DisplayLink vs Alt Mode Video Output

Last Update: November 11th, 2020
Article ID: 381073


The chipset can be thought of as the electronic brains of a particular device feature. For example, there can be a chipset that manages video signals, audio signals, network connections, storage devices, and so much more.

For most users it isn't necessary to know the details of a chipset used in a device. However, in some technical situations it can be very helpful to know the chipset. This can be for compatibility reasons or to lookup less common features that aren't mentioned in other product information.

Special Note About Video Chipsets

Plugable takes advantage of many different technologies to expand the number of displays and types of displays that computers can connect to. There are advantages and disadvantages to each type.

Alternate Mode (Alt Mode)

Alt Mode video is a newer method of carrying video signals over a USB cable. It allows the graphics adapter (GPU) in a computer to directly output through the USB cable.

Alt Mode will provide the best experience in most situations. However, there are a limited number of displays that can be routed through Alt Mode, and using Alt Mode along with DisplayLink can enable the use of more displays than Alt Mode alone.


DisplayLink does not send video output directly from the graphics adapter (GPU) in a computer.

Instead, a virtual display space is created on the computer using the processor (CPU), then sent as compressed data over USB to a docking station or display adapter with a DisplayLink chip. The DisplayLink chip then decodes and decompresses the video that was sent by the PC, rendering it to a display.

While DisplayLink has some limitations, it is an inexpensive way to power more monitors. Particularly for users who do not need to display multimedia or who do not need 3D acceleration features of a dedicated graphics processor.