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Can A USB-C Cable Replace HDMI?

USB-C was introduced as the universal connector to deliver power and data to, between, and from devices. More and more Android smartphone manufacturers have started to adopt USB-C, and you can also see it being used for the latest laptops, both high-end and budget models. And while USB-C has numerous benefits, will we finally be able to reduce the clutter of HDMI cables by using one wire for both video and power?

It’s unlikely USB-C will replace HDMI soon because HDMI is the established port for video signals on gaming consoles, monitors, TVs, projectors, etc., while USB-C is used primarily for powering devices. Some adapters may allow you to use USB-C and HDMI together, but you can’t replace HDMI entirely.

Companies will also need to invest a significant amount in going from HDMI to USB-C for videos. Let’s look at how the two cables compare and which one is the better choice.  

What is a USB-C Cable?

Usb type c cable in red color

The USB-C cable was introduced as a universal connector for all signals, including power, video, audio, and data. While the image above displays a cable with both USB-C and USB-A, many USB-C cables are also simply USB-C on both ends. Depending on the use case, either cable may be appropriate.

All these signals use the same ports on different devices, and the same cable is used to connect all of them. This means that once most devices have USB-C ports, you will need the USB-C cable to connect them together. 

How it’s Different from Other USB Cables?

A standard USB-A cable (on Amazon) comes with five pins, enough to send energy and data at a fairly average speed. However, a USB-C cable (also on Amazon) features 24 pins, making it faster and better than all its predecessors, including the micro-USB cables. 

It can carry both power and data at the same time and in either direction. More specifically, it is compatible with USB-PD and can provide up to 240W, and at the same time, it can transfer up to 20Gbps of data using the USB 4 standard. 

This means one USB-C cable can charge your laptop and transmit 4K video signals simultaneously using the same USB-C connection. 

It can handle higher data bandwidth and greater power than previous USB standards. But at the same time, USB-C connectors are smaller than those used for previous USB standards. 

They’re also symmetrical and reversible, which means you can plug the cable to your device in either direction—there’s no wrong side.

What are USB-A and USB-B Cables?

If you have other devices around the house apart from your laptop and smartphones, there’s a high chance you have a USB-A or USB-B cable lying around somewhere. 

The standard rectangular port on most laptops and computers is a USB-A port and is usually used to connect an external drive, mouse, or keyboard.  

Meanwhile, USB-B cables are small square cables that connect printers and scanners. You might also need a USB-B for an external hard drive.  

What is the Purpose of HDMI?

HDMI is currently used to provide high-quality, uncompressed video at the highest resolutions available today without any degradation in signal. This is why most monitors today use HDMI. A home theater also uses HDMI.

There are numerous reasons why HDMI is used as the de facto standard for video. It can transfer control, audio, and video signals together and allows two-way communication via HDMI cables. It also supports data encryption technology, which helps to prevent piracy. 

Not to forget, it supports all modern color depths and formats, and you can use it for nearly all audio and video devices, including the latest video game consoles and home theater systems.    

USB-C vs. HDMI: Which is Better?

Let’s get one thing out of the way first: While a USB-C can do everything an HDMI cable can do and more, that doesn’t mean it is better. On the contrary, both cables essentially perform equally well. 

So why is USB-C vs. HDMI even a debate? 

A USB-C cable is used to power devices. Even some of the latest MacBooks no longer have magnetic charging ports; instead, they feature a USB-C port. Apple has also stopped including the USB-A cable with their iPhone lineup. 

Besides power, USB-C cables also do as great a job transmitting audio and video as HDMI cables. Similarly, you can use a USB-C to connect devices like printers to your computer without facing any problems.

But the fact remains: it’s hard to claim one better than the other. The only plus side of USB-C is that it can help reduce the clutter by cutting down on the number of wires you need since one wire can seemingly do everything.  

Will USB-C Eventually Replace HMDI For Good?

HDMI cable

This is a tricky question to answer, mainly because people aren’t so welcoming to change. Remember how the internet went into a frenzy when Apple removed the jack from their iPhones?

HDMI cable was introduced in 2003 and even though an all-in-one cable is what most consumers prefer, completely replacing HDMI with USB-C isn’t easy.

The Ports

Primarily, this is because HDMI is the most commonly used port for videos on devices like projectors and home theater systems. Many devices like high-end monitors, 4K TVs, PS5, and the Microsoft Xbox don’t even support USB-C ports for videos. For such users, changing to USB-C will be tricky.   


In addition, companies will need to spend a hefty amount to make the switch from HDMI to USB-C prompt and efficient. And while USB-C ports can now be seen on small devices like phones and laptops, they are yet to be introduced on larger devices like monitors, projectors, and televisions. 

Other Issues

Plus, there are still many problems that must be addressed before USB-C can replace HDMI.

  • The maximum bandwidth for USB-C cables is currently 20Gbps, which is sufficient for 4K signals. However, we now have 8K video displays that require higher bandwidth capabilities. Therefore, HDMI 2.1, which can handle up to 48 Gbps, is more suitable than USB-C.  
  • USB-C currently supports older versions of the copy protection standard. Unfortunately, only HDMI presently supports the latest HDCP 2.2 standard. 
  • You will need HDMI cables for recent devices that don’t have built-in USB-C ports like a home theater system, and it will take some time until newer versions replace these. In other words, some devices are not replaced too frequently. In this case, it will take quite some time for users to buy new devices with the new port system. 

The bottom line is that there’s a chance that USB-C might replace HDMI somewhere in the future, but right now, it’s too hard to make the switch. 

When exactly that will happen depends on how fast Type-C technology can meet the requirements of delivering high-quality signals without interruptions and how willing companies are to spend the astronomical amount.