D-Sub vs VGA: Is it even a debate? Arguably, they’re the same thing. To be more specific, VGA is a video connection standard or A/V interface (more video than audio, to be honest) for PC monitors that make use of the 15-pin D-subminiature, D-Sub, D-SUB, or D-sub connector. To compare them is an act of disambiguating what they are, with D-sub a common electronic connector typically used for VGA, thus if you’re talking about D-sub for computer monitors, you’re most likely referring to a VGA connector or connection.
To reiterate, VGA is the A/V interface and D-sub is its choice of connector type common at the time of its inception (around 1987 by IBM for IBM PS/2 personal computers).
Here’s a comparison chart of all the major A/V interfaces controlled by different standards groups as well as the type of connectors they uniquely use, with Super VGA showcasing how its D-sub connector compared to HDMI, DP, and DVI connectors.
|A/V Interfaces||SVGA (Super Video Graphics Array)||HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface)||DP (DisplayPort)||DVI (Digital Video Interface)|
|Connector Description||A 15-pin D-sub characterized by its D-shaped male connector and pins that link to a 15-pinhole female port.||Protruding, USB-like, trapezium-shaped male side intended to link to a recessed female port, socket, or hub.||The DP connector is itself a 20-pin male one that looks like a plain square connector with its left side lopped off.|
The source connector from the inside has a downward bracket-like part where all the pins are.
|The DVI-I (single link) has four pins on the left and 18 pins on the right. DVI-D (single link) is the same but without the four pins.|
The DVI-I (dual link) has four pins on the left and 24 pins on the right. DVI-D (dual link) is the same but without the four pins.
The DVI-A has four pins on the left and 12-pins on the right.
|Standards Group||VESA (Video Electronics Standards Association)||HDMI Licensing LLC (Consortium of Consumer Electronics Manufacturers)||VESA (Video Electronics Standards Association)||DDWG (Digital Display Work Group)|
|Maximum Channels||N/A||8||8||6 (Dual Link)|
|Maximum Resolution||800 x 600, 1080p, and QXGA (2038 x 1536)||HDTV 720p, 1080p, 4K, 8K, and 10K||1080p||QXGA (2038 x 1536)|
|Analog/Digital Combination||No||No||No||DVI-I (24 pins + 4 pins) Yes|
VGA and D-Sub vs. The Modern World of A/V Standards
To compare VGA and D-Sub with each other makes about as much sense as comparing a human with his own head or limbs. D-sub is part of what made VGA work even though D-sub is also commonly used for other purposes such as serial and parallel ports.
- What is The D-Sub? The D-subminiature or D-sub is a D-shaped electrical connector invented way back in 1952. It has survived many technological advances due to the persistence of utility of the VGA standard and its own robust build. It’s characterized by a D-shaped metal shield that provides an electromagnetic interference screen, ensures correct orientation, and gives solid mechanical support. Every other D-sub interface has been rendered obsolete by advances such as SAS and USB.
- What is VGA? The Video Graphics Array video connection interface is a PC monitor connection standard that made its way in the 21st Century thanks to gamers who love its zero lag connection and picture quality that can support up to 2048 x 1536 resolution. Furthermore, it’s an analog standard that was mostly used for older monitors and desktop computer models. VGA was first developed in 1987 by IBM for its IBM PS/2 PCs but PC clones adopted (stole) VGA to the point of it becoming the 1990s monitor connection standard.
- DVI-I Connector vs. D-Sub VGA: How is the DVI standard related to the VGA standard? The Digital Video Interface (DVI) is supposed to be the 1999 successor to the 1987 universal PC monitor standard known as VGA. However, things happened and better A/V standards came up like High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) and DP (DisplayPort) that are capable of uniting video and audio in a single cable connection. Also, incidentally, the DVI-I (singe and dual-link) port can support DVI-to-VGA adapters quite easily since DVI is supposed to be VGA’s successor and progeny.
- Can VGA Do 1080p Like HDMI? The maximum resolution of the analog VGA is 800 x 600 pixels normally but this can be stretched from 1920 x 1080 to 2048 x 1536 pixels depending on how decent the signal is or if you have a good enough cable and transceiver on either end. It’s for this reason and many more that we’re still talking about VGA and SVGA in 2020 even though VGA was made back in 1987 and the D-sub type of multi-pin connector was made back in 1952. It also helps that modern TVs and projectors have DVI or VGA ports behind them to allow PC connectivity.
- Why are D-Sub and VGA so Persistent? VGA is fast becoming as obsolete as your RCA connectors for your TV and VCR but they keep persisting due to their D-sub connection and video quality. The D-subminiature connector is a universal one used for various connections on vintage PCs but was able to persist in modern times thanks to the longevity of the VGA standard. Many monitors support VGA connections due to PC gaming and how gamer prefer VGA’s zero-lag proficiency to HDMI’s post-processing lag.
- Techquickie, “HDMI, DisplayPort, VGA, and DVI as Fast As Possible“, YouTube.com, June 29, 2014
- ScottiesTech.info, “HDMI, DisplayPort, DVI, VGA: Which cable should I use?“, YouTube.com, July 29, 2017
D-sub and VGA are practically synonymous as far as monitors are concerned but they’re not necessarily the same. It’s like comparing apples to oranges—the most you’ll get is that they’re related to each other but not necessarily comparable. It’s important to disambiguate them.
The VGA connector should be aptly described as the 15-pin D-Sub connector. It comes with various pin counts. RS232 serial ports use 9-pin D-subs, parallel ports use 25-pin D-subs, and VGA uses 15-pin D-subs. The name DE-15 for VGA D-sub refers to the E-size of the D-sub connector that houses 15 pins in three rows. Both the connector and the video connection standard work hand-in-hand to remain relevant in this new millennium, from VGA’s high-resolution capabilities for an analog connection to D-sub’s shielded hardiness.
- “Is D-Sub exactly the same as VGA?“, Quora.com, June 25, 2019
- “Is D-Sub output the same as VGA?“, Reddit.com, January 18, 2020
- Trimantec, “DSub, VGA, DVI, DisplayPort, HDMI – What’s the difference?`”, Slideshare.net, July 24, 2017
- “VGA connector“, Wikipedia, Retrieved November 27, 2020