In this age of computers, the internet, and advanced technology, you would rarely find a home without a laptop or a computer.
When you possess such devices, it is pertinent that you know every aspect of the appliance. You will find that the laptop has several connectivity ports on the sides.
Of course, these are not ornamental ports. Each port has a unique significance. This journey will take you to all these ports in detail.
Let us begin with the most common of laptop or computer ports, the USB port.
Ask any child to identify the USB port, and it will do it casually. The USB or Universal Serial Bus is the most common port on a laptop or a computer.
You will find a minimum of two to three different types of USB ports on any laptop. If by chance, you are using a MacBook Pro, it is the only port available on it.
The principal purpose of the USB port is to allow the transfer of files/data between devices such as laptops, computers, printers, scanners, smartphones, storage disks, and so on.
A USB port also serves as a charging point for your devices like smartphones, Bluetooth speakers, and so on. Sometimes, they also double up as laptop charging points.
It also enables you to connect external attachments like keyboards and mice.
Can you use your USB port to view the video?
No, you cannot do so. The standard USB port does not have its video standard.
However, it facilitates connection to computer monitors using a Universal Docking Station or an adapter with DisplayLink technology.
Depending on their individual characteristics, USB ports come in different types.
As of date, there are three types of USB connection ports, USB-Type A, USB-Type B, and USB-Type C. Let us look at these ports in brief.
USB Type-A is a 4-pin connector that comes in different versions. They are USB 1.1, USB 2, USB 3.0, and USB 3.1. It is easy to identify the type of port by looking at its color.
The USB 2.0 ports are usually black or grey in color whereas USB 3.0 is blue or turquoise colored.
You also know the USB 3.0 port as USB 3.1 Gen 1 today. You have two generations of USB 3.1 ports. The first generation USB 3.1 Gen 1 sports a transfer speed of 5 GB/sec whereas the USB 3.1 Gen 2 offers 10 GB/sec.
The USB-Type C is the latest entrant to the block. It is slimmer and smaller compared to USB-Type A or B thereby making it easy to handle faster transfer speeds and higher currents.
The laptops are getting slimmer today. Therefore, laptop manufacturers prefer to have USB-Type C ports today.
Related: Laptop Parts and their Functions
The USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF) has named USB4 as the next update to the USB standard. It makes things easy for users as the USB naming conventions can get confusing at times. USB versions have changed names, such as USB 3.1 Gen 1 becoming USB 3.2 Gen 1 and USB 3.1 Gen 2 has become USB 3.2 Gen 2. Besides, you have USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 with data transfer speeds up to 20 Gbps.
USB IF has made it easier by using names such as SuperSpeed USB is USB Gen 3.2 Gen 1, SuperSpeed USB 10 Gbps is USB 3.2 Gen 2, whereas SuperSpeed USB 20 Gbps is USB 3.2 Gen 2×2. USB4 is the latest entrant to the field and is backward compatible up to USB 2.0
USB4 is built on Thunderbolt 3 architecture because Intel allowed it to be used without licensing. Therefore, USB4 has the same capabilities as Thunderbolt 3. Therefore, it can achieve data transfer speeds up to 40 Gbps, whereas USB 3.0’s best speeds are 20 Gbps. In addition, while USB 3.0 has USB-A and USB-C formats, USB4 comes with a USB-C form factor alone.
Like Thunderbolt 3, USB4 allows for a dual 4K display or one 5K display, besides being capable of charging up to 100W power. USB4’s primary aim is to unify all ports across devices.
Related: Thunderbolt 4 vs UBS4
Ethernet Port – RJ-45
Today, most laptops come with WiFi-enabled features that allow them to access the internet without using wires.
However, many households do not have WiFi. Therefore, you need an Ethernet port to connect to the internet using a compatible Ethernet cable.
This port, also known as the RJ-45 (Registered Jack-45) Ethernet port, comes with an 8-pin and 8-contact connector.
Some of the latest RJ-45 connectors come with LED lights to indicate packet detection and transmission strength.
The USB port should suffice for transmitting standard data and files.
You need an HDMI (High-Definition Media Interface) port for transferring audio and video signals between your laptop and other devices like TV monitors, other laptops, digital cameras, projectors, video game consoles, and so on.
The latest version of the HDMI port is HDMI 2.1. You have laptops having the older versions such as HDMI 2.0 and HDMI 1.4 as well.
A compatible graphics card is necessary to enable the transmission of video signals with 4K resolution.
If your laptop or computer has HDMI output and the computer monitor has DVI, you should connect it through a special adapter.
If your USB-Type C supports video modes, you can use an adapter that goes from USB Type C to HDMI. These adapters are available in the market at reasonable rates.
SD Card Reader
The SD Card Reader port is available on almost all the new laptops today. It enables you to transfer files to/from an SD Card.
It is a handy port to have when you want to transfer photos from your DSLR camera SD card to your laptop.
You can use this slot to read the tiny micro SD cards like the ones you have on smartphones. Micro SD cards are not very expensive. It can store a lot of information as well.
If your laptop does not come with an SD card reader, you can buy the cheap USB-based external card reader and use it through the USB ports.
The Display port is similar to the HDMI ports in many ways. It is handy for transmitting audio and video signals to external display devices like TV monitors or computer monitors.
Modern-day laptops come with either of the two types of display ports, the standard DisplayPort or the mini DisplayPort.
As the name suggests, smaller laptops come with mini display ports whereas the bigger ones have standard display ports.
You also have display ports with a locking mechanism to prevent the accidental detaching of cables.
Laptops do not come with the Digital Video Interface (DVI) ports, but monitors with HD resolution and desktop computers come with such options.
The DVI port is the ideal one to connect to your TV monitors because most of the display monitors come with only DVI or VGA connectors.
However, laptop owners need not worry because you can use an HDMI-DVI adapter to connect your laptop to such devices.
You will not find VGA (Video Graphics Array) ports on laptops. However, desktop computers and monitors come with VGA ports.
This analog connection comprises a 15-pin connector to transmit video signals from your CPU to the monitor screen.
Projectors come with this connection port. The disadvantage of the VGA port is that it can send output up to 1920 X 1200.
It is not compatible with transmitting HD resolution videos. Therefore, modern-day computers come with DVI ports instead of VGA ports.
All laptops, computers, smartphones, and laptops come with audio jacks, also known as headphone jacks. The standard size of the Headphone jack is 3.5mm.
Yes, the iPhone and PixelSmartphones do not come with a port.
The Thunderbolt 3 port is similar to the USB-Type C ports, but they operate differently.
The benefit of Thunderbolt 3 is that it supports speeds up to 40 GB/sec. The Thunderbolt 3 port can work as a USB-Type C port, but vice versa is not possible.
Laptops having this port come with a thunder-like inscription beside the port. Using a Thunderbolt 3 compatible cable allows you to enjoy the entire features of this port.
Related: Thunderbolt 3 vs Thunderbolt 4
While compatible with USB4, Thunderbolt 4 is different as it guarantees specific performance levels that power users require. Besides, using Thunderbolt 4 requires paying licensing fees to Intel, whereas USB4 is free.
Thunderbolt 3 can support dual 4K displays, but it requires the right setup. Thunderbolt 4 can comfortably support dual 4K displays at 60Hz or one 8K display at 30Hz.
Related: Thunderbolt 4 vs USB C
Thunderbolt 4 can work with cables measuring up to two meters in length. It can go further in the future. Thunderbolt 4 guarantees better performance than Thunderbolt 3, but it requires double the PCIe bandwidth up to 32 Gbps from Thunderbolt 3’s 16 Gbps. However, the additional bandwidth can prove useful to gamers who can use an external GPU to convert their Ultrabooks into gaming machines.
We have gone through an exhaustive list of computer and laptop ports. You can now deduce that these ports have great utility.
A laptop is incomplete without these ports. They enable your laptops/computers to connect with external devices.
Srinivasa is Vsbytes’s Editor-In-Chief. He Is A Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert And Has Been Interested In Computer Hardware, Software, And Gaming Right Since The Time He Was A Child.