I am buying a new PC and the motherboard will only have an HDMI and not a VGA port.

My screen (Dell P2412H) has both VGA and USB ports, so I was wondering what would be better to use: an HDMI to USB cable or an HDMI to VGA cable.

I am not asking for opinion. I just want to make sure I won't have any problems. If both are fine, I'm ok with that as well.

  • 45
    The USB ports on your monitor are likely a USB hub. USB cable to PC, then more USB ports on monitor to plug in mouse, webcam, etc. Another-words your monitor cannot accept video input into its USB port
    – gregg
    Nov 15, 2019 at 21:56
  • 13
    Are you SURE you don't have DVI on the screen? It's usually WHITE. VGA is usually blue. I haven't seen a VGA only screen in many MANY years. (I would have put a third "many" in there.. but you get the point). If you aren't 100% sure, I would google it and see what the pinout looks like for each. Nov 15, 2019 at 22:00
  • 20
    @papakias HDMI to DVI-D is a straightforward 1-on-1 conversion-cable. HDMI to VGA would require an expensive converter because HDMI only provides digital signals and VGA is analog only. The USB ports on that monitor are 1x USB-input and 2x USB output. (So the monitor acts as a USB-hub with 2 output ports.)
    – Tonny
    Nov 15, 2019 at 22:17
  • 5
    "I haven't seen a VGA only screen in many MANY years." VGA still seems to be the connector of choice for bottom of the range monitors. I just took a look at three different suppliers and on two of the three sites the cheapest monitor was VGA only.
    – plugwash
    Nov 16, 2019 at 9:44
  • 5
    I have that monitor as well (in fact, I have two) and I use it every day with my laptop which has HDMI. I'm using a HDMI to DVI adapter (cheap). My laptop also has mini displayport, so I'm using that for the second screen. The screen supports vga, displayport and dvi.
    – sbrattla
    Nov 16, 2019 at 22:08

8 Answers 8


You won't see video if you connect through your USB port. Only HDMI->DVI-D or HDMI->VGA will work (relying on the updated information just provided about your monitor), and DVI-D connections offer higher resolution and better quality.

The USB ports on your monitor is a convenience feature to pass USB through to peripherals (e.g., keyboard and mouse) near the screen; you have a Type B (square) port to connect to your PC, and two Type A ports for keyboard, mouse, and/or other peripherals.

Here are pictures of the popular video connectors, if you want to double-check. enter image description here

  • 7
    @papakias HDMI-output to to USB-input doesn't even exist as a standard cable. The only thing that comes close is USB3.1-output (or USB-C-output) to HDMI-input, but that is the other way around and is not a simple cable but includes a special converter. And is quite expensive (about $140)
    – Tonny
    Nov 15, 2019 at 22:12
  • 13
    @Tonny That "special converter" you mention is more than what most people would think of as a converter: it's basically a video or graphics card, similar to one you'd plug into an expansion slot on a PC motherboard, only you talk to it via a USB bus instead of a PCI bus or similar.
    – cjs
    Nov 16, 2019 at 8:56
  • 4
    @CurtJ.Sampson You and I know, but to most people it is "just a converter". They have no idea what is really going on. I was trying to keep it simple :-)
    – Tonny
    Nov 16, 2019 at 11:45
  • 1
    Oooh, composite and component! Are they even used anymore?
    – Vilx-
    Nov 16, 2019 at 18:32
  • 2
    Let's note that the connectors on the picture are not to scale. An HDMI connector is much smaller than a DVI connector, for instance.
    – jcaron
    Nov 18, 2019 at 14:40

The Dell P2412H has a DVI-D interface. You can get an HDMI-to-DVI cable (Amazon US has them for ~$7).

Or you can use an HDMI-to-DVI adapter (about $6) -- effectively converting the monitor to HDMI input and then use an ordinary HDMI-HDMI cable (such as one you might use for connecting a recent games console to your TV).

I've got both kinds and use them to connect my (HDMI) laptop to my (DVI-D) Dell 2205FPW monitor.

Those cables seem remarkably cheap. More expensive cables might be better, in terms of supported resolution, etc. (up to a point, where you're just being ripped off).

The USB connector on the monitor is because the monitor has a built-in 2-port USB hub.

This is particularly useful if you have a laptop: you can leave a USB mouse and keyboard connected to the monitor, and then you only have to plug one USB cable (the monitor) into the laptop.

If you have a desktop (that doesn't get moved), this might not be as useful, but it can help to keep your desk tidy. I have my webcam plugged into my monitor hub.

One thing to be aware of: a lot of monitors (including all of the Dell monitors I've used) turn off the USB hub when you turn off the monitor, and sometimes when they go into standby (which means you can't twitch the mouse to wake up the PC).

  • The USB cable still should be connected, to enable the built-in hub.
    – Agent_L
    Nov 17, 2019 at 11:04
  • @Agent_L If you need it. It is most likely only USB 2.0 Nov 17, 2019 at 11:14
  • @ThorbjørnRavnAndersen Yes, it is 2.0. What most USB accessories use.
    – Agent_L
    Nov 17, 2019 at 11:18
  • It's really hard for better cables to matter in an all-digital application. If the right bits arrive in the right order, the image on the display will be exactly the same.
    – CarlF
    Nov 18, 2019 at 14:35
  • @CarlF at very high speeds there are more constraints on the cable in terms of inter-pair skew, far-end crosstalk, attenuation and differential impedance for instance, which have an effect on maximum bandwidth. That's why there are really different types of HDMI cables, though it only matters if you need to go beyond 4K30 for instance (so not here, as the monitor is 1080p). The situation is similar for Ethernet cables (Cat 3, 4, 5, 5e, 6, 6e...).
    – jcaron
    Nov 18, 2019 at 14:51

It’s very likely the USB port(s) on your monitor are just a USB hub and cannot be used to display images. That leaves the VGA port as your only option.

  • This. It is not uncommon for monitors to have USB-hubs for convenience. Nov 17, 2019 at 11:12

An HDMI to VGA adaptor would work, but is a bad idea. The adaptor will be expensive and complex since it has to convert a digital signal to analogue, and the image quality will be bad.

As others have said the USB port isn't a video input, it's just a USB hub.

The monitor you mention has a DVI port however. HDMI to DVI is a simple adaptor, which more often than not is included inside of a cable. The two technologies are very close to one another and no signal conversion is needed.

I would get an HDMI to DVI cable.


Other answers are correct, USB ports on Dell monitors are not video inputs.

DVI will work better than VGA. It's a digital format, so you don't loose picture quality, as you would with VGA, especially at FullHD resolution. It's also using the same protocol as HDMI, so cheap passive adapters are available.

  • USB-based graphics adapters exist. Nov 17, 2019 at 11:12
  • @ThorbjørnRavnAndersen That's irrelevant here, it's a USB port on the monitor. I've clarified that sentence though, thanks for your comment.
    – gronostaj
    Nov 17, 2019 at 11:35

Your presumption is incorrect. Your monitor actually has both a VGA and DVI-D video port.

You may use the DVI-D port, which is probably the easiest, using a readily available cable to adapt it to your HDMI output.

The USB ports are useless for video. Those are simply a "USB hub" for your convenience so you can plug in keyboard, mouse, thumb drives, etc. To enable these, run a USB cable alongside the video cable. USB-C carrying video is a thing, but a monitor of this age can't possibly support it.


I had a similar issue like you have: no compatible ports between my GPU and my monitor.

I originally chose to use a converter adapter: Analogue on my monitor, digital on my computer. it wasn't HDMI (I think it was DisplayPort actually), and while it worked for the most part, it caused quite a lot of issues. I had frequent instances of my monitor just going black for a couple seconds, and I'd often have to restart my computer entirely because the converter wouldn't start properly, leaving my screen black entirely. I also had some other graphical issues with some games.

Others have said already that your monitor should have a DVI port. If at all possible, I'd STRONGLY urge you to use that instead of using an adapter. If you're using the adapter, you're likely going to have frustrating moments of failure.


Okay let me keep it in nutshell.... USB has nothing to do with Video and audio specifically so, its a bad idea to go for HDMI - USB. U can rather keep it free to connect smart devices like Amazon Fire Stick etc and use the HDMI - VGA Connection for connecting it with your laptop...

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