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.

Major Specifications:

    • Category

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.

Standard Cables:

    • RJ-45 Male to Male

Conversion Adapters:

  • 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.

Cable Variants

    • USB A

USB A is the most common type of USB connection and is found on most computers.
Different Versions:

      • 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

Standard Cables


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

Related Items

  • 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.

Cable Variants:

The chart below describes the various differences between the different versions of HDMI:


Standard Cables:

    • HDMI Male to Male
    • HDMI Male to Male Micro
    • HDMI Male to Male Mini

Conversion Adapters:

  • 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

Cable Variants:

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

Standard Cables:

    • VGA Male to Male
    • VGA Male to Female
    • VGA Female to Female with 3.5mm audio cable

Conversion Adapters:

  • 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.

Cable Variants:

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.


Single/Dual Link/DVI-I/DVI-D/DVI-A:

  • 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.

Standard Cables:

  • DVI Male to Male (single and dual link)

Conversion Adapters:

  • 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.

Cable Variants:

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

Standard Cables:

    • 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

Conversion Adapters:

  • 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.

Cable Variants:

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.

Cable Variants:

    • 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


Standard Cables:

    • 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)

Cable Variants:

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).


Standard Cables:

    • 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.

Cable Variants:

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.

Standard Cables:

    • 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.

Cable Variants:

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

Standard Cables:

    • Three wire
    • Five Wire



Provides a high definition connection between devices. Typically used for computers (desktops) to monitors.

Cable Variants:

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.


Conversion Adapters:

  • 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.


Mini DisplayPort


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)

Cable Variants:

Mini DisplayPort male to male is the only cable readily available although many adapters do exist (seen below).

Standard Cables:

    • Mini DisplayPort male to male

Conversion Adapters:

    • 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

Cable Variants:

Thunderbolt male to male is the only cable readily available, however some adapters do exist (seen below)

Standard Cables:

    • Thunderbolt 1/2 male to male (uses a Mini DisplayPort sized port)
    • Thunderbolt 3 male to male (uses a USB-C sized port)

Conversion Adapters:

    • 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

Keywordsethernet cat cat5 cat5e rj rj-45 male female firewire pin universal serial bus usb a b c micro mini high definition high-definition multimedia interface hdmi video graphics array vga digital visual interface dvi dvi-d dvi-i dvi-a single dual link serial ata sata esata msata composite video rca mono stereo red yellow white tri toslink spdif digital coaxial audio 3.5 2.5 mm headphone microphone jack component display port displayport mini-displayport thunderbolt 30-pin lightning dock connector mini cables connections   Doc ID65555
OwnerNick R.GroupDoIT Help Desk
Created2016-07-28 10:59:40Updated2023-11-27 13:03:01
SitesDoIT Help Desk, DoIT Repair
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