Mini DisplayPort vs. USB-C: Understanding the Difference

As technology advances, new ports and connectors constantly emerge, making it challenging to keep up with the latest trends. Mini DisplayPort and USB-C are two of the most widely-used connectors on the market. Here, we explore their differences as well as what each provides.

What is Mini DisplayPort?

Mini DisplayPort is a digital display interface created to replace VGA and DVI connectors on laptop devices from Apple. First released in 2008, Mini DisplayPort can now be found on various Apple products, including MacBooks, MacBook Airs, and MacBook Pros.

mini displayport cable

Introduced as a smaller variant of its standard counterpart, measuring 20mm by 4.5mm, making it suitable for smaller devices while offering the same capabilities such as audio streaming, USB data transfers, and other forms of data transmission.

What is USB-C?

USB-C is an emerging connector and cable standard introduced by the USB Implementers Forum in 2014. Originally known as Universal Serial Bus Connector Type C (USB-IF), USB-C offers versatile power, data transmission, and video output in one connector, making it suitable for laptops, smartphones, and tablets.


The reversible design makes plugging USB-C in any orientation effortless, while its compatibility with various protocols such as Thunderbolt 3 and DisplayPort Alternate Mode also makes its use convenient.

Mini DisplayPort vs. USB-C: Resolutions

Regarding resolutions, both Mini DisplayPort and USB-C have their own capabilities and limitations that must be considered when choosing between them. Here’s what you should know:

#Mini DisplayPort

Mini DisplayPort, designed to replace VGA and DVI digital display interfaces, supports resolutions up to 4K @ 60Hz with 24-bit color support and zero compression when simultaneously connected via USB 3.1; its maximum resolution at 60Hz supports 8K resolution as well as VESA Display Stream Compression technology, making Mini DisplayPort ideal for high-resolution displays used by professionals in photography, graphic design, video editing, and print media production.


USB-C is a more versatile connector designed to manage power, data transfer, and video output, including display port Alternate mode compatibility for up to 4K monitor resolution support.

USB-C offers 10 Gbps data transfer speed and supports DisplayPort Alternate mode allowing users to connect devices with up to 4K resolution to monitors with 4K resolution output; its maximum charging capability of 85W makes this the connector solution of the future; in addition, USB-C also supports Thunderbolt 3, offering fast connections on many computers but few support HDMI 2.1 ports yet.

Here is a guide you can read about the difference between HDMI and DisplayPort.

Is Mini DisplayPort better than USB-C?

Mini DisplayPort and USB-C each offer their own advantages and disadvantages; ultimately, it depends on individual use cases and device compatibility. Here are some key points to keep in mind when comparing both options:

Mini DisplayPort is designed primarily for laptops to transmit video and audio, while USB-C is a multipurpose port for video output, data transfer, and charging. USB-C is more commonly seen on modern laptops and devices than on Mini DisplayPort.

Mini and regular DisplayPort provide similar capabilities, but Mini DisplayPort was specifically created for laptops because it has a smaller form factor.

USB-C can support display output through its Alt Mode feature; however, compatibility may depend on your laptop and monitor combination. Therefore, before making this choice, be sure to consult technical specifications or manufacturer websites as a means of checking compatibility before using USB-C for display output.

Some monitors feature USB 3.1 type C ports as well as DisplayPort and HDMI connections to offer more ways for devices to connect. This can be especially beneficial for professionals in design industries who require high-performance monitors with advanced features and color standards.

Mini DisplayPort to DisplayPort cables may be easily available, while adapters that allow video transmission from laptop Mini DisplayPorts to docking station USB-Cs may prove harder to find. Higher-performing mini PCs may also present additional compatibility challenges with USB PD power supplies.

What is DisplayPort over USB-C?

DisplayPort over USB-C is a digital interface designed to transmit video and audio over one USB-C cable, offering video and audio transmission without compromising power delivery capabilities. Combining DisplayPort, USB, and power delivery into a single port makes this option ideal for laptops, smartphones, and other devices.

DisplayPort over USB-C provides full DisplayPort A/V performance, supporting resolutions up to 8K at 60Hz with 24-bit color depth and zero compression, and it supports VESA Display Stream Compression. Furthermore, SuperSpeed USB (USB 3.1) data transfer can deliver up to 100W power across a single cable.

Not all USB-C ports support DisplayPort over USB-C, and those that do are often called “USB-C DisplayPort or DP Alt Mode ports.” Depending on their design, the number of lanes in a USB-C DisplayPort Alt Mode port may range between one and four lanes.

Is USB-C and Mini DisplayPort the same as Thunderbolt?

USB-C and Mini DisplayPort do not directly correspond with Thunderbolt but share certain similarities. While USB-C provides physical connections supporting various protocols, including USB, DisplayPort, and Thunderbolt, Mini DisplayPort is used exclusively to connect a computer display screen to its counterpart.

Thunderbolt is an Intel and Apple joint project developed as an alternative to USB-C. While Thunderbolt uses the same physical connector, its data transfer rates and features far exceed that of USB 3.2; in fact, Thunderbolt’s transfer speeds reach 40Gbps! Furthermore, it supports video output and can simultaneously drive two 4K or one 8K display.

Not all USB-C ports support Thunderbolt; some only support USB and DisplayPort, while others support it. In the same vein, not all mini DisplayPort devices offer Thunderbolt capabilities, as these two interfaces share similar physical connections but differ considerably in functionality.

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Bhuvnesh Uniyal
Bhuvnesh Uniyal is the Author and Founder of this blog. He is a passionate Technology lover and always tries to bring tech into every work. Bhuvi also likes to play games in his free time on his consoles. He is also the founder of PinsGrow [Pinterest Marketing Agency]. Read more about Bhuvnesh →

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