CompTIA A+ Prep: What Are PC Connection Interfaces and How Do They Work


CompTIA A+ Prep: What Are PC Connection Interfaces and How Do They Work

Anything that manages the established connection between a device and a computer is called a connection interface. They play an important when it comes to connecting devices. They do not only have intangible importance, but their physical interference allows for devices to connect with the machine. Slow connection results when there is a weak interference connection. For anyone undergoing for CompTIA A+ Certification Training, a basic knowledge of connection interfaces would be vitally important. There are many types of interfaces which are discussed below:

Physical Connections

A connection that is made externally and data can be transferred without the need of opening a PC’s case.

USB 1.1, 2.0, and 3.0

A USB is the simplest way of connecting a device to a computer. The 1.1 version of USB remains the standard and the oldest. It was first introduced more than a decade ago. It has a low speed of about 1.5 MB/s. The cable of a USB 1.1 is usually 3 meters long. The maximum speed a 1.1 version can reach is 12 MB/s and for that, it would require a 5 meters long cable. USB 2.0 is a modern version and it is highly used in devices. Many smartphones are powered with the same version. It offers higher speed and usually has a 5-meter long cable. The slowest speed a USB 2.0 offers is 480 MB/s, and comparing to its previous version 1.1, it is considerably large.

USB 3.0 remains the latest version and it is now available in almost every modern device. Users usually call it the super speed USB as it can transfer data at a staggering rate of 4.8 GB/s. The difference is tremendous as compared to its previous version 2.0. Plus, the cable length of a USB 3.0 is relatively shorter – 3 meters. This is because long cables result in more loss of energy.

Micro, Mini, Type A, and Type B

There are only two USB types – A and B. These types are found in almost all USBs. Type A is generally flat and has a rectangular surface area. The interface has an easy connection and a user can easily detach or attach it to its port. The type B USB are modern and are highly used in mobile devices. It is square in shape and has sharp corners. Type B also has an interface that offers some friction, allowing the user to connect or disconnect the hardwire conveniently.

Micro and Mini USB are of various types. There is a Mini USB 5b pin, 4 pins, and Fuji. Whereas, the Micro has a type A, type B, and type AB. All of these have different shapes and so are mostly recognized by their shapes. Micro USB connectors are smaller than other USB connectors. Meanwhile, Mini USB connectors are much smaller than Micro USB connectors. Both Micro and Mini are increasingly used in cameras, mobile devices, etc.

Firewire 800 and Firewire 400

This interface connection type is pretty common, and it is sometimes called IEE 1394. Apple Inc. gave it the name of Firewire. Many other tech companies gave it a different name, such as iLink and Lynx. A Firewire allows a user of the liberty of connecting more than 60 devices to each other. The two types are Firewire 400 and Firewire 800.

A Firewire 400 can run at 100, 200, and 400 megabytes. A Firewire has a distance of a minimum of 4 meters and goes up to 15 meters in maximum length. Sometimes its maximum length can even be 72 meters. Each Firewire can also be connected in a repeated series and hence, allowing for more devices to be connected to one another. The Firewires connected in series are usually 15 meters long. The total accumulated length would be 72 meters.

An advanced version of Firewire is the 800. This updated version has allowed users to enjoy great transfer speed. A Firewire 800 has a speed of up to 800 megabytes per second. There are various types of connections that can be used for Firewire 800, one of which remains the optional connection that can go up to 100 meters.


The Serial AT Attachment is a bus interface that allows the host bus adapters to connect with the mass storage devices like optical drives and hard disk drives. SATA 1 is the first version of SATA which would allow up to 1.5 gigabytes per second of transfer speed. The cable length of a SATA 1 is up to half-a-meter.


As the name suggests, it is upgraded hardware and after its introduction, the SATA 1 became obsolete. The SATA 2 allows transfer of data at a very high rate of 3 gigabytes per second. Whereas, the length of a SATA 2 cable remains only a single meter. The length was not considerably changed as the speed.


The SATA 3 is an upgraded version of SATA 2. In this one, a considerable amount of data can be transferred at a speed of 6 gigabytes per second. The size has not been changed, just the transfer speed was increased.


The e-SATA is also called external-SATA. It is an alternative to all the other types and is usually used outside the machine. The speed of e-SATA is the same as the speed of other SATA, just that it operates outside the computer and hence, the distance also increases. The length of the cable can up to 2 meters.

The knowledge and understanding of PC connection interfaces are the basics of computer science. Individuals who wish to learn more should try enrolling in CompTIA A+ courses that are widely available online. These courses are specifically developed to give a student the value they are looking for in terms of study materials and resources. The platform offering courses have an extensive range of courses that are developed by experts who benefit from a credible experience working in the industry and inspiring those who wish to further explore what lies in the field of computer science.

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