The world of computers is not the easiest to understand as a layman, especially for someone entirely new to fully engaging with one. Building one’s PC has become a more popular choice for many of the Millennial generation, as an opportunity to beat market prices for pre-built machines and learn something in the process. But one of the more confusing parts of working with computers can be understanding the functions of the various cables and connectors they use. Below is a handy cribsheet for the different types and protocols of the connector.
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HDMI stands for High-Definition Multimedia Interface; it is the current standard for the delivery of audiovisual information from the device to device. It is found on the back of contemporary appliances from PCs and game consoles to media players, TVs, and monitors. Its ability to transmit uncompressed video information makes it suitable for relaying high-definition content.
DVI is the predecessor to HDMI, short for Digital Visual Interface. It can relay high-definition visual information, but not audio information. It is unique in that it can deliver both digital and analog information, suiting it well for marrying two devices with different connectors.
VGA cables, belonging to an expansive family known as D-Sub cables, are an older form of data relay cable used to transmit visual information from device to device. VGA cables are not capable of transmitting particularly high-definition information – but were popular in the days of cathode ray and early LCD screens.
An ethernet cable is a cable designed for use in network arrays, connecting devices for the transmission of large volumes of information. They are typically used for wired internet connections in the home, connecting directly to the router.
PS/2 is another older form of cable, regarded as archaic by today’s standards. PS/2 cables have radial six-pin DIN connectors, which were used chiefly to allow computer peripherals to communicate with a given computer. These were common finds as terminating connectors on mice and keyboards in the late 20th century.
Telephone jack cables, sometimes known as TS, TT, or colloquially as jack cables, are primarily used for the delivery of audio signals in either stereo or mono. These are most often encountered in the form of the 3.5mm jack, which is used to terminate the vast majority of commercial wired headphones and earbuds.
There are also 6.35mmTS/TRS variants, used in professional audio circles. TS stands for Tip Sleeve, with the tip carrying an unbalanced mono signal. TRS stands for Tip Ring Sleeve; it is used to carry balanced or stereo-unbalanced signals.
USB cables are those with which the vast majority will be the most familiar. The humble USB connector has been the chief method of connection, charge, and data delivery for some time, and continues to be.
There are numerous different USB protocols and connector types on the market, from the ubiquitous USB2.0 connector to micro-USBs (a common fixture as a charging and data sharing port on Android cellphones) and the new USB-C topology that improves charge and data flow speed.
SATA describes a bus interface found in PC architecture, used to connect data storage drives to the motherboard. SATA is short for Serial AT Attachment.