What Are VGA Cables and What Are They Used For?

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Technology

VGA cables are one of the standard ways of connecting visual devices. The acronym stands for Video Graphics Array, and you can use a VGA cable to connect all kinds of different devices including laptops, projectors, computer monitors and TVs. The VGA name has become something of a common term to describe a wide range of different connectors, although they all have the same main purpose.

Essentially, all VGA cables come with a connector that features fifteen pins. They’re easy to use, and while modern devices often use HDMI instead, VGA remains a popular way to connect devices. A VGA to VGA cable provides analogue video display signals with a high level of signal strength. They’re better suited for lower resolutions, and you can find out more below.

How do VGA Cables Work?

Standard VGA cables are one of the easiest ways to create a video or graphics link between devices. The first ever iterations of this type of connector came about in 1987. Although there have been changes to technology since, the cables themselves haven’t changed too much.

You can identify a VGA cable by the fifteen-pins, which are split into three rows of five. In addition, most VGA cables include thumb screws on either side of the connector. These can be tightened to reduce the chance of a loss in signal and ensure the connector remains in place even when subjected to movement.

Essentially, VGA cables work by carrying an analogue video signal between devices and components. Each of the fifteen pins within the VGA connector plays a role in transmitting the video signal. Before the signal is sent by the device, it’s encoded by RGBHV (red, blue, green, horizontal sync, vertical sync). When the signal reaches the device, the RGBHV code is translated into pixels to create a viewable image on the screen.

Many VGA cables include other features too, and there are different types of cables depending on the needs of the equipment they’re used with. For example, standard VGA cables are capable of supporting video resolutions up to 640×480. For higher resolutions, SVGA cables can be used. These will display resolutions up to and including 800×600.

What Are VGA Cables Used for?

VGA cables are used for transmitting video signals between devices. The most common use of these cables is in connecting a laptop to an external screen or projector. For example, if you want to use your laptop to display a presentation, you’d need to use a projector to show the rest of the room clearly. A VGA cable would be ideal in this situation, as most laptops and projectors come with a VGA port.

Another use of a VGA cable is in connecting a device to a TV. For example, DVD players often use VGA ports for connecting to a screen and allowing you to watch films on DVD. Another use would be connecting to a satellite TV box, although most modern devices now use HDMI cables to provide clearer picture quality.

Many computers also use VGA cables to transmit signals from the graphics card to the PSU. Additionally, computer monitors will typically use VGA to display the signals as images, allowing the device to be used. Once again, these are more common in older devices, but VGA is still suitable for many purposes.

Types of VGA

There are lots of different types of VGA cables and adapters that can be used in different ways. Here are a few of the main type:

  • D-Sub HD15 VGA
  • SVGA HD15
  • VGA to HDMI Cable
  • VGA to DVI-D
  • VGA to DVI or DVI-I
  • VGA Male to Female
  • VGA Female to Male

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