Which Connector Connects To What

Connectors allow electrical signals to be passed between one device and another or within the different components that make up a single device. Connectors come in many different forms, some of which are integrated into the devices themselves and some of which are external devices unto themselves. There are also different standards for connectors, some of which are proprietary and some of which are generic types that are used by a range of different companies to provide connectivity between their devices and other devices.

Connectors are sometimes differentiated by male and female, the former of which is plugged into a device and the latter of which receives an input from another device. There are analog and digital connectors in widespread usage across all electronic fields and products.

What Types of Connectors Exist?

There are a huge number of different types of connectors available. Since there have been electrical appliances and devices, there have been connectors that allow them to be bridged together and integrated into more sophisticated systems. What follows are some brief descriptions of some of the most common connectors that you’ll see in use and some examples of their applications.

Audio Connectors

Audio connectors are likely a type with which most people are quite familiar. They include the ¼ inch jacks that are used to plug headphones into stereos and the 1/8 inch jacks that are used to plug headphones into most MP3 players. Audio connectors also include RCA plugs that are frequently used to connect speakers to stereo amplifiers and other devices. Audio connectors are oftentimes connected between incompatible devices through the use of adapters, which receive one type of a connector but output through a different type of connector.

Video Connectors

Video connectors have come a long way over the years. Today, most computers have HDMI connectors or other high-end connectors that allow them to output high-definition video. VGA connectors were used as the standards for a long period of time. Video connectors are sometimes also coaxial connectors, allowing a television to receive video signal from a cable connection or a satellite connection.

Circular Connector

Circular connectors are defined by their actual shape. Any type of a connector that has a circular shape and a cylindrical contact housing constitutes a circular connector. You will commonly see these utilized for military and industrial applications. Circular connectors are also used in applications where it is inevitable that the connector will take a lot of abuse. These are very durable type of connectors, but they do take up more space than comparable rectangular collectors.

General Purpose Rectangular Connectors

Rectangular connectors constitute any connector that has a rectangular shape. This includes many of the connectors on the back of computers, that are used in high-tech applications in industry and many other types of connectors in widespread usage. One of the primary advantages of rectangular connectors is that they can be arranged on equipment so that there is a great deal of space available.

IC Sockets

IC sockets are designed to provide an easy means of connecting chips to printed circuit boards. The most common incarnation of these connectors that you have probably seen is the connector that provides a connection between your CPU and the motherboard. In those particular connectors, the CPU is lightly laid in place and a lever fastens down the connection so that it is firm. There are many different incarnations of IC socket connectors and they are used in any application where an external IC needs to be connected to a printed circuit board.


Travel the world and you will see many different types of mains connectors. Mains connectors are commonly called outlets, and they are the connectors found in walls that allow you to plug in electrical appliances to the main power on your house. Mains connectors can be suited for different voltages – different nations use different voltages for wall current – and they can be designed so that only the proper plug can be inserted in them. In fact, that latter quality is one of their primary safety features.

IEC Connectors

IEC is an acronym that stands for International Electrotechnical Commission. The IEC set standards for non-locking connectors commonly used in wall sockets. The standards are also used for coupling connectors, which are oftentimes use between appliances. The reason that the same type of plug can be used to power an appliance across different nations – provided those nations use the same current – is because of these standards.

Network Connectors

Network connectors provide an interface between your computer and the network to which it is attached. These connectors have changed considerably over the years. Home users who had Internet connections in the 1990s are likely familiar with using their standard phone line as the network connector, dialing into the Internet to get access. Today, most network connectors are Ethernet connectors, which connect to networks via cat five cable. Network connectors can be integrated onto a motherboard or installed as separate devices by inserting a card into the appropriate slot on the motherboard.

Telecom Connectors

Telecom connectors include everything from the common square designs you’ll see in most people’s houses to fiber-optic connectors that are used for the fastest and most vital telecom lines in the world. These are generally specialty connectors, though standard home telephone connectors can be bought in any discount store for home use. Telephone connectors do vary somewhat between different nations. The standard connector for telephones is the RJ 11 connector.

PCB Connectors

PCB connectors are used to connect one printed circuit board to another. They are oftentimes called board to board connectors. These connectors utilize a copper alloy as the conductive material and are differentiated by the number of terminals on the connector. There are several different variables that go into selecting the appropriate PCB connector for any given application.

Power Connectors

Power connectors come in many different shapes and sizes. They include the power connectors that you plug into a wall current to power appliances, but people are generally talking about the connectors that go between power supplies and motherboards when the use the specific term power connector.

Power connectors vary tremendously. Molex connectors are among the most common used on computers. If you install a power supply on a motherboard, it will not function unless the power supply has the proper connectors to mate with the connections on the motherboard. There are adapters that make it possible to merge devices that aren’t compatible out-of-the-box, however.

RF Connectors

RF connectors are designed to work with radio frequencies. They are utilized on everything from radio towers to the connection on the back of televisions. RF connectors come in several standard designs, with some of them having specific design considerations for their purpose. Many RF connectors are circular connectors in terms of their shape, and many of them screw into place, giving them durability and a solid connection at all times. They come in standard and miniature sizes.

Coaxial Connectors

Coaxial connectors are a specific type of RF connector that is utilized with coaxial cable. The connector consists of a usually thread equipped end that screws into place. The center of the connector contains a copper wire, which is surrounded by insulation and then a layer of another metal, providing connectivity between whatever devices need to be networked. These durable connectors are commonly used in cable television. They are also used to connect most satellite dish systems to the receiving device.

Terminal Blocks

If you have ever seen an old telephone system, you’ve probably seen a terminal block. Most terminal blocks utilise screw terminals to attach wires from a device to a central electrical connection. These blocks are characterized by the ability to handle a tremendous range in terms of frequencies and currents. They are also very inexpensive, which is one of the reasons that they are still in use today. These are among the oldest forms of connectors used in electronics.

DIN Rail Terminals

DIN rail terminals work with a specific type of mounting equipment called a DIN rail. These rails are commonly used to mount electrical devices. They’re particularly widespread as a means of mounting circuit breakers. The rails allow components to be easily removed and added to the device, making it possible to expand or contract the size of an electrical system easily. DIN rail terminals provide the connections between the devices mounted to the rail so that many of them can be linked together.


The term “terminal” means exactly what it implies in electronics. It describes a point where the electrical signal or current from one device ends. The actual terminal is sometimes fitted with a connector that allows the device to be hooked up to another and sometimes not. Technically speaking, a terminal can mean any point when an electrical signal or current ends. When that electrical signal or current needs to be hooked up to a different device, connectors are employed.


Splices are connections between electrical devices that are facilitated by connecting different pieces of wire together. This is commonly used in building wiring, where two circuits are hooked up to the same power source via splicing.

Creating splices requires the technical knowledge to do it correctly. Because splices are situations where insulation is generally removed from a wire, they can present building and personal hazards that need to be taken into account. On some splices, connecting devices are used to insulate the connection and to facilitate better connectivity between the two power sources or devices being spliced.

USB Connectors

USB is an acronym for Universal Serial Bus. This is a standardized solution that allows many different devices to be hooked up to computers. Among the things that make this type of a connection extremely convenient is the fact that it provides both connectivity in terms of data exchange and the ability to provide electric power to external devices. Since its introduction in the 1990s, USB connections have largely displaced older forms of connections, such as parallel ports, serial cables and more. They also make it possible to charge devices such as tablet computers and smartphones off of any desktop computer, largely eliminating the need for users to carry around a separate power adapter to charge their batteries.

D-sub Connectors

D-sub connectors were among the most common types of connectors in the early days of personal computers. These connectors have two or more rows of pins or sockets arranged in parallel lines. They take their name from the D shape of the housing that surrounds the connectors.

D-sub connectors are among the most varied types that you’ll find. They were used for everything from connecting printers to connecting devices that have coaxial connections among their inputs or outputs and beyond. They were also used to attach monitors on video cards and motherboards that used VGA connections. These types of connectors have largely been displaced by other forms, such as USB connectors. They are still in use, however, and provide a very durable and reliable way to connect devices.

Computing Connectors

Computing connectors encompass a huge variety of different connectors. From DVI connectors to HD connectors to VGA connectors, the options are almost limitless.

Computing connectors have changed considerably over the years. Today, USB connectors are among the most common types of computing connectors in use. In fact, that specific type of connector was designed to provide a universal way to connect different peripherals to computers and, even more, to supply those peripherals with power, as well.

Because there are so many different types of computing connectors available, there are also many different types of converters available. These converters make it possible to convert a VGA cable to a DVI cable and to make other conversions that allow users to utilize new equipment with older computers or vice versa.

Most computing connectors are designed so that they can only be plugged into the appropriate socket. This helps prevent any confusion on the part of users and, of course, also protects the safety of the machine by ensuring that it does not receive the wrong type of input or power.