“I can’t get my old monitor to connect to my new computer!”

This comes up a lot, when someone is trying to connect old tech to new tech. Because display connectors have evolved over the years, your new PC may not offer the right port for your 10-year-old monitor. But you don’t have to buy a new monitor ($100-200). Instead, find an adapter cable ($10-25) and use your old screen until it drops!

There are a lot of different display interfaces over the years:

But with typical computers, there’s only 4 to think about:

  • VGA: its cable has 3 rows of pins in a trapezoid, and has blue ends with thumb-screws.
  • DVI: its cable has 3 rows of pins in a rectangle, and has white ends with thumb-screws.
  • HDMI: its cable has no thumb-screws and usually has black ends with a metallic insert.
  • DisplayPort: its cable is similar to HDMI, but the connector is not symmetrical — one corner is cut off.

If you’ve made it this far without glazing over, congratulations! You can use the info above to go over to Amazon or Microcenter to buy an adapter cable that will connect your monitor to your computer!

A common example: old monitors often only have a VGA connector on their backs. New PCs often have HDMI connectors. So for that situation, you would want an HDMI-to-VGA adapter cable, such as this or that.

I’ve also helped customers connect multiple monitors to a graphics card or a port replicator, where the hardware offers 1 HDMI port, 1 DVI port and 1 VGA port. If the monitors all offer HDMI connectors, then that situation would require a standard HDMI cable, an HDMI-to-DVI adapter cable, and a HDMI-to-VGA cable.

If this stuff makes your head swim, no worries. When you find yourself in this kind of pickle, call or email me and I’ll quickly steer you towards the correct cable to buy.