DisplayPort 101: What It Is And Why It Matter

DisplayPort is a set of cables, ports, and standards that are used for audio/visual transmission. A group of computer and chip manufacturers designed DisplayPort to replace the older A/V standards like DVI and VGA.

Why Does DisplayPort Matter?

Most people use HDMI connections for their televisions and computers. So, why should anyone care about DisplayPort? DisplayPort 2.0 is by far the most impressive set of standards that have been released to date. Displays that feature this port will be released later this year and they will be impressive.

DisplayPort

Most people are probably familiar with 1080P, 4K, 8K, etc. But, what does that mean? These numbers refer to the number of pixels that are found on the horizontal axis. In other words, on a 4K monitor, there are around 4,000 pixels in each pixel row. The “p” in 1080p stands for ‘progressive scan’ which was a new way to provide high-definition video at the time it was released.

DisplayPort interfaces when compared to other connections, transfer at the highest resolution. The new DisplayPort 2.0 has a max resolution of 16K. The current DisplayPort 1.4 standard has a max resolution of 8K.

However, the maximum resolution is not the only number that matters. Refresh rate and color depth also factor into your viewing experience. These three factors also depend on the maximum bandwidth of the connection. Still, DisplayPort 2.0 is better than HDMI 2.1 in every category.

DisplayPort Versions

Past

In 2006, DisplayPort initially launched with version 1.0, which was quickly updated to version 1.1 the year following. The early cables were pretty limited, offering a maximum of 10.8 Gbps of bandwidth.

Present

DisplayPort 1.2 and 1.4 are the versions that are most common on the market today. If you are looking on Amazon this is what you are likely to find. DisplayPort 1.2 has a maximum resolution of 4K and 1.4 has a max resolution of 8K. However, it is important to note that the maximum resolution, refresh rate, bandwidth, and color depth will also be determined by the screen itself. If you buy a DisplayPort 1.4 cable, but your computer only has a maximum resolution of 2K, it will still display at 2K resolution. 

DisplayPort

Future

Companies are currently preparing to release high-definition displays capable of 16K resolution, and these displays will feature DisplayPort 2.0. DisplayPort 2.0 will have significantly higher standards than HDMI 2.1 and will be the preferred choice for high-end TVs.

At 16K resolution, the DisplayPort 2.0 standards can support 60Hz. However, perhaps more importantly, the standards feature an 8K resolution at 120Hz. If you are confused, Hz is the measurement of frequency. In this case, it is measuring refresh rate, or how many times a screen can update itself in a second.

Although DisplayPort 2.0 was announced in 2019, it takes time for companies to start producing devices to utilize the higher capabilities of a new standard. Many quality control steps need to be taken to make sure the connection will work effectively. Still, if you are looking for the next generation of TV, there should be some TVs on the market that use DisplayPort 2.0 by the end of 2021.

DisplayPort

Types of DisplayPort Connections

In addition to the main DisplayPort connection, there are other types of connections that use DisplayPort technology. The two most relevant connections are the Mini-DisplayPort and the ability to use a USB-C connection through DP Alt Mode.

Mini DisplayPort

The Mini Display port connection type was invented along with the DisplayPort 1.2 in 2009. The goal of the Mini DisplayPort was to allow for DisplayPort connections in small devices like laptops. Mini DisplayPort connections were featured on Google Surface devices and MacBook devices. But the most recent versions of these devices don’t have a Mini DisplayPort connection.

DisplayPort

DP Alt Mode 

DP Alt Mode allows for DisplayPort Video signals to be transferred through a USB-C connection. This allows a BlueRay player to be connected with a USB-C connection. It also means that some laptops can be connected to a larger display using USB-C.

DP Alt Mode is the main reason that more recent devices don’t have Mini DisplayPort connections. They serve a similar purpose, but a USB-C connector is more versatile and universal.

However, not every USB-C port has DP Alt Mode capabilities, and not every USB-C cable follows the USB-IF standards. Be sure to buy your equipment from reputable companies. Non-compliant cables can damage your devices.

DisplayPort Dongles

DisplayPort connections are not as common as some other connections, like HDMI. If you have a device that uses a DisplayPort connection you might need a dongle or adapter to connect to it. Most monitors feature HDMI and DisplayPort inputs. So, if your HDMI port is damaged you might want to use the DisplayPort through the use of a DisplayPort to HDMI  adapter

Mini DisplayPort to HDMI

If you have a Google Surface device or an older MacBook you might have a Mini DisplayPort. To connect these to a standard HDMI display, you will need to use a Mini DisplayPort to HDMI adapter

Mini DisplayPort to HDMI/VGA

If you want a slightly more capable adapter, you can opt for a Mini DisplayPort to HDMI/VGA converter. This device will allow you to connect to new devices through HDMI and old devices through VGA. It should be noted that you won’t be able to use two devices at the same time with an adapter, you would need a splitter.

Future of Connections

Given the fact that DisplayPort 2.0 has such high-performance standards, DisplayPort connections are likely to become more popular. The next generation of high-end TVs is likely going to use a DisplayPort connection to take full advantage of that higher performance. It is possible that you are all ready using DisplayPort technology through your USB-C connection and you are not even aware of it. 

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