Learn everything you need to know about the different connector types, as well as the computer ports they connect to in this post. Read on to find out more.
In this article:
- Parallel Port
- High Definition Media Interface (HDMI
- USB Ports (Type A and Type C)
- Audio Jack or 3.5 Millimeter TRS Connector
- DisplayPort or Mini DisplayPort
- Video Graphics Array (VGA)
- Thunderbolt 3 Port
- Ethernet Port
- Digital Video Interface (DVI)
Computer Ports and Connector Types Explained
1. Parallel Port
Parallel ports are a type of computer port that people associate most commonly with Centronics products. Originally, the parallel port was only able to transmit data, because it was intended for Centronics printers at first.
The old parallel port used to have Centronics 36-pin Amphenol as a connector type. However, today it is now often found just on printers.
The most common parallel port you’ll find these days are the D-Type 25 pin connectors. The “D” in its name describes the shape of the metal shield around the pins.
People often use parallel ports when they want to connect to printers, scanners, and some external hard drives.
Connector Types: Centronics 36-pin Amphenol, DB-25, DB-25F
2. High Definition Media Interface (HDMI)
The primary purpose of High Definition Media Interface (HDMI) ports is to transmit audio or video signals in a single interface. They’re often used to play audio or video to or from TVs, gaming consoles, and computer monitors.
There are five types of HDMI connectors as of the moment, with the most standard HDMI cable type being the Type A HDMI cable.
Connector Types: HDMI Cables (Type A to Type E)
3. USB Ports (Type A and Type C)
Universal Serial Bus, or USB for short, have many USB connector types. However, the most common ones are USB Type-A and more recently Type-C.
USB Type-A is the standard USB port in computers. Its port and connector both have a rectangular shape, which is why people often mistake the right position when plugging in a USB cable.
Since Type-A is the standard, it can create connections to a wide range of devices. It can connect to keyboards, mice, printers, external hard drives, among others.
This USB type can change speeds depending on the hardware. Devices running on USB 2.0 have slower transfer speeds than those at USB 3.0.
USB Type-C is thinner than USB Type-A. Aside from that, it addresses the common issue of not knowing which side is the right side because it’s reversible.
Often, you may see a lightning bolt symbol beside a USB-Type C port. The icon can indicate that the same port supports Thunderbolt 3 and can be used as its port as well.
4. Audio Jack or 3.5 Millimeter TRS Connector
One of the most common PC connector types is the 3.5 mm Tip-Ring-Sleeve Connector (TRS). The 3.5 mm TRS Connector is the main connector for audio devices on your computer.
It’s the smallest audio jack out there, and a standard port for computers and laptops. It can be used with various audio-listening devices, such as earphones or headsets.
RELATED: What is USB 3.0?
5. DisplayPort or Mini DisplayPort
Aside from HDMI, DisplayPort is another video connector type for computers. Although there are a lot of similarities between HDMI and DisplayPort, there are a couple of essential differences as well.
One is that HDMI can receive audio from its display instead of the source. Another difference is that DisplayPort is capable of projecting to more than one screen.
There are two types of connectors for the DisplayPort — DisplayPort Connector and Mini DisplayPort Connector.
Mac users should be aware of the Mini DisplayPort since it’s commonly used with Mac laptops, especially as an alternative to the Mini VGA.
Connector Types: Full-Size DisplayPort Connector and Mini DisplayPort Connector
6. Video Graphics Array (VGA)
Video Graphics Array (VGA) is one of the oldest computer ports on this list. You’ll find this is most common for old projectors and computers.
This port and its corresponding connector type are slowly phasing out. Nowadays, HDMI or DisplayPort serve as the alternative to VGAs.
Again, it also serves the purpose of transmitting video data to another projection. Although it’s slowly phasing out, plenty of computers and devices still have VGA to this day.
Connector Type: DE-15
7. Thunderbolt 3 Port
If a port on the side of your computer has a lightning bolt symbol on its side, then it’s most likely a Thunderbolt 3 Port. Mac users know this computer port very well.
Before Thunderbolt 3, there were Thunderbolt 1 and 2. These two Thunderbolt ports have connector types similar to the of DisplayPort.
On the other hand, Thunderbolt 3 has a similar shape and port with USB Type-C. However, unlike its previous versions, it doesn’t require as much power and has a faster speed.
Connector Type: Similar to USB Type-C
8. Ethernet Port
Ethernet ports are used to attach ethernet cables so a device can connect to local area networks. They’re the most common local area network connection type. Ethernet cables should have an RJ-45 connector head to be able to attach to the port.
Computers aren’t the only devices capable of having an ethernet port. Some devices like gaming consoles, television, and more may also have an ethernet port on them.
The ethernet ports of computers ensure you aren’t broadcasting your activities to other devices.
Connector Type: RJ-45
9. Digital Video Interface (DVI)
As a replacement of VGA as a video interface, the Digital Video Interface (DVI) was born. This port is used to transfer data from a computer to a display device, such as a monitor or projector.
There are three connector types for DVI — DVI-I, DVI-D, DVI-A. They vary depending on the signals they can transfer. There are also two other kinds of DVI — the mini-DVI and the micro-DVI.
Apple made the Mini-DVI as something similar to a Mini-VGA port.
Micro-DVI is smaller than the Mini-DVI. However, it can only transmit digital signals.
Connector Types: DVI-I, DVI-D, DVI-A
The items listed in this article are the most common PC ports and connector types out there. While the more technical aspects of it may seem daunting, we hope we’ve broken down the information enough to help you learn more about these and how they can be used with various devices.
Did we cover all of the most common PC ports and their connector types that you know? Comment below to let us know what you think!