Explore the sockets on your desktop PC

Peripherals and devices that plug into ports on your PC can help you get more out of it. Here are some of the more important sockets and what they do.

Desktop PC sockets - scanned_2

  1. USB – Everything from printers to digital cameras needs a USB socket to plug into these days, so it’s useful to have lots of these ports. Older PCs may use the original version – most now have the faster 2.0. If you need more, or faster ports, an upgrade is usually simple and cheap.
  2. FIREWIRE – Less common than USB, Firewire is often used for video editing, since many digital camcorders feature FireWire output.
  3. VIDEO OUT – This provides connections for your monitor – This one provides connectors for both VGA (blue) and DVI (white) allowing you to connect almost any monitor, only HDMI-only monitors will be “out of bounds”. PCs with a S-Video output (a round black port) can also connect to a TV screen with S-Video
  4. AUDIO IN/OUT – All computers have basic audio out (green) for speakers and audio in (pink) for recording, usually from a microphone.
  5. PARALLEL AND SERIAL – Much older peripherals used parallel (pink) or serial (blue) to connect to a PC. USB IS NOW WIDELY USED.
  6. PS/2 SOCKETS – The purple socket is specifically for a PS/2 keyboard and the green is for a PS/2 mouse (they’re not interchangeable!). They’re not widely used, as almost everyone buys and uses USB ones.
  7. NETWORKING – Every PC will come with a networking socket – the official name of which is Ethernet. Some desktop computers may also have built-in wireless networking (you’ll see an aerial on the back) – but if not Wi-fi can be added easily and cheaply by means of a USB dongle.
  8. MEMORY CARD SLOTS – These can be useful for swapping files between your digital camera or smartphone and your PC
  9. DIAL-UP CONNECTIONS – Built into many desktop PCs for the use of those who do not have access to broadband, allows you to connect it the internet on any phone line for a small fee per minute, provided you have the details of a “dial-up connection” (usually to a 0345 number). Connection will be relatively s-l-o-w.
  10. ENHANCED SOUND – Sound cards usually offer surround sound for three, six or eight speakers. The example shown here also includes a FireWire port (on the left).


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