Common Graphic Card I/O Connectors and Interfaces Explained

Written by Yamadron on Wed, Aug 8, 2012 12:00 AM

Graphic Card I/O Connectors and Interfaces

Nowadays, graphics cards can have many different connection ports suitable for different uses. Some are common, others optional and often it gets confusing. We are going to explain some of the Input/Output port differences here...

There are 2 electronics systems signals worldwide; Digital Signals and Analog Signals. Digital Signals are always preferred since they are less susceptible to noise than Analog and always easier to deal with.

Now, let’s talk about the different connectors:

 

VGA (Video Graphic Array)

Signal Type: Analog

Max. Resolution: 2048 x 1536 @ 85 Hz

Transmits Audio: No

 

This type of connector is one of the D-Sub (D-subminiature) or often called DE-15. That is why some people confuse between VGA and D-Sub . They think they are different. D-Sub has many connecters of various shapes and types. VGA connecter is one of them which is commonly used in computers. So if you are talking about computers, that means VGA = D-Sub.

It is mainly used to connect to external monitors. It was used on old graphic cards and weaker ones. It is also still available on nowadays laptops.

 

VGA

 

 

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S-Video (Separate Video)

Signal Type: Analog

Max. Resolution: 720 x 536 @ 50 Hz / 720 x 480 @ ~60 Hz

Transmits Audio: No

S-Video is one of the old video connecter that was introduced before DVI was introduced. It was common in laptops and some desktops. It is considered obsolete now and no longer used. It is also known as Y/C because the signal is carried onto two separate signals. "Y" is called lumen and "C" is called chroma.

 

S-Video

 

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HDMI (High Definition Multimedia Interface)

Signal Type: Digital

Max. Resolution: 2560 x 1600 @ 75 Hz / 4096 x 2160 @ 24 Hz

Transmits Audio: Yes

 

HDMI is one of the newly introduced technologies and it’s very common among laptops, gaming consoles, HD Digital Televisions, DVD players and Blu-Ray players. It can also carry Audio signal along the line with various compressions like DTS, Dolby Digital and LPCM. The main advantages of this interface that the Video/Audio carried along is uncompressed, thus no quality lost while transferring Video/Audio providing superior Video quality and very pure Audio quality.

Since this interface is digital, every digital interface has an interface. The HDMI interface is called “TMDS” (Transition-minimized differential signaling). This protocol is also used in DVI interfaces and all digital communication interfaces. It also has a very high bitrate reaching 10.2 Gbit/s (340 MHz) by the new 1.4 Version.

 

Versions

Version 1.0 – 1.2a: This was the first versions introduced to the market. The maximum resolution since then was 1920 x 1200 @ 60 Hz (24-bit) with a bandwidth of 4.95 Gbits/s (165 MHz)

 

Versions 1.3: This version was a better one and along this version a newer highest resolution was introduced as 2560×1600 @ 75 Hz with a bandwidth of 10.2 Gbit/s (340 MHz) (24-bit) and 1920 x 1200 @ 60 Hz (48-bit). This version also has an updated list of CEC commands compared to the previous version.

 

Version 1.4: This version is considered the latest now supporting higher resolutions than Version 1.3 and supporting “3D over HDMI” technology. The new highest resolution is pumped to 4096 x 2160 @ 24 Hz with a bandwidth of 10.2 Gbit/s (340 MHz) (24-bit) and 1920 x 1200 @ 60 Hz (48-bit).         

HDMI

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Display Port

Signal Type: Digital or Analog or Both

Max. Resolution: 2560 x 1600 @ 75 Hz

Transmits Audio: Yes

 

DisplayPort is the first display interface to rely on packetized data transmission (Packets of Digital Bit Steams of 0’s and 1’s) mostly, like Ethernet for Internet Data Transmission or USB for Data Transmission or Control Signals. DisplayPort is not like a DVI or HDMI and is not compatible with them unless it is a Dual Mode DisplayPort. Dual Mode DisplayPort ( DP) is exactly like a Single Link DVI or an HDMI using the same protocol “TMDS”. One Main advantage of the DP that it has more than double the bandwidth of HDMI at 21.6 Gbits/s (720 MHz). DisplayPort is currently available in Apple, Lenovo and HP systems and monitors. It is also available is some AMD/Nvidia Graphic cards as well as Home Theaters. There are to variants of Display Port, the normal one and a mini one (which is mainly used be Apple). 

 

DisplayPort

 

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DVI (Digital Video Interface)

Signal Type: Digital or Analog or Both

Max. Resolution: Single Link: 1920 x 1200 @ 60 Hz / 3840 x 2400 @ 17 Hz

                            Dual Link: 2560 x 1600 @ 60 Hz / 3840 x 2400 @ 33 Hz

Transmits Audio: No

 

Digital Video Interface is a video interface standard designed to provide very high visual quality on digital display devices such as flat panel LCD computer displays and digital projectors. It is the recent connecter for nowadays graphic cards. Graphic Cards have up to 2 DVI connectors for Dual Display capability.

There are different variants of DVI like Mini-DVI and Micro-DVI which are mainly used on Apple MacBook computers.

There are 3 Types of DVI connectors:

    * DVI-D is DVI connector which only carries Digital Signals where “D” stands for “Digital”.  
    * DVI-I is DVI connector which can carry both Digital and Analog signals where “I” stands for “Integrated”.  
    *DVI-A is less common and it can carry Analog Signals only.

Each of DVI-D and DVI-I has 2 types of Links, Signal Link and Dual Link. Dual Link should not be confused with Dual Display. Dual Link DVI connecters are used to allow resolutions up to 2560 x 1600 @ 60 Hz instead of 1920 x 1200 @ 60 Hz for a Single Link, by adding another Data Link (extra 6 pins in the middle), thus increasing the total bandwidth.

 

DVI S/D

 micro-mini-dvi

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06:26 Aug-09-2012

Great job buddy. But problem is we cant search blog topics. :/

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20:56 Aug-09-2012

I'm sure that's a feature Felix is already working on ;)

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03:34 Aug-09-2012

I honestly learned a great deal and started going hey i had one of those on the older ports and analog ports. Good job on the article.

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04:08 Aug-09-2012

I am glad to help. Thanks :)

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17:15 Aug-08-2012

Really nice job :D

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21:23 Aug-08-2012

Thanks man :)

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13:44 Aug-08-2012

Thumbs up dude.Really I never new vga was a d sub port.And to think till now that the vga port and dvi d where totally different.Very Informative.

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13:30 Aug-08-2012

What cable do i need if my monitor has a dvi-d connector and my video card dvi-i connector ?

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13:49 Aug-08-2012

good question, I guess both DVI-I and DVI-D cable will work

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21:19 Aug-08-2012

No both won't work. You have to get a DVI-D cable. DVI-I Cable won't even fit inside your monitor DVI-D connector due to extra pins on the Analog side. DVI-D male can go with either DVI-D or DVI-I Female Connectors. DVI-I male only fits with DVI-I female. Understand it like this, Digital goes both ways ;)

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15:18 Aug-08-2012

I'm curently using a vga cable, so will the quality be better with a dvi cable or its not worth to make a change ?

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15:21 Aug-08-2012

I read somewhere that DVI cable is better for newer monitors (all after old CRT) because the signal should be more constant, supports more advanced colour profiles and the screen shouldn't "wave"..

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21:22 Aug-08-2012

That is right but only in the case of 48 bpp. If you are on 32-bits, then you can get a converter, as you are using SINGLE LINK only. By SINGLE LINK, I mean you are not going above 1920 x 1200 !. But either way. I prefer DVI over VGA.

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15:27 Aug-08-2012

Thanks :)

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13:00 Aug-08-2012

Guys, If there are any grammatical or spelling mistakes, please don't be picky. I am sure the topic will remain understandable. I can't edit the blog or it will be removed from the news page. Thanks :)

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05:52 Aug-09-2012

Don't worry about it, it's looking mighty great ;)

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12:25 Aug-08-2012

Just what I wanted to study about. Thanks for taking the time to write this. One question, HDMI > DVI. Right?

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12:28 Aug-08-2012

Not the case. It depends on what you want. For a home theater or gaming console, HDMI will be the choice since it can transmit both A/V together. For PC gaming, If you are using a monitor or multi-monitors, then DVI is the way to go. If you are going to connect your PC to a TV, then HDMI.

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13:10 Aug-08-2012

it's more about compatibility competition;
manufacturers of gfx cards make dual-DVI+HDMI, notebooks have VGA+HDMI, 5:4 monitors have VGA+DVI, new TVs have couple of HDMI....
***and Apple comes with Thunderbolt and mini HDMI ×)

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13:25 Aug-08-2012

This Thunderbolt will really be a Thunderbolt. Apple is smart :D

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18:08 Aug-08-2012

So a DVI port is what I should look for when selecting a PC monitor instead of a HDMI port?

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21:11 Aug-08-2012

Yes, I prefer to to use DVI for PC monitors. No need really for HDMI. It is still OK, to use it, But you will have to adjust your Audio to be output from the Sound card not the HDMI. So yes, DVI is the way to go :)

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03:34 Aug-09-2012

Thanks man. I've been wasting my time searching for 22" monitors with HDMI all this time :)

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12:18 Aug-08-2012

Thnx dude..helpful article. Now I understood what kind of DVI connector I has.

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11:57 Aug-08-2012

For the Dual Mode DisplayPort, it is called ++DP. I don't know where the heck the ++ is gone xD

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12:23 Aug-08-2012

IKR. Seem to be a bug. I forgot to report to Felix the last time. So instead using the symbol type "plus" in the meantime ;)

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13:07 Aug-08-2012

I already found many things that don't work in article (like italic fonttype), but I don't care about it:)

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11:32 Aug-08-2012

Nice :)

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11:30 Aug-08-2012

Great guide man! Keep it up!

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10:31 Aug-08-2012

Thanks man, Really helpful:)

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10:20 Aug-08-2012

great job dude..... thankx a lot......

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11:47 Aug-08-2012

Not at all mate. Thanks for your idea :)

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09:18 Aug-08-2012

thx for making such blog, now I understand differences between certain types of DVI and HDMI (I never thought there are different versions because the connectors look almost same and are backward compatible:)
#I have one question: I have an old laptop with S-Video connector and TV input that should be albe to plug into it; what res will I get on laptop screen then?? (TV is just regular non-LCD 4:3 old one)

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11:47 Aug-08-2012

Most CRT Televisions are 480p. So the resolution will be 720 x 480 @ 60 Hz.
Thanks for your comment :)

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12:12 Aug-08-2012

Actually, it's more likely to be 640x480 since his TV is 4:3 :)

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12:26 Aug-08-2012

Yup. It is 640 x 480. Sorry tzzsmk. I am really tired if not dying. I am still awake for continuous 36 hours xD. Thanks for the correction kapitulp :)

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13:03 Aug-08-2012

go for sleep Yam, really...

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13:25 Aug-08-2012

Yea. I guess just right now ....

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12:15 Aug-08-2012

...And kudos on the article, by the way - it really saves people the hassle of staying up all night to google for these things :D
that's how I had to learn :'( thumbs up!!

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