DisplayPort Over USB-C
The tech industry is known for providing great solutions to audio and visual, charging, and data transfer challenges when new use cases and problems arise. The trouble we see comes when these products need to be distinguished from similar solutions while simultaneously describing their action. Due to its popularity, USB-C is particularly susceptible to this issue as there are so many cable types, adapters, transfer rates, and protocols that may apply to any particular product.
DisplayPort over USB Type-C is one of these newer technologies that some in the community have struggled to understand. This is a confusing subject for a lot of everyday tech users, so we’ve put together a breakdown of the key pieces of info you need to know to see if DP over USB-C fits in your workflow.
What does DisplayPort over USB-C do?
We’ve covered both USB-C (in Part 1 & Part 2) and DisplayPort technologies in the past, and this piece of tech is the mash-up we’ve been waiting for where the most advanced and powerful visual display technology (DisplayPort) can now be used through the most widespread and versatile connection type (USB-C).
Put simply, DisplayPort over USB-C allows the USB Type-C port and connected cable to support the DisplayPort interface for audio/video (AV) transport. Full DP A/V performance, including the support of resolutions up to and over 4K is available through a USB-C connection. SuperSpeed USB (USB 3.1) data and up to 100W of power with USB-C’s superior connectivity convenience are now available. DisplayPort lead the way in this tech, becoming the first A/V protocol to be carried through the soon to be ubiquitous household common connector: USB-C.
In most cases, DisplayPort over USB-C will borrow the technical aspect of the DisplayPort standard in use. This is currently usually DisplayPort 1.4, meaning that over USB-C, it’s possible to transmit up to a 4K 8-bit signal uncompressed at 120Hz.
DisplayPort over USB-C Advantages & Specs
Typically, a port’s “connection type” boils down to a combination of two key factors: the connector type (in this case USB-C), and the protocol being used to transmit an A/V signal (in this case, DisplayPort). The main boons to DP Alt Mode and DisplayPort over USB-C are that both factors that represent this connection type are the best in class for versatility and capability. DP is the clear frontrunner for A/V communication used in a professional capacity, and USB-C is the soon-to-be everywhere connector for tech devices from small mobile accessories to large consoles and host machines.
DisplayPort over USB-C (through DisplayPort 1.4) offers the following:
- DisplayPort audio and video performance is better than almost all other consumer A/V solutions with resolutions up to 8K at 60Hz.
- HDMI 2.0 conversion support for select products
- Universal use of USB-C connectors means fewer ports required on future devices.
- Up to 4K resolutions @ 60Hz with 24-bit color (Maximum resolution of 8K @ 60Hz)
- 5K support with simultaneous USB 2.0
- High-end multichannel support for audio
- Support for VESA Display Stream Compression
Do my devices support DisplayPort over USB-C?
The first step to determine DP over USB-C capability is to determine if DP is supported. A DisplayPort logo near the connector is a clear indicator that the a USB Type-C connector offers DisplayPort support. Outside of this marking, you’ll need to check the product specifications in your user manual or on the manufacturer’s official website. Fortunately, if DP over USB-C isn’t supported, there are a number of USB-C adapters that support the most popular A/V signals, like those in our adapter collection.
Is DP over USB-C performance the same as standard DisplayPort?
Yes, like classic out-of-the-box DisplayPort connectors, DisplayPort over USB-C takes advantage of the four high-speed data lanes of USB Type-C and it’s corresponding cable to provide 4K resolutions for supported products.
How will I know that my USB-C port doesn’t support DP over USB-C?
If you plug your display into a USB Type-C port and it is not supported, no video data will transmit meaning now data was received and displayed as an image on the screen. This doesn’t do any damage to your device, but incompatibility should be clear by either a non-result, or an error message on your screen.