HDMI vs DVI Explained

DVI was a very popular video format for many computers and displays - nowadays HDMI has taken over and an HDMI to DVI conversion is needed, often a cable or converter.

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HDMI and DVI are both widely available standards and many computers, monitors, projectors, etc may have one standard rather than the other, and there are often instances where it is necessary to interface between one item that uses HDMI and another that has only DVI.

With so many A/V interfaces available, this type of problem is occurring increasingly.

Fortunately the interfaces on computers and the like are very adaptable and they are able to emulate a variety of standards so that using a cable with one standard on one end and another standard on the other can easily be accommodated with the right cable.

Fortunately HDMI to DVI and DVI to HDMI is no problem.

One big advantage of the HDMI to and from DVI is that DVI is a digital signal in the same format as the video portion of HDMI, it just does not carry the audio signal as HDMI does. The big difference is that the connectors are totally different.

What is DVI

DVI standard for Digital Visual Interface and it provides essentially the same video format as HDMI, but providing no audio. This makes the transition between HDMI video and DVI video very easy.

Part of the reason for this is that DVI was developed before HDMI, and HDMI utilised the digital video elements of the DVI standard as they worked well.

When looking at DVI interfaces, various suffixes may be seen, and these might appear confusing, although the differences are quite straightforward.

  • DVI-A:   A DVI-A interface only supplies analogue data, and it is intended for use only with old analogue displays.

  • DVI-D:   A DVI-D connector on a graphics card sends out a digital signal only.

  • DVI-I :   A DVI-I connector can send out a digital signal as with DVI-D for modern displays, but it also has an analog signal which can be used for older displays such as a CRT monitor, but a DVI to VGA adaptor is needed to accommodate the different connector.

What makes things even more difficult is that there are different types of DVI connector dependent upon the version of DVI being used. This can make the DVI to HDMI translation a little more difficult.

Normally the HDMI to DVI interface cables and adaptors use the DVI-D variant as both are digital formats.

The DVI standard does not include audio, whereas HDMI includes audio which is encoded along with the video using the same set of wires. This means that it is possible to transmit audio over a DVI cable. It is also found that computers will include the audio in case a DVI-to-HDMI adapter is be used. A check in the specifications is well worth doing.

How to buy an DVI to HDMI adaptor or cable.

HDMI to DI or DVI to HDMI transitions are very easy to find. They are widely available and very cheap to buy.

Before purchasing one, it is worth checking on a few points so that the best option is bought.

  • Lead or adapter:   One of the first choices to be made is whether an adaptor lead with DVI at one end and HDMI at the other, or whether a small adapter is required into which a lead such as an HDMI lead is connected and the other end plugged straight into the DVI connector. A variety of options are available, so it is best to consider what is actually needed. If an HDMI cable is already available, then an adapter might be a good option, if not then a lead might be the best as it will save buying an HDMI lead as well.

  • Connector genders:   It is particularly important, especially for the adapters to ensure that the right connector genders are presdnt as adapters are available for a variety of connector gender combinations. Check carefully that the connector genders are right for the way it is to be used.

    For the cables it is generally less important because they are used to directly interface between two items, both of which will have the standard connector genders

DVI is a much older standard than HDMI, and it is likely to disappear well before HDMI which is being continually updated to meet the latest requirements. However there will be very many instances where HDMI equipment needs to interface with other equipment that only has a DVI interface. Accordingly the DVI to HDMI cables and adapters will be needed for many years to come.

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