Insider’s Guide to Display Adapters

March 30, 2015

We have all seen all the different types of display adapters that can be used to connect a desktop or even a laptop to an external monitor.  Some of us use them just to have a second or even third screen.  Others just want to have a larger screen.  But did you know there are different adapters?  So what is the best adapter to use and what are the differences?

The most widely known adapter is the VGA adapter.  This is the blue adapter that’s probably the most familiar and still the most widely used connector for monitor connections.  And that’s one of of its biggest pros. That means that may pieces of equipment still have these connectors and many users have the wires.  Almost all projectors and monitors still have a built-in VGA connector. The wires are easy to find and can be found in just about any store, fairly cheaply.  The cons of using VGA are these.  Signal can easily degrade depending on distance, thickness of the VGA wire, and even when connecting to a digital piece of equipment.  Since VGA is an analog signal, it does not convert to the newer digital stream that most new pieces of equipment use very well.  The biggest drawback to me is that VGA is just not as clear or have as sharp of a picture as other connectors.

The next adapter type is Display Port.  There are two different versions of this type: single layer and dual layer.  The biggest difference is that the dual layer is capable of a higher resolution.  Dual layer is capable of 2560×1600 which is a nice improvement of the 2048×1536 maximum resolution of VGA.  Other pros of DVI are that it can be used with either VGA or HDMI connectors to allow you to connect to devices that do not have the DVI connection.  This makes DVI a very versatile connector. The cons are that they are larger connectors and like VGA, cannot carry audio or data.  Finally they do not support as many colors as the newer adapters below.

The third connector type is HDMI.  The older standard of 1.4 brought many things to the table over DVI.  It is able to carry audio and data across the wire, supports a wide range of colors and video formats, and even supports 4K resolution.  Most modern equipment has this type of connector and it is very easy to add to desktops.  The cons are that there is no locking mechanism, it does not support very high aspect ratios, and cannot handle multiple streams at once.  The newer 2.0 version fixes all of that but the locking mechanism.

The final adapter type is Display Port.  This is probably the best connector due to the fact that it has the most pros.  The pros include: a locking mechanism, it can be converted to all other formats and adapters, it supports 4K resolution, is capable of audio and data transfer, multiple video streams, and large aspect ratios.  There really are no drawbacks that are worth mentioning when talking about connecting a computer to a monitor.  These connectors are easy to add to desktops and the wires are not expensive.  Overall a great choice when it comes to a display adapter.

So what are the best connectors to purchase? I suggest either HDMI, since everything new has it or Display Port since they are such great connectors.  But keep in mind that they are both digital connectors and you really will not see a difference in quality.  It just comes down to what connector type is available to you and which is easiest to use.  I hope this helps to shed some light on the differences between display adapters.

As always, please post your comments and questions below or email me directly.

Sign up to stay in touch