On the front and back of a PC and on both sides of a laptop there are many connections available. Think for example of hdmi, dvi, vga, display port, usb, Ethernet, eSata, and s/pdif. Is it already dizzying? We will explain to you in detail which PC connections fulfil this function and how to connect it correctly.
Tip 01: Hdmi
Each desktop has a (integrated) video card that converts the graphical calculations into an image signal. This video card then sends the images to a monitor via a cable. The most common exit for this is nowadays hdmi, recognizable by two cut corners on the side. An advantage of this digital output is that it can transmit videos in high resolution. On a suitable monitor, for example, you can enjoy full HD quality (1920 x 1080 pixels) or even higher resolution, provided the video card supports it. Connecting is quick and easy, because no matter which side of the cable you prick into the monitor or computer. In addition to image, a Hdmi cable can also transport an audio signal, especially useful for monitors with built-in speakers.
Tip 01 From left to right you see the gates vga, hdmi and dvi.
There are different versions of hdmi. The higher the standard, the more functions the digital connection contains. For example, the first version only supported video transmission in full HD, while hdmi 1.4 can also transmit an ultra-hd signal (3840 x 2160 pixels). Nowadays hdmi 2.1 is the latest hdmi version. This even makes it possible to transmit videos in a maximum resolution of 7680 x 4320 pixels to a suitable monitor. However, this development is particularly interesting for future televisions with a (enormally) large diagonal screen. Size-less computer users are in most cases perfectly able to operate with a lower Hdmi standard.
Hdmi 2.1 has a very high bandwidth and can therefore forward towering resolutions.
Tip 02: Display-port
There are other digital connections that can transmit images in high resolution. In particular, the display report is increasingly reflected on video cards for PCs and monitors. This connection is visually similar to a Hdmi connector, with the difference that only one cut-off corner is visible on the side. Furthermore, display port also supports high resolutions, in which the version used plays a decisive role. Many devices support display port 1.2, making ultra-hd-quality possible at a high refresh rate. In addition to a video signal, you may also use a display port cable to transmit sound. If the monitor has built-in speakers, there is no need to connect an extra cable. Display port is also suitable for connecting multiple monitors via a single connection. This function is called’ daisy chaining’. Remember, however, that by no means all monitors support this function.
Tip 02 The ports for display port and hdmi look very similar in appearance.
Tip 03: Dvi-d
For the transit of a video signal from a computer to a monitor, the previously discussed connections hdmi and display port are preferred. Not everyone uses new hardware, so we also highlight’ dated’ connections in this article. There are different types of the dvi standard, especially dvi-d (duallink) still exists very regularly. If you buy a new computer and/or monitor, chances are that there is a dvi-d connector present. You usually recognize this digital connection by the white coloured connector with space for 24 pins plus a horizontal pin. Make sure to use a dvi-d cable (duallink) with the correct pins. Connecting is simple, because you pin the cable into the connector. If necessary, use both side screwed connections to securely fasten the cable. Unlike hdmi and display port, dvi-d does not support the transport of an audio signal. Furthermore, in most cases the maximum resolution is 2560 x 1600 pixels.
Tip 03 A dvi-d cable (duallink) has a total of 25 pins, one of which is a horizontal pin.
Tip 04: Vga
The last video connection that still occurs regularly in 2017 is vga (also called d-sub). Use this analog connection only if there is no other way. The video quality is significantly lower compared to hdmi, display report and also dvi-d. Especially on large screens, the difference with the previously discussed digital video connections is clearly visible. This video connection is unsuitable for high resolutions. Moreover, vga cannot handle audio transmission. Anyone who is forced to make a vga connection between the computer and monitor must use the blue coloured connector with room for fifteen pins. As soon as the cable is correctly attached, tighten the assembly by tightening both screw connections. The fixing method of vga is similar to that of dvi-d.
Tip 04 Many recent video cards still have the blue vga port.
Often, the video connections available on the computer and monitor do not match. For example, only a Hdmi connection is free on the back of the PC, while the monitor only supports dvi-d. Especially when you connect two screens to the video card, you quickly run into this problem. Fortunately, there are all kinds of adapter plugs with which you can solve this shortcoming. For example, there are adapters from hdmi to DVDd and from display port to hdmi. There are also all kinds of adapter cables available. For example, you can connect a display port connection directly to a monitor with hdmi, dvi-d or even vga.
If necessary, use a convenient adapter plug to connect different video connections.
Tip 05: Laptop monitor
Even the smallest laptops usually have an extra video output on the side. Usually this is (micro-)hdmi, but this can also be (mini-) display, vga or usb-c (see tip 7 above). You use these connections to connect an additional monitor to your laptop. In fact, you’re actually expanding the desktop to give you more space. This works a lot better because you don’t have to minimize dialog boxes to the task bar anymore. After connecting an external monitor, the operating system of your laptop usually automatically recognises the screen. If necessary, go to Start / Settings / System / Display and in Multiple Displays, select the Expand these screens option. This gives you a huge desktop. You can also choose to duplicate the screens. This is useful, for example, when a projector is connected to the laptop instead of a monitor. The beamer displays exactly the same images as your laptop screen. Useful when you give a presentation or want to show a slideshow!
Tip 05 In the settings, specify whether you want to expand or duplicate the displays.
Tip 06: Usb ports
Every computer user is familiar with the use of USB ports. On the computer you use this flat connector to connect all kinds of peripheral devices to the system, such as a keyboard, mouse, printer, USB stick, external drive, digital camera, smartphone and tablet. It is beneficial that a USB connection transports data in two directions. For example, you can copy data from an external hard drive to the PC and vice versa. A suitable USB port also provides power for mobile devices. In this way, you don’t have to connect an external 2.5inch disk to the mains. Furthermore, you can easily charge your smartphones and tablets via usb. It is important that you pin the USB connector correctly into the USB port. Pay close attention to the top and bottom edges and do not exert pressure at any resistance. In addition to the regular USB-a connector, there are also cables with mini-usb and micro-usb as well as smaller connectors.
In addition to various USB connections, there are also various USB standards. The higher the version number, the faster the data transfer is possible. An’ old-fashioned’ usb1.1 port supports a maximum speed of 12 Mbit/s, while usb 2.0 is theoretically good for 480 Mbit/s. The latest standard is usb 3.1. It is confusing that there are two variants of this, usb 3.1 gene1 and usb 3.1 gene2. Although the difference in naming is limited, this does not apply to the data rate. Usb 3.1 gene1 is suitable for a theoretical data transfer of 5 Gbit/s, while usb 3.1 gen2 doubles the data rate to 10 Gbit/s.
A usb3.0 port (or higher) can be recognized on most systems by a blue coloured connector.
Tip 07: USB-C
For a number of years now, there has also been a new variant of the traditional USB connection, namely USB-c. Compared to regular USB ports, this modern connection is much more versatile. In addition to data and power transmission via the common USB standards (see box’ USB standards’), USB-c also supports a wide range of other protocols. For example, you can use usb-c for video connections via hdmi, dvi, vga, vga, display port and thunderbolt. The latter standard can be found on MacBooks. In addition to output a razor-sharp video signal, it also allows MacBook users to charge mobile devices and transfer data.
It is a good thing that more and more devices are equipped with USB-c, such as smartphones, tablets, laptops, monitors, power banks and external drives. Since it is possible to transport power, data and video simultaneously via a single cable, fewer cables are expected to be required in the future. Unfortunately, this is not yet the case, because not all potential functions are automatically present on devices with USB-c connections. For example, some products may not be able to be charged by a computer using usb-c, while data can be transferred. Fortunately, the compatibility is getting better and better. Unlike a traditional USB port, there is no usb-c at the top and bottom. Wrong connection is therefore impossible thanks to the reversible plug! Do you use a recent computer with usb-c, but is your other peripherals not yet suitable? In that case, a USB C to Usb C plug offers a solution.
Tip 07 Despite the small connector of the USB-c cable, this connection supports several protocols.
Tip 08: Ethernet port
All desktops and by far most laptops have an Ethernet port. Insert a network cable so that the device connects to the Internet. Push the so-called rj45 connector of the cable into the port until it clicks into place. The status lights show you if there is currently data traffic. If you want to loosen the cable again, gently push the plastic clip down and then pull the connector out of the connector. Each Ethernet port supports maximum speed. Older devices usually have a network adapter with a data rate of up to 100 Mbit/s. If your PC or desktop is slightly newer, the Ethernet port is likely to support a speed of 1 Gbit/s. Finally, there are also network cards that can withstand a speed of 10 Gbit/s. A speed of 1 Gbit/s is very common in 2017, but it is necessary for the router, switches and network cables to be able to cope with this throughput.
Tip 08 The Ethernet connection has a square shape with a notch at the top or bottom for the rj45 clip.
Wireless or fixed?
Do you have the choice between a wireless or fixed Internet connection? As far as stability is concerned, a wired connection is always preferred. The radio waves of a Wi-Fi connection are sensitive to interference, for example from neigh bouring networks or devices emitting the same frequency. Furthermore, the bandwidth of a wireless network signal is limited. Especially if you stream movies in high resolution or play heavy network games, this can cause problems.
The vast majority of routers have multiple Ethernet ports and also transmit a Wi-Fi signal.
Tip 09: Keyboard and mouse
If you are using an older mouse and keyboard, you can connect these controls to the so-called ps/2 jacks on the back of the PC. These are two round inputs, where the green connector is intended for the mouse and the purple connector for the keyboard. Lots of connection. Make sure that the pins match the holes. Instead of two separate connections, there is only a combined ps/2 connection available on many PCs. In that case, you will need a special adapter cable so that you can just as well connect both control devices. Keyboards and mice with a ps/2 connection are hardly available anymore, although they still exist in some (web) shops. Usually the connection is now done via usb. Furthermore, many control devices operate wirelessly via a dedicated USB adapter or Bluetooth.
Tip 10: Sound output
Many monitors have integrated speakers, but the audio quality is not ideal because of the small sound box. For better sound, connect external speakers to the PC. For this you can call on the (usually) green-colour 3.5mm sound output. It is important that you use specific PC speakers. These are usually active loudspeakers with an integrated amplifier, where a suitable connection cable with 3.5mm plug is included. Surround sets often require multiple 3.5mm sound inputs, for example for the center speaker and rear surround speakers. Some computer speakers can be connected to the PC via an optical s/pdif connection (also called toslink) as an alternative, although they are quite rare. S/pdif is usually used as an alternative to connect the computer to an amplifier or receiver as a source. This way, you can play mp3 files directly on a stereo system, for example. An optical s/pdif output is square on one side after the other and usually contains a black dust flap. An alternative way to transfer the sound to an amplifier or receiver is via a coaxial s/pdif output. It is round and usually orange in colour.
Tip 10 Most PC speakers are connected to the PC using the green 3.5mm audio output.
Tip 11: eSata
Some laptops and computers have an eSata connection. The function of this is simple, namely to connect an internal drive externally. Useful when you still have a hard disk that you want to read out. This way, it is not necessary to install the hard drive. You also benefit from faster throughput than an external USB drive usually achievable. However, an eSata data cable is required for this connection. Manufacturers usually combine an eSata connection with a regular USB port.
Tip 11 Often an eSata connection is also compatible with a USB connector.