I have a MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2016, Two USB-C ports). My company bought a USB-C to HDMI adapter to connect a screen that has both HDMI and DisplayPort.

I'm having some issues unrelated to the question (I have to unplug and plug back the HDMI cable for it to work). So I was wondering... Would a USB-C to DisplayPort work better? not only in terms of getting rid of having the unplug/plug the HDMI cable but also in overall performance?

How does a USB-C to HDMI work vs USB-C to DisplayPort?

For instance, I know that if you plug this HDMI adapter to a 4K screen, this will run at 30Hz. On the other hand, when using a direct USB-C to DisplayPort cable, the same screen would run at 60Hz. Is this because of the limitations of HDMI itself? or is it because it requires significantly more power to run an HDMI adapter?

(I'm more interested in the performance part and how the Displayport and HDMI connections are different, if any, than in the issue I'm having with my current adapter).

1 Answer 1


Technically speaking, your Macbook has two Thunderbolt 3 ports. From Apple.com:

Two Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports with support for:

  • Charging
  • DisplayPort
  • Thunderbolt (up to 40 Gbps)
  • USB 3.1 Gen 2 (up to 10 Gbps)

enter image description here

So, the adapters you have are actually Display Port to HDMI; USB-C is just the physical port type.

So, the question is actually: "Which would work better? Display Port to HDMI or Display Port to Display Port?"

Personally, I don't like converting signals from one to the next - I would go with a Display Port adapter and keep everything the same end-to-end. The less you have to convert, the less overhead and the less compatibility issues.

  • Thanks, I think you nailed it when you specified that "USB-C is just the physical port type". That was the root of my confusion. Would like to know more about how the hdmi is converted, but now I can search for DisplayPort to HDMI which is more specific. Commented Apr 5, 2017 at 16:48
  • Microsoft actually has a good explanation of active/passive display port adapters. Basically, passive DP-HDMI just "reorganizes" the pinouts, where active creates a new signal.
    – Allan
    Commented Apr 5, 2017 at 17:17
  • When reading your list there, does it mean it doesn't support DisplayPort to HDMI cables at all? Or is it just that it understands DisplayPort, and don't care about the other end of the cable.
    – Jim Aho
    Commented Aug 23, 2018 at 20:25

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