Also called an electrical cable, power cable, mains cable, or flex, a power cord is the primary cable that provides electrical current to a desktop computer. They are also used with printers, monitors, external speakers, and other peripheral devices that can't get adequate power through their data cables. The image shows the power cord commonly associated with computer power supplies in the United States.
How to connect the power cord
A computer's main power cord is connected correctly by aligning the pins and holes, and then pushing the cable connector into the power port.
How many pins or holes are on a power cord?
Computer's primary power cord
With a power cord that goes from a desktop computer power supply to a wall outlet in the United States, the connector utilizes three connections (pins) and holes. The two flat connectors are called "neutral" and "hot," and the bottom more rounded connector is the "ground."
Molex power cord
For a Molex connector inside a desktop computer that powers devices like a hard drive, there are four pins and holes. See our Molex page for further information on this connector and its wires.
ATX power cord
For desktop computers, the cord that supplies current to an ATX (advanced technology extended) motherboard is a 24-pin ATX power supply connector.
Other power cords
Other power cords inside the computer may include the following:
- 4-pin (P4) power connector - Additional power cable for modern processors.
- 3-pin case fan connectors - Small cable that supplies power from the motherboard to the cooling fans.
Are all cables power cables?
No. Power cables provide computers and other devices with electricity only. All other cables are utilized to transfer data.
Some cables, like a USB (universal serial bus) cable, can transfer both data and power.