DVI–D vs DVI–I: What’s the difference?

Discover the difference between DVI and DVI-I connectors and how to find which you need for your computer.

Dvi Input
Dvi Cable
What a DVI cable looks like

First of all, what is DVI? DVI stands for Digital Video Interface and is a graphical input used to connect your computer’s graphics card to your monitor. It is one of the many connector cables (among VGA, HDMI, and DisplayPort) that’s used. You can quickly tell a DVI connector from others due to the white color of the plug (seen right) and the screws used to secure them.

What types of DVI are there?

In total there are three different types of DVI inputs: DVI-D (digital only signal), DVI-I (integrated, both analog and digital signals), and DVI-A (analog only signal). In addition to that, there are two versions of DVI-D and DVI-I, a single-link version and a dual-link version.

Altogether there are five different DVI variants and the differences between each are illustrated below. Both DVI-D and DVI-I are commonly in use, but use in DVI-A is incredibly rare. Keep in mind none of the DVI types carry sound. So it’s not a good cable if you’re planning on using it for built-in monitor speakers.

Comparison Of Single Link And Dual Link Versions Of Dvid And Dvii And Of Dvia.
Comparison of single link and dual-link versions of DVI-D and DVI-I and of DVI-A.

DVI-D vs DVI-I

So what technically sets a DVI-D and DVI-I connector apart? DVI-D and DVI-I differ physically in the number of pins they use. This determines how much bandwidth they run through their signals and what their type is.

As previously mentioned, a DVI-D connection only has a digital signal whereas a DVI-I connection has both an analog and digital signal. This is true regardless of whether they are single or dual-link. Digital signals are used for modern monitors like digital displays while analog signals are used for older technology like CRT monitors which are largely out of use nowadays.

 Max resolutionBandwidthSignal types
Single link DVI-D1920 x 12003.96 Gbit/sDigital
Single link DVI-I1920 x 12003.96 Gbit/sDigital and analog
Dual link DVI-D2560 x 16007.92 Gbit/sDigital
Dual link DVI-I2560 x 16007.92 Gbit/sDigital and analog

What’s the difference between DVI single-link and dual-link?

What sets a single-link and dual-link connection apart? The amount of maximum bandwidth that it can utilize dictates the max DVI resolution.

A single-link DVI-D or DVI-I cable can carry 3.96 Gbit/s and, as a result, is limited to a 1920 x 1200 resolution on a 60Hz monitor. A dual-link enables you to use a higher bandwidth due to its physical construct and ups it to 7.92 Gbit/s, allowing you to use a maximum resolution of 2560 x 1600 at 60Hz. Even still DVI cannot do 4K.

Both DVI-D and DVI-I are becoming more and more obsolete and should only be used in the unfortunate event that HDMI or DisplayPort is unavailable. DVI simply isn’t as good as HDMI or DisplayPort which both offer superior image quality and performance.