As Fast As Possible
To output 1080p content at 144Hz, you will need either a Dual-Link DVI, a DisplayPort, or an HDMI 1.4 or higher (though some monitors with HDMI 1.4 are limited to 60Hz or 120Hz) cable.
For 144Hz at 1440p, you will need at least an HDMI 2.0 or a DisplayPort 1.2 while for 4K 144Hz you are going to need an HDMI 2.1 or alternatively, a DisplayPort 1.4 which maxes out at 120Hz without compression.
VGA (Video Graphics Array) or D-Sub is an old analog connector which maxes out at 1920×1200 and 75Hz. Most of the newer graphics cards and displays don’t feature this port. It can still be found on some monitors though which can be useful if you want to connect it to an older GPU or use it for a multi-monitor setup.
DVI (Digital Visual Interface) is a more common and widespread connector, but keep in mind that not all DVI versions are the same. Only the Dual-Link DVI-D port can do 1920×1080 at 144Hz or 2560×1440 at 75Hz while the other DVI ports max out at the same bandwidth as VGA.
Nowadays, most of the monitors, TVs, and graphics cards feature at least an HDMI 1.4 port which is enough for 144Hz at 1080p, 75Hz at 1440p, and 30Hz at 4K.
However, keep in mind that some monitors have limited bandwidth over HDMI 1.4 making it max out at 120Hz or even at 60Hz in some cases (mostly G-SYNC monitors).
In fact, most 144Hz monitors are limited to 120Hz over HDMI 1.4, but some monitor manufacturers will use custom timing parameters, pixel rates, etc to use the full potential of the HDMI 1.4 bandwidth thus getting 144Hz at 1080p
So, make sure that the exact monitor you’re looking at supports 144Hz or at least 120Hz over its HDMI 1.4 port – or just look for a 144Hz display with an HDMI 2.0.
The next version, which is the HDMI 2.0, is also fairly standard and can be used for 240Hz at 1080p, 144Hz at 1440p, and 60Hz at 4K. The latest HDMI 2.1 adds native support for 120Hz at 4K UHD and 60Hz at 8K.
Apart from an HDMI port, most gaming monitors also come with a DisplayPort 1.2 which offers native support for 240Hz at 1080p, up to 165Hz at 1440p, and up to 75Hz at 4K.
DisplayPort 1.3 and DisplayPort 1.4 provide the extra bandwidth required for 240Hz at 1440p, 120Hz at 4K, 60Hz at 5K, and 30Hz at 8K. The main difference between DP 1.3 and DP 1.4, is that the latter supports DSC (Display Stream Compression) which allows it to deliver 144Hz at 4K, 120Hz at 5K, and 60Hz at 8K – but with compression.
A mini-DisplayPort (or Thunderbolt) connector can output the same amount of bandwidth as the DisplayPort implementation it is based on. So, a mini-DisplayPort 1.2 can do 75Hz at 4K, 240Hz at 1080p, and so on.
Furthermore, mini-DisplayPort is now being replaced by the USB Type-C port on newer displays. The USB-C port sends the DisplayPort signal for audio and video and can simultaneously charge (if the port/device support power delivery) and transfer data to the connected device such as a compatible laptop, smartphone, etc.
Adapters For 144Hz
In case your 144Hz monitor and graphics card don’t support 144Hz over the same port, you may be able to use an adapter.
Keep in mind that for 144Hz, the adapter needs to be active, not passive which means it will usually use a USB connector for power (some active adapters don’t need it). All passive adapters are limited to 60Hz.
The available active adapter combinations are DisplayPort to HDMI and Dual-Link DVI to DisplayPort. An active Dual-Link DVI to HDMI adapter doesn’t currently exist.
Note that these active adapters are fairly expensive and that some manufacturers will falsely advertise passive adapters as active and/or Single-Link DVI adapters as Dual-Link.
Also, double-check whether your monitor/GPU supports 144Hz over the port you’re trying to convert before buying an expensive active adapter.
Rob is a software engineer with a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Denver. He now works full-time on writing for DisplayNinja while coding his own projects on the side.