DisplayPort vs HDMI: Which Is Better For Gaming?

The more modern DisplayPort or the tried and tested HDMI – This is a widely debated topic, especially among the gaming community. Both have their fair share of ups and downs, and both offer a wide range of features across different resolutions and refresh rates. 

But the bigger question is, in the present scenario where the ultra-high 5k or 8k resolutions and high refresh rate are speedily making their way to the mainstream, which port can keep up with this fast-paced development.

Depending upon the gaming setup you got, it becomes even more challenging to decide between DisplayPort and HDMI. Although some gamers will go with the DisplayPort without a second thought, the HDMI port is not all devoid of excellent features. 

Only by carefully weighing the capabilities of both HDMI and DisplayPort individually and putting them in the context of the gaming rig you have got will you be able to correctly decide which option will be better for you.

Let’s have a look at the features and capabilities of DisplayPort vs. HDMI.

Table of Contents

DisplayPort vs. HDMI – Backstory

DisplayPort was developed to replace the aging VGA and DVI ports that have been around since the early days of modern computers. VESA, the association behind the development of DisplayPort, was looking for a more capable port with better bandwidth and video output; therefore, the DisplayPort came into existence.

HDMI was a joint venture development comprising six companies, including Panasonic, Philips, Sony, Toshiba, Hitachi, and Silicon Image. The HDMI port was started first and therefore gained a considerable lead then the DisplayPort.

DisplayPort vs HDMI – The Capabilities

HDMI

We will start with the port which has a more widespread presence – the HDMI port. It stands for High Definition Multimedia Interface. It’s currently the most pervasive connector out there that you’ll find in most modern displays. The HDMI port, since its inception, has gone through many changes to reach where it is today. That’s the reason all the HDMI ports do not perform the same. HDMI supports only FreeSync.

The HDMI 1.4 is the most preferred version. It claims to deliver 1080p resolution at 144 Hz, which may seem lucrative to gamers. But in actual tests, it is only good for 2560 by 1600 resolution with a refresh rate of 75 Hz. Now that doesn’t look much appealing if you are a high-core gamer.

It’s a popular belief that HDMI 1.4 does not support 4k, but in actuality, it can. The catch here is that it only supports it at the sloppy 30 Hz refresh rate. So you can see why it is not ideal for this resolution. The HDMI 1.4 port also has multi-channel audio and free sync support and can also transfer ethernet data.

HDMI 2.0 can easily run 4K at 60 Hz and 8k at 30 Hz and produces more vibrant colors. The 2.0 version also supports the 21:9 aspect ratio and the 3D stereoscopic format, features not present in lower versions of HDMI ports.

The latest available version of the HDMI port is the 2.1 version. It can supports up to 10K resolution at 120Hz It has a bandwidth 48 GB cable to truly enjoy the higher resolution and refresh rate. Furthermore, it brings support for variable refresh rates like FreeSync, more and much more like Dolby Atmos and DTS-X support. 

Breakdown of HDMI Versions:

HDMI 1.4: It supports resolutions up to 4K [4096×2160] at 24Hz or 4K [3840×2160] at 30Hz, or FHD [1920×1080] at 120Hz. 

HDMI 2.0: It supports resolutions up to 4K [All above resolutions] at 60Hz and newer ones (2.0A & 2.0B) also include support for HDR displays. 

HDMI 2.1: Resolutions up to 10K at 120Hz and enhanced HDR capabilities along with better Audio Return channel or eARC that allows support for Dolby Atmos and DTS-X. 

DisplayPort

It’s not nearly as wide in use as HDMI, you will find the DisplayPort only in modern monitors  It Supports both G-SYNC and FreeSync. The DisplayPort 1.2 is the most popular, and a must for all gaming monitors with NVIDIA G-sync.

The DisplayPort 1.2 can easily handle the 21.6 Gbps bandwidth with the inclusion of HBR 2 mode. Both the features combine to enable the DisplayPort 1.2 a higher resolution and refresh rate with more vivid and vibrant color. It can efficiently work up to 60 Hz at 4K. You can also do daisy-chaining for multiple video streams with DisplayPort 1.2.

The next higher version of the DisplayPort is the 1.3 version. With increased bandwidth support it can churn out a 5k resolution at 60 Hz and 4k at 120 Hz. It can even go further and support 8k at 30 Hz. You can easily hook up two 4k displays or four WQHD displays through daisy-chaining and squeeze up to a 60Hz refresh rate.

The next version of the DisplayPort is 1.4. If we talk about the resolution you can be certain of getting 4k and 8k with HDR. The former resolution value can easily tolerate a 120 Hz refresh rate, while with the later resolution value you can get about a 60 Hz refresh rate. Moreover, the DisplayPort 1.4 also packs HDR 10 support.

The latest available version of the Display port is the 2.0 version. It allows for resolutions up to 16K along with higher refresh rates. It has a near-tripled bandwidth over DisplayPort 1.4. It handles a hefty 16K (15,360 × 8,460 resolution) with HDR at 60Hz and 10K(10,240 x 4,320) resolution without HDR at 80Hz.

Breakdown of DisplayPort

DisplayPort 1.2/1.2A: Apt for resolutions up to 4K at 60Hz. 1.2A supports AMD FreeSync with a bandwidth of 21.6 Gbps

DisplayPort1.3: Apt for resolutions up to 4K at 120Hz and 8K at 30Hz with a bandwidth of 32.4 Gbps

DisplayPort 1.4: 8K at 60Hz along with HDR Support with a bandwidth of 32.4 Gbps

DisplayPort 2.0: Up to 16K at 60Hz with HDR and 10K at 80Hz without HDR with a bandwidth of 80 Gbps

DisplayPort Vs HDMI: Which is Better for Gaming?

In terms of specs, DisplayPort seems to be the winner. If you are into high-end gaming, then DisplayPort is the one to go with. DisplayPort 1.4 is far better than HDMI 2.0, HDMI 2.1 technically superior than DisplayPort 1.4, and DisplayPort 2.0 should win HDMI 2.1. Its capabilities of handling higher 16K resolution at a reasonable enough refresh rate make it an excellent choice. Other than that, make sure that both GPU and display are compatible with the single port. 

But if your usage is around 1080p at 60 Hz, then the visuals will be pretty identical across all the digital ports presented, which means HDMI and DisplayPort. If this is the resolution and refresh rate you are comfortable with, don’t worry about ports too much. Just go with whichever port you want, you won’t see any visible enhancement in the picture quality.

Conclusion

We hope that by now you have enough information to correctly decide between DisplayPort Vs HDMI. DisplayPort seems to be a shade better than the HDMI port. You can go with it if you are into high-end competitive gaming. For the majority of users who strive for a balance between quality and performance, HDMI is not a bad choice either.

Ankit is a software engineer. A pro lover of Technology and tech gadgets. Our team is here to help you find the best monitor products to decide which one is best for you.

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