DisplayPort vs Mini DisplayPort — what’s the difference?

When it comes to connecting your devices to high-definition displays, the choice between DisplayPort vs Mini DisplayPort goes beyond their size. Uncovering the subtle disparities between these connectors is essential in making an informed decision for your visual needs. From resolutions to compatibility, we delve into the intricacies of DisplayPort and Mini DisplayPort, aiding you in selecting the optimal solution.

DisplayPort vs Mini DisplayPort resolutions

Early versions of Mini DisplayPort (mDP) can display the same maximum resolution as the original size DisplayPort (DP). On the DisplayPort 1.1a version, both can show up to a 2560 x 1600 resolution, and in the 1.2 version, up to a 4096 x 2160 resolution. However, there are no Mini DisplayPort cables that support versions 1.3/1.4/1.4a or 2.0. You’re limited to the amount of bandwidth that the 1.2 version can output with the Mini.

VersionSpecsDisplayPortMini DisplayPort
DP 1.0, 1.1, 1.1aMax Link Bandwidth10.8 Gbps10.8 Gbps
Max Payload Bandwidth8.64 Gbps8.64 Gbps
Max Resolution3840 x 2160 (4K) / 60 Hz3840 x 2160 (4K) / 60 Hz
DP 1.2/1.2aMax Link Bandwidth21.6 Gbps21.6 Gbps
Max Payload Bandwidth17.28 Gbps17.28 Gbps
Max Resolution3840 x 2160 (4K) / 60 Hz3840 x 2160 (4K) / 60 Hz
DP 1.3/1.4/1.4aMax Link Bandwidth32.4 Gbps-
Max Payload Bandwidth25.92 Gbps-
Max Resolution5120 x 2880 / 60 Hz
7680 x 4320 / 30 Hz
DP 2.0Max Link Bandwidth80 Gbps-
Max Payload Bandwidth77.4 Gbps-
Max Resolution7680 x 4320 (8K) / 60 Hz / 10 Bit Chroma / HDR

3840 x 2160 (4K) / 120 Hz / 10 Bit Chroma / HDR

Why is Mini DisplayPort behind?

How come there aren’t newer versions of Mini DisplayPort cables?

Mini DisplayPort was developed by Apple and was initially revealed in 2008. From the Macbook to the Mac Pro and everything in between, Apple’s entire line of products eventually had their DVI ports replaced with a Mini DisplayPorts.

The Video Electronics Standards Association (VESA) soon reached an agreement with Apple to license the new tech into the DisplayPort standard. Later, companies like HP, Dell, Asus, and Lenovo used the same input in their devices, though mostly limited to laptops and 2-in-1 tablets.

In 2016, Apple began replacing the Mini DisplayPort with USB-C. Meaning the only company that had once used all its devices, including desktops, had abandoned it. Since Mini DisplayPort is primarily used on mobile electronics, the bandwidth that 1.2 offers is more than enough in typical scenarios such as hooking it up to a single large monitor, television, or projector.

There is no actual consumer demand for higher versions with more bandwidth, so companies never bothered to invest their resources in further developing it.

Should I use DisplayPort or Mini DisplayPort?

Single monitor setup

It all depends on what monitor you’re working with and what kind of setup you want to be looking at. If you’ve just got a single monitor and it only has a Mini DisplayPort, then go with the Mini. If you got a regular size DisplayPort, then go with that one. If you’ve got both options, go for the normal size because you will be able to use higher resolutions with the newer versions.

Go for the larger and newer DisplayPort version whenever possible. There’s not much of a price difference between the versions. All DisplayPort versions are backward compatible, so there is no need to worry there.

Multi-monitor setup

The bandwidth and resolution that DisplayPort can output are usually more than good enough if you’re using a single monitor setup. For most users, that’s going to be true since today’s monitor typically sport a 2560 x 1440 or 1920 x 1080 resolution. But if you’re trying to set up a multi-monitor setup, you can quickly run out of bandwidth if you’re not careful with the number of monitors and their resolution size.

For multiple monitors, you’ve got a few options:

If your graphics card has multiple DisplayPort outputs, you can have a separate cable for each monitor that you have.

Higher-end gaming graphic cards will typically have at least two DisplayPort outputs. Otherwise, there are graphics cards geared specifically towards multi-monitor setups for business professionals with up to four DisplayPort outputs.

Suppose you’ve only got one output on your graphics card and only a DisplayPort input on each of your monitors. Then you can get a DisplayPort hub that will split the signal so that you can send it to more monitors.

These hubs are typically sold in versions that support between two and four monitors. Make sure your graphics card can handle this many monitors and at their resolution.

If your monitors have DisplayPort outputs, then you can use a technique called daisy-chaining.

Let’s say, for example, you have two monitors. In this situation, this involves linking one cable from your graphics card to your first monitor and with a second cable connecting your first monitor to your second monitor, in effect making a chain. This works by having the first monitor pass the necessary signal to the second one without the second being directly plugged into the graphics card itself.