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When should I use a longer video cable vs. a video extender?

You should only use video converters and extenders if it is absolutely necessary to do so. In many cases, most video converters and extenders are not necessary if you purchase the correct cable.

The following table lists the maximum length of cable for common video standards.

Video standard Maximum length
DisplayPort 50 ft. (15.2m)
HDMI 50 ft. (15.2m)
DVI 50 ft. (15.2m)
VGA 200 ft. (71m)

Note: StarTech.com offers cables longer than what is listed above, including active cables, which typically include built-in active signal boosters that allow for longer cables. Active cables are specifically designed to exceed the suggested maximum lengths and are tested at the listed specifications (for example, the maximum listed resolution).

Video adapters

Video adapters passively adapt a cable from one connector type to another. Video adapters do not change the signal type, or change the video standard.

Examples of common applications for adapters include the following:

  • DVI-I to VGA

  • RCA to BNC

  • Mini DisplayPort to DisplayPort

  • Couplers (female to female, or male to male)

Note: You can use a coupler to extend a cable for a short distance. However, each coupler that you use can introduce signal loss, which degrades the signal quality.

Video converters

Video converters actively process and change the signal type from one video standard and convert it to another standard. They are typically used to convert digital to analog and vice versa, but can be used to convert a digital signal to another digital video standard (for example, HDMI to DisplayPort).

Video converters work over short distances from the source to the destination: up to 15 feet or 3 meters.

Video extenders

Video extenders convert an input signal to a higher voltage for transmission over longer distances and then convert the input signal back to the original video standard. The input and the output signal will match on a video extender, as the same video standard is maintained end-to-end. If a cable is extended with adapters or converters, the signal quality degrades.

Note: For more information on using a video adapter or converter with a video extender, see the following FAQ: http://www.startech.com/faq/video_signal_converters_convert_then_extend.

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