Computers & Electronics

An Actual HDMI Input vs an HDMI Dongle?

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An Actual HDMI Input vs an HDMI Dongle?

We've been looking for a replacement desktop and want to go refurbished. We're hoping for no earlier than a 5th-generation i5 processor, we want 8GB RAM and Windows 10 Pro (hopefully) and we want to spend around $300 from a Canadian refurbisher/eBay seller/retailer, whatever.

One feature that's a must due to the desktop's purpose is HDMI. Unfortunately, there really doesn't seem to be much option with an actual HDMI input around our price-point. We've bought refurbished a variety of times -- and I don't know if it's my imagination or not -- but it seems the price-points on refurbished desktops have increased and most places have the exact same ones. With an actual HDMI input, we've been focusing on the Optiplex 5040 or 7040, which is 6th generation, but it's running at about $500-ish all in depending on the source. There's one eBay seller from Canada that's a bit less expensive, but he/she closed his/sher store and only has a few listings and reviews so we're not sure he/she is a good choice. We're in B.C., so no free shipping from Refurb.io's site and they don't sell any desktops with an HDMI input on their eBay store.

We started thinking about getting an HDMI dongle instead and not worrying about the actual HDMI input. A few of the refurbishers sell older desktops already with HDMI dongles, but besides the fact that they're older, we've been wary of getting the dongle.

So -- are dongles acceptable? It's hard to believe an HDMI dongle functions up to the standard of an actual HDMI input. And can anyone offer a suggestion re: a good HDMI dongle if one exists?
Last edited by TheHans on Apr 29th, 2020 2:03 am, edited 1 time in total.
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haha....that's funny a computer with HDMI in for $300. HDMI dongles create severe video lag that can be extremely annoying. A $300 budget is very limiting to make suggestions on quality refurbish equipment. $500 can get you a quality refurb Lenovo laptop that's ready to go. If you buy a desktop, I'll assume you need a monitor, keyboard and mouse which is more $$$.
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fordmaple wrote: haha....that's funny a computer with HDMI in for $300. HDMI dongles create severe video lag that can be extremely annoying. A $300 budget is very limiting to make suggestions on quality refurbish equipment. $500 can get you a quality refurb Lenovo laptop that's ready to go. If you buy a desktop, I'll assume you need a monitor, keyboard and mouse which is more $$$.
That's what I thought about the HDMI dongle, so thanks for confirming that. Nope, only the desktop. I can find a desktop for $500 with my specifications already, though I've been focusing on Dell. If there's a particular Lenovo that has HDMI, could you tell me which one?
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Any 5th generation Intel-based computer will come with either DVI or DisplayPort, either of which is perfectly converted to HDMI with an inexpensive cable, assuming you want 1080p FHD output. The only benefit to a "real" HDMI port would be if you wanted something that supported HDMI 2.0 -- as opposed to the older HDMI 1.4 standard. I'm not sure about Intel's 8th gen and newer CPUs integrated graphics configs, but AFAIK even 6th and 7th gen-based Intel systems do not support native HDMI 2.0, though some rare, pricier motherboards have additional chips to support the 2.0 standard.

TLDR: Assuming you have a typical FHD monitor with HDMI input, just buy whatever PC you want in your budget, and use a cable like these:

For DVI: https://www.amazon.ca/AmazonBasics-Disp ... 014RWWURC/
For DisplayPort: https://www.amazon.ca/AmazonBasics-Disp ... 015OW3M1W/

They both output a digital signal that can be easily converted to HDMI with zero loss of quality or added input lag.
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birthdaymonkey wrote: Any 5th generation Intel-based computer will come with either DVI or DisplayPort, either of which is perfectly converted to HDMI with an inexpensive cable, assuming you want 1080p FHD output.
What would I have to be looking out for under specs audio-wise to make this work if I used DVI or DisplayPort instead for HDMI?
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TheHans wrote: What would I have to be looking out for under specs audio-wise to make this work if I used DVI or DisplayPort instead for HDMI?
If you want audio as well, you can forget anything DVI - that's video only.

Display Port will include audio but you need to make sure both the DP port on the computer and the DP to HDMI cable support audio.Older DP ports on computers often only support video.

It maybe best if you explain what you want to connect to your computer so people can make appropriate suggestions.
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krs wrote:
It maybe best if you explain what you want to connect to your computer so people can make appropriate suggestions.
It's connecting to a Hisense TV, the 65H7608. The specs in general are here: https://www.visions.ca/product-detail/4 ... ku=65H7608
And here's a small manual: https://assets.hisense-canada.com/asset ... LISH_0.pdf

I don't think this methodology would really work, frankly. I think an actual HDMI port is probably the best way to go. But thanks for your help.
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Ok, the amount of misinformation here is staggering

There are 2 types of Video cables
- Analog - These include VGA, S-Video, Composite, etc
- Digital - These include HDMI, DP, miniDP, DVI etc

Now as the TV accepts HDMI input, you can get a computer with any digital video output. DP, USB-C, DVI, miniDP are all convertible and the same as HDMI, as far as the raw digital video output is concerned. These converter are passive convertors and are essentially just wiring things differently & will not add any delay or lag.

However, for something like DVI (no audio signals), you will need to buy a box that can merge the audio & DVI video to one signal for your TV (as it has no audio input)

Even for an active dongle like HDMI to VGA or composite, there is unlikely to be any noticeable lag. The Digital/Analog conversion is done at a physical hardware level, and thus is instant.

Apart from these, you can also get a USB HDMI dongle, which is essentially a tiny graphic card in a dongle. Once you have the drivers, etc set up, it should also work fine. I have seen people connect 4 of them to one PC and have it run like 12-16 monitors in total from 1 PC
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TheHans wrote: It's connecting to a Hisense TV, the 65H7608. The specs in general are here: https://www.visions.ca/product-detail/4 ... ku=65H7608
And here's a small manual: https://assets.hisense-canada.com/asset ... LISH_0.pdf

I don't think this methodology would really work, frankly. I think an actual HDMI port is probably the best way to go. But thanks for your help.
This TV has actually quite a few inputs, including audio as part of composite video and also a USB port for photos, music nd movies.

Why do you want to connect this TV to your computer?
Do you want to use the screen as a monitor? Or....
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krs wrote: Why do you want to connect this TV to your computer?
Do you want to use the screen as a monitor? Or....
It's part of our entertainment setup. We can see it's time for the computer part of the setup to be replaced and when we do that, we want an upgrade, which the Optiplex 5040 or 7040 would definitely be. But due to the price points, we were thinking about an HDMI dongle instead to give us a bit more flexibility with our choices, thus price points. However, you've helped us to see -- as have the others who have posted here -- that the best thing for us is probably to keep toward the idea of buying a desktop with HDMI, whether Dell or comparable models with Lenovo or HP if we can ever find one. We were struggling a bit with this decision, so we appreciate all the opinions as they were all helpful in their own way.
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When I buy a new computer, I always look at the total cost of ownership and thus usually end up with a Mac that is good for 10+ years - but that means laying out more money up front that many people want or can afford to spend.'

Based on what you posted initially, how about this Windows PC I just came across:
https://www.bestbuy.ca/en-ca/product/de ... d/13010722

$230.25 - when you add tax and shipping you should not be too far off your $300.- target

Includes Windows 10 professional, 256GB SSD, HDMI, a ton of USB ports and expansion slots.

Sounds like a good deal, but I have not useda Windows PC for about 10 years, so maybe I'm missing something.
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Thanks very much for that listing @krs We'll be making a decision between this and a 6th generation i5 7040 from (coincidentally) the same reseller that's about $150 more. It's over our price point, but it might be worth it for the newer model.
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TheHans wrote: Thanks very much for that listing @krs We'll be making a decision between this and a 6th generation i5 7040 from (coincidentally) the same reseller that's about $150 more. It's over our price point, but it might be worth it for the newer model.
If you're using this machine for entertainment, a 7th gen processor is a big upgrade, as it includes native (hardware) 4K HEVC decoding. Decoding that kind of video on a 3rd gen i5 is going to consume a lot of CPU cycles, which could lead to performance issues (e.g. stuttering), and will definitely warm the computer up a lot, which means fan noise and power consumption.

Have you considered a device like an nVidia shield instead of a HTPC? A bespoke device like the shield will give you a much smoother experience if this computer is just for connecting to the TV.
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birthdaymonkey wrote: Have you considered a device like an nVidia shield instead of a HTPC? A bespoke device like the shield will give you a much smoother experience if this computer is just for connecting to the TV.
We have an Android box that we use for the purposes that we'd use an Nvidia Shield. So the Shield would only be an upgrade of that, which honestly we don't need right now. The upgrade needs to be with the Windows/desktop portion of our configuration. Thanks for the suggestion though.
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Have you thought of buying a separate video card and installing that in the desktop? It should be relatively cheap(ish). I'm not up on my card selection, maybe others can provide suggestions.
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singhrh wrote: Have you thought of buying a separate video card and installing that in the desktop? It should be relatively cheap(ish). I'm not up on my card selection, maybe others can provide suggestions.
We considered that, but decided it wasn't the answer.
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