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How to tell DVI-I and DVI-D cables apart

DVI connectors explained

Our Helproom Editor explains the differences between various DVI connectors and ports. Here's how to tell DVI-I, DVI-D and DVI-A cables apart.

QUESTION I bought a graphics card with a DL-DVI output and need to get a new monitor for use with it. Would a display with a DVI-D input work? Anon

HELPROOM ANSWER A DVI-D-equipped monitor would almost certainly be compatible. This is the most common case for DVI ports and nearly always works, but there are some caveats.

We assume that by DL-DVI you mean a dual-link DVI connector. This is a type of DVI connection that allows very high screen resolutions of the type found on 30in and some 27in displays (typically 2560x1600 or 2560x1440). These dual-link connectors are required on any graphics card that needs to be able to supply these high resolutions over a DVI cable and will require a dual-link DVI cable (a standard cable won't work).

Most modern graphics cards have dual-link DVI connectors as standard. The graphics card connector will look the same for single- and dual-link versions, but the dual-link version will have all the internal pin sockets active.

If you want to use standard resolutions, such as 1920x1080 pixels or lower, you can use a single-link DVI cable regardless of the connector on your graphics card.

The important point to consider is that there are two common forms of single-link DVI cable. DVI-I cables can carry either digital or analogue signals, but DVI-D cables carry only digital information. DVI-I cables have four extra pins and will not fit into a DVI-D socket.

You can tell DVI-I and DVI-D cables apart by looking at the pins inside the connector. On the left side of the connector is a large flat 'pin'. If this pin is flanked by two pairs of smaller pins and arranged in a square, you have a DVI-I cable. If the flat pin is alone, it's a DVI-D cable.

All this means if you purchase a DVI-D cable, you will be able to use your graphics card with a monitor supporting DVI-D.

Picture: DVI connectors explained

DVI connectors explained

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