'm going to opt for DP when given the option.

  3. Thank you for this post! I had always wondered what the difference was between DisplayPort and HDMI. I'm really excited to see the daisy chain features of DisplayPort – does that mean that multiple monitors are able to display different images using only one connection?

    Can you tell us what the industry support is for DisplayPort – is this something that most video card manufacturers will be adding in the near future, or is this just going to be mainly prevelant on Dell systems?

  4. Great info.  I didn't know that about DisplayPort.  When are the new high end laptops going to have all this multi monitor support?  1 year 2?

  5. What does "content protection" mean in this context? Is it related to DRM, the "broadcast flag", "securing the analog hole", or keeping consumers from using the data being passed via DisplayPort in the ways that they might want to?

  6. Two comments. 

    Protected content is not a feature, it is a waste of time.  

    Developing products for separate silos is also a waste of time.  My home computer, work computer and my home TV won't remain separate systems.  Currently my Optiplex is driving my HD TV.  Right now my HMDI connector is not being used, so no 1080i for me.  I spent 30 minutes trying to find out if I could get HMDI on a small form factor machine.  XPS has HMDI with some adapters, but it is too big and ugly for my girlfriend.


  7. Evidently, Dell wants us to post our questions to the blog so that they can ignore them!

    Way to communicate.

  8. Ryan and Andrew, we're interested in your questions and they are good ones…keep'em coming.

    Daisy chaining with DisplayPort enables full performance display of different images on multiple monitors. This capability is enabled by DisplayPort's unique micro-packet architecture and is being developed for a future release of the DisplayPort specification.

    DisplayPort was developed by key leaders in the PC industry including chipset, graphics, PC OEM, and LCD panel manufacturers. Dell is leading the transition for our customers, and we anticipate that there will be broad industry adoption of DisplayPort. Content protection with DisplayPort means that customers are able to view high definition Blu-ray disc movies and digital cable TV content over a DisplayPort connection.

  9. I am very happy with Dells support of DisplayPort.
    I hope there will be displays that can also be used as
    TV replacement. This means 32, 37 or 40 inch with FullHD
    resolution. It could be a DirectDrive DisplayPort display. No
    need for HDMI or other legacy interfaces or an integrated
    Videoscaler. Scaling is the responsibility of the graphic card.

    The Dell 3008WFP is “only” a big computer monitor that can
    be used as small (and expensive) TV.

  10. I would like to know how multi-monitor support works in DP.

    If I buy a video card today that supports DP, how do I support more than one monitor? Ultimately I'd like to support 4 but I'll settle for 2 now.

    Please show me the path and I will buy 2 monitors now (24in). If I can not support multi-monitor today, then what are the pieces I will need? I want to build a system now that suports this scenario. What are the missing pieces and how will they be delivered?


  11. Great post Bruce…  But why isn't Dell enabling your "cool ultra-thin monitors"?  Both 2408WPF and 3008WFP have almost everything but the kitchen sink (2408 actually has VGA!) instead of what you promote.

    On IdeaStorm I suggested a range of lean, mean ultra-thin 20", 24" and 27" DisplayPort monitors going to say WUXGA's 1920×1200 (maybe less – WSXGA+ at 1680×1050 – for the 20") with a ~5ms time.  I'd prefer it not even have HDMI… but please, none of the legacy connections. I'd likely buy a 20" and a 24" by year-end, but know others who want 27" and larger.

    Dell is ham-stringing DisplayPort by not putting out even a single line giving us all the benefits but none of the extras (and no humungous Crystal-like glass surrounds either, please – looks pretty but takes too much room and adds unneeded expense).  One of the benefits was to be lower complexity and cost – when will we see that?  Will we see that? 

    (If you give us all this – especially if Dell starts selling FireMV and FireGL DisplayPort cards for a complete solution – I suspect they'll go like hotcakes.)


  12. I like the topic but I am trying to build up a system that I can store my DVD's (inc Blu ray) on and then play them back to the TV.

    Given that people will not replace scratched DVD's this was I can store them onto my 5TB SATA RAID and only have to "play" them once.

    I do not see many TV/audio manufacturers producing DP machines.

    Are DELL going to make a true DP and HDMI system so that the users can decide?

  13. The extra information is good, but I still don't see DP becoming the industry leader.  It will be a long time before monitor manufacturers (including Dell) start removing the monitor's video controllers with legacy support and let DP do all the work… there is too much of a demand for backwards compatibility, and if you have to pay for the controller anyway, why put a lot into displayport development…

    All the great intentions in the world won't get you anywhere if adoption isn't widespread.  If displayport had all these cool features at launch like daisy chaining and multi-monitor support, then it might have gotten a better foothold.  For now however, its only marginally better than HDMI (locking connector?) and noone wants to be stuck as the only one holding another failed technology.

  14. So how do you play an HDCP protected Blu-Ray disc on your laptop and output it via displayport, the oh so much more powerful and adequate connector?


    Answer: You don't since DisplayPort does not support HDCP


  15. DP "does" support audio but even Dell's business laptops that have DP do not support audio through it. i learned this the hard way…

  16. DP looks like it has more potential but is it practical for the end user considering almost everything nowadays has multiple hdmi?
    HDMI is simple. video and audio through a single cable.
    so far, all DP products i've seen do not have audio but the spec does which causes much frustration to users like me with my new dell laptop. once all dp ports output audio as well, then you can say dp is better.

  17. As a PC user, I hate this "in between" phase.  I want a standard to be there and for people to use it.  I just got a new graphics card and there are THREE *different* connectors on it.  Plus an adaptor for another.  Enough!!!

    Now, I don't know what will happen between DisplayPort and HDMI.  Personally, I like HDMI while most of my friends say Displayport will make HDMI history on graphics cards, citing Blu-Ray fighting off HD-DVD (?!).  I remember people saying the same about Betamax over VHS and look what happened there.

    Still, it's only a mild preference I have and times will change.  I just which the computer graphics market would hurry up and make its mind up!

  18. As of today, in 2016, HDMI effectively replaced the Display Port as the standard to connect PC and Laptops to monitors and other devices. Interesting piece of divergent thinking. I don't say I enjoy that this engineer was wrong but sometimes petulance can become terrible vice!

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