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List of Monitor Cable Types – HDMI vs DisplayPort vs DVI VGA USB-C Thunderbolt

List of Monitor Cable Types – HDMI vs DisplayPort vs DVI VGA USB-C Thunderbolt

Over the years, there has been a dramatic change in the monitor cable types being used to connect displays to laptop PCs and desktops. There are significant improvements noticed in bandwidth and latency decrements, along with tons of new features.

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While older cables can only transmit analog video with low resolution, many modern cables can transmit audio and digital video. A few of them can deal with power, whereas others allow you to perform advanced daisy-chaining of multiple monitors across a single string of cables.

You may be searching for a new display with a specific connector or willing to recognize ones on an older screen; the below guide thoroughly familiarizes you with monitor cable types and their features.

What Are The Different Monitor Cable Types?

The most widespread monitor cable types you will find are:

  • HDMI
  • DisplayPort
  • DVI
  • VGA
  • USB-C
  • Thunderbolt
  • Component
  • Composite

Let’s go through the descriptions of each of them:


It is a proprietary audio/video interface helpful in transmitting uncompressed video data and uncompressed or compressed digital audio from a source device that is HDMI compliant.

It is mainstream audio and video transmission cable principally used on consumer TVs and monitors, DVD players, Blu-Ray players, ultra HD players, home theatre receivers, media streamers, cable/satellite boxes, DVRs, and games consoles more than a decade. In a few rare cases, it is accessible in mini form.

The HDMI cables are further categorized into the following sub-types:

  • Regular size (Type A)
  • Mini size (Type C)
  • Micro size (Type D)
  • Automotive (Type E)

Based on features, HDMI cables are categorized into the following sub-types:

  • Passive HDMI cables
  • Active (Amplified) HDMI cables
  • Optical HDMI cables


DisplayPort (DP) is a digital display interface developed by a group of PC and chip manufacturers and standardized by VESA. The main display interface depends on packetized data transmission, a form of digital communication perceived in technologies like USB, Ethernet, and PCI Express.

Primarily, it is used to connect a video source to a display device like a computer monitor. Also, it can carry USB, audio, and other formats of data. More commonly, it is found on desktop monitors.

These cables feature numbers that depict their versions. Their bandwidth includes RBR, HBR, HBR3, and HBR2. These cables are more suitable for applications with limited connector space and high display performance.

Traditionally, DisplayPort cables have provided higher bandwidth than HDMI. You can find the Mini DisplayPort cable type that shows a miniature version of the full-size port typically located on laptops.


It is a video-only cable type commonly found on older monitors, laptops, and desktop graphics. It is extensively found in DVI-I and DVI-D formats.

Essentially, it is a digital interface that connects a video source like a video display controller to a display device like a computer monitor. The primary intention behind its inception is to create an industry standard for the transfer of digital video content.

This cable type can transmit uncompressed digital video. It can be configured to support several modes like DVI-D (digital only), DVI-A (analog only), or DVI-I (digital and analog).

Though DVI is mainly related to computers, it is occasionally used in other consumer electronics like DVD players and TV sets. Moreover, this cable type provides a rapid plug-and-play connection that is extremely easy to use and set up.


VGA represents an older analog standard of video-only cable, which obtained great fame during the early ’90s. It’s only commonly found on older monitors because it is outdated by HDMI, DVI, and DisplayPort. VGA cables are lead used for the transmission of video signals. They are most extensively used to connect computers with monitors.

Although shorter VGA cables are less expected to bring in considerable signal degradation, the decent quality cable must not suffer from signal crosstalk irrespective of length.

The expensive VGA cables have gold plating on the plugs or shielding to prevent the individual wires from external interference.

Apart from computers, these cables are also helpful to connect game consoles. They allow a game console to be used with a computer monitor that might present a better quality picture compared to older cathode ray TVs.


If you wonder which one is the most versatile monitor cable type, it is USB-C. It can transmit video, audio, and data simultaneously due to the DisplayPort Alt Mode protocol support.

In some instances, USB-C monitors can also transfer power to connected laptops. On the other hand, portable USB-C monitors can be entirely powered by a single USB-C from the host device.

Compared to older USB types, USB-C cables are easier to use. They represent a more recent type of USB connector. The size of these cables is narrow enough to fit on phones. It implies that they can work as standard connectors for phones, computers, and game consoles.

One of the most incredible benefits of using USB-C cables is they can quickly charge popular devices like the Nintendo Switch and MacBook Pro. Moreover, they can transfer data faster than any other USB cable type. Portable devices, laptops, smartphones, and security cameras can be powered using USB-C cables.


This cable type is a proprietary monitor cable type that was later restricted to Intel-based systems, varied versions of Thunderbolt-based different connectors. Both power and data are transmitted through the same cable.

Thunderbolt cables serve as the ideal data, video, and power solutions for computer monitors, PCs, hard drives, TVs, and Macs. These cables are used in business, not only in industry but also in medical, industrial, and marine, applicable in business and in-home intelligent devices, industrial, medical, automotive, military, and aerospace systems.

The interface used by Thunderbolt 1 and 2 is Mini DisplayPort, whereas Thunderbolt 3 and 4 use USB-C. It is found that Thunderbolt cables boast one of the highest bandwidth of monitor cable types. These cables can transmit data, audio, and video simultaneously.

The naming convention of these cables is interesting to note. The first time you plug this cable into a PC, you will observe an image of a lightning bolt over the USB connector. Therefore, it is called a Thunderbolt cable because the speed is comparable to the speed of lightning.

When it comes to data transfer speed, these cables provide rates up to 40 Gbps. This much speed is perceived when Thunderbolt cables are connected to the newest versions of Thunderbolt-supported devices. Their design is small and lightweight. The appearance is identical to USB-C cables.

To ensure reliability, these cables are made of premium quality materials. Their average length is 4 meters. Moreover, these cables are longer than most DVI, HDMI, or USB cables.


Component cables are three-headed cables found in DVD players. Due to these cables, DVDs can generate vivid and clear pictures compared to laser disks or VHS. The sole purpose of component cables is to convey superior quality motion pictures for your audio-visual devices.

The decent thing about component cable is that the compression rate is limited because three cables transmit the signal. These cables can support full HD resolution and progressive scan images, making the photos look smooth and defined.

These red, green, and blue connectors are occasionally included on monitors to provide an analog video connection type that is more efficient than VGA.

Nearly all the modern HDTVs and many consoles are equipped with the component cable input. Component cables are helpful for connecting cable set-top boxes and older DVD players.

The green cable denotes the transmission of information associated with the video’s brightness. The red and blue wires are responsible for carrying the relevant information. This implies that the red cable carries red information, and the blue cable carries blue information.

Each of the three cables has its specific name. The green cable is known as Y cable, red cable as the Pr cable, and blue cable as the Pb cable.


Composite cables are lower resolution alternatives to Component cables. They come with red, yellow, and white connectors. They are extensively used in set-top boxes, VCEs, and older game consoles.

The cable structure represents multiple fiber types. For instance, a private network application may call for both single-mode and multi-mode fibers. Including both fiber types in the same cable results in installation savings because it is not needed to install two distinct cables.

These cables can transmit analog composite video signals. The corresponding format chiefly transmits standard-definition videos in a single channel. Therefore, they are one-headed plugs.

Alternate names of composite cables are yellow plug cables and RCA cables. When it comes to the cable age, they are possibly one of the oldest standards accountable for transferring video signals.

The video quality may differ because the cable can occasionally suffer from a radio frequency interface that degrades the compressed signal. It is important to note that composite videos can’t transfer HD data and don’t support progressive scanning.

Some other monitor cable types you might see equipped on some displays are the legacy optical audio connector or traditional USB-A ports (for using the monitor as a USB hub).

What Monitor Cable Do I Need?

Based on your selection of monitor cable types, you have to purchase a monitor cable too. For newer standards like HDMI, Thunderbolt, and DisplayPort, choosing the latest and most efficient cables is recommended for maximum future-proofing.

You can purchase HDMI cables from the below links:

You can purchase DisplayPort cables from the below links:

You can purchase DVI cables from the below links:

You can purchase VGA cables from the below links:

You can purchase USB-C cables from the below links:

  1. USB Type-C Cable, 5 pack, 6 ft. (Check on Amazon)
  2. Anker New Nylon USB C to USB C Cable, 2 Pack:
    (Check on Newegg)
  3. Active USB-C Cable with 4K Video, 10 Gbps Data, and 60W Charging Support (Check on Cablematters)

You can purchase Thunderbolt cables from the below links:

You can purchase Component cables from the below links:

You can purchase Composite cables from the below links:

Why Cable Type Matters For A Monitor?

Various factors are involved in selecting the best monitor cable type for connecting your display. The restriction will be the physical port options on the source device and your display.

The source device can be a desktop PC, laptop, games console, etc. Apart from this, bandwidth limitations are also essential to consider. The same can influence the refresh rate and the maximum resolution your monitor can operate. Additional features that need to be considered are eARC and HDMI’s ARC.

Though all of the formerly listed monitor cable types can provide video output to compatible monitors, they all have enormously different capabilities.

Hence, it is vital to select the appropriate one based on the content to be watched or played on the device on which it is to be watched or played.

Best Monitor Cable Type for Productivity and Gaming:

The best monitor cable type for gaming can be the one that is compatible with your gaming system (desktop PC, console, or laptop) and your monitor. Moreover, it must provide you with the maximum possible bandwidth.

It is particularly true if you target high frame rates (100+ fps) and ultra-high resolutions such as 4K.

Best Gaming Monitor Cable Type:

If you are using the latest games consoles like PlayStation 5 and the Xbox Series S/X, you need to use an HDMI 2.1 cable that is connected to an HDMI 2.1 gaming monitor/TV.

This way, connecting offers you all the necessary bandwidth and explores the options of using eARC to reduce cabling in the surround sound speaker setups.

HDMI 2.1 is still an excellent choice for desktop and laptop gamers. It provides all the necessary bandwidth for a 4K gaming @ refresh rate of up to 144Hz (or 240 Hz via Display Stream Compression).

Only the latest-generation graphics cards come with HDMI 2.1 support. Hence, there are more possibilities that you will use a DisplayPort cable because it provides adequate bandwidth to manage up to 4K resolution @ up to 120Hz. Moreover, the same can be perceived on a broader range of graphics cards.

If you want to play games on a significantly older PC and you have the flexibility to choose from DVI and VGA, then select the latter. It can transmit a digital signal and provide excellent resolution support.

Best Productivity Monitor Cable Type:

The demands for work and gaming can’t be the same. So, you can refrain from going through a wider choice of monitor cable types. But this doesn’t imply there is no advantage of using higher-end modern cables that support higher resolutions and higher refresh rates.

When you work on your professional projects @ 4K or 1440p, it means wider screen space and enhanced quality of videos and visuals. Hence, it is good to use the latest-generation DisplayPort or HDMI cable.

If you want a clean desk environment with few cables and ample bandwidth, Thunderbolt and USB-C cables can be superb. Although you will be more confined in your monitor choice, these cables can prove very beneficial for reducing cable clutter on the desk. The video output options are limited if you are connecting an external display to a modern laptop.

Modern vs. Old Monitor Cable Types:

Older monitor cable types, for example, VGA, only transmit analog signals. So, it needs conversion before and after the transmission occurs. Also, they are limited in terms of refresh rate and resolution they support.

The same is the case with older digital cable types like Component and DVI, restricted up to 1080p (1,920 x 1,080). The majority of them are confined to transmitting only the video signal. So, they require an additional cable to transmit audio.

Contemporary connectors like DisplayPort and HDMI 2.1 can extend far beyond that. They can transmit both video and audio across a single connection.

Furthermore, they support high frame rates @ 4K or lower frame rates at up to 16K resolution when Display Stream Compression is used. They can even help with the latest imaging standards like HDR and the latest audio features like Dolby Atmos.

Thunderbolt 3 & 4 and USB-C don’t have the same bandwidth as the latest DisplayPort and HDMI standards. However, they are pretty versatile. They can handle video, audio, and high-speed data transmission.

Moreover, they can transmit power to connected portable devices in some instances – everything happens via one cable. They can also do it concurrently, making them more competent than any old monitor cable types still seen on specific legacy devices.

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