Monitors – Your HDMI and DisplayPort Questions Answered

There seem to be many ways to connect your monitor to your computing rig these days. What you need comes down to individual preference and usage of the monitor.

Do you use it for office work mostly or gaming, maybe a mix of both?

If you’re working from home do you want it mainly for word processing or would you like to use it for multi-row spreadsheets?

For gaming, whether you want to play 3rd party shooters or prefer simulators well that will dictate what refresh rate you need. Don’t worry all will be explained below.

Whatever your requirements, how you hook up your monitor will have a direct impact on how it performs and determines if you will get the full performance from it.

Some methods of connection are not as good as others, and some benefits can be confusing over other options available on the market.

I will shed some light on commonly asked questions in this article. If you don’t want to read the whole thing use the Table of Contents to jump to the section that interests you.

Is Displayport Better than HDMI for Gaming

This is probably the question that I get asked the most.

If you get this wrong then you will find yourself with a sub-optimum system, lacking in color depth quality and refresh rates.

The first thing that should be uppermost on your mind is which type of connection your current graphics card supports. If it’s either HDMI (High Definition Multimedia Interface) or DisplayPort, and you don’t have the budget to upgrade it, then the choice has already been made for you.

You have to go with what connection your card already supports.

But what if your GPU supports both HDMI and DisplayPort, or you have the budget to upgrade your card to something better? Which should you go for, is there a need to upgrade? Let’s find out.

Well, both technologies are old and stable, HDMI first appeared in 2002 and DisplayPort in 2006. Both have benefitted from major update releases over the years and the really good news is that the versions are all backward compatible for both standards.

If you’re viewing this on your mobile phone hit the columns button on the table below to choose the columns that most interest you.

HDMI VersionYearData RateResolution by Refresh Rate
2.1201742.6 Gbps1440p @ 240 Hz
4K @ 144 Hz
8K @ 30 Hz
2.0-2.0b2013, 201614.4 Gbps1080p @ 240 Hz
4K @ 60 Hz
8K @ 30 Hz
1.3-1.42006, 20098.16 Gbps1080p @ 144 Hz
1440p @ 75 Hz
4K @ 30 Hz
4K @ 60 Hz
1.0-1.2a2002, 20053.96 Gbps1080p @ 60 Hz
DisplayPort
2.0201977.36 Gbps4K @ 240 Hz
8K @ 85 Hz
1.4,1.4a2016, 201825.92 Gbps8K @ 120 Hz
1.3201425.92 Gbps1080p @ 360 Hz
4K @ 120 Hz
5K @ 60 Hz
8K @ 30 Hz
1.2200917.28 Gbps1080p @ 240 Hz
4K @ 75 Hz
5K @ 30 Hz
1.0,1.1a2006, 20078.64 Gbps1080p @ 144 Hz
4K @ 30 Hz

The two standards over time have settled into their respective niches quite well. DisplayPorts are usually found being used on computers and monitors while HDMI has settled into the multi media space and is used for TVs and AV devices that connect to them.

Is It Better to Use HDMI or Displayport for Gaming

Due to its support for V-Sync, G-Sync and FreeSync frame syncing, you should use a DisplayPort for your fast gaming.

Currently, it offers almost double the bandwidth of HDMI, and when it comes to chaining more than one monitor to the same output port that becomes invaluable.

If you are only going to use one monitor then the distinction becomes a little more blurred. If you’re using a 4K monitor then HDMI is going to offer a refresh rate of 144 Hz while DisplayPort comes in at 240 Hz.

If your monitor can take advantage of these rates will it make much of a difference? Bearing in mind that 240 Hz monitors are expensive, you may want to hold off on buying at this level of technology for a while.

For the majority of gamers, 144 Hz is the standard to aim for. While only the competitive players may benefit from going higher. So the latest versions of HDMI or DisplayPort would be ok for most.

However, choose DisplayPort if possible as it will be easier to upgrade your monitor (when they’ve come down in price) in the future to take advantage of the capabilities of your card.

The jump from 144 Hz to 240 Hz will be noticeable but not as much as from 60 Hz to 144 Hz.

Should I use HDMI or DP for 240Hz?

Currently, HDMI only offers 240 Hz at 1440p resolution so I would say definitely go with DisplayPort in this scenario.

DisplayPort v2.0 can go to 4K at 240 Hz. Please note that at 240 Hz you cannot chain multiple monitors together. You will need to use 1 DisplayPort for each monitor you want to run at 240 Hz.

Can you get 240Hz with HDMI?

Yes, it is possible to get the HDMI port to support 240 Hz but only at 1440p. You will need a cable that supports at least HDMI v2.1 to attain this.

HDMI V2.0 can support 240 Hz but at the 1080p resolution.

Don’t forget that just because your graphics card and cable support these rates does not mean that you will get them. You will need to confirm that your monitor or TV can also support these rates.

Is DisplayPort or HDMI better for 144Hz?

Both HDMI and DisplayPort can be used for 4K resolution at 144 Hz refresh rate so either standard will do.

For HDMI you will need at least v2.1 for 4K @ 144 Hz.

DisplayPort v2.0 will support 4K @ 144 Hz. But note that at v2.0 it will support 2 monitors daisy chained at that resolution.

Can DisplayPort do 4K 240Hz?

Yes, if your DisplayPort is at v2.0 then it is able to carry 4K at 240 Hz.

At this refresh rate, it is only able to support 1 monitor per cable, and whether it can support another at this rate with a separate cable is dependent on your GPU.

How to Connect 2 Monitors with HDMI and Displayport

You cannot daisy-chain monitors with HDMI and DisplayPort combinations.

HDMI only supports connection directly to the source of the signal. In effect, this means connecting directly to your computer’s graphic card.

HDMI is not capable of daisy-chaining two monitors together.

It is of course possible to use the two cables, HDMI and DisplayPort, straight from your graphics card (assuming the ports are there) into the two monitors. Without loss of signal quality.

When you are using a 2 monitor setup, try and ensure that they are of the same resolution, ideally the same make and model. This makes it a lot easier on the operating system when it attempts to scale applications.

How Many HDMI Ports Should a Monitor Have

As you can’t daisy-chain monitors with HDMI then the purpose of the HDMI cable is to get the feed from the source, which is probably your computer, to the monitor.

So all things being equal then 1 HDMI port is all you really need.

However, there is always an exception. In this case what if you have two PCs under your desk and there is only room for one monitor? In this case, a monitor with two HDMI ports will come in handy. Or maybe you share your monitor with your PC and Xbox for example.

This is why there are 2 HDMI ports on some monitors.

To switch between the two sources means changing the feed in the monitor’s menu system but it is doable if a little inconvenient.

A better alternative for this scenario would be to employ an HDMI splitter which would be a small box that sits on the desk that you can just punch a button, or flick a switch, to change source feeds. This is also great for when your monitor only has 1 port but you still need to attach 2 PCs or other equipment.

Both computers would have their HDMI cables going into the back of the splitter but only 1 HDMI cable would come out of the front and be connected to the monitor.

What DisplayPort cable do you need for 144Hz?

DisplayPort cables have the benefit that they all can utilize any of the functionality of previous versions.

The only difference between the cables for DisplayPorts is the transmission speed (bandwidth) available.

So that cable you bought for your DP v1.0 card can be used when you upgrade that card to v2.0 but it will not take advantage of the quicker speeds v2.0 Offers.

Let’s look into the DisplayPort speeds and cables needed to get them.

There are 5 data rates attainable with the different DisplayPort versions which have been named so ordinary Joe’s like us can remember them easier.

  1. Reduced Bit Rate (RBR)
  2. High Bit Rate (HBR)
  3. High Bit Rate 2 (HBR2)
  4. High Bit Rate 3 (HBR3)
  5. Ultra High Bit Rate (UHBR)

With the exception of 5 Ultra High Bit Rate, DisplayPort cables can be used interchangeably between 1-4. To use Ultra High Bit Rate which is for DisplayPort v2.0 then you must use a cable rated at that level.

Here are the transmission levels achievable at each rate

Transmission ModeMonitorsResolutions Supported
Reduced Bit Rate11080p @ 60 Hz
1.62 Gbps/lane
High Bit Rate11440p @ 60 Hz
2.70 Gbps/lane14K @ 30 Hz
High Bit Rate 2 14K @ 60 Hz
5.40 Gbps/lane22560 x 1600 @ 60 Hz
41920 x 1200 @ 60 Hz
High Bit Rate 3 14K @ 120 Hz
8.1 Gbps/lane18K @ 60 Hz (DSC)
24K @ 60 Hz
Ultra High Bit Rate24K @ 144 Hz
10 Gbps/lane34K @ 90 Hz
13.5 Gbps/lane28K @ 120 Hz
20 Gbps/lane310K @ 60 Hz
116k @ 60 Hz

Source: www.displayport.org

But bear in mind this does not mean that all DP cables of the same rating are created equal. Just make sure to buy your cable from a reputable dealer to ensure the quality is not compromised.

How Many Gaming Monitors Do I Need

For a fully immersive gaming experience, three monitors may sound like the ultimate gaming setup. With a huge amount of screen real estate in front of you, it would be impossible not to be drawn into the game.

However, with a big display area comes big processing requirements.

Gamers rely on very fast response times and refresh rates. Pushing these types of rates out of a GPU can be costly and when it’s multiplied by 3 then the cost for that card can be very large indeed.

Having said that the addition of 2 extra monitors to your existing 1 is usually straightforward. Any more than this usually requires some serious thought and setup.

The best approach to the “How many monitors” question is to go with a 2 screen setup and then add another if you feel the need.

When adding more monitors remember if you can’t get the exact make and model of the current monitor then try and get 1 that matches its resolution. So if you have a 4K monitor then get another 4K.

Conclusion

If you’re still reliant on that huge monitor you bought 10 years ago for video production there’s no need to fret. All the versions of the DisplayPort standard support adapters for VGA and DVI as well as HDMI. So you can continue to use it until it finally gives up the ghost and throws its last pixel onto the screen.

Due to the increased bandwidth available try and use DisplayPorts for your computers. It will mean higher response times and greater refresh rates.

HDMI is more than adequate for your audio-visual requirements.