by February 6, 2002 0 comments

Agreed that you bought the best possible components for your PC. But do you know that a particular IDE cable can give you significantly better performance? We’ll look at the right way to connecting the cables and connectors.

Floppy and IDE cables have a red line running on one side to ensure correct connection. The red line should always be towards the power connector of the device. On the motherboard, the end connector has a pin missing in one row. This corresponds to a ‘blocked’ hole on the cable’s connector. The floppy drive connects to the motherboard using a floppy cable (also called the FDC). The hard drive of your system is connected using an IDE cable. IDE cables are of two types–40-pin 40-connector and 40-pin 80-connector. While the first supports only UltraATA/33 interface, the latter supports up to UltraATA/100 and is also backward compatible with

These cables run from the SMPS to various peripherals and the main board for power. Note that the power connector is built such that it goes in only one way. The power to main the board is through what is nowadays called the ATX power connector (hence the name ATX motherboards). This again goes in only one way. Many Intel P4 boards have an additional small power connector that also needs to be connected.

CD drive
The data cable to the CD drive is again an IDE cable. However, there is a tiny cable that we overlook. This is the digital audio cable, which connects the digital-out from your CD drive to your sound card or motherboard (if you have onboard sound).

This is needed to listen to audio CDs from the drive.

Cooling fans
Never forget the power to the tiny cooling fans that sit on your processor heatsink and in your PC chassis, or you might end up with a fried processor! There are two tiny connectors on the motherboard (sometimes three) to which these fan power cables connect. These are usually three pin connectors. Refer to your motherboard manual to locate these.

Front panel
These are the connectors for the indicator LEDs on your cabinet’s front panel, Power and Reset switches. A ribbon cable with multitude of thin wires runs from your motherboard to these. If you have looked into the innards of your PC a couple of times, you can easily locate these pins, which are usually located towards the motherboard edge. Otherwise refer to the motherboard manual. Take special care with the orientation of these small (jumper-like) connectors or you might not be able to boot up your PC.

But, watch out

  • Always switch off the power to your system before connecting any cables in it or devices to it
  • Ground yourself before touching anything inside a PC to prevent build up of any harmful static charge
  • A male connector always connects with a female socket with the same pin configuration. Do not force any connectors
  • Don’t leave loose the screws on connectors and metal clips on cables connecting to external ports
  • Keep the cables straight and secure them with clips or fasteners.

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