DVI is typically referred to as the “white video cable” and even that is better than usual. DVI is a popular video cable but a few manufacturers say it is in its last years with HDMI and DisplayPort as replacements. Even if it’s on its way out, I still see it and its predecessor VGA around quite a bit. I think having a better understanding DVI is helpful knowledge in general.
PC and monitor manufacturers seemed to reach a standard color coding scheme to help non-technical users out. VGA is blue, DVI is white, P/S2 keyboard is purple, and P/S2 mouse is green. Considering all DVI cables to be equivalent can be problematic as there are actually a handful of different types with different pin-outs which may cause physical compatibility issues with adapters, cables, and connectors.
DVI has several different types including DVI-A, DVI-D, and DVI-I. Even those three types can lead to five different pin-outs as you can see in the image below. The difference between the types falls back to the simplest case of analog versus digital. Analog depends on different levels of a signal while digital can be treated more uniformly and represented with 1’s and 0’s in binary. (Need a refresher on binary? Learn from this previous article using Pepsi One and Coke Zero.)
DVI stands for Digital Visual Interface. However, DVI-A actually allows adapting the digital DVI signal to an analog VGA signal. The trick for the analog signal is actually in the four pins surrounding the horizontal blade or fin. Red, green, and blue (RGB) analog video signals are assigned to one of the four pins while the fourth acts as the ground.
DVI-D is a digital only connection. It uses the higher number of pins to transmit a digital signal. If you are looking for an HDMI converter, it will most likely adapt the HDMI signal to DVI-D, keeping the signal digital. If you see a DVI-D connector with dents or scratches around the horizontal fin, you know somebody tried connecting a DVI-A or DVI-I connector into it.
The ‘I’ in DVI-I stands for integrated. As you can tell by its picture, it has both the analog and the digital pins from DVI-A and DVI-D integrated in one convenient connector. This allows it to transmit the signal digitally or be adapted to an analog VGA signal.
The next difference between the connectors has to do with the center six pins, designated “Single Link” without and “Dual Link” with the additional pins. Dual Link and the additional pins increased the video bandwidth capabilities of the cable, allowing for more video data to be transmitted. This enable support for higher resolution displays.
What about DVI-M or DVI-F? I ran across a listing on CDW-G’s website for DVI-M and DVI-F connectors. Not having heard of that type, I investigated further. Using an unfortunately similar format as the regular naming convention, DVI-M simply designates a male DVI connector while DVI-F designates a female DVI connector, used in explaining male-female adapters/converters. I’ll assume those differences are understood with the first picture in this article lest we get into a birds-and-the-bees discussion here.
For more technical details about DVI, you might check out: