DisplayPort vs HDMI vs DVI for Gaming: Which One Should You Use?

DisplayPort, HDMI, & DVI are all standard methods of connecting your computer to your monitor. However, each display interface works a little bit differently and, in this guide, we cover those differences and how they will impact your system when gaming.

DisplayPort vs HDMI vs DVIWith the recent surge of high-resolution and high-refresh-rate monitors hitting the market, choosing the right cable to use to connect your computer (or, graphics card) to your monitor has never been more important of a task.

Four-to-five years ago, when higher resolution gaming was rare and higher refresh rate monitors weren’t as prevalent, any of the three common display interfaces (DVI, HDMI, & DisplayPort) would be a viable option to use to hook up your monitor to your computer.

Nowadays, though, choosing the wrong display interface can actually limit the quality of the picture your display will be able to output in certain scenarios. So, in this guide, we’re going to go over the main differences between DisplayPort, HDMI, and DVI and how those differences can affect your gaming experience.

Quick Overviews of Each Display Interface

Before we dive into the different scenarios where the three common digital display interfaces will (or won’t) make sense to use, let’s first give a brief overview of each.

DisplayPort

The DisplayPort interface is the result of a bunch of manufacturers in the PC hardware and peripheral industry getting together to create a display interface that would replace the DVI and VGA interfaces and help them avoid the royalty fees associated with using HDMI ports. The DisplayPort interface’s primary function is to, obviously, connect a video source to a display device. However, DisplayPort can also transfer audio data, USB data, and other forms of data as well. DisplayPort can support displays up to 8K resolution and 4K monitors with refresh rates as high as 240Hz. DisplayPort comes in both standard DisplayPort format and mini-DisplayPort format.

HDMI

HDMI, which stands for High-Definition Multimedia Interface, is an interface that is capable of transferring both video and audio data from a video/audio source to a display or audio output device. While, in the past, HDMI lagged behind DisplayPort in the maximum resolution it supported (and the maximum refresh rate it could deliver at higher resolutions), with the release of HDMI 2.1, HDMI currently now support displays with as high as 10K resolution, and it can also support 4K displays that have a refresh rate up to 240Hz. HDMI comes in three different formats: Type A (standard), Type B (mini-HDMI), and Type C (micro-HDMI).

DVI

DVI, which stands for Digital Visual Interface, is another common display interface. Unlike HDMI and DisplayPort, DVI only transfers video data. And, while it is worth mentioning as one of the more common display interfaces, the reality is is that in comparison to what HDMI and DisplayPort offer, there really isn’t anything that DVI brings to the table that the other two don’t. As a result, DVI is likely in its latter stages as a commonly used display interface. DVI does have two different formats, single-link, and dual-link, and of the two, dual-link has a bit more flexibility in what it can support (we’ll discuss that in a moment).

DisplayPort vs HDMI vs DVI For 1080P Gaming

In terms of standard 1080P 60Hz monitors, all three of the common display interfaces are viable options. While DVI doesn’t have as extensive support for ultra-high definition resolutions as DisplayPort and HDMI do, it can handle 1080P gaming just fine.

And, even if you want to game on a 1080P 144Hz monitor, all three of these interfaces will work. It’s important to note, though, that a single-link DVI cable will not support a 144Hz refresh rate at 1080P resolution. You’ll need a dual-link DVI cable in order to use the DVI interface to push a 1080P 144Hz display.

So, the reality here is that for basic 1080P gaming, any of these interfaces will work. And, so, if you already have a 1080P monitor and a DVI/HDMI/DisplayPort cable, keep using that as long as your graphics card has a DVI/HDMI/DisplayPort port on it.

DisplayPort vs HDMI vs DVI for 1440P and 4K Gaming

For higher resolution gaming, namely 1440P and 4K (really, there aren’t a lot of people gaming at higher than 4K) any of DisplayPort, HDMI, or DVI (dual-link) will work. However, when you bring refresh rates into the fold, your options will narrow a bit.

And, really, it’s at these higher resolutions and higher refresh rates where the different versions of HDMI and DisplayPort need to be considered. So, let’s just run down the different scenarios and which interfaces will work with them.

1440P Display Interface Options

1. At 1440P and a 60Hz refresh rate, DisplayPort, HDMI, and dual-link DVI will work.

2. At 1440P and a 144Hz+ refresh rate, DisplayPort 1.2 (and later) and HDMI 2.0 (and later) will work. DVI will not work.

4K Display Interface Options

1. At 4K and 30Hz refresh rate, DisplayPort 1.0 (and later), HDMI 1.3 (and later), and dual-link DVI will work.

2. At 4K and 60Hz refresh rate, DisplayPort 1.2 (and later), and HDMI 2.0 (and later) will work. DVI will not work.

3. At 4K and 144Hz refresh rate*, DisplayPort 1.4 (only using Display Stream Compression), and HDMI 2.1 will work. DVI will not work.

*It should be noted that, at the time of writing this post, there have still only been a couple of 4K 144Hz monitors that have been released. And, also, that DisplayPort 2.0 won’t be available until the end of 2021.

Which Interface is Right for You?

While there are some other minor differences between DisplayPort, HDMI, and DVI, this article outlines the most common scenarios for gamers in order to help them choose the right interface (cable) for their specific gaming needs.

The reality is that, for most gamers who are playing at 1080P and 60Hz (or, even 1080P and as high as 144Hz), any of the three interfaces will work just fine. And, so, if you already have a DVI/HDMI/DisplayPort cable, there will be no performance advantage in switching to another interface.

As you reach higher resolutions and refresh rates, though, DVI starts to become unviable in more scenarios. And, in those scenarios, newer versions of DisplayPort or HDMI will be required. So, for the majority of gamers, the right display interface will simply come down to the resolution and refresh rate that they will be playing at, as well as the connection options available on their graphics card and monitor.

Need Help Choosing A Display Interface?

If you’re unsure of what interface you should go with for your setup, let us know what monitor you have and what graphics card you have and we will point you in the right direction.

Hey, I’m Brent. I’ve been building PCs and writing about building PCs for a long time. Through TechGuided.com, I've helped thousands of people learn how to build their own computers. I’m an avid gamer and tech enthusiast, too. On YouTube, I build PCs, review laptops, components, and peripherals, and hold giveaways.

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