PC World's giant cable buying guide

Here's how to identify every important audio, video, PC, peripheral, and networking cable.

Everyone has had the experience of staring at the back of a machine, device, or gadget, scratching their head, gazing in bewilderment at some unfamiliar cable port.

The fact is, way too many types of cables are out there, and new ones seem to appear suddenly every few weeks. But don't worry: PCWorld has your back.

In this massive guide to the bizarre world of plugs and cables (see box to the right for all sections of the guide), we'll explain nearly every modern connector for computers, TVs, and audio equipment, including which ones to use when you have choices, and which ones you can easily adapt to fit others.

Even if you can find your way around your cables, you might need a refresher for new plug standards, so keep this guide handy as an ongoing reference--we'll update it as new plugs, ports, cables, and cords hit the market.

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