M-to-M VGA Connectors

Your Complete List of Every Major Video Cable!

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It doesn’t seem like it should be a big deal to get video from your computer to a monitor or TV, but sometimes it can be. There are so many different kinds of video ports and connectors that many folks, especially those who want to connect their PCs to their TVs, just don’t know where to begin. To help clear up this problem I’ve created a list of every video cable you’re likely to run into these days. From Component to VGA you’ll find everything you’ve ever wanted to know about video cables right here!

Digital Video vs. Analog Video

Video connectors are split into two major categories, analog and digital. The first category, analog, consists of mostly older technology, some of which has been around since the fifties! Analog video systems use physical forces such as voltage, frequency, and current in order to communicate their message. Varying these physical signals will change the output, so an analog connector changes the image on your TV screen from a dancing elephant to a blood-sucking vampire by varying a physical force.

The second category, digital, is newer technology and behaves a little differently. The word digital comes from the same root as the word digit, which, of course, just means numbers. Digital communication therefore, is accomplished by numbers, actually just two of them—0 and 1—the binary code so loved by computers. So, rather than using a physical force like analog, digital communicates in the same manner as do computer programs.

Though analog is slowly but surely being phased out, both analog and digital video connectors are alive and well in today’s technology market. Digital does have a couple of significant benefits over analog options however.

  1. Since analog cables communicate using physical forces, their signal can also be affected by physical forces. Interference from radio waves in the air, electromagnetic radiation from cell phones, and even signals bleeding from neighboring cables can degrade the quality of an analog signal.
  2. Analog cables are not able to transmit as much or as quickly as can digital mediums. This is fine for smaller, lower resolutions screens, but as displays become larger, requiring more data to fill the screen, analog video finds itself unable to keep up the pace.
  3. This isn’t so much a benefit of digital as it is a note or rule, but analog and digital are not compatible. The first time I tried to get my laptop to display on my TV I scoured the internet for an S-Video (the analog connector my laptop had) to HDMI (the digital connection my TV would accept). I looked for at least a week before I realized that it plumb didn’t exist. The rule is digital plugs into digital and analog plugs into analog.

In my list I’ll provide the max supported resolution, what the video connector can be converted to, and what it can’t be converted to. Please note that when I say can or can’t be converted, I mean converted easily. There are video converter boxes that can change any signal into anything else but theses are very expensive ($200+) and are not what most people are looking for.

Without further ado, here is the complete list all video cables in modern use. I’ve divided them into four sections: Analog Computer, Analog TV, Digital Computer, and Digital TV. With each cable/connector

Analog Computer Connectors

VGA

M-to-M VGA ConnectorsVGA (Video Graphics Array) is by far the most common computer-to-monitor video connection on the market today. This port is also sometimes called D-Sub, which is short for D-Subminiature; however D-Sub actually refers to an entire family of data connectors of which VGA is one. In short, all VGA are D-Sub cables, but not all D-Sub cables are VGA.

  • VGA Max Resolution: 2048 x 1536
  • Can be converted to: DVI-A, DVI-I, S-Video, Composite, Component
  • Cannot be converted to: DVI-D, HDMI, DisplayPort

DVI

DVI (Digital Video Interface) is definitely the most complicated of all video connectors, mostly because there have been so many revisions and upgrades that it’s actually become several different cables. Because of this I’ll actually list DVI twice, once here and once under digital.

While all DVI connectors have the same basic head shape, the difference between them can be seen through the number and configuration of pins on their head.

DVI-A

Close-up of a DVI A ConnectorThis connector is not super common anymore, but I reckon it’s still kicking around in a few drawers. It’s analog only, so even though it’s called a digital video interface, the A, which stands for analog, means it’s really not.

  • DVI-A Max Resolution: 1920 x 1200
  • Can be converted into/from: VGA, Component
  • Cannot be converted into/from: S-Video, HDMI, DisplayPort

DVI-I

DVI-I ConnectorThis is the most common DVI connector and I’ll be listing it both here and in the digital section. DVI-I (the I stands for Integrated) can transmit both digital and analog signals. This means it can be converted into almost anything! Note, however, that although DVI-I can connect and transfer both digital and analog signals, it still holds to the digital to digital or analog to analog rule e.g. you still won’t be able to connect VGA to HDMI even though you could use various adapters to physically connect them.

  • DVI Max Resolutions: 2560 x 1600
  • Can be converted into/from: VGA, HDMI, DisplayPort, Component, S-Video
  • Cannot be converted into/from: Composite

Analog TV Connectors

Composite Video / RCA

What does composite video look like?Composite video is definitely the oldest video connector on this list; you know it as the yellow connector in the yellow, white, and red trio that made up the RCA cable. This is the cable you used to see with video game consoles, VCRs, older DVD players, etc. While this is an analog signal, its technology is so old that it simply can’t carry enough data to be worth converting to anything else.

  • Composite Max Resolution: 720 x 480
  • Can be converted into/from: nothing worth while
  • Cannot be converted into/from: anything else

Component Video

Close-up of Component Video CableSometimes called YPbPr, this cable splits the video signal up into three different signals and then recombines them at the destination. While this medium provides a relatively high quality video connection, it never gained much popularity in the US because it’s direct competitor, S-Video, was easier to use. While these are still in use today, it’s more likely you’ve seen the plugs on the back of your TV than the cable that uses them.

Close-up of Component Video Input

  • Component Max Resolution: 1920 x 1080
  • Can be converted into/from: VGA, DVI-A, DVI-I, S-Video
  • Cannot be converted into/from: DVI-D, HDMI, DisplayPort

S-Video or TV-Out

TV-Out ConnectorS-Video (Separate Video) is the predecessor to modern HDMI, and it’s quickly falling out of production, though it’s still far from rare. It’s most common use is to provide an analog PC-to-TV connection; for this reason S-Video is sometimes simply called “TV-Out.”

Close-up of TV-Out Connection

  • S-Video Max Resolution: 720 x 576
  • Can be converted into/from: VGA, Component, DVI (Analog)
  • Cannot be converted into/from: HDMI, DVI (Digital), DisplayPort

Digital Computer Connectors

DVI

DVI (Digital Video Interface) is on this list twice because it can accept and transmit both digital and analog signals. While all DVI connectors have the same head, the difference between them can be seen through the number and configuration of pins on their head.

DVI-D

What does a DVI-D Connector Look Like?DVI-D (D stands for digital) is not terribly common anymore since DVI-I has the exact same functionality with greater compatibility.

  • DVI Max Resolution: 2560 x 1600
  • Can be converted into/from: HDMI, DisplayPort
  • Cannot be converted into/from: VGA, Composite, Component, S-Video

Mini-DVI

This connector is most commonly found on older Mac brand laptops and it’s basically just a mini-version of DVI-D. In 2008 Apple discontinued the Mini-DVI port on its computers in favor of Mini-DisplayPort.
Macbook Mini-DVI Port

  • DVI Max Resolution: 2560 x 1600
  • Can be converted into/from: HDMI, DisplayPort
  • Cannot be converted into/from: VGA, Composite, Component, S-Video

DVI-I

difference between single and dual-link dviThis is the most common DVI connector and I’ll be listing it both here and in the digital section. DVI-I (the I stands for Integrated) can transmit both digital and analog signals. This means it can be converted into almost anything! Note, however, that although DVI-I can connect and transfer both digital and analog signals, it still holds to the digital-to-digital or analog-to-analog rule e.g. you still won’t be able to connect VGA to HDMI even though you could use a DVI adaptors to connect them.

  • DVI Max Resolution: 2560 x 1600
  • Can be converted into/from: VGA, HDMI, DisplayPort, Component, S-Video
  • Cannot be converted into/from: Composite

DisplayPort

DP CableDP Input jackDisplayPort is the future of computer-to-monitor connectors. It was first patented in 2007 and is expected to have completely replaced the older VGA connection by 2015. This newer cable is able to transmit more far more raw data per second than its predecessors have managed; because of this it’s able to support higher refresh-rates, 3D video, and higher resolutions. Also, it takes less work for the receiving monitor to interpret, so DisplayPort monitors can be made much thinner and it can even carry audio as well, eliminating the need of a second audio cable.

  • DisplayPort Max Resolution: 3840 x 2160
  • Can be converted into/from: HDMI, DVI (Digital)
  • Cannot be converted into/from: VGA, Composite, Component, S-Video, DVI (Analog)

Thunderbolt

HP ThunderboltThunderbolt is the newest of all the cable on this list, and is actually identical to DisplayPort in its video functions. The difference is that Thunderbolt connections are also able to carry data signals as well, which means the same cable that you use to output video to your monitor could be the same cable you use to connect your hard drive to your motherboard. Thunderbolt connectors runs at 10Gbps, which means you could transfer a high-definition movie across it in just 30-seconds. There are currently no monitors which nativly accept Thunderbolt connectors, though they can be converted into a DisplayPort connection.

  • Thunderbolt Max Resolution: 3840 x 2160
  • Can be converted into/from: HDMI, DVI (Digital)
  • Cannot be converted into/from: VGA, Composite, Component, S-Video, DVI (Analog)

Digital TV Connectors

HDMI

Most everyone has heard of HDMI (High Definition Media Interface) by now. HDMI first started popping up in 2003 and has since become the almost universal TV connection. The most current version of HDMI, released in 2009, can support extremely high resolutions, transmit 3D content, and can even run an internet connection!

  • HDMI Max Resolution: 3840 x 2160
  • Can be converted into/from: DVI (Digital), DisplayPort
  • Cannot be converted into/from: VGA, Composite, Component, S-Video, DVI (Analog)

Thar she blows! A complete list of all the modern video cables! If you’ve got any questions or comments, feel free to post them below. If you’re lacking the connections from your computer to use the cables you’ve read about, please check out my post on upgrading your video card for information on how to get the connector you need in your computer.

5 comments

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  2. […] are lots of video cables with different capabilities, but HDMI is by and large the industry standard for HD […]

  3. […] higher, a strong Graphics Processing Unit (GPU), at least 1GB of RAM (and that at least DDR3), and high definition input/output (I/O) like HDMI, Mini HDMI, DVI, Display Port (DP), or Mini DP. You’ll also need a  monitor that uses […]

  4. Fibre says:

    HDMI, DisplayPort and DVI are all digital standards used for High Definition video signals. DVI & DisplayPort (V1) solely carry the video-image signal but no audio, where as HDMI covers each. Therefore if you employ a DVI or DisplayPort (V1) cable, you will need to connect audio cables from your DVD-player, CPU, games console or cable/satellite receiver to your TV.

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