Families often expect fathers to be technical geniuses. However, even guys undaunted by the words “some assembly required” may find the array of connection ports on new laptops a bit confusing. Cables and devices continue to evolve, and the array of connection points along the edges of new laptops keeps changing and expanding. If it has been a while since a new device came into the family, this guide to the different kinds of cable ports on a laptop should help you identify what goes where.
These ports connect to USB cables for charging or data transfer. There was once a single type of USB cable connector, but now they come in several different versions for different devices. Since 1998, USB standards have advanced to support greater speeds and bandwidths. Old laptops might have type 1 or type 2 USB connectors, with a white connector in the port indicating the older, type 1 connector. A black connector is the next generation (type 2), and the newest laptops have a blue type 3 connector, which is capable of 5Gbps. Just to make things more complicated, the newest USB standard (type 3.1) doubles that speed to 10Gbps. And if you see a red or yellow USB connector in a port, that one is charging external devices.
The newest USB ports are USB-Cs, which look different from the older, standard USB port and the Thunderbolt. The Thunderbolt has the same design as the USB-C, but it supports up to 40Gbps. A lightning bolt icon identifies this super-fast connection port. Both of these types of ports are skinner and have more pins to support high speeds.
Here’s where things get really fun. More mobile and smaller devices are now capable of displaying high-definition video and streaming HD audio. As a result, HDMI ports have evolved, and there may be several different types of HDMI ports on a laptop, including ports for connecting a laptop to a television or an additional monitor, game console, phone, or camera. Fortunately, these ports are fairly easy to identify by size alone.
Display port connections are for another type of cable that can send HD video and audio signals to additional monitors for gaming or multiple monitor setups. This type comes in mini and standard sizes for different devices.
Ethernet and SD Card Ports
Despite advances in wireless connection speeds, most laptops still have Ethernet ports for wired Internet connections and SD card readers for transferring data. Wired connections are faster for data transfer and better if Wi-Fi is spotty.
The ability to recognize the different types of cable and connector ports on a newer laptop will keep fix-it fathers on top of their tech games when the family expects a quick connection for a new device.