A visual guide to display cables: DVI, D-Sub, ADC and more

Here's how to identify every important cable for use with computer monitors.

Here's how to identify every important cable for use with computer monitors.

VGA (aka D-Sub 15)

193829-belkin_pcmonitor_606_original

Use it for: Connecting PCs, monitors, HDTVs, and video projectors

It's similar in performance and use to: Component VGA

It adapts to: Mini-VGA, RGB Component

Add more ports by: Installing a new graphics card; connecting a splitter

The still-in-use analog classic, a VGA connector carries an RGB signal. You can often find one on PCs and HDTVs; laptops sometimes use the Mini-VGA version. Because the analog design can pick up interference, you're better off choosing a digital cable if your device supports it.

ADC (aka Apple Display Connector)

193829-adc_original

Use it for: Video and USB hub on older Macs

It's similar in performance and use to: DVI plus USB

It adapts to: DVI

Add more ports by: Upgrading your Mac's graphics card

Apple has phased out this proprietary display plug, but you might see it on an older monitor or Mac. Look for the rounded shape of the rectangular connector to help in identification. The cable carries power, USB, and video. You can adapt a DVI signal for an ADC monitor, but the converter boxes can be pricey; an ADC signal from a Mac is more easily converted to DVI for a standard display.

DVI (aka Digital Visual Interface)

193829-dual-linkdvi-d_original

Use it for: Connecting TVs and computer displays to PCs and other devices

If you have a choice, select it instead of: VGA, component video

It's similar in performance and use to: HDMI

It adapts to: HDMI, VGA, Mini-DVI, Micro-DVI

Add more ports by: Connecting a switchbox; upgrading your graphics board

DVI comes in a few versions, having evolved as needs have grown. DVI-I (integrated) supplies an analog and digital signal, which means that you can connect an old VGA monitor to it with a simple adapter. DVI-D (digital) carries only the digital signal. Both types also offer single-link and dual-link versions; single-link has fewer pins and can't support the massive resolutions of dual-link, but you can connect a single-link monitor to a dual-link port. HDCP, the copy-protection technology used for Blu-ray and other HD sources, works with the digital signal in DVI.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags pc componentslcd monitors

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

PC World Staff

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?