I have a DVI female to VGA male adapter cable and want to know if it is reversible.

I ordered this with the intent of plugging the VGA end into the video card and the DVI end into my monitor. That didn't work.

I contacted the seller and he said that its only for DVI to VGA. I want to know if there is a reason why the cable would not be reversible.

  • 2
    I'm not sure, but why can't you just try connecting it the other way around and checking it for yourself? – Mark Aug 20 '16 at 15:01
  • Male to female connectors are usually to set up a cable extension, not as end-to-end connectors. – Tetsujin Aug 20 '16 at 16:22
  • VGA out to a dvi monitor cannot be done using a gender changer, you would need a converter box, see this....computerhope.com/issues/ch001485.htm – Moab Aug 20 '16 at 18:33

Passive DVI to VGA

The DVI connector spec provides for pins for an analog signal as well as digital. That design is primarily to allow a computer to provide both analog and digital output through one connector to support older monitors.

The spec for the analog pins is electrically compatible with VGA. That means you can have a "passive" adapter cable that connects the analog DVI pins to a VGA connector to plug into a VGA monitor. You don't need active electronics to convert the signal from one to the other.

Passive cable in reverse

Theoretically, you could use a passive adapter cable in reverse if you match the gender of the connectors at each end. VGA output from the computer could be fed to the analog pins of the DVI connector going to the monitor.

Monitor capabilities

The problem is that monitors with DVI connectors usually expect to get digital output through that connector. The monitor doesn't typically look for VGA input on the DVI connector. If a monitor can take VGA input, it will typically have a VGA connector, and you could simply use a VGA cable.

Determining the monitor's capability

The monitor specs would hopefully tell you whether it accepts VGA through the DVI connector. Otherwise, you may be able to at least rule it out by looking at the monitor's DVI connector. The DVI connector configurations look like this:

DVI connector

The analog signal is carried on the four pins shown on the left, surrounding the horizontal bar. If the monitor can accept an analog signal on the DVI connector, it must have contacts in those four positions (although it could be a generic connector, so the presence of contacts there doesn't guarantee that they are used by the monitor). If you look at the monitor's connector and there are not contacts in those locations, you can rule out doing what you want with a passive adapter cable.

Feeding a DVI monitor from VGA

So getting a VGA signal to the DVI connector to feed your monitor doesn't necessarily buy you anything. Going in that direction, most monitors will require an active converter to change the VGA signal to digital for the monitor.

Active converter

Active converters work in only one direction. They have electronics that take in one kind of signal, convert it, and output a different kind of signal. So if what the seller sold you was an active DVI to VGA converter (to feed a VGA monitor from DVI computer output that is digital-only), you could not use that in the reverse direction.

Bottom line

So regardless of whether what you bought was an active or passive adapter, you probably will not be able to use it in reverse. If you want to feed a DVI monitor from VGA computer output, you will probably need an active converter that works in that direction.

Managing expectations of an active converter

Just so you are not disappointed again, be aware that the signal you get on the monitor using an active converter will not be "digital quality". The converter will allow you to make the connection, but you are starting with an analog VGA signal, and then likely degrading that a little in the conversion process. The result will be no better than VGA quality.

  • The paragraph on Managing expectations of an active converter is important. VGA-era flat-screen computer monitors essentially if not actually always had various adjustments to match the monitor's digital circuitry to the analog signal coming from the graphics card (which in turn was synthesized from digital data). With poor adjustment, you'd get low image quality, moiré patterns, flickering or wiggly image with certain displayed patterns (I recall on/off 2x2 pixel grids being particularly bad in this regard), and so on. An external active converter will have the same difficulties. – a CVn Aug 30 '16 at 11:19

I've never seen a male connector on a device before. The TV side or video card side should all be female.

But in some rare instance your monitor have a male connector, check and see if it has 4 pins surrounding the large flat pin.

If it only has the flat pin, then your monitor only accepts a digital DVI (DVI-D) connection. Since VGA is analog, no cable will work. You will need an active converter to make it work.

What model is the monitor?

  • Sorry it seems I didn't clarify some points it is a dvi vga converter with vga male converter on one side and a female dvi female on the other, the reason why I haven't been able to test if it works the other way around I coz I don't have a vga monitor, thx for everyone's help I really appreciate it – Pop1920 Aug 21 '16 at 0:45
  • So your monitor only accept DVI then. You still need to check if your monitor can support analog signals. You will need to check your monitor's documentation to see if it does. Also, the DVI cable you're using must be a DVI-I cable. Check and see if it has the 4 pins surrounding the large flat pin. If it does, then it should support analog. If it doesn't, then you need to get a new cable. Again, before getting a new cable, check and make sure your monitor is support DVI-I connection. It would help tremendously if you can tell us your monitor's model number. – turbocomppro Aug 21 '16 at 18:34

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