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Digital visual interface (DVI) cables are used to provide high-quality outputs to display devices such as LCD monitors, plasma TVs, and projectors.  DVI is faster than video graphics array (VGA) and uses a multi-wire cable where only one wire is used for the signal.

 

When sourcing products, cable type and connector type are the most important product specifications to consider.

DVI Cable Types

There are two types of DVI cables: single-link and dual-link. They differ in terms of maximum resolution and the number of pins used. Both single-link and dual-link cables have three channels for RGB data and a maximum bandwidth of 165 MHz.

  • Single-link DVI cables support resolutions up to 1920 x 1080 at 60 Hz. They use only 12 of 24 available pins, and have 8 fewer pins than dual-link cables.
  • Dual-link DVI cables support resolutions up to 2048 x 1536 at 60 Hz. They use all 24 pins.

Although most DVI devices can accept dual-link cables, some cannot.

DVI Connector Types

The GlobalSpec SpecSearch database also allows buyers to specify DVI cables with four different connector types.

  • DVI-A connectors transmit analog data only. They are designed to connect older equipment, such as analog VGA monitors, to newer digital devices.
  • DVI-D connectors transmit digital data only. This is the most common connector type.
  • DVI-I connectors are integrated products that transmit both analog and digital data. Some video cards use this connector type so that either a DVI digital screen or analog VGA monitor can be connected.
  • DVI-MI (M1-DA) connectors transmit analog, digital, and universal serial bus (USB) data. USB is an external bus standard that supports data transfer rates of 12 Mbps.

Dinodirect.com

DVI connector pin arrangement.  Image credit:  Dinodirect.com

Choosing DVI Connectors

When selecting a DVI cable, a buyer should be sure to check the female DVI receptacles on both of the devices they wish to connect.

  • If both receptacles are DVI-D, select a DVI-D cable.
  • If both receptacles are DVI-A, select a DVI-A cable.
  • If both receptacles are DVI-I, any DVI cable may be used.  However, a DVI-I cable is recommended.
  • If one receptacle is analog and the other is digital, there is no single cable capable of connecting them.  In this case, a converter must be used to connect the devices.

Gender

Cable connectors are available in multiple gender configurations.  Male connectors, sometimes called plugs, consist of a protrusion which fits into the female connector, sometimes known as a receptacle. 

 

 

A male (left) and female (right) connector.  Image credit:  Amphenol Alden Products Company

 

 Common cable configurations include:

  • Male-Male:  both ends of the cable terminate in a male connector.
  • Male-Female:  the cable features a male connector on one end and a female on the other.

  • Female-Female:  both ends of the cable terminate in a female connector.

References

 

Absolute Astronomy - Digital Visual Interface

Digital Display Working Group - Digital Visual Interface