For years, DisplayPort has been the high-end data and audio connection for gamers and workers running monitors at higher refresh rates and resolutions, like 144Hz and 4K. With its higher data rate than HDMI, it's been far better at handling more complicated data streams, and that remains the case in 2020. HDMI 2.1 might be able to compete, but supporting devices are still hard to come by and the demand for a new cable may make its adoption slower than many hope.
There is a new DisplayPort standard in the works too – version 2.0 – but aside from that, DisplayPort 1.4 is the best you can get. While it might be a standard that's a few years old, it still has one of the best features and spec lists you'll find among any connectors. Only the supremely modern alternatives can stand up to it and even hope to compete.
What are DisplayPort 1.4 benefits? More than you might think.
What's different about DisplayPort 1.4?
The DisplayPort 1.4 standard was first published in March 2016. While it didn't introduce any new transmission modes, and therefore did not increase the available bandwidth or data rate, it did maintain the strong showing from DisplayPort 1.3. That gives DisplayPort 1.4 a maximum total bandwidth of 32.4Gbps and a maximum total data rate of 25.92 Gbps. That gives it enough bandwidth to handle a 4K UHD stream at up to 120Hz with 24-bit/px color, or a 5K display at up to 60Hz, with 30-bit/px color. It even supports 8K video, but only at up to 30Hz due to the hefty bandwidth demands.
A more important feature of DisplayPort 1.4 is the introduction of Display Stream Compression 1.2 support (DSC). As a visually lossless encoding technique, DSC is a fantastic way to get more for your cabling and with DisplayPort 1.4 and DSC, you can support 4K at up to 120Hz with 30-bit/px color and HDR-enabled, or 8K at up to 60Hz.
Other DisplayPort 1.4 benefits include support for Dual-mode for DVI and HDMI adapters, making it possible to connect a DisplayPort 1.4 device to an HDMI 2.0 source, or vice versa. It also includes better support for HDR10 metadata and forward error correction for a noiseless transmission.
Another major improvement with DisplayPort 1.4 was on the audio front, where it moved from a maximum audio sample rate of 768kHz to 1,536kHz. It also increased the maximum number of audio channels from 8 to 32.
Should you buy DisplayPort 1.4?
DisplayPort 1.4 is, apart from DisplayPort 2.0, the most high spec DisplayPort technology available as of early 2020. But you may be asking yourself, is DisplayPort 1.4 worth it? Do I need DisplayPort 1.4?
The answer to those questions is mixed because it depends on your particular use case and needs. If you can benefit from the advancements made with DisplayPort 1.4, like the introduction of DSC 1.2 and the expanded audio channels, then it's definitely worth opting for and even paying a little more money for if you have the option.
But if you're a more typical user looking to play games, watch movies, or work on a display at just 60Hz, DisplayPort 1.2 is perfectly fine. Some of the best monitors available today are still based on that slightly older standard and they don't suffer for it. DisplayPort 1.2 offers a bandwidth of 21.6 Gbps compared to 32.4 Gbps on DisplayPort 1.4, but for casual users, that is more than enough.
That being said, if you’re a user looking to do some high refresh rate gaming (120Hz and up) or high-resolution video editing, you’ll want to utilize at least DisplayPort 1.4’s 32.4Gbps. You’ll need to make sure that all equipment (monitor, source, and cable) supports DisplayPort 1.4. Luckily, DisplayPort 1.4 cables are similarly priced to DP 1.4 cables so picking one up is easy enough- just take a look at the product specifications. Also, remember that DisplayPort 1.4 is fully backward compatible with 1.2 so having DP 1.4 cables at the ready is a good way to future proof your setup.
Make sure you're buying your DisplayPort 1.4 cables from a reputed source like Cable Matters, too. There you'll find plenty of choices, whether you want shorter, passive DisplayPort cables, or longer active alternatives which can stretch to up to 24 feet. Take a look at some of Cable Matters' cable offerings.
DisplayPort 1.4 Cable
Active DisplayPort 1.4 Extension Cable
Unidirectional Active DisplayPort 1.4 Cable
What about DisplayPort 1.4a?
DisplayPort 1.4a was ratified in April 2018 and is a minor alteration of the DisplayPort 1.4 standard that did nothing to improve its bandwidth or feature support for video or audio streams. The only change is the implementation of DSC 1.2a, which improves upon DSC 1.1 and 1.2 with better support for HDR in the compression algorithm and improves color support.