While living room gaming consoles, Blu-ray players, and HTPCs most often use the humble HDMI connection for their video and audio transmission needs, high-end desktop PCs have been using something different. DisplayPort is a much more capable cable type that has been the connection of choice for high-end monitors and graphics cards for years.
Even DisplayPort 1.2, originally released in 2010, offers more bandwidth than all but the latest of HDMI standards. DisplayPort 1.4 is a much more capable standard, with limited competition from even the latest and greatest.
That doesn't mean DisplayPort 1.2 is bad though. In fact, in the battle of DisplayPort 1.4 vs. 1.2, you might be surprised by how competitive it is.
The raw data
At the heart of every high-end cable standard are some numbers that dictate just what it's capable of. DisplayPort cables have offered broad and impressive bandwidth for data transmission since their first iteration, and that's only improved in successive generations. When it comes to DisplayPort 1.4 vs. 1.2, the newer standard is more capable, but DisplayPort 1.2 is still impressive.
DisplayPort 1.2 offers a maximum total bandwidth of 21.6 Gbps over its four lanes and a maximum total data rate of 17.28 Gbps. In comparison, DisplayPort 1.4 has the same four-lane structure but expands the maximum total bandwidth to 32.40 Gbps, and the maximum total data rate to 25.92 Gbps.
These figures are identical to those of DisplayPort 1.3 because DisplayPort 1.4 was more of a feature update than a physical change to the cable or design. However, it did integrate Display Stream Compression (DSC) 1.2, a lossless compression format that opens up a wider range of resolutions and refresh rates than its bandwidth might otherwise allow.
So, who comes out on top when we pit DisplayPort 1.4 vs. 1.2? DisplayPort 1.4, by a noticeable margin.
Resolutions, refresh rates, and more
As much as raw numbers can look impressive on a spec sheet, what they mean in the real world is access to higher refresh rates and resolutions. DisplayPort 1.4 vs. 1.2 is a battle of features, yes, but it's also a head-to-head competition of what videos and games the cables can actually support.
When it was introduced in 2010, DisplayPort 1.2 heralded in a new era of high-end data transmission, with support for features like adaptive synchronization and panel-self-refresh. But it also improved the standard’s resolution and refresh rate support, opening up the option of 5K resolution at up to 30Hz, 4K at up to 75Hz, and 1080p at up to 240Hz – previously impossible standards for the DisplayPort connection to reach.
DisplayPort 1.4, however, takes things a much greater step further. It supports 1440p resolution at up to 240Hz, and even 4K at up to 120Hz. Like DisplayPort 1.3, it also supports 5K resolution at up to 60Hz, and even 8K resolution at 30Hz.
And that's without even factoring in its support of DSC 1.2. DisplayPort 1.4 vs. 1.2 is a blowout without even considering compression technologies, but with DisplayPort 1.4's support of DSC 1.2 it is even more capable. With DSC enabled it can handle 4K at 60Hz with 30bit/px color and HDR, and even 8K at up to 60Hz.
DisplayPort 1.4 cables are entirely backward compatible with older DisplayPort devices too, whether you're using a full-size or Mini DisplayPort connection. While there is some benefit to buying a device that supports the DisplayPort 1.4 standard over DisplayPort 1.2, if you're comparing DisplayPort 1.4 vs. 1.2 cables, there's little reason to consider the older alternative.
Which DisplayPort Cables to Buy?
With all the improvements in DisplayPort 1.4, it wins hands down. If you are in the market for a DisplayPort cable, you should choose a quality DisplayPort 1.4 cable from a company like Cable Matters. Even if your current equipment only supports DisplayPort 1.2, a quality DisplayPort 1.4 cable is still a great choice. It is backward compatible with your current equipment and may allow you to avoid replacing cables when you do decide to upgrade your hardware.
DisplayPort 1.4 has been the best high-end cable for years, especially if you bought it from Cable Matters where we can guarantee a high quality of anti-noise shielding and anti-corrosion protection on the connectors. But DisplayPort and competing standards are always evolving.
HDMI 2.1 is a more capable cable and as more devices support it, it has become the new standard for A/V and gaming connectivity over the past few years. Especially with the launch of new gaming consoles from Microsoft and Sony. But DisplayPort 2.0 was recently ratified as a standard, and it looks set to reclaim the top spot for high-performance connections and cabling.
Right now, the DisplayPort 1.4 vs. 1.2 question is an important one, but in the near future, it'll be DisplayPort 2.0 vs HDMI 2.1.
What's New in 2022?
As of 2022, we've seen HDMI 2.1 become the industry leader for in-home connectivity. The newest generations of gaming consoles, like the PS5 and Xbox Series X, both utilize this technology, and there is a multitude of TVs and monitors that offer video qualities of 4K@120Hz over HDMI 2.1. The latest high-end GPUs also feature HDMI 2.1 ports, like the Nvidia 3000 Series RTX cards, and the AMD 6000 Series cards.
DisplayPort 2.0, on the other hand, has yet to become widely available. GPUs and high-end gaming monitors are still using the DisplayPort 1.4 standard to process video resolutions higher than 4K@120Hz.
The latest line of AMD 7000 Processors is set to come equipped with DP 2.0 Certification, but displays have not yet adopted the ability to accept the resolution and refresh rates that DP 2.0 is capable of supporting. With USB4's native support for DP 2.0, it would not come as a surprise if the newest generation of gaming monitors were to utilize the USB's latest standard to pass the highest-bandwidth video signals.