The DisplayPort Information Guide

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DisplayPort Cable DisplayPort is a digital display and data transfer interface developed by the Video Electronics Standards Association (VESA). Although typically seen as a video connection on higher-end desktop computers, it has also made its way into laptops - especially its smaller form factor, Mini DisplayPort. This guide will answer common questions about its functionality, use, and performance.


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What is DisplayPort?

DisplayPort is a digital display and data transfer interface developed by the Video Electronics Standards Association (VESA) in 2006. Like its contemporary competitors, HDMI and Thunderbolt, it is a composite format capable of carrying video, audio, and data simultaneously. In popularity it is roughly equal to Thunderbolt, though both are significantly less common than HDMI.
  Announced Bandwidth Max Resolution Features
DisplayPort 1.0 2006 8.65 Gbps 4K @ 30 Hz Original version
DisplayPort 1.1 2007 8.64 Gbps 4K @ 30 Hz HDCP, Link Layers
DisplayPort 1.2 2009 17.28 Gbps 5K @ 30 Hz 3D, HBR2
DisplayPort 1.3 2014 25.92 Gbps 8K @ 30 Hz HDMI 2.0, HDCP 2.2
DisplayPort 1.4 2016 25.92 Gbps 8K @ 60 Hz DSC, HBR3

What is the difference between DisplayPort 1.2, 1.3, and 1.4?

Since 2006, VESA has consistently released new versions of DisplayPort every few years. These tend to improve on the following areas:
  • Resolution
  • Bandwidth
  • Sound support
  • Feature support
  • Increased dual-mode resolution

What is Mini DisplayPort?

Mini DisplayPort is a compact version of the DisplayPort connector introduced by Apple in 2008. Mini DisplayPort is free to license, and in 2009 it was included in the official DisplayPort 1.2 spec. In 2011, Apple and Intel announced the Thunderbolt format, which used the same physical connector, but significantly different protocols. Mini DisplayPort can be adapted to and from DisplayPort with a passive adapter.

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DisplayPort vs VGA and DVI

VGA and DVI are legacy formats that preceded DisplayPort. In almost all respects, DisplayPort outclasses both DVI and VGA in terms of bandwidth, versatility, and ease of use. Perhaps the only exception is VGA's impressively long range (as much as 150-200ft), though that comes at the cost of maximum resolution.

DisplayPort vs Thunderbolt

Thunderbolt is a computer interface co-developed by Intel and Apple. It combined both DisplayPort and PCI Express into one physical connection - the Mini DisplayPort connector. As of Thunderbolt 3, its physical form factor has been updated to use USB Type-C.

In practical terms, Thunderbolt is generally faster and more versatile than DisplayPort, but is limited in cable length, and typically more expensive.

What is the maximum length of a DisplayPort cable?

The DisplayPort spec calls for full bandwidth transmission at 10ft (3M), and reduced functionality (1920x1080p at 60 Hz) up to 50ft (15M).

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How do I extend DisplayPort?

DisplayPort can be extended with a passive cable up to its maximum spec length. Keep in mind however that multiple connections can weaken the signal, so daisy-chaining extensions may result in a shorter practical maximum length.

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How do I get sound through DisplayPort?

Multi-channel audio support is part of the DisplayPort spec, but its availability depends upon manufacturer implementation.

DisplayPort audio depends on three things:
  • An output device (PC, laptop, or video card) that supports DisplayPort audio or dual-mode with audio.
  • A display capable of playing audio - such as a monitor with speakers or a television.
  • A dual-mode adapter if the display has an HDMI input.
Once those requirements are satisfied, DisplayPort audio will be available in your device's operating system as an audio output device. Keep in mind that enabling DisplayPort audio may be a something you'll find in your video, rather than audio drivers.

How do I tell my version of DisplayPort?

Unfortunately there's no way to tell from the hardware itself what version of DisplayPort it will support. Check the original specifications of your device, or contact the manufacturer.

How do I use a single DisplayPort port for multiple monitors?

Starting with DisplayPort 1.2, the "multi-stream" feature allows what's more commonly known as daisy chaining, or the ability to chain multiple monitors together while connected to a single DisplayPort port.

Using this feature requires two things:
  • A source device, such as a computer that supports at least DisplayPort 1.2.
  • DisplayPort-compatible monitors with both 'In' and 'Out' DisplayPort jacks.
Keep in mind that the majority of DisplayPort monitors do not feature two ports. Additionally, the last monitor in the chain doesn't need to have a 'Out' jack, as it will only receive input.

What is the difference between Active and Passive DisplayPort adapters?

Passive adapters convert only the physical format of the connector, while Active adapters actually transcode the signal and change the physical format.

DisplayPort can be passively converted to Single-Link DVI and HDMI. VGA, Dual-Link DVI, and other formats require an Active adapter.

For more information see: What is Dual-Mode DisplayPort?

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What is Dual-Mode/Multimode DisplayPort?

Dual-mode is DisplayPort's ability to output either DisplayPort, HDMI, or Single-Link DVI from the same port. The advantage to this is that Passive adapters can be used to make the conversion -- these are typically smaller and cheaper than the Active variety, and don't require external power.

However Passive adapters are limited to resolutions that the DisplayPort device's Multi-Mode implementation supports -- rather than the maximum resolution the device is capable of outputting via DisplayPort.

For example, DisplayPort only supported a passive HDMI resolution of 1080p for many years, but it was still possible to coax 4K HDMI out of it with an Active adapter. And an Active adapter has always been required to adapt DisplayPort to Dual-Link DVI.

What is DisplayPort Alternate Mode?

Alternate Mode is a feature of USB Type-C that allows a USB-C that's similar to Dual-mode DisplayPort. It allows the physical USB-C port to support other video and data formats - one of which is DisplayPort.

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What is DisplayPort Deep Sleep?

Deep Sleep is an energy saving option on some DisplayPort monitors that puts them in an especially low power mode rather than cutting power entirely. This allows the monitor to 'wake' more quickly than from a cold start, while conserving more energy than typical Sleep mode. In combination with some source devices and video cards, people have reported that disabling this feature solves issues with a computer or monitor being unable to awake from Sleep.

What is Embedded DisplayPort?

eDP, or Embedded DisplayPort was introduced in 2008 with the aim of standardizing the connection between laptop graphics cards and built-in display panels. Its latest version is 1.4, released in mid-2016.
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