Cable Connection Guide
This document describes the most common connection types and what they do.
Standard uses for Ethernet are networking, such as Internet, and data transfer between computer or printers.
This is often the most important feature when purchasing or using a Ethernet cable. The category defines how fast the cable can transfer data.
- CAT 5 (Category 5) cables can transfer data at speeds of 10-100Mbps and has the capability of a frequency of 100MHz. CAT 5 has a max length of 100m.
- CAT5e (Category 5 enhanced) is the same as CAT 5 except that it has higher standards for data transmission, this means that data corruption will happen less frequently
- CAT 6 (Category 6) cables can transfer data at speeds of 10Gbps and can operate at a frequency of 250MHz. CAT 6 has a max length of 100m (with a maximum of 5m of stranded cable on each end of the cable). An unshielded CAT 6 cable should not exceed 55m in length.
- UTP vs SCTP
Unshielded Twisted Pair (or UTP) is the standard and most common type of cable. There is also Screened Twisted Pair (SCTP) that has shielding around the cable to provide extra protection.
- Solid vs Stranded
Solid cable is very rigid and designed to carry data over long distances, by contrast stranded cables are more flexible and are used in smaller areas where the cabling needs to wrap around corners.
- RJ-45 Male to Male
- USB 2.0/3.0/3.1 to Ethernet
- USB C to Ethernet
- Thunderbolt to Ethernet
- Connection ends are called RJ-45 jacks
- Various conversion devices exist to extend HDMI, VGA, Toslink, etc to Ethernet but this is less common and DoIT does not sell them
Universal Serial Bus (USB)
Provides a universal connection for data transfer between computers and external devices.
- USB A
USB A is the most common type of USB connection and is found on most computers.
- USB 1.0: Data transfer speeds of 1.5-12Mbps and a max length of 6ft.
- USB 2.0: Data transfer speeds of 280-480Mbps and a max length of 15ft. Also supports charging from 1.5A average to 5A max.
- USB 3.0: Data transfer speeds of 3.2-5Gbps and a max length of 10ft.
- USB 3.1: Data transfer speeds of up to 10Gpbs and a max length of 10ft. Also supports charging 10W at 2A and 5V, 60W at 5A and 12V, and 100W at 5A and 20V
- USB B
USB B is less commonly used then USB A and is most commonly used on printers and external hard drives.
- USB C
USB C is rising in popularity and is set to take over as the primary connection type, it can support 10Gbps, charging of 100W at 5A and 20V, and also can efficiently carry display information
- Micro and Mini USB
Micro and Mini USB connection types are most commonly used for smaller electronics, for example, Android phones that have not yet changed over to USB C use micro USB to charge
Male A to Male A
Male A to Male B (2.0)
Male A to Male C
Male A to Male B (3.0)
Male A to Female A
Male A to Mini USB
Male A to Lightning
Male A to Micro USB
- USB Hubs
- USB Repeaters
High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI)
Provides a universal connection to allow for both audio and video signals to pass between devices within a single cable.
The chart below describes the various differences between the different versions of HDMI:
- HDMI Male to Male
- HDMI Male to Male Micro
- HDMI Male to Male Mini
- DVI to HDMI
- Mini DisplayPort to HDMI
Video Graphics Array
Provides video transfer between devices, typically from a computer to an external monitor or projector
There are no variants of a VGA cable, all VGA cables are a 15-pin configuration and sometimes are referred to as a D-SUB connection.
- Max resolution: 800x600 @60Hz or 1024x768 @60Hz
- Max length without booster: 100ft
- VGA Male to Male
- VGA Male to Female
- VGA Female to Female with 3.5mm audio cable
- Displayport to VGA
- HDMI to VGA
- Mini HDMI to VGA
Digital Visual Interface (DVI)
Provides high definition video transfer between devices, typically from a computer to an external monitor or projector.
DVI can travel 33ft without an extender. DVI cables vary in signal transfer capabilities and pin set of their plug, which can be seen below.
- DVI-I (single link) provides digital and analog connection with resolution of 1920x1200 for digital connections and 640x480 for analog connections.
- DVI-D (single link) provides a digital connection only with a resolution of 1920x1200.
- DVI-I (dual link) provides a digital and analog connection with a max digital resolution of 2560x1600 and a max analog resolution of 640x480.
- DVI-D (dual link) provides a dual link digital connection only with a max resolution of 2560x1600
- DVI-A provides an analog connection only with a resolution of 640x480.
- DVI Male to Male (single and dual link)
- All DVI plugs with analog output can be converted to VGA
- All DVI plugs with a digital output can be converted to HDMI
- All DVI plugs with digital and analog output can be converted to HDMI or VGA
Provides a faster means of data transfer, than USB 2.0, between computers and external devices.
Firewire 400 vs 800:
Besides connectors the only difference in firewire is the transfer speeds, listed below:
- Firewire 400 - up to 400Mbps or 50MBps
- Firewire 800 - up to 800Mbps or 100MBps
- Firewire 400 6 pin to 4 pin
- Firewire 400 6 pin to 6 pin
- Firewire 800 9 pin to 6 pin
- Firewire 800 9 pin to 9 pin
- Thunderbolt to Firewire 800
- Firewire 800 9 pin to 6 pin
- Firewire 400 6 pin to 4 pin
Serial ATA (SATA)
SATA provides a universal connection for computer components such as CD/DVD drives, hard drives, solid state drives, and other internal controllers. eSATA provides a connection to external devices that have the proper connection terminals.
The major difference between SATA cable versions is their data transfer speed capability with the exception of mSATA and eSATA which provide change in the connector design to prevent improper use.
- SATA 1.0: 1.5 Gbps or 150 MBps
- SATA 2.0: 3Gbps or 300 MBps
- SATA 3.0: 6Gbps or 600MBps
- SATA 3.2: 16Gbps or 1600MBps
- mSATA: 3 or 6 Gbps dependent on the connected device. Designed for mounting onto a motherboard. Below is an SSD with a mSATA connection
- eSATA: 3 or 6 Gbps dependent on the connected device. Designed with a shielded cable for external computer use. Also has a different end to prevent the internal cables to be used in its place.
Composite Video (RCA)
Provides a single (mono) or dual (stereo) channel analog sound between devices. Also provides analog video connection between devices. Typically used for connection of DVD/VHS players or portable electronics to a TV or stereo system.
- Single Cable (Red, White, or Yellow):
Single channel audio (Mono) is carried through a Red or White RCA cable while a video signal is carried through a single yellow RCA cable
- Dual Cable (Red, White):
Dual red and white cables are typically called stereo cables and carry left and right channels audio between stereo components and devices
- Dual Cables (White, Yellow):
White/Yellow cables are typically for camcorders or digital cameras with connection to a television
- Tri Cable (Red, White, Yellow):
Used for stereo audio and video transfer between devices. Typically used for game systems, TVs, cable boxes, DVD players, and VCRs
- Dual RCA male to male
- Tri RCA male to male
- 1 or 2 RCA male to 3.5mm male
- 2 RCA male to one RCA female
- 2 RCA female to one RCA male
- RCA male to 3.5mm female
Toslink/SPDIF/Digital Coaxial Audio
Provides a single wire connection for high quality digital sound. Typically from computers, TVs, DVD players, and other electronics to a stereo receiver with digital audio decoding (i.e. surround sound)
Two kinds of cables exist, one is called toslink and is a fiber optic connection and the other is SPDIF or digital coaxial (Typically orange or black).
- Toslink male to male
- Toslink male to 3.5mm Toslink male
- SPDIF/Digital Coaxial Audio male to male
Some computer (such as apple's) come with a 3.5mm port that is also a 3.5mm mini toslink port. This allows for a digital audio output signal from your computer.
3.5 or 2.5mm/Headphone, Microphone Jack
Provides an audio connection between devices. Typically found as a sound output port on phones, computers, and just about every other electronic. Sometimes used for audio input, such as microphones.
The only variation in this type of cable is the plug. The plug is either 3.5mm or 2.5mm. 3.5mm is the standard and 2.5mm exists on some older phones.
- 3.5mm male to male (Aux cable)
- 3.5mm male to female (headphones extension)
- 3.5mm to RCA male
- 3.5mm male to 2x3.5mm female (headphone splitter)
- 2.5mm to 3.5mm adapter
- 2 RCA male to 3.5mm female
Some 3.5mm jacks, such as those found on apple computers, can double as a digital audio output as well (see the toslink section).
Provides a higher definition video signal then standard RCA connection, between video source and reeiver, such as TV and DVD player.
Colors are typically more vibrant with component compared to composite since the colors are all being sent through individual wires instead of through a single yellow one.
Two cables exist, one is a 3 wire design that has red green and blue connectors, and the second is a 5 wire design that adds white and black for audio
- Three wire
- Five Wire
Provides a high definition connection between devices. Typically used for computers (desktops) to monitors.
A DisplayPort cable can carry analog or digital signal. DisplayPort also has the capability to carry audio and USB port data although it's typically used for video only.
- DisplayPort to VGA
- DisplayPort to DVI
Dispay Port looks very similar to HDMI, the most obivous difference is the one flat edge on the displayPort(right) as compared to HDMI (left) that is rounded on both sides.
Provides a universal audio/video port on Apple devices and some PC laptops.
Note: Mini DisplayPort products will work on thunderbolt 1 and 2 ports (if the plug fits the port, it will work, see thunderbolt section)
Mini DisplayPort male to male is the only cable readily available although many adapters do exist (seen below).
- Mini DisplayPort male to male
- Mini DisplayPort male to VGA female
- Mini DisplayPort male to HDMI female
- Mini DisplayPort male to DVI female
Provides a universal audio/video port that can also handle data transfer
Note: Thunderbolt products will NOT work with Mini DisplayPorts or standard USB-C ports
Thunderbolt male to male is the only cable readily available, however some adapters do exist (seen below)
- Thunderbolt 1/2 male to male (uses a Mini DisplayPort sized port)
- Thunderbolt 3 male to male (uses a USB-C sized port)
- Thunderbolt to Gigabit Ethernet
30-Pin Dock Connector
Provides a audio/video port as well as chargin and docking port for Apple iPads, iPhones, and iPods
Found on the following devices:
- iPad 1st - 3rd generation
- iPhone original to 4S
- iPod Touch 1st - 4th generation
- iPod Nano 1st - 6th generation
- All models of iPod Video/Classic
Lightning Dock Connector
Provides a audio/video port as well as charging and docking port for the newer generation of Apple's devices.
Found on the following devices:
- iPhone 5 and later
- iPad 4/retina and later
- All models of iPad mini
- iPod touch 5th generation and later
- iPod nano 7th generation and later