Common Display Interfaces and Adapters

There are various connection types for interfacing a computer or video device to a display such as a computer monitor, projector, or TV.

The most common types that you will see are HDMI, USB-C, and Thunderbolt 3 (same physical connection type as USB-C). There are also older connection types that are still being found on displays such as VGA, but is used as a last resort due to it's inability of carrying a high definition signal (higher quality).

There are a number of adapters available to enable a connector of one type to connect with another (with the exception of adapting from VGA, which cannot go from analog to digital on it's own). Please check with the manufacturer when selecting an adapter to ensure compatibility or contact the Dartmouth Computer Store for an adapter recommendation.

HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface)

A photo of an HDMI cable

This is the most common type of connection found in Dartmouth Arts & Sciences classrooms as well as a common connector for computer monitors and the standard for regular flat-screen TVs. Not all laptops will have this connection type built in and an adapter from USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 may be needed. Contact the computer store for available adapters for your computer.

USB-C or "USB Type C" (Universal Serial Bus)

A photo of a USB-C cable

USB-C is a newer type of connect that is a one-cable-does-all design. USB-C has the capability of providing Video, Audio, Power, and Data and is the common port found on most new computers. There are various adapters available to provide USB, HDMI, VGA, Ethernet services to computers with this type of connection.

A quick note: Apple provides Thunderbolt 3 on their newer computers which is the same physical dimensions of USB-C, but is classified differently due to it's additional data transmittability qualities. In most cases, the USB-C branded adapters and devices will work with Thunderbolt 3, but it is always good to check on Apple compatibility.

DisplayPort and Mini DisplayPort


A photo of a DisplayPort cable

DisplayPort is a common video connection type that is found on monitors as well as desktop (Windows-based) personal computers.

Mini DisplayPort

A photo of a Mini DisplayPort cable

Mini DisplayPort is a smaller version of the DisplayPort and is less commonly found monitors and computers. The best known version of this standard was found on previous versions of Apple computers.

VGA (Video Graphics Array) *Analog*

A photo of a VGA cable

VGA is still a common connection type on Monitors and some TVs. These analog cables are commonly found on older Windows-based desktop computers and laptops. The use of this type of connection is generally discouraged since they do not carry a high definition signal (lower quality image), but can be used as a fall back if there are no other connection options on an older computer. If connecting through VGA to a classroom system or TV, an additional cable will need to be plugged in to provide audio.


Other Common Display Interface

There are many other types of connectors and depending on the manufacturer of the computer and display that you are trying to connect to.


A visual representation of various common interface types

Image source: By Nathaniel Gardner - Own work, CC0,


Article ID: 114474
Fri 8/21/20 12:05 PM
Tue 1/3/23 4:10 PM

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