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BenQ Knowledge Center

Do gaming monitors need USB-C?

BenQ
2020/03/20

Definitely. That’s like asking if they need a power connector. Thanks to close cooperation between VESA and the USB-IF, the very good news is that USB Type-C, or USB-C, has been engineered to double as DisplayPort 1.4 to enable up to 8K visuals with multi-channel audio, HDR, G-Sync, daisy chaining, and lots of other good stuff. Through what’s known as USB-C DisplayPort alternative mode (alt mode), the nifty symmetrical connector becomes DisplayPort 1.4. In plain terms, you get USB-C and DisplayPort 1.4 through a single cable and just the USB-C ports. You don’t need to use DisplayPort cables or connectors. Magic! While we love HDMI, the versatile connection can’t claim to be two in one, while USB-C and DisplayPort have managed to cuddle to one another so perfectly, they became one and the same. A love story made in design heaven.

So why wouldn’t you get a gaming monitor with USB-C? If you can, do. There’s absolutely no reason to skimp on USB-C. Not only do you get all the benefits of its USB side like smooth connectivity, high data speeds, and power delivery up to 100W, but you enjoy the DisplayPort portion of the union as well. 

How does USB-C work for games?

Very well, thank you. Get a monitor that has USB-C, then a graphics card with USB-C or DisplayPort. That’s every graphics card, BTW, because you can use a DisplayPort to USB-C cable or adapter without losing a shred of performance.

Then choose alt mode in monitor and driver settings and you’re good to go. At up to 8K 60Hz, thanks to the massive bandwidth of DisplayPort 1.4. In more realistic terms since 8K isn’t quite ripe for gaming, you enjoy full 4K 4:4:4 graphics with no color subsampling through that UBC-C cable at 60Hz, or higher framerates (like 120Hz or 144Hz) with subsampling to 4:2:0.

HDR works just like with HDMI and with no cut corners, and HDCP 2.2 security certification has been fully integrated to make sure content plays without a hitch.

Plus, there’s sound! People often forget that DisplayPort carries audio, but of course it does. That applies to its USB-C incarnation, which supports multi-channel audio. A good 2.1 speaker arrangement on your monitor will sound great when connected to your PC via USB-C. 

Recommended Product

BenQ EX2780Q 144Hz Gaming Monitor with HDRi Technology

  • 27 inch QHD 16:9 IPS Display 
  • HDR and FreeSync for smooth gameplay
  • USB-C™ One-Cable Connectivity

The data never stops

Those engineers really went all the way, making USB-C alt mode sound almost too good to be true. We’re saying this because USB-C works as DisplayPort while continuously functioning as USB 3.1 without pause. As you’re getting 4K 60Hz delivered, it’s also moving “regular” USB data at up to 10Gbps, or twice the speed of USB 3.0.

Taking all of that into account you’d be tempted to wonder why other standards even exist for PC. After all, you get 4K, high speed data, power delivery, and sound through one cable! Yes, but that requires a little more setup than HDMI or regular DisplayPort, plus assumes support from connected PCs. In practice USB-C works like a charm for gaming but not with all features enabled: typically, the power delivery aspect may get left out to ensure alt mode works in consistent 4K and with 10Gbps data. 

Get your G-Sync and even connect multiple displays

Unlike AMD FreeSync and its ability to work on HDMI, NVIDIA G-Sync only courses via DisplayPort. But since USB-C is DisplayPort, G-Sync works as normal for your variable refresh rate, screen tear-busting needs. Once more USB-C proves its mettle as a gaming connector, supporting practically every conceivable framerate.

DisplayPort also built a reputation as the best way to link multiple monitors in what’s known as a daisy chain. One PC, several monitors, no problem. Again, because USB-C and DisplayPort are one and the same, that awesome aspect of DisplayPort gets fully retained if you connect through USB-C. Plug your PC to a monitor via USB-C, then connect to another monitor using DisplayPort, then one more through USB-C…or whichever of the two types is available. Or using an adapter. Flexibility is on your side here. 

Perfect for new generation laptops

While utilizing USB-C alt mode for DisplayPort 1.4 on a desktop that uses a discrete graphics card may require some adjustment and even adapters, that’s not the case with many of the newest laptops. A lot of them, including models geared more towards gaming, ship with HDMI and USB-C only. Between those two, clearly USB-C gives you more versatility. Also, laptops and notebooks revolve around neat and streamlined while a big gaming station has more tolerance for cables and such. The single connection beauty of USB-C alt mode was originally conceived for mobile computing, where messy connections are simply not an option. If you’re on a laptop and want to output video to a monitor, USB-C isn’t nice to have, it’s an absolute must. Assuming your monitor has USB-C as well.

A challenger emerges

Plenty apparent that USB-C with DisplayPort 1.4 built in presents a real challenge to HDMI and standalone DisplayPort. Again, it’s almost like there’s no reason to use any other connector. But things aren’t that simple. However, in any case USB-C is a perfectly legitimate way to get your gaming delivered from PC to a monitor. At the very least, you should aim to get monitors that have USB-C for future proofing if nothing else. By this point in time getting a monitor without USB-C would be doing yourself an injustice.

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