Is Type C better than HDMI?

Answered by Frank Schwing

USB-C and HDMI are both widely used for connecting devices to displays, but they serve different purposes and have different capabilities. Let’s dive into the details to understand which one is better for your specific needs.

USB-C, also known as USB Type-C, is a versatile and highly capable connector that has gained popularity in recent years. It has several advantages over previous USB connectors, such as a smaller form factor, reversible design (you can plug it in either way), and faster data transfer speeds.

One of the key advantages of USB-C is its ability to carry multiple types of data and signals simultaneously. It supports various protocols, including USB, Thunderbolt, and DisplayPort. This means that with a single USB-C cable, you can connect your laptop to a display, transfer data, and even charge your device.

USB-C Alt Mode is particularly noteworthy. It allows the use of alternate protocols, such as DisplayPort or HDMI, over a USB-C connection. This means that if your laptop supports USB-C Alt Mode and the connected display has a compatible input, you can transmit video and audio signals using a USB-C to HDMI cable, eliminating the need for a separate HDMI port.

However, it’s important to note that not all USB-C ports support Alt Mode, so you need to make sure your laptop has this feature before assuming you can use it for video output. Additionally, the power output of the USB-C port is crucial for charging your laptop while using it with a display. Some USB-C ports may not provide sufficient power for charging, especially when driving a high-resolution display.

On the other hand, HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) is a widely used standard for connecting devices to displays. It has been around for quite some time, and most modern monitors and TVs come with HDMI ports. HDMI supports high-definition video and audio signals, making it ideal for multimedia content.

HDMI 2.0 is the most common version found in devices today. It supports 4K resolution at 60Hz, which is suitable for most home entertainment setups. However, HDMI 2.1 is the latest iteration, offering significant improvements over its predecessor. It supports higher resolutions, higher refresh rates (up to 120Hz at 4K), and additional features like Variable Refresh Rate (VRR) and Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM). HDMI 2.1 is still relatively new and tends to be found in more expensive monitors and TVs.

When it comes to video quality, both USB-C Alt Mode and HDMI can deliver excellent results. The choice between them depends on the specific requirements of your setup and the devices you are using. If your laptop has USB-C Alt Mode and the display supports it, using a USB-C to HDMI cable can be a convenient solution, as it allows you to connect everything with a single cable.

However, if you need the latest HDMI features, such as higher refresh rates and advanced gaming capabilities, you might prefer a dedicated HDMI connection. HDMI also offers broader compatibility across devices, as it is a widely adopted standard.

USB-C and HDMI serve different purposes, but both have their merits. USB-C with Alt Mode is brilliant for laptops, providing a single cable solution for connecting and charging devices. HDMI, especially the latest HDMI 2.1, offers superior video and audio capabilities, but it may be more prevalent in higher-end displays. Ultimately, the choice depends on your specific needs and the devices you are using.