DVI-I And DVI-D: What’s the Difference?

DVI technology is not new to most of us who have been in the monitor world for a while now. Among the many ports that come with your PC monitor one of them is a DVI connector so it’s something you are likely to have come across.

But do you understand the differences between DVI-I and DVI-D?

What exactly is a DVI Connector?

A DVI (Digital Visual Interface) connector has one of three names depending on the signal it outputs. DVI-I, DVI-D, or DVI-A. We are not going to much about DVI-A because it is an analog-only interface.

DVI connectors are easy to confuse with VGA connectors if you don’t know what you are looking at. But it is easy to distinguish them because a DVI connector is colored white while a VGA connector is blue.

Defining DVI

Digital Visual Interface was developed and introduced by Digital Display Working Group (DDWG) in 1999. It was created with the sole purpose of creating a standard computer interface where all graphics cards and monitors can transfer digital video content. In short, the installation of hardware components for both consumers and manufacturers would be easy and streamlined.

The DVI cable is used with PC monitors after succeeding VESA Plug and Display Standard. Because of its popularity, it has remained as the standard DVI cable for not only graphics cards and monitors but also gaming consoles, DVDs, and TVs.

The standard DVI connector has 24 pins and is 37mm wide. 12 pins are used with a single link connection. If you are inputting an analog signal, four more pins are needed to enable the transfer of the analog signal. DVI connectors can transfer data in speeds of up to 165 million pixels per second and by way of a maximum bandwidth for data transfer of 165Megahertz.

Understanding the Different Formats of DVI


 DVI-D 

This connector implements a digital signal only. It is used with a DVI-D cable which provides a connection between source video like video cards to the monitor. Since video cards send out a digital video signal that is first converted to analog and then re-converted to digital, a DVI connector skips the conversion to analog and gives you a faster connection between the source and the display.

There are two types of DVI-D connectors; single link and dual link. A DVI-D single link uses three rows of six pins but does not have contacts like what you’d see with a DVI-I single link connector. A DVI-D dual link connector, on the other hand, has three rows of eight pins to complete dual-link connections. And like its single-link counterpart it does not have contacts.

DVI-I 

This connector outputs both digital and analog signals. It is the best of both worlds as it can be used with flat panel LCD monitors as well as older CRT displays that require an analog signal. A DVI-I single link connector has three rows of six pins and two contacts. A DVI-I dual connector has three rows of eight pins and two connectors. This configuration allows it to be used for both digital and analog applications.

DVI-A

As we said, this connector outputs an analog signal. It has three rows of pins consisting of five pins, three pins, and four pins and it has two contacts. 

Choosing a DVI Cable 

When looking for a DVI cable, you will find that all three DVI ports have specific cables which you can use with the particular connector it was destined. DVI-D connectors are common and the DVI-D cable will come bundled with your monitor. The cable generates a direct link to the display from the source. It works hand in hand with the graphics card in your LCD or LED monitor.

A DVI-D connector can be used with DVI-D or DVI-I cable. A DVI-I connector can be used with any DVI cable but a DVI-A connector can only accept a DVI-A or DVI-I cable.

To distinguish between the three different cables, all you have to remember is that a DVI-D cable will not have contacts but DVI-I cables have receptors for contacts. When you examine the pins, you will find that a DVI-I cable has a full 23-pin set complete with contacts. That is two rows of nine pins and a horizontal blade on the far left with two pins on top and below it, bringing the total to (18+5).

A DVI cable does not have the two pins above and below the horizontal bar on the left side. It only has nine pins on two rows.

Note:

DVI-I cables can only transmit analog-to-analog or digital-to-digital signals but not analog to digital or digital to analog. Also, you can use double link connectors to increase the speed of data transfer but you will require two cables for the process.

How to Use Your DVI Cables

Your hardware connections will guide you on the type of cable you need to use. First, check the female DVI plugs. You need a minimum of one source that requires a DVI-D connection to require a DVI-D cable and a minimum one DVI-A source to require a DVI-A cable. If you find that they have a DVI-I plug you can use a DVI-I cable or any of the other two cables. The secret to great picture quality with an integrated plug is using it with a DVI-I cable.

What about HDMI?

It is easy to confuse DVI and HDMI since the two connectors have similarities. These include stuff like both having single and dual-link connectors and that you can use an adapter to convert DVI to HDMI and vice versa.

HDMI (High Definition Media Interface) also sends a video signal to a display source but it also includes audio. It is a standard for HDTVs and most PC monitors. While DVI streams up to 1920 x 1200 resolutions on single link connectors and 2560 x 1600 on dual-link DVI, HDMI can stream up to 3820 x 2160 on HDMI 1.4 and 4K with HDMI 2.0.

Because of the lack of audio, DVI is not used with TVs.

Conclusion

For the best picture quality and versatility, a DVI-I cable is your best bet. It allows the flexibility you need whether you are streaming from an analog or digital source. With time, you will easily tell apart the different cables that you need for your connection. And just like, all the cables running from the back of your monitor will no longer be overwhelming.

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