In this short article I will explain the basic computer ports you can find in the rear side of your computer so to connect peripheral devices. If you are new to computers and don’t feel comfortable with your computer’s hardware, I will tell you that: It is so easy to build a custom computer or to connect anything to it that even a 10 years old child could do it (with the appropriate teaching of course).
Ok let’s list some of the most important basic computer ports that you can find on your computer.
PS2 Serial Ports
This is the old-fashioned way of connecting a keyboard and a mouse to your system. You can still find some very cheap mouse and keyboards that use these ports. In my opinion, if you can use these ports then do it; PS2 serial ports do not need any driver to work and also you preserve your USB ports for other devices.
USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 Ports
These are very common ports and the majority of the computer peripherals use these ports to connect with the computer. These are mainly located on the I/O plate which is on the back of the computer. However modern PC cases offer a limited number of USB ports on the front or the side of the computer case for easy access. Some common devices that make use of these ports are:
• Keyboards & Mice
• External Hard Disks, Optical Drives and Flash Drives
• Portable media devices (MP3 players, Digital cameras etc.)
• Gadgets, Gaming Devices etc.
The “e” stands for external and so the eSata ports are going to be used by external storage devices, which support the Sata protocol, like the internal HDD do. It is an alternative and faster way to connect external HDD with the motherboard. However the HDD models that support this protocol are a lot more expensive than simple USB 2.0 Drives. It is expected though that the prices will fall when USB 3.0 and SATA 3.0 will fully replace the 2.0 versions of these protocols.
Ethernet LAN Ports
These ports are used for connecting a modem/router or switch to the computer for getting access to a network. This is also the port that the computer uses to access the internet (Through a Router of course). Nearly every motherboard has at least one Ethernet port. Let’s see how Ethernet LAN port can be used:
• Connect it to a router
• Connect it to a switch
• Connect it directly to another PC
Be careful to connect with the appropriate UTP cable (straight-through or cross-over) for each configuration. For connecting with a router which is the most common scenario, you need a cross-over Ethernet cable.
Analog Audio Jacks, SPDIF Coax & Optical
These are the audio output interfaces of your computer. Every motherboard nowadays support multi channel audio. Analog Audio jacks are the classic colored jacks that you can find in the rear side of the computer. There you can connect speaker systems, microphone and headphones. Most PC systems have also headphone or mic audio jacks in the front of the PC case for accessibility reasons.
If your motherboard supports digital audio output then you can use the SPDIF interfaces, which can be optical or coaxial, to connect your speakers. Of course your speakers may have also SPDIF input interfaces so to make use of these ports.
These are some of the very basic computer ports that you can find on the back of a modern computer. However if you still have inquiries about them don’t forget to check out a detailed article about the rear basic computer ports which provides also some nice close-up photos.