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Is there a schematic somewhere that shows how to plug these things in? I may be short a cord Thanks! Jack

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  • Computers & ... Master
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First thing to plug in are the Power Supply cables.

The main one to start with is the ATX main power cable.
There are two main variations of the ATX main power cable.

The 20-pin ATX main power cable,

,and the 24-pin ATX main power cable,

The 20-pin version was used on the older model computers. It was found that more power was needed to the motherboard due to newer computer components, and four extra power wires were added.

In the center photo note the lock on the side of the connector. It operates in a see-saw fashion. The top is squeezed in, to release the hook of the lock from a tab on the female connector, on the motherboard. Then the male connector can be removed from the connector on the motherboard.

Depending on the motherboard you may also have a 4-pin ATX +12 volt power cable. This is additional power to the motherboard, and is mostly used to provide additional power to a Processor.

Note the lock on the side of the connector. It operates in the same fashion as the ATX main power cable's connector.

Peripheral devices inside the computer also require a power cable.
If you have an IDE, (Also known as PATA), harddrive it will require a 4-pin standard Peripheral power cable.
Commonly misnomered as a Molex power cable,

This power cable is also used on IDE type optical drives. CD or DVD.
It can also be used along with an adapter cable to power a computer case fan.
There is no lock, but there is only one direction the cable will plug in.
There are two rounded corners on one side of the plug to line it up.

On all power cables use the connector itself to unplug the cable, Not the wires!

(Sometimes unplugging a 4-pin standard Peripheral power cable is tough.
The connector is rocked side to side while removing.
Sometimes an additional tool is needed to EASE the connector out.
In all cases make sure the computer is unplugged from power BEFORE working on it, and assure that you are following Anti-Static Precautions)

You may have a SATA harddrive, and also you may have SATA optical drives. (CD or DVD drive)
They use a SATA power cable.
The SATA power cable has 15 pins.

[Note a SATA data cable has 7 pins. It is the shorter of the two cable connectors]

IF you have a SATA harddrive that has provisions on the back of the unit, to plug BOTH a SATA power cable, and a standard 4-pin Peripheral power cable, ONLY use the SATA power cable!

Using both power cables will burn out the harddrive.
Sometimes it doesn't happen right away, but it eventually will.

The last power cable I will mention here is the 4-pin small Peripheral power cable.
On older computers this power cable was used on a Floppy Drive.
Now more used to provide power for a Card Reader.

Additional information to be included in a Comment.

Posted on May 29, 2011

  • joecoolvette
    joecoolvette May 29, 2011

    A SATA harddrive requires a SATA data cable. The connector is 7 pins long.

    An IDE (PATA) harddrive requires a 40-pin flat ribbon cable. [Data cable. Also known as an Interface cable]
    (Note only 39 pins are used)

    The male connector of the 40-pin flat ribbon cable has a Locating Lug on one side. This lug lines up with a cutout in the circuit board of the harddrive.

    You may have a male connector which does not have a Locating Lug.
    The pins in the male connector are numbered from 1 to 40. (39 actually. There is an empty socket hole)

    PIN 1 - Always goes toward the power cable.

    On one side edge of the 40-pin flat ribbon cable there is a faint Red stripe.
    This red stripe is on the same side as number 1 pin in the cable. (And connector)
    Make sure the faint red stripe is facing the power cable plugged into the back of the harddrive.

    For the SATA data cable the socket hole in the connector is L shaped.
    Only plugs in one way.

    On the motherboard you may have more than one SATA header to plug into.
    The beauty of SATA is that you can plug into ANY of the SATA headers on the motherboard, and BIOS will find it.
    So if you have unplugged a SATA data cable from the motherboard, and do not know which SATA header it plugged into, it DOESN'T matter.
    Plug into any of them.

    You believe you have a short in a cable?
    You'll have to check each one individually then with a multimeter.

    Computer doesn't come on when you push the Power On button?
    I suggest you use the test to see if it is the Power On button, or the Power Supply.
    Post in a Comment if you wish to know how to perform this test.

    Computer power supply comes on, but the computer doesn't?
    (No Signal on monitor)
    You may have a bad Power Supply.

    Weak voltage rail.
    Enough power to light LED lights, and maybe spin fans, but NOT enough power to turn the Processor on.

    1) IF all of the LED lights were on at once they would use less than 1 Watt of power.
    2) EACH fan uses 2 to 3 Watts.

    3) A typical processor can use from 51 to 125 Watts.

    This video may help in understanding the various computer cables, and where they plug in,

    Post in a Comment if you have any questions, or need clarification to something I have stated.



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