Which is the best cable for your video monitor?

There is four major standards:

  • HD-SDI and its 3G-SDI avatar
  • HDMI
  • DVI-D and DVI-I
  • Displayport

Here are a few monitors and projectors with their connectors:

  • Dell Ultrasharp – DVI-D, Displayport, HDMI
  • Apple Thunderbolt Display – Thunderbolt (aka mini-Displayport)
  • Eizo ColorEdge – DVI-D, Displayport, HDMI
  • Dolby Professional Reference Monitor – Dual 3G-SDI
  • Barco LCD – DVI-D, Displayport, HDMI, Dual HD-SDI
  • Barco 4K Projector –  Dual HD-SDI, Dual DVI-D

Graphic Card connection ports examples :

  • Nvidia Quadro 5000 – Dual DVI-I, Displayport
  • ATI Firepro S10000 – 4 x Displayport, DVI 

Signal conversion boxes or cards connection examples :

  •     Blackmagic HDLink Pro – DVI/Displayport, Dual HD-SDI
  •     Blackmagic Ultrastudio 4K – Dual HD-SDI, HDMI
  •     Matrox MXO2 – Dual HD-SDI, HDMI

The DVI standard has been passed over for HDMI and Displayport, so there will be no more updates. The great disadvantages of DVI is the lack of support for Y’CbCr and audio. 

The most important criterion when comparing video connectors is image quality. This one’s a non-starter. There is no image quality difference between any of the four standards. DVI, HDMI and Displayport are easily interchangeable via adapters or active circuits, while HD-SDI is the broadcast standard for monitoring.

What makes HD-SDI special:

  • Long cable length
  • Robust BNC adapter
  • Uncompressed video and audio 

HD-SDI is great for monitoring 1080p but nothing higher. Forget 2K, 4K or even still image files from modern cameras. If your workflow is broadcast centric, there is nothing better. If it is not, then HD-SDI is overkill, and limiting at the same time!

Advantages of Displayport over HDMI

  • Ability to daisy chain multiple monitors due to the double bit rate advantage
  • 2K at 120 fps and 4K at 60 fps
  • You can passively convert Displayport to HDMI, but not the other way around
  • Royalty-free, compared to HDMI
  • Support from graphic card manufacturers, the primary drivers for display
  • Support from major computer and monitor manufacturers like Apple, Intel, Dell, HP, and the like.

The relative advantages of HDMI over Displayport are minor, but strong nevertheless in a home viewing environment. The new Sony 4K monitor has been announced, and it has HDMI ports. So does the Redray 4K player.

For HD broadcast, there is nothing better than HD-SDI and 3G-SDI, period. However, for the studio monitoring environment, the order of preference for connectors are:

  • Displayport
  • HDMI
  • DVI-D
  • DVI-I