VGA vs HDMI? Difference between VGA and HDMI

You might have an old monitor lying around and you’re wondering if you should connect it via VGA or HDMI. The price point for these cables is about the same.

Which is Better VGA or HDMI?

When it comes to VGA vs HDMI, HDMI is much better than VGA, for a number of reasons. Not only is HDMI capable of transferring more data (which translates into higher resolutions and higher frame rates) but it can also carry over audio. VGA, on the other hand, is only capable of transferring visuals, and much lower resolutions.

In short, HDMI delivers a much clearer image quality.

Specifications:

These two cables are very different. The main difference is VGA uses analogue signals while HDMI uses digital signals. In other words, they use a different technology to transfer data.

HDMI to VGA Adapter:

On that note, converting HDMI to VGA (or the other way around) is only possible with an adapter that has an external power source.

Another way these cables are different is the technology age. VGA is very old. The technology was introduced in 1987.

While it was the standard port for many years, and many electronics today still have VGA ports, it’s slowly dying out. HDMI is now the new standard.

When it comes to ports, VGA uses a 15-pin connector, usually marked with a blue. Typically, the cable is plugged in and then you turn the two screws to fasten the cable to the connector. Most PCs and TVs still have these ports.

There are several versions of HDMI cables, but the most common one is HDMI A which has 19 small pins. No screws needed here, the cable usually fits perfectly in place.

Supported Resolutions:

While VGA can support pretty high resolutions, there are many factors that can cause signal corruption or loss.

For example:

  • Cable Length (the longer, the more likely to lose signal)
  • Cable Quality
  • Connection
  • Magnets
  • Electric Fields

And other forms of interference. In short, it’s not nearly as stable. There’s also not much data encryption. But, if all you want is 1080p, then a VGA cable can do the trick.

I believe the maximum possible resolution on VGA is 2048×1536, although you should expect ghosting and other visual issues at this resolution.

HDMI, on the other hand, can support a wide range of resolutions, without the risks of signal interference or loss. It’s much stabler, and it has a built-in data encryption feature, called HDCP. It also carries over audio, and newer versions can carry over the internet too.

Which one is Better to Watch Movies?

For watching movies, you want the best quality resolution and colours, so I recommend going with HDMI. Most people who use VGA say the colour is a bit flat when compared to HDMI. That can make a big difference when you’re watching movies on the TV. Furthermore, HDMI carries over audio, so you don’t need any separate cables for speakers.

Which One is Better for Gaming?

A common misconception is VGA can only support 60hz (refresh rate) but that’s not the case. It can actually support up to 85hz. Nevertheless, HDMI is a much better choice for video games because not only are the visuals clearer but you can achieve higher refresh rates too. For example, HDMI 2.0 can achieve 240hz at 1080p.

In a Nutshell

In short, if you’re trying to decide whether to use a VGA or HDMI cable, I will always recommend the HDMI. VGA should only be used as a last resort, for example, if your monitor only has one VGA port and you don’t want to buy a new one yet. Otherwise, HDMI is the way to go.

View also: VGA to HDMI Converter

About S. Santos

Tech columnist and tech blogger, audiovisual aficionado trying to keep up with the ever-evolving world of gadgets, home entertainment, and personal technology. If not fiddling with AV cables at home or in front of the computer, he can be found playing tennis or padel.

1 thought on “VGA vs HDMI? Difference between VGA and HDMI”

  1. The reason I came upon this page was looking for technical reasons why I’ve got two TVs here that look better on VGA vs HDMI.

    Technically HDMI should be superior in almost every respect. In practice, at least in televisions, VGA seems to have a better picture, better color gradients, better greys and a sharper image than HDMI.

    To be fair I don’t have any HDMI monitors so this could be limited strictly to TVs.

    My DVI monitors are comparable to VGA with the sole exception of the image tends to center itself better on non-native resolutions on VGA over DVI.

    Considering the differences between VGA, DVI and HDMI the fact that I’ve had these experiences (20 years in IT, though I haven’t touched every monitor model) it’s downright sad that the digital connections don’t seem to live up to the hype.

    Reply

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