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Can USB Type-C cable replace HDMI and DisplayPort?
Oct 23, 2018

Right now, hooking up more than two displays (or in some cases even just two) requires a frustrating assortment of cables. You might need two DisplayPort, an HDMI, and a DVI. Some cards are equipped with micro-variations. Sometimes you have no choice but to use a lowly analog VGA connector. USB Type-C is going to fix all that.

The VESA group has announced a DisplayPort Alternate Mode on the USB Type-C Connector standard, and it does exactly what it sounds like: it allows audio and video data to be transmitted directly over a USB cable. A video card could be equipped with multiple Type-C plugs, as could your monitors. No more messing around with different cords or clunky adapters. Just one Type-C cord per display and you’re done.

According to AnandTech, there’s very little difference between pushing video over USB Type-C and the DisplayPort hook-ups we’re using right now. That should make it relatively simple for hardware OEMs to implement, and VESA says that important industry players are already on board.

Type-C even has the ability to carry that annoying (but sometimes necessary) HDCPsignaling, and there’s still enough room on the bus to handle USB 3.1 traffic as well. That means even on a multi-touch enabled monitor you’d still only need one cable to hook it up; you might not even need an additional power cord since USB Type-C is specced for 5/12/20V and up to 100W.

It’s also not a problem to whip up USB Type-C cables that are backwards compatible. If you happen to end up with a newer video card and it’s packed with Type-C connectors but you’re still using older monitors, don’t worry. Cable manufacturers will have active Type-C to HDMI or DisplayPort cables at the ready.

With today’s news, USB Type-C is well on its way to becoming the ultimate frustration-busting connector. Not only will you no longer have to worry about flipping the end of a cable over to get it plugged in, but you’ll only need one type of cable for pretty much everything you hook up: keyboards, mice, displays, printers, smartphones and tablets, they’ll all eventually work with USB Type-C.


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