Learning: Identifying Computer Ports

As a part of my materials creation initiative for my Systems Administration course, today I put together a guide to computer ports. Below are each of the sections and you can download a useful pdf or svg source here.

Copyright 2009, Martin Owens, Creative Commons BY-SA

Let me know if you see any omissions or mistakes, this is currently revision 06 of the document, thanks for the comments from the community, you guys are the best verifiers a draughtsman could have.

50 thoughts on “Learning: Identifying Computer Ports

  1. I was installing a graphics card a friend gave me and discovered the standard internal power connectors had changed. I think the old style four pin was called Molex ( ? ) and the new one is called SATA to match the drives it powers?

    Had to buy converter cables. Fry’s in Seattle area did *not* have these, only ones going from Molex to SATA.

    I’ve seen Ethernet jacks without lights.

    Phone jacks quite often have four pins/connections.

  2. The first part talks about internal connectors, not the subject of this set of images. But the Ethernet I know about and the jacks I’m not sure, can you provide an image? maybe on wiki-commons?

  3. In the audio jack section, I don’t know if I am correct, but don’t you mean Ster(e)o lineout and linein?

  4. I don’t even have anything that has an HDMI port, but somehow I am aware of mini-HDMI, lol. Click my name for a story about it.

  5. the only thing that immediately comes to mind is an AT port for old school keyboards, but maybe that’s TOO out of date for your list

  6. Nice work. Perhaps the DVI debacle could be a highlighted a bit? DVI-I versus DVI-D etc. Not all of the connectors play nicely as the single banner of DVI might suggest.

  7. Two comments on the RJ45 and RJ14:
    1) They should be the same height, but the RJ45 is wider.
    2) The springy pins inside the port sometimes alternate in height.

  8. The port you label “RJ-14” is more correctly “RJ-11.”

    RJ-14 is an RJ-11 connector, but with more pinouts and hence used for two lines, rare in most households.

    More here.

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  10. The Microsoft Desktop specification for all those colours says ‘pink’, your colour is probably wrong.

  11. Yes I read that same wiki page and changed my initial value of RJ11 to RJ14 since I figured ‘two lines’ meant ‘two visible connectors’, perhaps the wiki page needs clearing up to avoid confusion.

  12. Keep scrolling down the wiki page, see the 7 pin version of the same connector? the one with luminosity signal and such? right, we need both I guess.

  13. Figure 4/Right is TOSLINK, not S/PDIF which would be an Orange coloured female RCA jack. Technically it’s now a TOSLINK type S/PDIF connector, but for simplicity, it’s better to call it TOSLINK. I’ve never seen a S/PDIF BNC, but wikipedia suggests they exist.

  14. I noticed that, I couldn’t really find good links to images showing S/PDIF and assumed that it and TOSLINK was the same thing.

  15. Hi,

    ‘Midi’ should read ‘MIDI’.

    It would also be fine to call the TOSLINK port ‘S/PDIF Optical’, as the electrical version (usually with an RCA connector) is often referred to as ‘S/PDIF Co-axial’ And then there’s ‘AES/EBU’ which is similar signal-wise to S/PDIF co-ax but is carried down a balanced line with XLR connectors terminating it. Anyway I digress…

    Sorry for a third post but I also should comment that in the industry, the TOSLINK connector is used for other signals including ADAT (8 channels of audio), so it would be appropriate to state that it is S/PDIF in this case.

  16. http://kilkhor.cc.iwate-u.ac.jp/library/SGI_bookshelves/SGI_EndUser/books/O2_OG/html/Images/audio.gif

    might be what you are looking for, though I have no idea re: licensing

  17. hi, think it would help if you mention the scaling factors as well, since the ethernetport looks way bigger than the rest here
    btw nice work!


  18. I have to say this is a fantastic chart. Very useful for explaining to newbies.

    One omission I have noticed is the “ExpressCard” interfaces. Also, perhaps if you are going to put PC Card and ExpressCard in, you might want to look at defining storage cards, like SD, Compact Flash. Many modern machines have these “ports” for their computers.

    I agree with Troy James Sobotka. As you are clearing things up about ports it’d be great to highlight the differences between DVI-D and I. Wikipedia has a great little image to help you along there:


  19. Yes, it is exactly a RJ45 connector. Also mentioned in http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rj45 : ISDN is another application using the same standard plug. A frequent cause of confusion when reconnecting a PC with both an ISDN card and an ethernet card. When you Google for pictures on ‘ISDN card’ you will see several commercial fotographs of cards.

  20. There’s sometimes a digital optical output _inside_ the headphone jack (you can see a glowing red LED inside), for example on the iMac. The connector required is called a “Mini-TOSlink”, I described it on this page:

    The Apple manual says that the headphone jack can be used as an optical digital audio output port. Apparently, Sony has been putting this kind of non-standard headphone plug (which has a lens in it) into their minidisc recorders. The headphone jack is described as being an S/PDIF stereo 3.5 mini-phono jack, but this description can be somewhat confusing if you’re used to hooking up the S/PDIF inputs to your receiver using just plain mono electrical audio cables ending in a mono RCA plug. Since a single connector is provided to support both the headphone output and the optical digital output connectivity, support of the headphone output and the optical digital output is mutually exclusive. The name of the connector is “Mini-TOSlink”, usually you can find optical cables which have a Mini-TOSlink plug on one end and a TOSlink plug on the other end, or you can use a plain TOSlink cable in combination with a TOSlink to Mini-TOSlink converter
    (the L71BA one, TOS (F) – 3.5mm (M)), or similar. Audio output port selection is automatic. When no device is connected to the output jack, the internal speakers are selected. When an optical cable is connected to the output jack, the optical digital output is selected. When an analog device is connected to the output jack, the headphone output is selected. It is supposedly not possible to simultaneously select or use more than one of these outputs.

  21. Thanks, this sort of thing should really be included with every computer purchase. Very useful.

  22. S/PDIF looks like the headphone jack. My laptop actually shows a headphone icon AND the text S/PDIF next to the same jack.

  23. Very nice. I’m sure lots of viewers can use the visuals for tweeking.

  24. Please add a disclaimer that newer laptop computers driven by Sigmatel/IDT and Realtek HDA codecs have multipurposed jacks, and their functionality are determined at runtime. One may (and I have) repurpose(d) inouts based on verb commands.

  25. This is a great chart- nice and clean and clear, but it is also useful to have actual color pictures to go along with these diagrams. This: http://sonic840.deviantart.com/art/Computer-hardware-poster-1-7-111402099 is a creative-commons licensed poster that provides such images. Unfortunately it’s licensed as no-derivate, but maybe you can ask the creator for permission to slice and dice it so you can combine the two projects.

  26. I’ve left a message for the creator of the other chart, he’s put a lot of work into his as I have in mine 🙂

    I don’t know why anyone would choose ND for a work that is clearly going to need to be updated in the future…

  27. Nice. But why are the png images so large? Download is painfully slow.

    If I take the first image for example (common-ports.png), its size is 414,958 bytes. Running “optipng -o7” reduces its size to just 62,853 bytes (lossless). I wonder which program created those PNG with such an inefficient encoding. Maybe a bug could be filed.

  28. Inkscape, it’s ok I never knew about `optipng -o7` now I do I can make good use of it, thank you.

  29. lol! u had al the time to educate these guys by replying… love ur blog man! but hei! what about SCSI?

  30. I have external SCSI already drawn up, just need to formulate how to add them in and get all the modifications suggested in too.

  31. Wow I think you can add and immage of Video Car port for PCI , AGP ,and PCI Express. especially if you want to upgrade you video card :0) I have the pic let me now if you wan me to send it.

  32. wished i had something like this for reference back when i mod computers. good job!

  33. http://www.ddcom24.de/shop/produktbilder/gfx_es/2/2306_1.jpg

    the RCA jack above the S-Video connector actually is S/PDIF 😉

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