One of the most daunting tasks of installing a power supply is determining what connector goes where. Power supplies these days can have up to a dozen cables with different connectors, and if you have not kept up-to-date with changes in technology, you probably won't recognise some of them. Learn which are the most common connectors used in power supplies.
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Main Power Cable
The main power cable plugs into the motherboard and is narrow in size. It comes in 20-pin and 24-pin varieties, depending on the form factor the power supply was designed for. Older power supplies are more likely to have a 20-pin connector, while new ones use the 24-pin connector exclusively. Some units can also switch between the 20-pin and 24-pin format.
4-Pin Molex Power Cable
The 4-pin molex power cable is the most common. Power supplies often contain as many as four of these. They are used to power all sorts of components, including IDE hard drives and optical drives. Certain aftermarket water cooling systems, fans and add-on lights also use the molex connector.
Modern SATA drives use the SATA power cable, which contains 15 pins and is typically black in colour. Most power supplies have two or three of these connectors, but some have as few as one. Users in need of more SATA power cables can use an adaptor to convert molex plugs to the 15-pin SATA.
PCI-Express Power Cable
The PCI-Express cable comes in either a 4-pin ATX or 8-pin EPS variety. There is also a 4+4 pin type that can work as either one. The PCI-E power cable delivers large amounts of electricity to high-power video cards. Many low-end and mid-range power supplies do not have a PCI-E power cable. This can cause problems when installing a high-end video card. To solve this, these cards often come with a 4-pin to PCI-E power converter.
4-Pin Floppy Connector
Although used less and less these days, the 4-pin floppy connector is a smaller version of the molex cable commonly used to power floppy disk drives and older video cards. Adaptors also exist to convert the 4-pin cable to a 3-pin variety used by fans.
6-Pin Auxiliary Cable
New power supplies do not have a 6-pin auxiliary cable, but it can still be found in certain dual-CPU AMD computers. This cable plugs into the motherboard to provide extra power.
The ATX12V connector is square and uses its four pins to power the CPU. Like the defunct 6-pin cable, it plugs into the motherboard. Some power supplies also have an 8-pin EPS12V connector that provides more power than the ATX12V plug. Certain models might retrofit this connector by combining two 4-pin ATX12V plugs.
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