Most of you probably know, that connecting of peripheral devices or hardware component to a computer requires a specific type of cable.However, this can be quite confusing because of the wide variety of cables that exists, so in this post I will try to provide you with a short description of some of the most frequently used cables.
Analog VGA interface was created in the late 1980’s and until now remains a standard way for connection between a computer and monitor. Today, however, it is almost replaced by the digital interface DVI. VGA consists of 15 contacts arranged in three rows, each of which corresponds to three separate channels – red, green and blue. Аlthough almost all video cards on the market are equipped with DVI, you will encounter many displays, allowing the connection to VGA, through VGA to DVI adapter.
2. Parallel ATA (IDE)
Parallel ATA (PATA) cables are used for the connection of storage devices such as hard disks, solid-state drives, and CD-ROM drives to the computer’s motherboard. The Paralel ATA cable is a ribbon cable with two or three connectors, one of which plugs into the ATA connector mounted on the motherboard and the remaining connector(s) plug into drives. Each connector has 40 pins (44 pins for the smaller form-factor version used for 2.5″ drives). Note that if two drives are attached to a single cable, one must be configured as master and the other as slave.
The serial ATA (serial advanced technology attachment), or SATA cables are designed to replace the older ATA cables used for connection of storage devices. Since SATA offers higher data transfer speeds, almost all modern desktop motherboards have integrated SATA host adapters. Unlike PATA, the same SATA connectors are used on both 3.5-inch SATA drives (used in desktop and server computers) and 2.5-inch drives (for portable computers). Each SATA cable has two 8-pin connectors (one on each end) and connects one motherboard socket to one hard drive.
Today it is the most popular standard for connecting various peripheral devices to a computer. Using USB you can connect almost everything to your computer. There are 3 versions of USB:
USB 1.0/1.1 – offers data transfer speeds up to 12Mbit / s and uses four wires (2 for data and 2 for power supply)
USB 2.0 – This is the most commonly used version of this type of interface. It provides higher data transfer rates (480 Mbit / s) and compatibility with older versions of USB.
USB 3.0 – provides max. data transfer rate up to 4.8 Gbit / s (600 MB / s theoretical speed) and backward compatibility with previous versions.
Each USB cable has two connectors (one on each end). In addition to standard USB connector, there are also smaller ones, such as Mini-USB and Micro-USB, which are used in mobile devices. There are different types of cables, that combine different types of USB connectors.
eSATA or External Serial Advanced Technology Attachment is an external interface for the new SATA technologies. The e-SATA port is very similar to the SATA ports inside the computer. It allows connection of external hard drives or optical drives, providing data transfer speeds, about three times faster than FireWire 400 and USB 2.0.
This is the successor of VGA designed to provide very high visual quality to digital display devices such as LCD computer displays. It allows you to transmit digital signals between the video source and display using a digital protocol in which the desired illumination of pixels is transmitted as binary data. There are 3 types of DVI connectors:
- DVI-A used to transmit analog signals (compatible with VGA) to an analog display, such as a CRT monitor or budget LCD.
- DVI-D can transmit only digital signals. It provides direct digital connection between any digital video source (such as PC videocard) and digital LCD monitor.
- DVI-I can work with both types of signals (DVI-A and DVI-D). DVI-I cables are capable to transmit either a digital-to-digital signal or an analog-to-analog signal.
Important : To decide which type of DVI cable to use you have to heck both of the female DVI plugs on your devices to determine what signals they are compatible with.Note that the long flat pin on a DVI-I connector is wider than the same pin on a DVI-D connector. That’s why it is not possible to connect a male DVI-I to a female DVI-D by but it’s possible to connect a male DVI-D cable to a female DVI-I connector. If both connections are DVI-I a DVI-I cable is recommended. There are also special DVI to VGA cables or a DVI/VGA adapters. In case if one connection is analog and the other connection is digital you will need a special VGA to DVI or DVI to VGA converter.
HDMI or High-Definition Multimedia Interface is used for transmission of high-definition video between digital video sources (like PC graphic card or Blue ray player) and digital LCD monitors. HDMI provides the transmission of DVI video signals and audio signals simultaneously. HDMI is backward-compatible with DVI digital video (but only with DVI-D or DVI-I not DVI-A) used on modern computer monitors and graphics cards. There are 4 types of HDMI connectors:
- Type A – This is the most popular type. The male connector outside dimensions are 13.9 mm x 4.45 mm and has 19 pins. It is also electrically compatible with single-link DVI-D.
- Type B – This connector dimensions are 21.2 mm x 4.45 mm (it has 29 pins). Type B is electrically compatible with dual-link DVI-D
- Type C – It is Mini connector intended for portable devices (10.42 mm x 2.42 mm) with 19 pins. Type C is used mostly for connecting digital cameras and camcorders.
- Type D – A Micro connector with 19 pins and dimensions (2.8 mm x 6.4 mm) resembling a micro-USB connector.
A FireWire is very similar but faster than USB ( offers speeds up to 400Mbps in 1394a and 800Mbps in 1394b). It allows you to send data to and from high-bandwidth digital devices such as printers, scanners and digital camcorders. A single 1394 port can be used to connect up 63 external devices at a maximum cable distance between devices of 4.5 meters.
9. RJ 45
RJ 45 cables are used to connect computers to local area networks. There are two basic types of RJ 45 cables – straight-trough and crossover. A straight-trough cable is required to connect a computer to hub/switch, while if you want to connect two computers directly you will need a crossover cable.