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video cablesWhen you buy a new computer, it’s important to look at what type of output ports it supports. After all, you want to be able to easily hook it up to your computer monitor, or the projector at work or in school.

The reason most projectors, and even a lot of displays have multiple input ports is because there’s no clearcut standard for video connectors. In fact, there are multiple standards of computer video cables. Three of them are still actively competing for a spot on your laptop’s side. These are VGA, DVI and HDMI.

If you spend some time around computers, they may already look familiar. The purpose of this article is to teach you the difference between these three types of cables, both visually and technically.


VGA, or Video Graphics Array, is the most famous of the bunch. First produced in 1987, VGA has had plenty of time to get its roots down. Despite being slightly outdated, VGA is still featured on a lot of new computers because it’s the biggest thing the computer and display market has in terms of a computer video standard.

video cables

VGA cables carry an analog signal as opposed to a digital signal (ones and zeroes). Using higher frequencies, it’s possible to reach a relatively high range of video resolutions. However, video quality directly responds to cable quality, and doubly so on higher resolutions. Due to this, the quality of a VGA image can variate notable across different makes of cables.

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difference between vga and dvi

The connector features fifteen pins spread over three horizontal rows and has a typical trapezoid shape, as you can see in the pictures above. Although computer and display fabricants are free in the design, the color blue is often associated with VGA ports and connectors.


DVI can be considered one of VGA’s successors, but although the connector is appearing more and more on computers and displays — especially on higher-end graphics card and high-resolution computer displays — DVI doesn’t have the mainstream fame that VGA does.

difference between vga and dvi

To make things more difficult, there are multiple types of DVI connectors. With exception of the least famous DVI-A connector, all of them work with uncompressed digital video. This means that the picture quality is not so heavily dependant on the quality of your cable; you either get a signal or you don’t. The difference is in the lay-out of the pins.

DVI-D is characterised by the single flat blade on one side of the connector, showing no pins above or below the blade. This can be seen in the screenshot above. DVI-D is for the sole transmission of digital video.

DVI-I looks very similar to DVI-D, but does have four pins surrounding the flat blade. These pins carry an analog signal, for compatibility with the VGA standard. This makes DVI-I connectors able to carry a digital and analog signal.

difference between vga and dvi

DVI-D and DVI-I connectors come in two additional flavours. Single-link, as demonstrated in the first picture, misses a section of pins in the middle of the connector. Dual-link connectors feature a single block of pins (three times eight), which allows to reach much higher resolutions.

More in-depth information and diagrams can be found on Wikipedia.


If DVI is the successor to VGA, HDMI is a possible successor to DVI. Possibly due to its appearance on high definition televisions, HDMI has known a quick rise to fame. Thanks to this compatibility with newer televisions, and its compact size compared to DVI, the HDMI connector is increasingly showing up in computers and computer displays as well.

difference between vga and hdmi

HDMI, like DVI, is designed for the digital transmission of uncompressed data. However, besides a video signal, HDMI can also carry up to eight channels of compressed or uncompressed digital audio.

video cables

There are actually five HDMI connector types. The most famous one, type A, is what you’ll find in most of your appliances today. It’s also the connector we pictured above.

What video connectors do you have on your computer? Let us know in the comments section below the article!

  1. The Boss
    May 17, 2016 at 1:30 am

    What about DisplayPort?

  2. Santana
    April 25, 2016 at 4:47 pm

    I have a monitor and tried using a hdmi cable to connect to laptop. I wanted to view what I see on laptop on monitor. The monitor is bigger and better screen quality. Why doesn't the hdmi cable work? I am going to buy a VGA cable and see if that'll work.

  3. Mervyn Erasmus
    March 17, 2016 at 6:25 am

    Hi there... I would like to know what is the two round adapters for in the SVGA cable.
    I hope someone can answer me on this...

    December 18, 2015 at 5:01 am

    hello guyz can i use HDMI TO HDMI both to my MONITOR TO Videocard has a HDMI port and DVI, monitor has a HDMI AND VGA port.however my main question is that can i use HDMI TO HDMI TO MY MONITOR TO MY CPU in my videocard?

    • subhasish nayak
      March 22, 2016 at 11:51 am

      yes, u can

  5. Ed
    December 4, 2015 at 10:24 am

    Someone wants to e-date me? I am hot irl. Name is Ed. Got six pack and stuff. Not muscles but six packs of chips. xoxoxo you could be mine today, yummy xx

  6. Edward kings lyn
    December 2, 2015 at 12:10 pm

    love you xxx

    • Owen Pow
      December 2, 2015 at 12:10 pm

      me too xxx

  7. Michael Weldon
    October 13, 2015 at 8:58 pm

    Still using VGA here; it's always been, and always WILL be, the most reliable of the bunch.....

  8. All Smartlife
    September 15, 2015 at 8:31 am

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    Our products are exported to countries around the world following all of the safety, testing and protocols each country requires. ASL offers factory-direct pricing and quality-tested products that will meet and exceed your expectations.

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  9. Dyhannie Jae
    July 17, 2015 at 9:59 am

    My laptop has only HDMI port and the projector has VGA port. what solution can you suggest? i have a hdmi to vga cable. do i need a converter for it to work?

  10. Nirjhar Garg
    March 16, 2015 at 3:24 pm

    I have a old Samsung Plasma TV that does not have any HDMI port. It does have a DVI-D port though. With every streaming device now having only a HDMI port, I intend using a HDMI-to-DVI-D-converter to connect my ROKU box with this Plasma TV. Would I still get the audio out of my ROKU using HDMI-DVI converter into the TV?

  11. Jenny
    March 12, 2015 at 6:34 am

    HDMI is compatible with VGA as well yes?
    I just want to confirm so I know what I'm doing when I go buy adapters/converters because I want to connect an external monitor to my laptop.
    My laptop sadly only has HDMI (ugh) while the external monitor has both VGA & DVI-D...
    So it seems like an HDMI & DVI-D converter works!
    But I wonder if that is maybe the best connection for me? :)
    Would HDMI/DVID or HDMI/VGA work better?

  12. doodles
    January 27, 2015 at 1:25 am

    THANK YOU SO MUCH. I am new to the AV industry and I got more out of this article than any where else!

  13. sunny farrygia
    February 12, 2013 at 2:19 pm

    can i connect my dvd from vga port to my tv with verious ports

  14. Alex Perkins
    September 12, 2012 at 4:33 pm

    Thank you, always wondered about the DVI having different pins sometimes.

  15. Aung Thu Htet
    September 9, 2012 at 6:28 am

    I am searching for about this and now thank for your post. It is precious for me.

  16. Akash Kotak
    September 8, 2012 at 6:40 pm

    nice info

  17. Udit Minocha
    September 7, 2012 at 5:53 am

    Purchased my Dell at the end of 2007 and I only have VGA.

  18. Kasey Bell
    September 6, 2012 at 6:37 am

    Adding to this article would be a great way of storing all the different types of wires! Omg to many wires

  19. Leland Whitlock
    September 5, 2012 at 2:06 am

    Even though VGA is starting to go away with all the adapters and what not it is unlikely to disappear anytime soon. It is just very reliable in most cases. HDMI looks like a weak connector. And DVI though it works well seems to be dying quickly. Unlike VGA it seems to have no staying power...

  20. Lambvolution
    September 4, 2012 at 12:40 am

    i'm still using VGA :)

  21. nikhil agarwal
    September 3, 2012 at 8:41 pm

    I only have a VGA port on my laptop. Didn't know much about these different ports when I bought laptop.

  22. Fer
    September 3, 2012 at 7:19 pm


    Really interesting. Whay about the Display Port? I've seen this kind of port in many today's boards.

    • Jeremy Collake
      September 4, 2012 at 2:54 am

      As MakeUseOf pointed out to *me* on G+, the latest DisplayPort is actually called Thunderbolt now. Fortunately, its rights are owned by INTEL, not Apple. Needless to say, this matters ;). This interface has all the bandwidth to do *everything* we need. "Thunderbolt is interoperable with DisplayPort 1.2 compatible devices. When connected to a DisplayPort compatible device the Thunderbolt port can provide a native DisplayPort signal with 4 lanes of output data at no more than 5.4 Gbit/s per lane. When connected to a Thunderbolt device the per-lane data rate becomes 10 Gbit/s and the 4 lanes are configured as 2 channels with each bidirectional 10 Gbit/s channel comprising one lane of input and one lane of output.[2]". -wikipedia

      • Fer
        September 4, 2012 at 3:40 am

        Thank you Jeremy :)

      • subhasish nayak
        March 22, 2016 at 11:54 am

        display port is better than HDMI..

  23. Danny Chamorro
    September 3, 2012 at 6:53 pm

    Nice and useful article. I just have one question, why not include DisplayPort?

  24. Jeremy Collake
    September 3, 2012 at 5:09 pm

    I love this idea of educating the masses on these simple things. Us geeks have known for years, and it doesn't take much to look up the differences. However, it is important for Joe Consumer to understand, as the manufacturers *sure don't* explain the differences when buying - especially low-end - monitors and such. It *is* too bad you didn't add DisplayPort though, as *that* may be the future of how we dock our mobile devices to multi-monitor setups with keyboard and mouse all with one cable. Let me add one more thing: Avoid Analog at all costs. You want Digital. Digital Digital Digital. No DVI-A (or analog over DVI-I). .. and, again, DisplayPort - watch for it! Want to future proof your next monitor purchase? Buy one with a DisplayPort (DP) input.

    • Freedom Schultheiss
      September 17, 2012 at 8:52 am

      When you mentioned the DisplayPort, is this the same port that is referred to as a "Mini DisplayPort" on my MacBook Pro?

  25. GrrGrrr
    September 3, 2012 at 4:50 pm

    Thanks, useful article

  26. Denis Paley
    September 3, 2012 at 2:49 pm

    Nice article which helps clear up the mystery about the different connections for video. I find this to be especially helpful in covering the differences between the various DVI connecters which can be confusing. One thing to remember is that you don't need to spend horrendous amounts of money on the digital cables as the inexpensive ones will carry the digital signal as well as the expensive ones.

    • Kasey Bell
      September 6, 2012 at 6:40 am

      I was wondering that ie... Gold plated hdmi $45 as good as the $15? And is there much quality loss with adding adapters

  27. Naoman Saeed
    September 3, 2012 at 2:00 pm

    VGA and HDMI

  28. Naoman Saeed
    September 3, 2012 at 1:58 pm


  29. MerVzter Balacuit
    September 3, 2012 at 12:03 pm

    i want to try some kind of connector other than vga but because in my country its little bit expensive i dont know when will be happen |:(

  30. Ahmed Khalil
    September 3, 2012 at 11:31 am

    HDMI is the future now, rarely we can get modern labtop with out HDMI , and it is used in all LED,LCD TV.

  31. Vampie C.
    September 3, 2012 at 11:31 am

    You even have HDMI with network support, although I have no clue what it means, or can do.

  32. druv vb
    September 3, 2012 at 10:36 am

    My "old" Geforce from 2008) features twin DVI but my monitor has only analog input, thus using an adapter, coupled with humidity killed the card 2 days ago.
    (I was absent for 1 month, and this happened!!)

    Looking for a new GPU now.
    Maybe I'll be going for a Radeon that has almost all connections DVI + HDMI and maybe a composite!

  33. Usman Mubashir
    September 3, 2012 at 10:18 am

    only VGA, and my PC is roughly 5 yo.

  34. Tug Ricks
    September 3, 2012 at 10:14 am

    Whoa, I always wondered what those were all about. Thanks!
    My Lenovo laptop sports VGA and HDMI connections, but no DVI.

  35. Wolfgang Grajonka
    September 3, 2012 at 8:34 am

    Um. That's not really what "interlaced" means.

    • Simon Slangen
      September 3, 2012 at 11:57 am

      You're right, and what a stupid typo it was!
      (integrated ? interlaced)

      Thanks for pointing that out. It should be fixed soon.

  36. Dionyshs El
    September 3, 2012 at 7:39 am

    Someone had to do it eventually. Nice article indeed.

    • Simon Slangen
      September 3, 2012 at 12:15 pm

      Thank you, I'm glad you enjoyed it. :-)

      • Tommy
        January 26, 2013 at 5:36 am

        What you recommend connect my computer to projector (DVI or VGA). It has both. I plan to connect my desk top to watch movie and surf the net with it. My compter does has HDMI but projector is not. Thanks in advance.

        • Simon Slangen
          January 26, 2013 at 11:02 am

          If you can, I'd suggest using DVI.

  37. susendeep dutta
    September 3, 2012 at 7:14 am

    My monitor has DVI and VGA port and VGA port is used to display the monitor.

  38. vineedcool
    September 3, 2012 at 4:50 am

    i use vga :P,,cozz its on cheaper side!!!

  39. Saumyakant Sahoo
    September 3, 2012 at 4:46 am

    yeah....thats some good info.....well my laptop has a VGA and a HDMI

  40. rama moorthy
    September 3, 2012 at 4:22 am

    My Computer having VGA type of video connectors ..!

  41. ferdinan Sitohang
    September 3, 2012 at 3:06 am

    very helpful article, since lots of people have different understanding about those type of cables.

  42. Paul Harris
    September 3, 2012 at 2:38 am

    My laptop (ASUS X52F) has a VGA and an HDMI, but no DVI.

    • Simon Slangen
      September 3, 2012 at 12:13 pm

      They've covered most of their bases with it. HDMI is electrically compatible with DVI, so you can buy very small, very cheap convertors for it.

  43. venkatp16
    September 3, 2012 at 2:26 am

    Nice info... Thanks a lot

  44. Ashok Sundar
    September 3, 2012 at 2:19 am

    In trending technology, HDMI is playing a vital role, where the picture quality comes in HD.
    Nice article with a perfect highlights.

    • Simon Slangen
      September 3, 2012 at 12:10 pm

      Thank you, I'm glad you thought it useful. :-)

      I'm a big believer in HDMI myself. Like VGA for analog video, it's perhaps the closest we've come to a universal digital video standard.

  45. Eserpess der
    September 3, 2012 at 1:56 am

    I have DVI-D, Know I feel old school! XD

  46. illegal3alien
    September 3, 2012 at 1:45 am

    Also worth noting is HDMI is compatible with DVI (minus the audio). You can pick up a $1 adapter on Amazon to convert DVI to HDMI (or vice-versa). There are also devices that allow you to hookup DVI and audio out to a HDMI connection.

    Newer video cards support audio out over HDMI so you can hook your computer up to the TV and hear sound by only plugging in an HDMI cable to your video card.

    • Simon Slangen
      September 3, 2012 at 12:05 pm

      You're right, HDMI type A and C are electrically compatible with DVI-D. You need to be careful with what type of DVI, though. Below is a small overview.

      DVI-D HDMI (modulo audio)
      DVI-I --> HDMI (modulo audio)
      DVI-A VGA
      DVI-I --> VGA

      Not possible without a special converter:
      DVI-A HDMI
      DVI-D VGA

      Feel free to correct me if I made a mistake.

      • Simon Slangen
        September 3, 2012 at 12:08 pm

        My arrows disappeared. Let's try that again, shall we?

        DVI-D (to and from) HDMI (modulo audio)
        DVI-I (to) HDMI (modulo audio)
        DVI-A (to and from) VGA
        DVI-I (to) VGA

        Not possible without a special converter:
        DVI-A (either direction) HDMI
        DVI-D (either direction) VGA

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