When you want to connect your computer to a bigger external monitor or TV to make your movie night or presentation more visually dazzling, you’ll have to determine what ports are on your device. Your PC could have any number of ports but some of the most common include HDMI, DisplayPort™, DVI, USB, and VGA ports.
After you identify your port, you’ll need to choose the right connector to attach your devices. But it’s not always a straightforward process, especially if you need a cable that converts different signals. For example, you might need a specific converter to transfer the analog signals from a VGA port to an external monitor that uses a digital DVI interface.
In order to maximize the quality of the image you see, you’ll want to make the right choice when it comes to your connections. Below, we will dive into the difference between two common kinds of connections: DVI and VGA.
What’s the difference between DVI and VGA?
The basic differences between them stem from their age. DVI is a considerably newer connection type that transfers digital signals while VGA is older and transfers analog signals . But DVI and VGA are a lot more than a jumble of letters, they are specific types of connections that can make a huge impact on your picture quality. Read on for an in depth look at what they are and how they work.
First, we’ll dive into VGA, to explore how this technology made its mark and the reasons why it’s being replaced by other modern connections.
What is VGA?
VGA, or Video Graphics Array, is considered an old-school technology. In fact, it’s one of the oldest connection standards found on the market today. It was first created by IBM and introduced to the world in 1987 . It was commonly used for video cards, computer monitors, TV sets, and laptops.
These days, it’s considerably more difficult to find VGA ports, cables, and connectors since they are being replaced by updated interfaces like DVI, HDMI, and DisplayPort.
VGA cables feature a fifteen-pin connector with three rows of five pins. A VGA port on a desktop or laptop has an equal number of pinholes which make for a complementary connection with a VGA cable.
Each pin on a VGA cable has a unique function. For example, the first pin transfers the color red, the second pin transfers green, and the third pin transfers blue .
If you have a VGA monitor or video card, you’ll likely want a VGA converter. Why?
Imagine this scenario: Your PC has a video card with a VGA connection but you’ve recently bought a brand new monitor. You turn over the monitor to see what kind of connections it offers and you realize it only has an HDMI port. Now, your two devices aren’t compatible. This means you either have to get a new video card or get a different monitor. Or, you can simply avoid that hassle and invest in a VGA converter.
The confusing part of this situation for users is trying to figure out what type of converter you actually need.
- VGA to HDMI converter: This will change your VGA signal from your desktop or laptop to the HDMI port on a display, either for a monitor or a TV. You’ll need this converter if your device has a VGA port on the video card, but you want to use an HDMI monitor or TV as the display.
Note: There are VGA to HDMI converters available that have a USB cable integrated inside it to carry an audio signal alongside the video signal. This is particularly useful because VGA doesn’t transfer audio by itself, so with this special converter, you can play sounds in a display with speakers.
- HDMI to VGA converter: This type of converter connects a video card with an HDMI port to a monitor or TV that has a VGA input connection. Because HDMI is a more recent technology than VGA, an HDMI to VGA converter is a great addition you can use to connect a newer laptop or desktop PC to a more dated monitor or display.
VGA to DVI converters
You’ll need a DVI to VGA converter if you want to make a connection between a video card with DVI to an external display or monitor that only has a VGA port.
- DVI to VGA converters: These converters are typically DVI male to VGA female. This simply means that the DVI end of the converter is inserted into the DVI port in your video card. As you might expect, the VGA end of the converter is used with a male-to-male VGA cable to attach the converter to the female end of the external display device .
- VGA to DVI converters: This kind of converter exists but it’s considerably harder to find. You’ll need this type of converter to transfer video from a VGA video card to a DVI external display.
Note: DVI to VGA converters work by transferring the signal from digital to analog. DVI pins can carry both analog and digital signals. VGA transfers only analog so going from VGA to DVI makes a converter necessary to take those analog signals and convert them to digital signals.
DVI vs VGA
VGA ports are being phased out but you can still find them in some projectors, as well as older monitors and TVs. The main issue with a VGA connection stems from the fact that most of today’s display devices use a digital interface. Unfortunately, when a VGA signal is converted from analog to digital, it results in lower quality video compared to DVI.
In addition, VGA provides a maximum resolution of 640 x 480 with a refresh rate of 60 Hz while a DVI connector can boast a resolution of up to 1920 x 1200 pixels for single-link format or 2560 x 1600 resolution for dual-link format . With other connections like DVI and HDMI available, VGA is an almost obsolete technology because of its limitations.
DVI vs VGA: How do you tell them apart?
VGA connectors and ports are always blue colored while DVI connectors are always white.
DVI stands for Digital Visual Interface and offers a distinctly sharper, better picture than VGA. It’s a unique connector because it can carry both digital and analog signals. DVI can also easily convert to other standards like HDMI and VGA.
Top 3 Advantages of DVI over VGA
- Analog and digital signals: VGA can only transfer analog signals while DVI can send both.
- Better picture quality: DVI presents users with a significantly sharper and clearer picture quality than VGA.
- Can be hot-plugged: VGA cables cannot be attached without shutting down and restarting the computer. A DVI cable, on the other hand, can simply plug and play .
Types of DVI cables:
There are three types of DVI cables available at this point in time.
- DVI-A: This cable transfers analog signals only. This connector is used to connect a DVI card to a CRT monitor (an older type of monitor). The signal from this cable is converted from digital to analog but still produces higher image quality than VGA.
- DVI-D: This cable transfers digital signals only. This is the most popular type of connector for hooking up DVI cards to LCD monitors. This cable comes in single-link and dual-link formats. The dual-link format offers more power and a faster data transfer rate than the single-link format.
- DVI-I: This cable transfers both digital and analog signals and is compatible with digital and analog equipment, acting as a DVI-D or DVI-A cable. With that said, it cannot convert pure DVI-D output to analog.
The difference in picture quality between DVI and VGA may not be substantial in text or standard definition video but it’s more obvious in HD videos and hi-resolution displays.
How do I know which DVI cable to buy?
One of the most important steps for users to take is figuring out what type of DVI cable to use for your devices. You’ll need to check both of the female DVI plugs to find out what signals they’re compatible with. If you’re not sure, take a look at the guide below created by Data Pro .
- If one or both connections are DVI-D, you will require a DVI-D cable.
- If one or both connections are DVI-A, you will require a DVI-A cable.
- If one connection is DVI (and analog-compatible) and the other connection is VGA, you will need a DVI to VGA cable or a DVI/VGA adapter.
- If both connections are DVI-I, you can use any DVI cable but a DVI-I cable is recommended.
- If one connection is analog and one is digital, there’s no way to connect them with just one cable so you’ll require a converter.
Other connection types and considerations
HDMI has become the default home theater connection standard because it transfers both sound and video. On modern HD television sets, for example, it’s unlikely you’ll find DVI connections at all.
With that said, it’s possible you’ll find a set of analog audio inputs next to an HDMI input. You can use this particular connection when you’re attaching a DVI source to the TV. If this is the case, the HDMI input may have a label above it noting it’s an HDMI/DVI input and the analog audio ports will also be labeled DVI.
DVI is designed to only transfer video signals, so, if you’re using DVI to connect an AV source device to a TV and you want the sound to go with it, you’ll have to make a separate audio connection to your television. You can do this by utilizing RCA or 3.5 mm analog audio connections . The audio ports used to pair with the DVI input should be placed right next to the DVI input.
Note: A DVI connection may not transfer 3D signals or high-resolution 4K video signals. However, DVI can pass resolutions up to 4k for particular PC applications, it just requires a different kind of pin configuration.
Connecting HDMI components to DVI TVs
Do you happen to have an older model of an HDTV that only has a DVI connection but you need to connect HDMI peripherals? In many instances, you can simply use the same type of HDMI-to-DVI connection or cable adapter you would use to connect a device with a DVI interface to an HDMI TV.
If you have a source device that only has a DVI output and you need to pair it to a TV that only has HDMI inputs you can also use an HDMI-to-DVI adapter to pair them. In this case, you’ll need a separate additional connection for sound.
HP accessories for your DVI and VGA devices
For VGA connections, HP offers a V7 monitor cable, which is designed to meet all category specifications so you can enjoy dependable performance when you’re connecting devices like monitors and video projectors. The VGA monitor cable will ensure beautiful performance for VGA-connected devices.
If you have a computer with a DisplayPort, HP has an IOGEAR DisplayPort to VGA adapter cable to connect a DisplayPort device to an auxiliary VGA projector or monitor. This handy adapter cable can support a device with up to 1920 x 1200 resolution for high-quality picture and video.
Need to connect multiple displays? Not a problem. Use the HP DMS59 DVI dual-head connector cable to seamlessly attach external displays for an incredible visual experience.
When you’re looking for the right connection type for your laptop, desktop PC, or external display device, it can be frustrating understanding the differences between them. However, with this guide, you’ll be on your way to connecting your technology so you can enjoy the best possible visual experience.
 Diffen; DVI vs. VGA
 Computer Hope; VGA
 Tripod; VGA Connector Pin Information
 Lifewire; What Does VGA Mean?
 Computer World; VGA ports bowing out of home computers, lingering in the workplace
 Digital Trends; DisplayPort vs. HDMI vs. DVI vs. VGA
 Tech Spirited; DVI vs. VGA
 Data Pro; All About DVI
 Lifewire; All About the DVI Video Connection
About the Author
Michelle Wilson is a contributing writer for HP® Tech Takes. Michelle is a content creation specialist writing for a variety of industries, including tech trends and media news.
VGA connectors and cables carry analog signals while DVI can carry both analog and digital. DVI is newer and offers better, sharper display compared to VGA. You can easily tell them apart because VGA connectors (and ports) are blue while DVI connectors are white.What is VGA advantages and disadvantages? ›
VGA cable is used to transmit video signals from a source computer to a monitor. However, the output quality is low because VGA uses analog signals to transfer data. Its resolution also limits the VGA cable from displaying top-quality output, which in turn may cause eye-strain.Which is better VGA or DVI or HDMI? ›
HDMI: Audio and video signal, best for TV to PC connections. DVI: Video only, perfect for older systems or for 144Hz at 1080p. DisplayPort (DP): The best connector for an audio and video signal, and can transmit 144Hz up to 4K. VGA: Old, legacy video connector.Are DVI monitors good? ›
DVI is capable of 144hz refresh rates, so it's a good choice if you have a 1080p 144hz monitor. This is especially true for gamers who have an FPS that is higher than 60. If you want 4K, though, you'll need to go with DisplayPort or HDMI.What is advantage of DVI over VGA? ›
DVI stands for Digital Visual Interface and offers a distinctly sharper, better picture than VGA. It's a unique connector because it can carry both digital and analog signals. DVI can also easily convert to other standards like HDMI and VGA.Which cable is best for monitor? ›
HDMI: Audio and video signal, best for TV to PC connections. DVI: Video only, perfect for older systems or for 144Hz at 1080p. DisplayPort (DP): The best connector for an audio and video signal, and can transmit 144Hz up to 4K.Why is VGA being phased out? ›
The VGA (Video Graphics Array) port is being phased out with the emergence of thinner and lighter computers, which now come with display interfaces like HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface), DisplayPort or Thunderbolt to connect PCs to monitors and other devices.What is VGA good for? ›
VGA and HDMI are interface standards used for cables that connect devices — such as laptop computers and DVD players — to a display, like a TV, computer monitor or projector. VGA is an older standard that carries only a video signal.Does DVI to VGA reduce quality? ›
A lot of the time, an output source uses DVI, while a monitor might use VGA. In cases like these, you need an adapter, but do DVI-to-VGA cables, and adapters reduce quality. A DVI-to-VGA adapter does not cause a reduction in quality on its own.Is VGA slower than DVI? ›
The answer seems to be that they are the same.
Because monitors that use DVI still exist. EDIT: Since the vast majority of people still use 1080p monitors (Both 60 and 144Hz) DVI is still around. VGA barely just got killed off and DVI may start seeing the same fate soon enough(See the 1080Ti), especially when 1440p+ monitors start becoming the norm.What is DVI used for? ›
DVI (Digital Visual Interface) is a digital video interface developed by the Digital Display Working Group (DDWG). It is able to support both digital and analogue video signals over a single DVI cable and is commonly found on computers, LCD monitors, projectors and other digital display equipment.When did DVI become outdated? ›
In December 2010, Intel, AMD, and several computer and display manufacturers announced they would stop supporting DVI-I, VGA and LVDS-technologies from 2013/2015, and instead speed up adoption of DisplayPort and HDMI.Is DVI sharper than HDMI? ›
The video signal over DVI is basically the same as HDMI. The maximum resolution potential depends on the equipment, though. Some cables and hardware (called single-link) can only do 1,920x1,200, while others (dual-link) can do more.Can DVI do 4K? ›
4K video cannot be outputted from the DVI port due to the limitation of resolution which is a maximum of 2560 x 1600. To get 4K resolution, you will be need to use HDMI or use the DisplayPort ports.Why does my DVI look better than HDMI? ›
The cable has nothing to do with the picture quality, it's the interface and protocol over it. DVI only supports 8-bit RGB colors, but it comes with single and dual link varieties.What is the alternative for VGA and DVI? ›
DisplayPort (DP) was designed to replace VGA, DVI, and FPD-Link and standardized by VESA. It is primarily used to connect a video source to a display device such as a computer monitor. It can also carry audio, USB, and other forms of data.What cables do modern monitors use? ›
HDMI, DisplayPort, and USB-C™ are the most common types of monitor ports and cables, and you'll find them on the majority of modern displays. However, there are legacy options available as well, such as VGA and DVI, that you may need to connect to older devices.What cable do old monitors use? ›
VGA – An older analog standard of video-only cable that gained prominence in the early '90s. Since superseded by DVI, HDMI, and DisplayPort, it's only typically found on older monitors.What is the modern replacement of VGA? ›
DisplayPort was developed to replace VGA, DVI, and FPD-link. With the use of adapters, it also easily connects to other interfaces such as VGA, DVI, and HDMI.
VGA has come a long way since its introduction in 1987. Although it is not commonly used as HDMI or DVI due to its analog nature and outdated standards, it still has its place in the display world, especially amongst those looking for a cheaper secondary display.Are VGA ports still used on monitors? ›
Before the introduction of the HDMI port, the VGA (video graphics array) port was the gold standard of monitor connection types and was widely used in PC hardware. However, VGA ports have been largely phased out. You'll typically only find them on legacy devices.Why use VGA over HDMI? ›
The first one is that VGA is an analog interface. HDMI is a digital one. The second difference is that VGA is a video interface and HDMI includes both audio and video. For this reason, you will need not just a cable when connecting a device with a VGA interface to a device with a HDMI interface, but an adapter.Can I use VGA and DVI at the same time? ›
Update your drivers as you should be able to use both monitors simultaneously. Using a DVI-to-VGA adapter should pose no problem, either. "DVI to VGA" might be your problem. Generally when there's a VGA port there's no need for a DVI port to be DVI-I - they're typically DVI-D .Where is VGA used? ›
The VGA connector is used for display devices and is used to connect a computer to a monitor, projector, or TV.Can you get 1080P with DVI? ›
DisplayPort vs HDMI vs DVI For 1080P Gaming
While DVI doesn't have as extensive support for ultra-high definition resolutions as DisplayPort and HDMI do, it can handle 1080P gaming just fine. And, even if you want to game on a 1080P 144Hz monitor, all three of these interfaces will work.
You can use the DVI port if you want to play a game at 60 or higher FPS. However, if you want to go for 4K gaming, this is not the best choice to make. You can go for HDMI or DisplayPort for 4K gaming.Can DVI display 1080P? ›
While DVI doesn't support ultra-high-definition resolutions as well as DisplayPort and HDMI, it can still handle 1080P gaming. All three of these interfaces will function even if you wish to game on a 1080P 144Hz display.What is the maximum resolution for VGA? ›
The VGA analog interface standard has been extended to support resolutions of up to 2048×1536 and even higher in special applications.Is DVI or HDMI better quality? ›
In its most recent versions, HDMI has caught up to DVI as both can now output 144hz at 1080p. In fact, HDMI is now considered the better option, as the cable simply supports more advanced technology than its dated counterpart.
Signal quality considerations
As such, the VGA signal will be the limiting factor of the final output signal. In other words, converting VGA to HDMI will not improve the signal quality of the original output. Similarly, Converting HDMI to VGA will possibly entail a small loss of signal quality.
DisplayPort cables can achieve a higher bandwidth than HDMI cables. If there's a higher bandwidth, the cable transmits more signals at the same time. This mainly has an advantage if you want to connect multiple monitors to your computer.Why is DVI obsolete? ›
DVI had a lot, lot of problems. It was a bigger connector than VGA, making it less desirable for laptops. It was also much more delicate which meant that the little pins were more likely to break. Computer users didn't like it because the thumbscrews on the back acted like hooks and snagged nearby cables when moved.Can VGA do 4K? ›
Old connectors like VGA and DVI connectors don't support 4K. DisplayPort 1.2, HDMI 2.0, Thunderbolt 3, and some USB-C connectors support 4K at 60 frames per second.Is VGA old? ›
VGA, or Video Graphics Array, is considered an old-school technology. In fact, it's one of the oldest connection standards found on the market today. It was first created by IBM and introduced to the world in 1987.Is DVI analog or digital? ›
DVI-D provides a digital only signal, while DVI-I can support digital and analog signals.What is the oldest computer monitor? ›
The first computer monitor was invented by Karl Ferdinand Braun in 1897. Karl Ferdinand created the cathode ray tube as the first computer monitor. The cathode ray tube (CRT) is a vacuum tube that has one of its ends coated with phosphors. CRTs work by emitting light when electrons strike them.How far can you run DVI? ›
DVI - 15 meters (49 feet, digital); 5 meters (analog)
For maximum signal quality, DVI cables will work up to 5 meters. 5 meters is also the maximum length for DVI-A (analog) cables. The 5-meter limit extends to DVI-I (integrated) since it is capable of analog as well as digital.
VGA stands for Video Graphics Array, while DVI stands for Digital Visual Interface. DVI cables are newer in comparison, and both cables are identifiable by their varying connectors and ports. VGA connectors and ports are typically blue, while DVI connectors and ports are usually white.Can you go from DVI to VGA? ›
This can be done through a DVI to VGA cable or via an adapter. A DVI to VGA adapter is used to connect a VGA/SVGA monitor or TV to a DVI-I connection, like on a laptop.
A VGA (video graphics array) connector was created for use with many types of devices that had graphics cards. First used in the 1980s, it was common to see VGA connectors on televisions, laptops, computer monitors, projectors, and other devices. Some smaller tech also sometimes had a “mini” VGA.Which is older DVI or VGA? ›
Cable connectors The oldest VGA (analog) hardware was developed in 1987 and produced from 1987 to present day, followed by DVI (analog), which was developed in 1999 and produced from 1999 to present day.Is DVI outdated? ›
DVI is obsolete tech as it has insufficient bandwidth for high refresh rate / high res monitors.What resolution does DVI support? ›
Single link DVI employs a single 165 MHz transmitter that supports resolutions up to 1920 × 1200 at 60 Hz. Dual link DVI adds six pins, at the center of the connector, for a second transmitter increasing the bandwidth and supporting resolutions up to 2560 × 1600 at 60 Hz.Can I run DVI to HDMI? ›
The HDMI standard is backward compatible and you can use a HDMI to DVI cable to connect to a monitor if only DVI is present at the equipment. However, DVI does not pass digital audio signals as HDMI and a separate audio connection is needed for the audio.Why does DVI still exist? ›
Because monitors that use DVI still exist. EDIT: Since the vast majority of people still use 1080p monitors (Both 60 and 144Hz) DVI is still around. VGA barely just got killed off and DVI may start seeing the same fate soon enough(See the 1080Ti), especially when 1440p+ monitors start becoming the norm.Are VGA monitors still used? ›
The VGA (Video Graphics Array) port is being phased out with the emergence of thinner and lighter computers, which now come with display interfaces like HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface), DisplayPort or Thunderbolt to connect PCs to monitors and other devices.What devices still use VGA? ›
Where are VGA Cables Most Often Used Today? Although many newer devices have seen the older, standard VGA ports replaced by more modern connection types (notably DVI and HDMI), VGA ports are often still supplied with both legacy and modern computers, monitors, TVs, laptops, projectors and more.Is VGA still used today? ›
Video Graphics Array, better known by its acronym VGA, is an old analog interface technology still utilized by many PC users today to connect their motherboards to their monitors.