DisplayPort 1.4 vs. HDMI 2.1: A Detailed Comparison

Advancements in technology have led to breakthroughs in the creation and transmission of data. Gone are those days when the only available option for video sharing is VGA cables. Today, some of the best monitor cables, such as HDMI and DisplayPort, are giving us so much more value than what was obtainable about a decade ago.

However, there has been a raging debate about the efficiency of various models of these data-sharing technologies. Since the launch of HDMI 2.1, a lot of concerns, especially about game lovers, have been on how it compares with DisplayPort 1.4 in terms of resolution, bandwidth, refresh rate, costs, and several other variables. And so, in this DisplayPort 1.4 vs HDMI 2.1 article, we will look extensively at both of them and give our verdict on which one we consider the best. Read on!

What Is DisplayPort 1.4?

The display port is an ever-evolving digital display standard to tackle display issues like visual and audio quality lagging and enhance user experience. DisplayPort 1.4 is the newest addition to the series, introducing its fair share of improvements.

Staying true to its roots, the DisplayPort 1.4 synchronizes an impressive refresh rate with a clean output, reduces latency, and maintains a fast-motion video playback. It creates an immersive viewing experience with crystal-clear audio and video, just like the other display port cables.

With the DP 1.4, you can still connect older versions of the DP port and transmit between old and new devices, thanks to its backward compatibility feature. In addition, it supports HDR, Adaptive Sync, DSC, and many advanced audio technologies. 

It combines stunning visual output with improved audio capabilities that make it suitable for home theatres and professional audio work. This display port adequately caters to the ever-growing demands of the multimedia space and remains a top choice for modern displays.

What Does a DP Port Look Like?

A DisplayPort (DP) port is a digital interface that connects different display devices like monitors, graphics cards, and laptops to transmit audio and video signals. Depending on the size and intended use of the connector, the physical appearance may vary. Generally, a DisplayPort connector exists in three major variants:

  • Standard size: this one is rectangular in shape with one chamfered edge, and it comes with 20 pins.
  • Mini-size: a bit smaller than the standard size and almost square in shape, the mini-size DisplayPort has two filleted edges and comes with 20 pins.
  • USB-C: this is the smallest size of DP port available. It’s rectangular with rounded edges. Unlike the others, this one has 24 pins.

What Is HDMI 2.1?

Manufacturers continually improve HDMI connectors, and the newest advancement is the HDMI 2.1. Though there’s hardly any change in the physical appearance of the new cable and previous versions, the improvements are in the features. 

It takes the display experience to the next level by offering high refresh rates of up to 120Hz and supports high video resolution of up to 8K. It’s a popular choice among gamers, developers, tech enthusiasts, and many who intend to get crisp picture and video display quality.

What Does an HDMI Look Like?

An HDMI connector is one shape you cannot easily confuse for another due to its unique design. First, you must understand that there are different types of HDMI 2.1 cables based on their size. But guess what? They all look alike in shape, unlike the DisplayPort connectors, whose shapes change considerably with their types.

The HDMI ports resemble a rectangle with two chamfered edges, transforming it into a trapezium. One reason HDMI connectors come in different sizes is mainly to accommodate a wide range of devices that need the technology. For example, some DSLR cameras use HDMI for video transmission.

Going by the small nature of these cameras, installing a standard-size HDMI port in them may be impossible or bulky. Hence, the connector has smaller sizes—micro and mini—built for devices of this nature. Also, if you attempt to count, you’ll realize that all HDMI connectors have a total of 19 pins.

DisplayPort 1.4 vs. HDMI 2.1: Difference in Data Transmission Rate

Data transmission rate refers to how fast a data cable can transmit data from one device to another within a second. Measured in gigabytes per second (Gbps), this metric is an important factor when choosing between DP 1.4 vs. HDMI 2.1 as it gives you an idea of whether the cable is suitable for high-performance operations.

Both cable types did great here. But HDMI has the upper hand over DP here with rates of 48 vs. 25.92 Gbps, respectively.

DisplayPort 1.4 vs. HDMI 2.1: Difference in Specification

These connectors are designed with different features and are optimized for various applications, so as expected, their specifications are similar. Let’s take a look at them.

DisplayPort 1.4 Specification

DisplayPort 1.4 may not be as widely used as its HDMI counterparts, but it certainly has lots of great features that position it as the favorite for most people. Here are the top specifications of this cable:

  • The display port 1.4 supports a high dynamic range format. However, its HDR support is static, meaning that you cannot change HDR settings in between scenes like with HDMI 2.1.
  • The DP 1.4 specification supports 5120×2880 at 60Hz.
  • It can also support 8K (7680×4320) at a refresh rate of 60Hz with the use of a 4-2-0 pixel structure in HDR and standard modes.
  • The new 1.4 DisplayPort has a bit class rate of HBR3.
  • It is accompanied by a DSC 1.2
  • DP 1.4 has an amazing feature that allows you to connect up to four screens at the same time. 

HDMI 2.1 Specification

  • In terms of resolution, HDMI 2.1 supports full HD, 4K, 5K, 8K, and 10K
  • It has impressive sound features, including the enhanced audio return channel (eARC)
  • Its HDR feature enables it to display better pictures with high color contrasts.
  • In the gaming space, HDMI 2.1 made lots of improvements to cater to faster and heavier games without watering down the playing experience. To reduce latency and lag, it has Variable Refresh Rate (VRR), Quick Frame Transport (QFT), and Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM) features. It also supports a quick media switching protocol that removes blank screens while content is still loading.

DisplayPort 1.4 vs. HDMI 2.1: Difference in Maximum Bandwidth

Bandwidth is an important factor when considering the best display technology. This is because it tells how fast and clear the video output will be. DisplayPort 1.4 bandwidth peaks at 32.4 Gbps, with its highest resolution being 8K. It’s noteworthy that the video quality strains as it approaches this resolution.

When you juxtapose this with what’s obtainable from HDMI 2.1—48 Gbps and 10K max resolution—you would agree that the latter is the clear winner. This means that if bandwidth is a deal breaker for your video project, you may have to opt for HDMI 2.1.

DisplayPort 1.4 vs HDMI 2.1: Difference in Maximum Supported Refresh Rate 

The refresh rate simply means how often a display device shows an image within a timeframe of one second. This figure, being measured in Hearts (Hz), determines whether there would be lag and increased latency in a video output or not. For instance, if a transmission technology has a refresh rate of 60Hz, it means it draws or displays 60 images every second. 

In the HDMI 2.1 vs DP 1.4 debate, both have impressive rates. However, as the resolution under consideration increases, the refresh rates drop significantly. DP max refresh rate exists in 1080p resolution. As the resolution gets higher to 1440p, the refresh rate drops to 144Hz and to 120Hz for 2K.

This is quite different from HDMI 2.1, which has an overall maximum refresh rate of 240Hz. The difference, however, is that for HDMI 2.1, all resolutions below 4K have a refresh rate of 240Hz. That means HDMI 1440p max refresh rate is the same as 1080p and 2K, which is 240Hz. But HDMI 4K max refresh rate stands at 120Hz. 

DisplayPort 1.4 vs. HDMI 2.1: Difference in Maximum Supported Resolution

Knowing the type of resolution your preferred cable supports is an important step before purchasing any, especially if you already have a display technology you intend to use. This is because choosing dp vs HDMI 2.1, no matter how efficient, but doesn’t fit the cable port in your display, will be a waste of resources because it’ll be useless to you. For a better understanding, DisplayPort 1.4 supports 4K at 120Hz and 8K at 60Hz. Meanwhile, HDMI 2.1 supports these resolutions at better refresh rates with a maximum resolution of 10K.

1.4 DisplayPort vs. HDMI 2.1: Difference in HDR Support

HDR support is an improved standard for displaying content. Devices supporting this standard display images more accurately and have better color reproduction than those without it. Hence, the importance of pondering it in your comparison between HDMI 2.1 or DisplayPort 1.4.

Generally, HDMI 1.2 HDR support is better than that of display port 1.4, and this is because this model introduced dynamic HDR support. This ensures that you can tweak dynamic adjustments scene-by-scene. Meanwhile, DisplayPort only has a static HDR support feature, and due to its configuration, you can’t switch dynamic adjustments between scenes.

DisplayPort 1.4 vs HDMI 2.1: Difference in Audio Channel Support

One beautiful thing about Display Port 1.4 and HDMI 2.1 is their ability to offer great audio features. We can say that they are almost the same in this area. For instance, the two of them can take 32 channels. In addition, HDMI supports DTS:X and Dolby Atmos. 

On the other hand, its DP counterpart features Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD. But that’s not all. Another difference in their sound features is seen in how they transmit it. Generally, DisplayPort cable 1.4 and HDMI 2.1 receive and transmit audio waves back to your sound system. 

However, the new ultra high-speed HDMI cable takes sound delivery a step further with its eARC (enhanced Audio Return Channel). What this channel does is that it sends back preserved high-quality audio from your display, ensuring minimal loss.

1.4 DisplayPort vs. HDMI 2.1: Difference in Availability

The market availability of 2.1 HDMI vs DPort 1.4 is a statement of its use case, market share, and how likely you are to find it in retail stores. Display port is readily obtainable in the market but is limited to workstations and gaming. This is why it has been the ideal data transmission cable among gamers for years.

On the flip side, you can leverage HDMI 2.1 for different use cases and settings. But it is also popular among gamers, workers, and individuals running high-resolution monitors and televisions. The main reason it’s more available than the DisplayPort 1.4 standard is simply because manufacturers make more screens with the former than the latter.

DisplayPort 1.4 vs HDMI 2.1: Difference in Use Cases 

While HDMI 2.1 cables enjoy more use than Displayport 1.4 due to their availability, 1.4 DisplayPort cables are also an incredible choice for various applications. Here are common use cases of these data transmitters in various scenarios.

1. Displayport Vs HDMI Connection to Monitor

One of the biggest flexes in this section is DisplayPort 1.4’s capability to comfortably trump HDMI 2.1 with its unique 4-lane design. What this means is that DP can transmit video to four different screens simultaneously, depending on their resolution.

The higher their resolution, the lesser the number of screens. However, the downside here for the DisplayPort 1.4 is that it splits its bandwidth between the four monitors or screens, and this can deter the quality of the display.

On the other hand, HDMI can only output to one screen per time using its highest bandwidth. For HDMI to display to multiple screens, you’d have to get a video splitter or mixer.

2. Displayport Vs. HDMI For 4K Monitor

Both monitor connectors are fit for 4K monitors or screens; however, their refresh rate varies in this setup. For instance, 1.4 DisplayPort can only display content using a maximum refresh rate of 120Hz for 4K screens. Meanwhile, HDMI 2.1 starts at lower refresh rates for 10K monitors and goes up to 188 Hz for 4K monitors.

3. HDMI Vs. DisplayPort Gaming

Whether it’s Xbox or PlayStation, the goal of every gamer is to have the best experience. That’s why choosing HDMI or DisplayPort for gaming is one of the most important decisions you’d make as a gamer. In fact, it’s even as important as choosing between Xbox and PlayStation. Unfortunately, XBox is not compatible with XBox.

After several technical considerations and checks in the DP vs HDMI gaming debate, we concluded that both technologies were built with gamers in mind. The only difference is that only later models of DisplayPort technologies, such as DP 2.0, can comfortably compete with HDMI 2.1 in terms of speed. 

That means DisplayPort 1.4 may not be the best fit as long as a high-performance gaming experience is needed. But if you’re considering FHD or something close to it, you can opt for any of the two display technologies.

4. Graphics Cards With HDMI 2.1 Vs. DisplayPort 1.4

The graphics card or graphics processing unit calculates images that will be displayed on your screen. Generally, both technologies come with excellent graphic cards. However, judging by the incredibly high data rate of HDMI 2.1, we will have to call it the winner. For a simple game without so many graphics requirements, you may not even notice the difference between DP 1.4 vs HDMI 2.1.

Tabular Representation of the Difference Between HDMI 2.1 Vs. DisplayPort 1.4

Now we’ve taken a look at the various features and differences between both cable types, let’s summarize them in the table below:

Features HDMI 2.1 DisplayPort 1.4
Release Date November 2017 March 2016
Audio Support Supports up to 23 audio channels Supports up to 23 audio channels.
Maximum Resolution Support 4K at 188 Hz

8K at 60Hz

10K at lower refresh rates

4K at 120Hz

8K at 60Hz

Maximum Bandwidth 48 Gbps 32.4 Gbps
HDR Support Dynamic Static/Standard
Number of Displays Supported One Up to four
Audio Return Channel Equipped with enhanced audio return channel No
Gaming Ideal for console gaming, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 5 Great option for PC gaming and casual gaming
Availability Widely available Gaming and workstations

Is DisplayPort Better Than HDMI?

Variety, they say, is the spice of life. And that’s why we have various video transmission technologies with their respective pros and cons. From the obvious difference between DisplayPort and HDMI in this review, it’s difficult to outrightly say which one is better than the other. 

Rather, we can easily make deductions based on their unique strengths and weaknesses. In terms of being able to connect to multiple screens, DP is the clear winner. 

But when it comes to other features like bandwidth, resolution, and speed, HDMI has the upper hand. As such, HDMI is best for high-end video operations such as Blu-ray, cinema screens, and any other high-performance operations. However, for any output below 8K, any of them can work comfortably.

Also, HDMI 2.1’s incredible eARC features make it the perfect choice for the best gaming experience. Nonetheless, whichever one you decide to opt for, you can get your video walls, monitors, and LED screens equipped with HDMI 2.1 or DisplayPort 1.4 technologies from the best manufacturer in the world, NSE Clouds. Contact us now to learn more about our products and services. 

Frequently Asked Question(s)

1. Do Monitors Come With DisplayPort Cables?

Some DisplayPort-compatible monitors come with DisplayPort cables in the packaging. However, it depends on the manufacturer. The manufacturer also determines how long the cable they would attach to the packaging would be.

2. Does DisplayPort Support 144hz?

Yes, DisplayPort supports 144Hz refresh rate in 1440p resolution. DisplayPort 1.4 also supports 240Hz, but only in 1080p (FHD) resolutions. For other resolutions higher than 1440p, the refresh rate gradually drops up to 60Hz in 8K resolution.

3. How Much Data Can DisplayPort Carry?

The maximum data a DisplayPort cable can carry depends on the version and how many cable lanes are in use. DisplayPort 1.4 has a data transfer rate of 25.92 Gbps, while DisplayPort 2.0’s maximum rate is 80 Gbps on the basis of 20 Gbps per lane.

4. What Devices Use DisplayPort?

Devices that use DisplayPort include video walls, graphics cards, some rare televisions, desktop monitors, and laptops.

5. What Data Does HDMI Carry?

HDMI carries both audio and video data. As such, you don’t need a separate cable to transmit audio when using HDMI.

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