Filed under: Tech

Laptop ports explained: Every symbol and connector identified

Contemporary laptops appear with a dizzying array of ports—or probably only one. But how can you know what they all do, or what you may well want in a new procedure? Under we clarify each and every one laptop computer port, earlier and present, along with pictures to enable you establish their symbols.

Typically found alongside the sides or again of a laptop computer, these ports help broaden operation and provide connection factors for enter products, exterior drives, networking, and additional. Knowing these ports, and recognizing which of your peripherals will connect easily—and which will need adapters—will help you make better-educated choices when hunting for the great laptop computer to accommodate your desires.

In our protection of the very best laptops you can acquire these days, we’re watchful to be aware which ports are readily available.

Audio jack

The three.5mm audio jack, also regarded as a headphone jack, is the most popular audio port on modern laptops. Alongside with inputting and outputting audio, it also lets for connections to the vast majority of wired headphones and speakers. Some older laptops have two audio jacks that break up mic and audio, but recent styles use the same port for equally. 

Audio Jack Port

Audio jack laptop computer port


Some notebook manufacturers have opted not to include things like the audio jack in recent styles. If this is the case, you will need to have a USB wireless dongle to link to your wi-fi headphones and speakers, or you are going to need to link by using Bluetooth if your audio gear supports that. Conversely, a lot of wired headphones do the job via USB alternatively than analog 3.5mm jacks, and those people could also be an choice. If you only have wired 3.5mm headphones but no three.5mm audio jack in your laptop, you will want to get either a USB or USB Kind-C to 3.5mm adapter.

DisplayPort/mini DisplayPort

DisplayPort is a digital screen relationship applied to output movie and audio from your laptop to a video display, these as a check. Whilst some TVs appear with DisplayPort connections, it is more usually located on PCs and Personal computer displays. 

At first created to change VGA and DVI connections concerning computer systems and monitors, it has develop into the most advanced exhibit relationship out there on laptops currently.

The newest iteration is DisplayPort two. produced in 2019, which has an amplified bandwidth up to 77.37Gbps. Contrary to other connections, DisplayPort makes it possible for a number of displays to be run off of a single link. 

In addition, DisplayPort supports equally AMD’s FreeSync and Nvidia’s G-Sync know-how, allowing for for so-known as “tear-free gaming” (so extended as your keep track of supports these technologies as perfectly). Each individual iteration of DisplayPort has viewed enhancements in information rate as perfectly as increased resolution and bigger refresh costs:

  • DisplayPort 1.2: Supports up to 4K resolutions at 60Hz
  • DisplayPort 1.3: Supports up to 4K resolutions at 120Hz or 8K resolutions at 30Hz
  • DisplayPort 1.4: Supports up to 8K resolutions at 60Hz and supports HDR
  • DisplayPort 2.: Supports 16K resolutions (with HDR) at 60Hz and 10K resolutions (without the need of HDR) at 80Hz

Most laptops nowadays use the scaled-down, mini DisplayPort link or use USB Style-C ports to send out DisplayPort indicators. Unlike regular DisplayPorts, mini DisplayPorts will want a multi-stream Transport (MST) hub to output to much more than 1 screen.

DisplayPort mini

DisplayPort mini notebook port



DVI (Electronic Visible Interface) is used to join a video supply, this sort of as a laptop, to a exhibit, these kinds of as an external keep an eye on. It was produced in the late 90s with the aim of changing analog VGA technological innovation with lossless digital movie.

While not this sort of a widespread port on present day laptops, it is nonetheless identified on several exterior monitors with total-High definition resolutions or reduced. A single DVI connection can output up to UXGA 1920×1200 resolutions at 60Hz but wants a unique dual-link DVI relationship to output at higher resolutions.

DVI Port

DVI laptop port


DVI is usually your most effective option to output online video from your laptop to external spending budget displays that absence far more modern connections these types of as HDMI or DisplayPort. A single factor to note, however: DVI connections only help online video alerts and do not output audio. If you have a laptop computer with no DVI port, but you want to join to an exterior show applying DVI, you will have to have an HDMI-to-DVI or DisplayPort-to-DVI cable.


Ethernet ports allow laptops to hook up straight into wired networks. When Ethernet ports are becoming fewer common on laptops thanks to the proliferation of Wi-Fi, a wired connection by using Ethernet is nonetheless the most trustworthy way to hook up to large-speed online. In locations where wi-fi alerts may possibly be weaker, Ethernet permits you to defeat this by a direct relationship.

Today’s Ethernet is also acknowledged as Gigabit Ethernet, meaning the connection speeds are rated at 1Gbps or higher. Ethernet connections are rated by Group (or Cat) form, and the most up-to-date Cat eight typical relationship will allow for max speeds of up to 40Gbps though retaining backward compatibility with older classification styles.

Ethernet Port

Ethernet notebook port


Many more recent and slimmer consumer laptop models no more time have Ethernet ports, but they can nevertheless be identified in many business enterprise laptops. If your laptop computer doesn’t have an Ethernet port developed in, you can purchase a USB-to-Ethernet adapter, or alternatively you can use a docking station.


HDMI (Higher Definition Multimedia Interface) is the most prevalent way to link your laptop computer to a movie screen or home amusement system. Numerous TVs, exterior computer system screens, and projectors also have HDMI ports. HDMI connections can transfer equally high-definition video clip and audio digitally from your notebook to an external exhibit.

Above the decades, various versions of HDMI have been rolled out and irrespective of their differences in capabilities, the physical ports on their own have remained the identical between versions. The most recent model, HDMI two.one, launched in 2017, permits for a 48Gbps transmission bit amount and supports 4K resolutions at 120Hz or 8K resolutions at 60Hz.

HDMI two.one also features backward compatibility meaning it can be utilised with HDMI ports on more mature devices without the new 2.1 functions. 


HDMI notebook port


Due to HDMI’s widespread use, quite a few inexpensive adapters are readily available to hook up HDMI and other ports, this sort of as DVI and USB Sort-C. HDMI can’t output to dual displays from a single port, and some laptops are now becoming offered with mini HDMI ports, that means you will need an adapter if you desire to use it with frequent HDMI (pictured above).

Kensington Lock Slot

Also known as a K-lock or K-slot, the Kensington Lock Slots are little, bolstered holes usually observed on laptops that are utilized to attach a actual physical stability lock to your unit. It was executed in client laptops starting in the year 2000. Relying on the laptop computer model, this lock slot can be uncovered both on the side or back again of your laptop computer. 

Even though numerous laptops have a Kensington lock slot designed-in, they seldom come with the cable locking mechanism alone. Applying a appropriate cable lock inserted into the lock slot, the other finish of the cable can be connected to a protected location, thus anchoring the laptop computer and stopping theft. The lock slot is typically marked with a tiny lock icon future to the opening.

Lock Slot

Notebook lock slot


SD Card Reader

The SD card reader slot is mainly made use of to browse memory playing cards from electronic cameras. SD Playing cards can be sizzling-plugged and incredibly hot-swapped, this means you can insert and remove them without having restarting your laptop computer. Details transfer speeds change widely, and count on what SD cards the reader supports.

UHS-III SD Cards can theoretically transfer data at prices of up to 624Mbps, but if your SD reader only supports the previously UHS-I model, you will only be able to transfer your information at the highest UHS-I pace of 104MBps.

SD Card Reader Port

SD Card Reader laptop port


SD card readers are not accessible in all laptops, and as contemporary laptops have turn out to be thinner, they are currently being phased out. Nonetheless, you can even now find new laptops constructed for photo and video modifying with SD Card Reader slots mounted. If your laptop computer does not have an SD card reader slot, you can conveniently acquire an cheap USB adapter.

MicroSD Card Reader

MicroSD cards and card audience have been released by SanDisk in 2005 to accommodate lesser memory cards in mobile phones. Identical to the larger SD card reader, the microSD card reader is meant to go through scaled-down memory playing cards now most normally used for external storage in smartphones. MicroSD cards are also very hot-pluggable and warm-swappable just like the more substantial SD cards.

microSD Card Reader

microSD Card Reader laptop computer port


Laptops with limited onboard storage, these kinds of as some Chromebooks, from time to time use microSD cards for extra storage capacity. Every calendar year the storage sizing of SD and microSD playing cards improves, with the present major available customer types sitting down at 1TB.

MicroSD cards are electrically compatible with big SD cards and with the enable of a simple adapter, can be used in laptops that take SD cards as very well. If your laptop computer does not have a microSD card reader or an SD card reader, you can use a USB adapter.


USB (Common Serial Bus) is the most widespread enlargement port on modern day laptops and dates back to 1996. It normally has a rectangular shape and connects to a broad universe of peripherals, this sort of as keyboards, mice, printers, and exterior hard drives. USB ports occur in a range of varieties and just about every has its personal unique functionalities and characteristics.

USB Kind-A is the authentic 4-pin connector and is differentiated by its generations. Each and every subsequent era saw an advancement in both energy management and knowledge transfer speeds. All newer generations are backward suitable with older generations.

USB two. is usually distinguished by black or gray port shades and provides information transfer speeds of up to 480 Mbps. 

USB 2.0 Port

USB two. notebook port


USB 3. (now identified as USB three.1 Gen one) usually sports activities blue or turquoise coloured ports and can arrive at a theoretical most transfer level of five Gbps, which is ten moments more quickly than USB 2.. 

USB 3.0 Port

USB 3. notebook port


The latest typical of USB Style-A ports is USB three.1 Gen two. It looks the exact as USB three.one Gen one but supplies a considerable enhance in info transfer fees of up to 10 Gbps. 

Compared with Sort-A, USB Kind-B ports and connectors are sq.-shaped. They are not normally identified on laptops, but quite a few printers, scanners, docking stations, and hubs use these as an input port. Even though adapters are offered, most USB Form-B cables currently appear with a USB Type-B connector on a single finish and a USB Form-A on the other.

USB Style-C

USB Form-C is the freshly adopted common connector for most modern laptops and devices, and deserves its possess distinct location on this checklist because of to its exceptional performance. Owing to its modest and slim footprint, the USB Sort-C port can suit on most ultra-thin laptops being created in today’s current market. This, alongside with the point that USB Sort-C can take Thunderbolt connections in the similar port, provides it the edge above other USB varieties. 

USB Sort-C ports can assist a variety of unique standards. In contrast to the rectangular-shaped Variety-A with a four-pin relationship, the USB Variety-C arrives with a 24-pin connector making it possible for it to cope with higher currents and a lot quicker transfer speeds. The ability to take care of larger currents permits for devices to demand in significantly less time using a Kind-C connection by supplying up to 100W of electric power.

On top of that, Variety-C units can guidance USB 3.1 Gen 2 transfer costs of 5Gbps. If it doubles as a Thunderbolt port (acknowledged by the lightning bolt icon following to the port), Style-C connections can even generate lightning-rapid speeds of up to 40Gbps. Also, it can permit for online video-out DisplayPort indicators if equipped with alt-mode features. 

USB-C Port

USB Type-C laptop computer port


Adapters are commonly obtainable for connections concerning USB Style-C and other USB types. Even though these connections are backward appropriate, they will decrease the functionality and transfer prices between USB forms.


You’re not probably to see the micro-USB port (and the slightly bigger mini-USB port) in fashionable laptops, but they can even now be uncovered in a lot of peripherals and accessories. In point, not a single laptop in PCWorld’s extensive stock of devices has this port, so we’re applying a image of a micro-USB B cable alternatively.

Amazon Basics Micro-USB cable


Micro-USB is normally made use of for legacy smartphones, very low-electrical power tablets these kinds of as Amazon Kindles, some exterior difficult drives, and random digital products. They most generally guidance USB 2. speeds of up to 480 Mbps, but at times guidance USB 3., and micro-USB connections can be utilized interchangeably in both of those supported ports. USB Kind-A and Form-C to micro-USB adapters are accessible if you wish to join your supported system to a laptop computer with no a micro-USB port.


Thunderbolt is the quickest link offered in today’s industry. It brings together PCIe, DisplayPort, serial alerts, and DC electricity completely in just one port. This makes it possible for the Thunderbolt connection to be deployed for a wide range of uses, ranging from peripheral connections to laptop computer power charging. Thunderbolt ports can typically be identified by a little lightning bolt icon following to the port. 

Thunderbolt Port

Thunderbolt laptop computer port


The most up-to-date variations, Thunderbolt 3 and Thunderbolt 4, can transfer info at a blazingly quickly rate of 40Gbps, which is four times speedier than the USB 3.1 gen 2. Even legacy versions this sort of as the unique Thunderbolt have transfer charges as high as 10Gbps or Thunderbolt 2 at 20Gbps.

A solitary Thunderbolt 3 or four link is also capable of outputting to two 4K displays at as soon as many thanks to its usage of twin DisplayPort alerts. Some newer external graphics playing cards even occur outfitted with Thunderbolt ports, allowing for laptops to be linked for substantial-conclude gaming. 

From Thunderbolt three onward, the port makes use of USB Style-C connections and hence can double as USB Kind-C ports. Thunderbolt and Thunderbolt two ports use mini DisplayPort connections, so you will need to have an adapter if you desire to connect legacy Thunderbolt products to Thunderbolt 3 or greater.


VGA (Video Graphics Array) is a legacy analog movie port dating again to 1987. It is the main interface among desktops and more mature CRT screens and even much more modern day projectors. Given that it is analog, VGA is vulnerable to signal degradation in excess of more time cable distances and only has a highest resolution of 640×480 with a 60Hz refresh charge.

VGA Port

VGA notebook port


Thanks to the larger sized sizing of the fifteen-pin VGA port and the increase in the use of electronic video, these ports are typically becoming phased out. Notebook makers are developing slimmer laptops these days and applying HDMI or DisplayPort connections in area of VGA. When you are not able to convert VGA to any other show conventional (HDMI, DVI, DisplayPort), you can change any of them to VGA (with a subsequent drop in good quality) by utilizing the correct cable or adapter. 

Enter Products