DVI Cable Buying Guide

An Introduction to DVI Cables!

DVI is an abbreviation for digital video interface. To understand which DVI cable would work for you and what verdict would you get if you compare DVI to HDMI, you first need to understand what DVI is and everything that it has to offer. Thus, we are going to commence with the guide by shedding some light on what DVI is all about. We will then proceed to discuss the various aspects associated with DVI and the verdict you can expect when it comes to DVI vs HDMI.

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DVI refers to video interface technology whose purpose is to optimize the quality you get with flat panel LCD monitors as well as the video graphic cards. It is perhaps among the most popular options available in this regard. It has taken over the plug-and-display standards quite easily and can be considered as a step in the forward direction from the digital-only DFP format that was used for older flat panels.

DVI cables have attained a high level of popularity among the video card manufacturers, and it appears that the cards that you find on the market, these days, constitute single or dual DVI output ports. While the usage of DVI for computer interface is well known, not many are aware of the fact that for a while, it was also the preferred choice for HD TVs along with video displays.

You will find advanced DVD players to be equipped with DVI outputs along with the analog component video. However, DVI has now been replaced by HDMI interface for HD media while DVI continues to rule the computer market.

The Various Formats of DVI

The Various Formats of DVIThree main formats are available when it comes to DVI. You can opt for the one that suits your requirement. We will provide you with a brief introduction to the three DVI connections available.

DVI-D explained

DVI-D or the DVI-digital is what would prove to be the perfect option for you if you are forming a connection between a DVI computer and a DVI monitor. These cables are used for the purpose of forming direct digital connections between the video cards and the LCD monitors. They are capable of offering you with a profound quality image at a rapid pace. All video cards first lead to production of a digital video signal.

A conversion then occurs to analog at the VGA output which then travels to the monitor where the conversion to digital signal occurs. DVI-D basically serves to skip over the whole conversion to and from analog, thereby leading to an improvement in the connection formed between the source and the display.

DVI-A explained

DVI-analog is an option that you should opt for if it is a VGA monitor that you are connecting the DVI computer to. These serve to provide a medium to the DVI signal to reach the analog display which would be a CRT monitor or a budget LCD. One of the most common uses that the cable is put to is the connection to a VGA device.

This is because both DVI-A and VGA carry the same signal. Some loss of quality occurs owing to the conversion that takes place between digital signals and analog which is why it appears that digital signal is what you should use as far as possible.

DVI-I explained

The last option that you have when it comes to the format of DVI cable is DVI-integrated. These cables basically offer you the perfect combination as they are capable of transmission of analog to analog signal as well as the digital to digital signal. Thus, if it is versatility that you are looking for, it is this format which would prove to be the one for you. You can use it in both digital as well as analog connections.

Keep in mind that you can consider DVI digital and analog formats to be something that is interchangeable. Thus, if you have a DVI-D cable, you can expect it to work on an analog system, and a DVI-A would fail to work if connected to a digital system. If you want to bring about a connection between an analog source and a digital display, it is VGA or DVI-D electronic connector that you will need. Similarly, for connecting a digital output to analog monitor, it is the DVI-D to VGA converter that you will need to make use of.

Another point worth mentioning is that you will find DVI ports with all pinholes open quite a few times. This should not make you believe that the port is an integrated cable. This is done as a precaution for prevention of pins breaking off in case you insert the wrong cable in it. Make sure that you carry out proper verification of the DVI format of the port, either from the manual if that is available or the manufacturer.

Single & Dual Link DVI Cable

You will find the digital formats in various forms of linkages. These include DVI-D single and dual links along with DVI-I single link and dual-link connector. The DVI cable serves to transmit the information by means of a digital information format which is called transition minimized differential signaling or TMDS.

The single link cables make use of one TMDS 165Mhz transmitter while the dual-link cables involve two such transmitters. The benefit of dual-link DVI cable pins is that they enhance the power of transmission while at the same time increasing speed and quality of the signal. The resolution you get via DVI single link 60Hz LCD is around 1920 x 1200, while 2560 x 1600 is what you get if it is a DVI dual cable that you make use of.

The Maximum DVI Cable Length

According to the official DVI specifications, it is mandatory that all the DVI equipment maintain a signal at five meters or 16 feet in length. However, considering that manufacturers are trying to push the boundaries and make strong cards with bigger monitors, acquiring specification with regards to the maximum length is not something that you will be able to manage with ease.

Cables up to 25 feet can also be found, and indeed the cables can be extended even more. However, keep in mind that there could be variations in results depending on the hardware. If you want to insure that profound signal quality is attained on long runs, you should contemplate getting your hands on a powered signal booster.

There seems to be a misconception involving digital video cables that either an all-digital signal works or not. However, the truth is, in the absence of signal degradation in digital video, quite a difference in picture quality can be attained by means of cable quality and length.

If there is instability in the DVI cable, you will notice disturbance on your display. The degradation would flicker out, ultimately leading to the display blanking out. Tests conducted on different pieces of equipment have shown that strong signals are produced with cables up to nine meters long. When cables with 12m length were used, signal noise and distorted images were produced on display. Moreover, the cables with longer length than this yielded no images.

Thus, this is something that you need to be prepared for if you are using DVI-cables at long lengths. You might not get a digitally clear display on the screen. Owing to the fact that analog is provided with a longer run, an automatic switch might occur once the digital single gets too weak. Therefore, if it is long runs that you need, it is VGA for analog or HDMI for digital that you ought to make use of. In case, this is not an option, and you must use DVI, endeavor to make use of DVI-D cables and set the display setting to digital input so as to make it certain that you get the best image.


HDMI vs. DVIThere are quite a few differences present between these two formats. We are going to provide you with information regarding the various aspects associated with these two interfaces and how they differ from one another.

The glaring difference that you will find between the two interfaces lies in the layout that they are provided with. DVI is found to be bigger with 24-pin setup which is quite similar to VGA cables. You will come across some DVI cables that are provided with fewer pins that are meant to be used for low-resolution devices. In contrast, HDMI is compact and carries a resemblance to a USB input. It measures around an inch. A variety of layout designs are available when it comes to DVI cable.

The designs are decided based on specific tasks. We have already discussed the formats that you can make use of for DVA cable, including digital, analog and integrated. You also have the option of selecting between dual link cable and single link variety. In comparison, you will find HDMI to be a whole lot simpler. These are restricted to a numbered system such as HDMI 2.0, HDMI 2.1 and so on. Furthermore, HDMI is found to be compatible with eight channels of audio while DVI is meant for video usage only. Thus, if you want to make the connection with anything that comprises sound, you will need to make use of HDMI or an audio cable.

Another difference between the two interfaces lies in their compatibility. You would not want to get a monitor that is expensive and yet does not have the right ports with which you can form connections. When it comes to compatibility, it is the input that your tech is provided with that needs to be taken into account.

The two interfaces are found to be quite similar when it comes to signal quality owing to the fact that both are digital cables. At 24-pin configuration, both the interfaces support video at resolution of 1920 x 1200. Keep in mind that you would not be able to access HD content on unauthorized devices when it comes to DVI cable.

One of the most decisive factors for people that influence their decision of which cable to make use of is its price. You will often come across people complaining about the increased prices of cables. Getting your hands on a cable that would offer profound quality of image with clarity at an affordable rate is not something that is manageable with ease. You do not need to spend tons of money on AV leads as they would not impact the results that you get a great deal of. Both the cables are affordable, and you can opt for the economical connector that you can find with ease. Do not believe that quality would be enhanced if you opt for something expensive.

Refresh rates are also among the important factors that people take into account when they head for to get their hands on a new monitor. If you want to acquire a smooth PC experience and insure that the strain on the eyes and mind is minimized, you should opt for something with higher rates. Refresh rate basically refers to the frequency of frames a monitor can put out. For instance, a monitor with frequency of 144Hz will offer you around 144 frames in a single second. When we compare DVI to HDMI, we find that the latter is provided with a frequency of 120Hz while DVI offers you a frequency of 144Hz.

All in all, both HDMI and DVI have quite a bit to offer. While shopping for equipment that you can connect up the AV gear, you should pay heed to the cable that would fit your hardware. This holds true for both personal and professional usage. It all comes down to what you are looking for and the requirements that you have. For instance, if you require high refresh rates, it is DVI that would cater to your need. Insure that you take a look at the bigger picture and get your hands on a cable that you will be able to use for a long time to come.


Which DVI Cable to Make Use of?

This is something that can be confusing for quite a few people out there. However, this is also a decision that needs to be paid attention to. This is because you would want to make it certain that you get your hands on the right cable at the first attempt. It would only be possible if you are able to determine the type of DVI cable that would work with your product.

The first thing that you need to do is fathom which cable your device is compatible with. This will make the process of selection quite easy for you. You have the option of making use of the DVI-I cables which would offer you both analog as well as digital display. However, this does not imply that you make use of the format in every situation. It is advisable to pay heed to the requirements that you have which would enable you to make the right selection.

For instance, if the signal you need is digital, you ought to make use of a cable that is digital only. If you have devices that use DVI connections, you can easily make use of the regular DVI-D cable. On the other hand, if one device is DVI while the other one is HDMI, you will need to make use of a DVI-D to HDMI cable.

If you are making use of a short length of cable, something like 10 feet, it will work in your favor if you make the connection by using a one-piece adapter cable. Various options are available. You can get cables with DVI plug on one end while VGA plug is featured on the other end. Another option is to get a DVI plug at one end with the other end comprised of five male BNC plugs.

If you are running at longer lengths, it is advisable to make use of full sized cables for making the connection. Many people do not like the idea of making use of adapters. However, this is something that would provide you with optimal results since signal loss would be minimized. You should endeavor to get something that offers you tight impedance tolerance.

To summarize and make things easier for you, if one or both connections are digital, you should get a DVI-D cable. If one of them is analog, you should get a DVI-A cable, and if it is versatility that is of importance to you, it is DVI-I that you should use. Thus, it all comes down to your requirements. Using the wrong type of cable can be detrimental which is why you should endeavor to insure that you have complete information regarding the compatibility before you insert a cable. This would save you from quite a bit of trouble and make it certain that you get something that would provide you with the results that you are looking for.


Recognizing a DVI Cable

This can be difficult for an amateur. You will find two variables present in every DVI connector which is a representation of one characteristic. If it is a flat pin that you see on one side, it will tell you whether the cable is digital or analog. A flat pin that is surrounded by four pins could be DVI-I or DVI-A. On the other hand, if there are no surrounding pins and you find a single flat pin, it is DVI-D.

There would also be variations depending on the single link, dual link, and analog characteristic of the cable and thus, this is something that you will need to take into account while you are trying to recognize the DVI cable.

The Formats

Let us now provide you with some information regarding the three formats of DVI cable, that is, DVI-D cable, DVI-A cable, and DVI-I cable.

DVI-A Cable

DVI-A cable is meant to be used for adapting the digital DVI signal to an analog VGA signal. The secret of this function lies in the four pins that surround the horizontal blade, which is also a recognizing factor for DVI-A, as we discussed prior. Three pins are assigned analog video signals with red, green, and blue colors while the fourth one functions as the ground. When it is DVI-A connectors that we talk about, they comprise 17 pins and do not offer you the option of dual link.

They carry analog signals only. These signals are found to be somewhat similar to VGA signals, but it is their presentation as an altered configuration which is different. You will need to make use of VGA to DVI adapter for connecting a VGA card to a DVI-A monitor or vice versa. DVI-A connectors are in fact quite rare. This is because VGA is the dominant connector found in analog monitors, while DVI is what you can call the standard for digital signals. Thus, when the three formats of DVI cable are compared, DVI-A is somewhat limited in terms of usage.

DVI-D Cable

This is a digital only connection and also quite popular. It makes use of a higher number of pins for conduction of transmission of a digital signal. If you need an HDMI converter, you will be able to find something that adapts HDMI signal to DVI-D which keeps the signal digital. If a DVI-D connector contains dents and scratches around the horizontal pin, it should tell you that an attempt has been made to connect the wrong format, that is, DVI-A or DVI-I into it.

DVI-D connectors can only be used for transferring digital video signals. The single link DVI-D connectors comprise 19 pins while 25 pins are featured in those with a dual link. These cables are found to be compatible with both DVI-D and DVI-I connectors. It is found that HDMI and display port connectors are also able to support the DVI-D video signals by means of an adapter.

However, you will not find DVI-D supporting the additional features of these two interfaces which include the likes of integrated audio and CEC (Consumer Electronics Control) among other things. Most digital monitors comprise DVI-D connector. In contrast, monitors that are compatible with both digital as well as analog signals are provided with DVI-D and VGA connectors.

DVI-I Cable

The integrated DVI cable is provided with both analog as well as digital pins. Thus, you can think that this DVI cable is capable of offering you the best of both worlds. It comprises both DVI-A and DVI-D features which are integrated to form one connector. This ensures that the cable is capable of transmitting signal digitally and being adapted to an analog VGA signal too.

The DVI single link is equipped with 23 pins while the dual-link connectors are provided with as many as 29 pins. These connectors do not carry out conversion between analog and digital signals, and instead, accept both the forms. However, you cannot expect them to do so at the same time. If you have a video card, a monitor, and a cable with DVI-I connections, you will need to select one mode of operation. As we mentioned before, this cable is an integration of the other two types. Thus, you will be able to use the connector with all three cable types with ease.


Final Words

Among all the cable types, it is DVI-D which is found to be the most popular. However, it is important that you pay heed to the equipment that you have before you select the cable that you will make use of. Compatibility is among the most important factors that you will need to pay attention to if you want to make it certain that your money is not wasted and you get the right thing.

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