Single-link vs. dual-link DVI

To the average person, connections to your computer can all look the same. As it turns out, they all have different purposes and advantages. For instance, the DVI (digital visual interface) is a type of interface that is meant to support both analogue and digital video signals over a single DVI cable.

If you are more familiar with DVI than the average person, you have probably heard about dual-link DVI cables. How do you know whether you need a single-link or dual-link DVI? Check out the guide below.

More about dvi cables

There is a decent chance you have heard of DVI to DVI cables before, but don’t really know what they are used for. DVI cables can be used for a litany of display purposes, whether in gaming, projection, or even watching sports on an external display. The key is to have the right setup.

DVI cables have three varieties, each of which can support a different type of signal. DVI-A is only for analog, DVI-D for digital, and DVI-I which can transmit both. The latter two are the more common as it is quite difficult to find DVI-A in this day and age.

Single-link vs. dual-link DVI

So, what is the real difference between these two DVI connectors?  At first glance, they are pretty similar. The most obvious difference is that one has a single transmitter while the other has a dual connection. The latter also has more pins, clocking in at 24 as opposed to the 18 that are standard with a single-link DVI.

There are a couple of major differences. For starters, dual-link supports nearly double the bandwidth (9.99 Gbps to 4.59 Gbps) and a much higher resolution rate. It also has fewer pin clusters. That said, single-link does support all three types of DVI whereas dual-link does not support the audio-only DVI setup.

The major differences between single-link and dual-link

There are three primary differences between the two types of DVI connection. We’ll take a look at each one of the categories and how they apply practically.

Visual and pin differences. If you need to figure out whether you have a single-link or dual-link DVI, just look at the pins. For the DVI slot, you can also use the pins to make your identification as well. Single-link DVI has 18 pins, while Dual has 24. The easiest way to spot the difference is to look for more pins at the center part of the plug.

More pins means that there is more data carried through the cable at one time. You can also look for clusters. Single-link has a pair of 9-pin clusters while dual-link has no gap.

Bandwidth speed. One of the biggest benefits of using dual-link DVI is bandwidth speed. Dual-link has more pins than its counterpart, meaning it can transmit a lot more information than the single-link version. That equates to better bandwidth when using display devices.

It isn’t a small increase, either. Going from single-link to dual-link means a jump from 4.59 Gbps to 9.9 Gbps. Despite being released back in 1999, DVI continues to be useful, especially in dual-link form.

Resolution differences

Perhaps the most important reason for most people to go with dual-link DVI versus single-link is because of the resolution difference. Just like bandwidth, resolution is much better with the former because there are more pins through which data can be transferred.

Dual-link can support up to 2560 x 1600p. Compared to some modern resolutions, it might not be impressive but single-link DVI can only support 1920 x 1080p. The difference is definitely noticeable.