How to Select Computer Cables
Image credit: Westek Electronics, Inc.; Point Grey Research; Digi-Key Corporation
Computer cables are used to connect monitors, keyboards, printers, hard drives, and other peripherals to computers.
Types of Computer Cables
The GlobalSpec SpecSearch database contains information about many different types of computer cables. Examples include:
- Parallel ATA (PATA) cables are used to connect storage devices such as hard drives and CD-ROM drives to a computer's motherboard. These ribbon cables have two or three connectors, only one of which plugs into the motherboard. The remaining 40-pin or 44-pin connectors plug into the drives.
- Serial ATA (SATA) cables are also designed to connect storage devices to motherboards. They provide higher data transfer speeds and have two 8-pin connectors, one on each end.
- Extended SATA (eSATA) cables are used to connect external hard drives or optical drives. They provide transfer speeds that are approximately three times faster than FireWire 400 and USB 2.0.
- USB cables use the universal serial bus (USB) protocol to connect standard PC peripherals such as mice and keyboards, as well as mass storage devices and digital cameras. USB versions include USB 1.1, USB 2.0, and USB 3.0.
- FireWire cables are used to connect PCs to digital camcorders, set-top boxes and other digital devices that use FireWire, an interface standard developed by Apple and adopted by the IEEE. FireWire supports hot swapping and allows the transmission of data, video and audio over a single cable at very high bit rates.
- VGA cables are used to connect personal computers (PCs) to computer monitors. They have connectors that consist of 15 contacts arranged in three rows. Each row corresponds to a separate channel: red (R), green (G), and blue (B).
- DVI cables are used to provide high-quality outputs to display devices such as LCD monitors, plasma TVs, and projectors. DVI is faster than VGA.
GlobalSpec also allows industrial buyers to search for battery, monitor, and keyboard cables; patch cables and cords; plotter and printer cables; and keyboard, video, mouse (KVM) cables.
This video explains the basic types of computer cables and their typical use.
Video credit: imagineage.com
Specifying the application for a computer cable can help buyers select appropriate products.
Audio / visual (A/V) cables may be used for connecting speakers or monitors.
Camera / imaging cables connect video cameras and other imaging equipment.
Extender cables are used to increase the length of another cable.
Networking cables connect hubs, routers and switches. LAN / Ethernet cables represent a specific type of networking cable.
Related Products & Services
Cable assemblies are collections of wires or cables banded into a single unit with connectors on at least one end.
Coaxial Cables and Triaxial Cables
Coaxial cables have an inner conductor insulated by a dielectric material and then surrounded by an outer conductor that is shielded with braid or foil. Triaxial cables add an extra layer of insulation and a second conductive sheath. They are commonly known as coax and triax, and are chosen because of their protection against external electromagnetic interference.
Flat cables are used in computers for internal connections to peripherals. They consist of highly stranded, individually-insulated conductors that are laid parallel and then fused in a flat, flexible ribbon form. Flat cables are also referred to as ribbon cables.
Multiconductor cables contain two or more conductors. Each conductor consists of a single wire or a combination of wires.
Serial cables are used for the serial transmission of data. They support communication standards such as RS232, RS422, and RS485, as well as Fibre Channel, IEEE 1394 or FireWire® (Apple Computer, Inc.), and universal serial bus (USB).
Video cables are used for the transmission of video signals, including monochrome, composite and component color video signals.
- ATA / SATA Cable
- Bulk Cable
- CE Marking
- CSA Mark
- Cable Assembly
- Camera / Imaging
- DVI Cable
- Extender Cable
- IDE/EIDE Cable
- IEEE 1394 (FireWire®)
- KVM Cable
- Keyboard Cable
- LAN / Ethernet
- Monitor Cable
- Product Type:Other
- Other / Specialty
- PCIe Cable
- Patch Cable / Cord