Why You Can Ignore DisplayPort 2.0

For now...

Key Takeaways

  • DisplayPort 2.0 allows for higher resolutions and refresh rates.
  • New devices have been delayed by the pandemic.
  • Computer and display devices still need to catch up to the technology used in DisplayPort 2.0.
A displayport cable.

DisplayPort 2.0 is incredible: It can power monitors up to 16K resolution, drive three 4K monitors together, and connect via USB-C. But the display has been delayed by the pandemic, and until the technology catches up, you can't take advantage of the connection.

Monitors using the new DisplayPort 2.0 spec already should be in stores, but COVID-19 canceled last year’s "plug tests." These are in-person meetups where engineers from different companies hammer out interoperability issues. 

"VESA is now planning our next PlugTest for this Spring in Taiwan," a Video Electronics Standards Association (VESA) spokesperson told The Verge, "so we expect to get this process rolling again."

DisplayPort 2.0

The big change in DisplayPort 2.0 is the amount of data it can handle, topping out at a theoretical max of 80 Gigabits per second (Gbps). Compare that to the rates of DisplayPort 1.3 and 1.4, which are just 26 Gbps. In practical terms, this allows for huge, high-resolution monitors running at fast frame rates.

Back view of someone playing computer games.
La Bicicleta Vermella / Getty Images

For instance, gamers could use a 4K monitor running at a blistering 144Hz refresh rate, while displaying HDR. Their computers might melt down trying to supply all those pixels, but the DisplayPort 2.0 pipe to the monitor won’t break a sweat. This also means that a monitor could offer a bunch of fast USB-3 ports, all via the same single monitor cable.

Should You Wait?

If you’re happy with the display you have now, then you probably shouldn’t bother to even think about a new DisplayPort 2.0 monitor. While the new standard will allow for bigger, higher-resolution displays, it won’t necessarily make them look any better.

If you have a modern, high-quality 4K monitor, for example, it’s probably already amazing. While in the future, added bandwidth and higher refresh rates will allow for increased display resolutions and smoother animations, that's not really worth worrying about.

So Who Does Care About DisplayPort 2.0?

Currently, gamers don’t often opt for high-res 4K monitors, because they prefer displays with higher refresh rates. While 60Hz is fine for most of us, if you’re playing a game, you want the fastest, smoothest animation possible.

As mentioned, the bottleneck for gamers who want both high-res and high refresh rates is the computer itself, or rather its graphics card. Supplying that much data is hard. But with DisplayPort 2.0, at least the monitors will be able to cope.

"The big change in DisplayPort 2.0 is the amount of data it can handle, topping out at a theoretical max of 80 Gigabits per second (Gbps)."

DisplayPort 2.0 also opens up the possibility for 120Hz or higher to become a standard for normal monitor use. If you have an iPad Pro, or a modern Android phone, then you have already experienced the smoothness that comes from a 120Hz refresh rate on your display.

On the iPad Pro, it makes it feel like you are actually moving a physical object when you scroll the display or drag an icon. On the big screen, it will just make everything smoother, less jerky, and generally easier on the eyes.

But not everybody cares about bigger and faster. "I’ve got a 27-inch iMac, plus a 24-inch 4K next [to] it that alternately serves as second screen for iMac or laptop," Mac and iOS developer Greg Pierce told Lifewire via Twitter. "I prefer to use spaces to break things up and rarely feel constrained by 27 inches."

In conclusion, DisplayPort 2.0 is way better than the current version, DisplayPort 1.4, but most of us won’t see the benefits until computers and displays advance enough to take advantage of the connection.

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