Differences between types of computer cables, ports, sockets and connectors

Differences between types of computer cables, ports, sockets and connectors Let's see a little bit of order by trying to make a short one guide on cables that can be attached to the computer because there are so many and you never know what they are for.
There are so many computer cables, with different standards, acronyms and terms that are often similar and often difficult to distinguish.
We may need a USB Type A, Type B or Type C cable, a SATA cable or one of the newer ones, DisplayPort or Thunderbolt.
distinguish the types of cables you may need, we see in this guide which are the main ones, what are the differences between cables and the many ports or sockets a PC can have.

1) USB cables

I USB cables they are now the standard for connecting any portable peripheral to your computer.
You can use USB cables to attach external drives, USB pens and sticks, portable media players, internet modems, digital cameras and cell phones to your computer.
Normal accessories such as mice, keyboards, webcams, microphones, printers, scanners and even some types of speakers are also attached to the USB ports of the computer.
The USB cable is generally used for a transfer data from peripheral to computer or vice versa, or even between two computers.

The differences between the versions of the USB cables and ports, from the oldest to the most recent, are related to the speed of the data transfer and are all compatible with the previous version.
- USB 1.0 it can transmit data at speeds up to 1,5MB / s.
- USB 2.0 it can transmit data at speeds up to 60MB / s.
- USB 3.0 it can transmit data at speeds up to 625MB / s.
- USB 3.1 it can transmit data at speeds up to 1,25GB / s, the most common today.
- USB 3.2 can transmit data at speeds up to 2,5GB / s, but only when using a USB-C connection.
- USB 4.x is a future specification that will transmit data at speeds up to 5GB / s, with USB-C connection only.
It will be released in 2019 and will only be compatible with USB 3.2 and USB 2.0.

There are also several shapes for USB cables and ports:
- The Type A supports USB 1.0, USB 2.0, USB 3.0, USB 3.1.
- The type B supports USB 1.0, USB 2.0, USB 3.0, USB 3.1.
- The type C (i.e. USB-C) supports USB 3.1, USB 3.2, USB 4.x.
- Mini-USB supports USB 2.0.
- Micro-USB supports USB 2.0.

The connector USB-A it is the large rectangular one present at least on one side in almost all computer USB cables, the entrance to standard USB ports.
The other end of the USB cable can be there USB-B, the square connector commonly used with printers, external hard drives, and larger devices, or smaller connectors we can call mini-USB e Micro-USB, which are commonly used with portable devices, such as media players, digital cameras, and cell phones.
USB-C it is by far the most convenient USB connector, since it can be inserted in any direction.

Also important are the USB cable extensions, those that have the male on one side and the female on the other.
There are also other USB cables (personally never used) that have the standard USB socket on one side while on the other there is a connection to another port such as the Ethernet (network socket) or the audio jack.
If you buy an adapter from one USB type to another, the data transfer speed will be limited by the slowest connection.

2) Audio cables and connectors

When it comes to audio you can indulge yourself because there are many types of cables and above all converters which then in the end all fall into two types: 3.5 mm (1/8 ") e 6.3 mm (1/4 ").
Differences between types of computer cables, ports, sockets and connectors The most common cable is the mini audio jack standard for headphones, otherwise known as a TRS connector or simply an audio cable.
Virtually all computers, desktops or laptops, use the 3,5mm audio jack.
Most speakers and microphones are able to connect to the computer with these audio cables.
The microphone port on your computer is usually pink while the speaker port, where the stereo audio cable plugs into, is green.
Differences between types of computer cables, ports, sockets and connectors Some computers have additional TSR audio jacks which are black, gray and gold and mean front, rear and center / subwoofer speakers respectively.
These are the PCs whose sound card supports systems 5.1.

A variety of the TSR connector is the larger one 6,3 mm (1/4 ") which is the largest one, used in professional audio recording equipment, for amplifiers or microphones (even karaoke ones) which can be connected to a computer using a 1/4" to 1/8 converter ".

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- In recent years all televisions, DVD players and stereos have also the digital optical audio jack.
To listen to music or if you want to watch a DVD movie on your PC, with high quality audio, you must connect the computer to a DVD player, a stereo or a Home Teather Doby Surround system with the connector called TOSLINK (or S / PDIF) connector.
These are fiber optic cables and can therefore transmit digital audio through light.
Some laptops and audio equipment have an outlet TOSLINK mini-jack which can be used via a converter to connect to a standard TOSLINK (Toshiba Link) port.

3) Video cables

- The oldest video connector on computer monitors and high definition televisions is the VGA cable.
Differences between types of computer cables, ports, sockets and connectors A standard VGA connector is the 15-pin one and is the typical and classic one with which monitors are connected to computers.
The VGA cable can also be used to connect the laptop to a TV (new ones all have this port) or a projector.
Converters allow you to connect the VGA monitor to newer computers that only have HDMI or DVI output.
A smaller variant of the VGA is the mini-VGAfound on some older laptops.
Here, too, you need a converter to connect any standard VGA monitor to a mini-VGA port on your laptop.

The VGA cable is an analog video signal cable that is now superseded by digital video cables.
Even today, however, the VGA port is present on most video cards and monitors.

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- The door DVI was the competitor of the VGA port, with digital signal.
DVI connections come in three types:
DVI-A can transmit analog signals, allowing for backward compatibility with VGA (useful for CRT monitors and older LCD monitors).
DVI-D it can transmit newer digital signals.
DVI-I capable of sending analog and digital signal.
In some cases, a VGA-to-DVI or DVI-to-VGA converter cable may be required.
DVI is no longer in use, having been replaced by more modern types of cables such as HDMI, DisplayPort and Thunderbolt.

The new generation of ultra-flat laptops like the MacBook Air had to make variations of this grip with scaled-down versions called Mini-DVI and Micro-DVI.
A DVI cable has 29 pins, although some connectors may have fewer pins depending on their configuration.
The video signal DVI is compatible with HDMItherefore, with a simple converter you can make a DVI monitor receive input from an HDMI cable.
Of course there are also DVI to VGA adapters in order to connect the new graphics card to an old monitor which only supports VGA mode.

4) Audio and video cables together

Differences between types of computer cables, ports, sockets and connectors - HDMI cables (High-Definition Multimedia Interface)
HDMI is the standard for high quality audio and video transmission through a single cable.
HDMIs support a maximum resolution of 4096 × 2160p (it's HD 1920 × 1200 only) with up to 8 channels of digital audio and are used for connecting Blu-Ray players to a full HD TV.
Some HDMI cables can be up to 5 meters long and, higher quality ones, up to 15 meters in length which can also be increased with amplifiers.

HDMI connections come in five types:
- Type A it is the most popular, with 19 pins on the male head, compatible with single link DVI-D connections.
- Type B, larger than Type A, with 29 pins on the male side, compatible with dual-link DVI-D connections, are quite rare to find.
- type C (Mini HDMI) is a 19-pin connector often used with portable devices, such as camcorders and digital cameras.
- Type D (Micro HDMI) also has 19 pins and looks similar to a Micro-USB cable, sometimes included in smartphones and tablets.
- Type E it is much larger with a locking mechanism, mainly used for automotive applications.

HDMI is compatible with the DVI socket via a converter that allows you to watch video on a DVI device using the HDMI cable although, in this case, it will take another cable for audio.

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- DisplayPort
Display Port is a multimedia interface that transmits video and audio signals together, designed to replace VGA and DVI, mainly used to connect computers to monitors.
Differences between types of computer cables, ports, sockets and connectors They support high resolution video and up to 8 channels of digital audio.
The types of cables and DisplaYPort ports are:
RBR (low bit rate): up to 810 MB / s.
HBR (High Bit Rate): up to 1.350 MB / s.
HBR2 (High Bit Rate 2): up to 2.700 MB / s.
HBR3 (High Bit Rate 3): up to 4.050 MB / s.

DisplayPort is compatible with HDMI and USB via adapters.
There is also the Mini DisplayPort, which was mainly used in earlier Apple devices released before 2011.

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- Thunderbolt
Thunderbolt cables are mainly used by Apple to connect its devices to the computer.
Thunderbolt 1 and Thunderbolt 2 cables use the same connector as the Mini DisplayPort and are compatible with Mini DisplayPort connections.
Thunderbolt 3 cables use the same connector as USB-C, and all Thunderbolt 3 connections are compatible with USB-C connections.

5) Cables to connect disk drives (Hard disk or SSD)

Differences between types of computer cables, ports, sockets and connectors While the SATA cables they are used internally to connect the hard drive to the computer motherboard and therefore are not seen, i eSATA cables they are designed for external hard drives or portable hard drives, and can transfer data faster than connecting USB or FireWire.
However, the eSATA cable does not transmit power like USB does and therefore cannot power a portable external hard drive that does not have its own power supply.
A standard SATA cable can be recognized by two connectors, each with 7 pins and an empty notch.

- The IDE cable it was used before SATA cables to connect drives to the computer motherboard.
It looks like a wide, ribbon-like, 40-pin cable.

6) Network cables

Differences between types of computer cables, ports, sockets and connectors Among the network cables we name the old cable of the RJ11 telephone, still used around the world for connecting to the Internet via a modem, consisting of 4 wires, with a four-pin connector.
Differences between types of computer cables, ports, sockets and connectorsThe universal network cable, on the other hand, is called cable Ethernet which is the standard for wired networking around the world.
The Ethernet cable, otherwise known as RJ45, is based on a twisted pair Cat5 and is made up of 8 single wires.
The Ethernet connector has 8 pins and is very similar to a phone plug, thicker and wider.

7) Other Cables

- Firewire or IEEE 1394 or also known as i.LINK and Lynx, it is an alternative to the USB socket and is commonly used for connecting digital video cameras and external hard drives to a computer.
Firewire cables can also be used to connect PCs to the network, without a router, but personally I've never been able to when I tried.
The FireWire cable is typically 6-pin in its connector, although there is also a 4-pin one.

- S-Video cables o Super Video are those used for the transport of analog data and are used to connect DVD players, camcorders and old video consoles to the television.
S-Video cables are very useful for connecting laptops to older televisions, those without a VGA socket.
There is a possibility that the television supports S-Video even though it does not have the plug to plug the cable into.
In these cases, it takes a Scart converter that has this door.
Standard S-Video connectors are round in shape and can have a variable number of pins, between 4 and 9.

The cables connectors RCA are represented by a group of 2 or 3 wires, which almost always include the composite video (yellow color) and, always, i stereo audio cables (red for the right channel and white or black for the left audio channel).
Sometimes in this bundle of cables there may be others for additional audio and / or video channels.
Among those videos there may be the Component Video (component video) which offers a better picture than composite because the video signal is split into different signals, while, in the case of composites, everything is transferred through the single yellow plug.
RCA cables are usually used to connect DVD player, stereo speakers, digital camera and other audio / video equipment to the TV.
You can attach an RCA cable to your computer via a video capture card so you can transfer recorded video from an analog video camera to your old computer hard drive.

- Molex cable
The Molex Cable has a plastic socket with 4 holes and looks like a plug.
This is an internal cable to the computer that powers internal components such as internal LED lights or fans.

I skip the serial cable which is no longer used except in rare cases of hacking.

The cables that can be connected to a computer are closely connected to the cables that are used for a television and in fact we have seen in another article all the possibilities for connect a laptop to the TV.

Differences between types of computer cables, ports, sockets and connectors

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