Why You Need to Use DisplayPort for Gaming
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Why You Need to Use DisplayPort for Gaming

May 05, 2023

Using an HDMI cable? You might not be getting the most out of your hardware. That's where DisplayPort jumps in—here's why.

Most people connect their TVs or monitors using an HDMI cable. And while this is an excellent standard for watching movies or general office work, what if you're on the cutting edge of gaming technology?

If you have a 7900 XTX GPU driving a 4K 240Hz gaming monitor, your HDMI cable is holding you back. So, these are the reasons why you need to use DisplayPort (DP) if you want to maximize your gaming gear.

High frames per second, or FPS, is essential for gamers (what does FPS mean in gaming?). That's why you can buy 4K displays with refresh rates set at 165Hz or more. However, to enjoy this feature, you need a GPU that at least supports DisplayPort 2.0.

That's because HDMI 2.1, the latest HDMI standard, can only transmit up to 48 Gbit/s. That means it will only let you play games at a maximum of 4K 144Hz. On the other hand, DisplayPort 2.0 and up has a maximum limit of 80 Gbit/s.

Although HDMI does let you game at 4K, it's only limited to 144Hz. But if you choose DisplayPort, you can play 4K games at a maximum of 240Hz. With this massive increase in frame rate, you get an advantage over other players in games like Counter-Stike: Global Offensive, Valorant, and other competitive titles.

Although many are satisfied with one monitor, using multiple monitors will give you an advantage as a gamer. Not only do you get a wider field of view, allowing you to see more of the field, but you can use your other displays to show other apps, like streaming controls if you're a game streamer or a game guide if you're playing a new game.

So, if you look at the ports of most mid-range GPUs and up, you can see that they usually only have one HDMI port and several DisplayPorts. That means it's easier to get multiple displays and plug them directly with their included DisplayPort cables instead of buying a DisplayPort to HDMI adapter.

But what if you have a gaming laptop instead of a gaming desktop? Before USB-C became ubiquitous, most mid-range and top-end gaming laptops only had one HDMI port and one Mini DisplayPort.

So, what do you do if you want to connect multiple monitors to your gaming laptop? Thankfully, you can run two or more monitors off one DisplayPort port via multi-stream transport or MST. This technology lets you daisy chain up three or more monitors to one DisplayPort, so you don't need multiple DisplayPorts on your device.

You don't need to plug other monitors directly into your computer if you have MST-enabled monitors. Instead, you can attach one display to the other via MST. DisplayPort first introduced daisy-chaining with DisplayPort 1.2, which had a limit of 21.6Gbit/s or one 4K 60Hz or four Full HD 60Hz displays.

Since DisplayPort 2.0 now had a limit of 80Gbit/s, you could theoretically attach as many as 16 Full HD monitors at 60Hz. And with the development of DisplayPort over USB-C, laptops that don't have DisplayPort but use USB-C with DisplayPort alt mode can also enjoy this technology.

Another reason you should prefer DisplayPort as a gamer is that choosing the suitable cable with this standard is easier. You must ensure your cable is compatible with a high-resolution, high-refresh monitor running HDMI 2.1.

I once tried setting up a 4K 165Hz gaming monitor with an HDMI 2.0 cable. Although the monitor ran a couple of times, I've always had problems and had to restart my computer several times. However, it turned out that I was using the wrong older cable. All my issues disappeared when I used the included HDMI 2.1 cable.

The problem was that there was no easy way to determine the correct cable. I had to go through trial and error to discover the problem. But, if you're using DisplayPort, you will never encounter this issue.

That's because DisplayPort UHBR simplifies the DP standard. Instead of being faced with numerous cables with no labels, DisplayPort makes it mandatory for UHBR cables to display their speed capacity.

So, when you're out shopping for a cable or digging through your collection of wires, you can instantly spot a suitable DisplayPort cable that will carry the 4K 240Hz signal that your gaming PC delivers. You don't have to go through the hassle of troubleshooting a malfunctioning 4K monitor (which took me four hours!) only to find out it's because of an incompatible cable.

DisplayPort and HDMI are two different standards with two different signal architectures. As such, you cannot simply use a passive DisplayPort to HDMI—that is unless your computer uses Dual-Mode Display Port.

If your computer has a DP++ symbol on it, that means that its DisplayPort can detect if you attached an HDMI display to it via a passive adapter. If that is the case, the port will automatically convert its output to something HDMI will understand.

However, if your computer lacks this feature, you must use an active DisplayPort to HDMI converter cable. Although this cable is more expensive, it's still widely available.

Another advantage that DisplayPort has over HDMI is that you can split it into two or three different HDMI signals. You can purchase a DisplayPort to HDMI MST hub, connecting multiple monitors to one DisplayPort. This is useful if you already have HDMI monitors for secondary displays. With the hub, you don't need expensive new DisplayPort screens just to enjoy a multi-monitor setup.

But whether you have an active or passive DisplayPort to HDMI cable, you cannot use it to convert HDMI signals for a DisplayPort monitor.

As said earlier, HDMI and DisplayPort signals aren't compatible. Although DisplayPort has a technology that directly converts its signal to HDMI, HDMI has no such feature. So, if your computer only has DisplayPorts available and you need to plug an HDMI monitor, you must use an active HDMI to DisplayPort adapter.

This adapter will convert the HDMI signal into DisplayPort outside your computer. However, since it requires its own circuit, the adapter cable typically has a large box attached in-line, which houses the converter. And in some cases, it requires outside power via USB, making it a hassle to use.

Because of these additions, HDMI to DisplayPort adapters cost more than DisplayPort to HDMI ones. Most of the latter typically cost less than $10, while the former usually starts at $15.

If you have a powerful gaming PC that runs the latest GPUs like the 4090 or 7900XTX, you'd likely want to maximize its power with your 4K 240Hz gaming monitor. However, you cannot get this with HDMI.

The only way you can enjoy your hardware is with DisplayPort. So, if you're building one monster of a gaming PC, don't forget to invest in some DisplayPort DP80 cables and a couple of 4K monitors.

John William Morales, better known as Jowi, is a writer, a career coach, a professional photographer, and a leisure pilot.He's been using, discovering, and exploring PCs since Windows 3.1 and has been on board the Android bandwagon since Froyo. In 2023, he also invested in an iPhone and a Mac, allowing him to cover a wide spectrum of consumer technology.Jowi started writing part-time in 2015 and transitioned to it full-time in 2020. He also finished a university degree with related units in journalism in 2012. But even before he received higher education, he's been known by his friends and family as the go-to person when anything computer-related requires explanation.