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Is HDMI Quality Better Than VGA Quality?

Karl in South Dakota asked about improving the video quality of his external display

VGA Connector

Karl asked: “I have an old iMac. Currently take the video out of VGA into my TV and I was wondering if I changed to an HDMI Adapter, if the picture would look better. The specs say i have an ATI Radeon X1600 and my display is 1440 x 900.”


VGA is an old standard, it’s from 1987, and it’s prone to a few problems that HDMI should be immune to.

VGA is analog, and it’s vulnerable to something called crosstalk, basically it means that if there are other cables nearby, it may pick up their signal and that signal may interfere with its own. The signal may even degrade even without interference if you’re using long cables.

HDMI is a digital standard, which means that it has two modes: on or off. If the signal is too weak, you get nothing, if it’s strong enough you always get the same picture. Cables don’t matter, interference doesn’t matter, all that matters is “is the signal strong enough? Good, then you get full quality. It’s not? Ok, you get nothing at all.” Now, if your display is 1440 x 900, you’re below the limits of both connections, so things may not look much different, likely not at all.

If your display is 1440 x 900, you’re below the limits of both connections

There is no inherent improvement in going from analog to digital, at least not in this case. Furthermore, since you have an older iMac, you wouldn’t be able to get by with simply an HDMI cable. You would need to purchase a mini-DVI to  DVI-HDMI converter box and run HDMI cable from there. That’s not going to help signal quality, either. We’re sorry we don’t have better news for you, but it might be time for a bit larger of a tech upgrade than you were planning.

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Written by Dave Graveline

Dave Graveline is the founder, Host & Executive Producer of "Into Tomorrow" in addition to being President of the Advanced Media Network".

Dave is also a trusted and familiar voice on many national commercials & narrations in addition to being an authority in consumer tech since 1994. He is also a former Police Officer and an FBI Certified Instructor.

Dave thrives on audience participation!

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