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At a Glance

Although DVI has the unique feature of being able to carry legacy analog video signals, HDMI is superior in every way. It also has the ability of carrying audio and video data across a single cable.

Long gone are the days when Video Graphics Display (VGA) was the standard video or graphical interface connecting computers and monitors. This graphical interface standard has been replaced by Digital Visual Interface (DVI) and High Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI). Of these two interfaces, DVI came into the market first, in the year 1999. HDMI followed three years later in 2002. It is common place, even among the technical experts, to assume that HDMI is just an upgraded DVI, but a closer inspection reveals otherwise on many points. Let’s head on in to our tech lab to find out more in terms of how DVI vs. HDMI compare.

Pin-outs and Size

Placed side by side, it becomes quite obvious that DVI and HDMI are two different cables when it comes to the connectors structure or how they look like. DVI is the biggest of the two and it has 29 pins. Just like VGA, the DVI male connector pins are actually protruding but with a different layout and pin design. HDMI on the other hand has 19 pins that almost look like FireWire and in the male connector, the pins are arranged around the edge so they are not easily bent.
Pictured at top: Monster THX Certified HDMI Cable

Connector Versions

Both these two graphical interfaces come in a variety of versions. The HDMI has the most versions or variations and they are identified by letters ranging from A to E. HDMI type A and B are specified in the HDMI 1.0 specification, type C in the 1.3 specification and D and E in the 1.4 specification. Type E also called the Automotive Connection system is the latest and features a locking tab that prevents the cable from getting loose and it has a shell that protects it from dirt and moisture. DVI on the other hand comes in two variations; Single-link (S-link) and Dual-link (D-link). The Single-link DVI is made up of four links each of which transmits data over one twisted pair. Dual-link on the other hand doubles the number of transmission pairs thus doubling video bandwidth.


Both HDMI and DVI transmits digital data, however, DVI is capable of transmitting analog data too, this makes it the same as VGA in terms of quality of the analog signal, responsiveness and the maximum distance the signal can be transmitted over. S-link video can support resolutions of up to 1920 by 1200 and 2560 by 1600 for D-link. Besides video, HDMI is the only one of the two that can transmit audio signals. It can send HD video of up to 1080p and with 8 independent audio channels over a single connection. HDMI also features a content protection system referred to as the High Definition Content Protection (HCDP) that is capable of interrupting a signal when passed through certain devices, this prevents the ability to copy digital content.

Applications and Conversion

HDMI has become the basic connection for all HD home theater application, it can be found in HD-TV’s, projectors and high-end monitors. Modern game consoles, blue-Ray players, graphic cards, camcorders, laptops and HD satellite boxes have HDMI incorporated. DVI are common in desktop computers, LCD monitors and few of the old generation HD-TV and players. Simple conversions for both HDMI and DVI only require a passive adapter or cable that simply redirects the signal from one pin-out design to the other.