The back panel of your PC’s tower that you plug peripherals into is called the I/O panel (see the following figure). The items you find on your PC’s I/O panel may be labeled with text, or they may be denoted with certain symbols.

Understand what’s on the I/O panel of your PC.
Understand what’s on the I/O panel of your PC.

The following list describes the items shown in the figure:

  • Keyboard: The keyboard plugs into this little hole.

  • Mouse: It’s generally the same size and shape as the keyboard connector, although this hole has a mouse icon nearby to let you know that the mouse plugs in there.

  • USB: Plug snazzy devices into these Certs-size Universal Serial Bus (USB) slots.

  • COM/Serial: PCs have at least one of these connectors.

  • Video/VGA: Your PC’s monitor can plug into this hole. The video connector is about the same size as the COM/serial connector, but it has 15 holes rather than 9.

  • SPDIF In, SPDIF Out: These connectors are used for digital audio. Special fiber optic cable is required: Audio coming into the computer plugs into the In hole; the sound the computer generates goes out the Out hole.

  • Headphones/speakers: Into this hole you plug in your PC’s external speakers or headphones, or it’s where you hook up the PC to a sound system.

  • Line In: This jack is where you plug a traditional audio-producing device (stereo, phonograph, VCR, and so on) into the PC for capturing sound.

  • Surround left/right: Also for surround sound, this is the jack into which you plug the rear left and right speakers.

  • Center/subwoofer: For a surround sound audio system, you plug the center speaker or subwoofer, or both, into this jack.

  • Microphone: The computer’s microphone plugs into this jack.

  • Modem: This is where you connect your PC’s dialup modem to the phone jack in the wall. If two phone or modem holes are on the I/O panel, the second one is for a telephone extension.

  • Network: This is where you plug in a local area network (LAN) connector or where you attach a broadband modem to the PC.

  • Printer: Older printers can plug into this connector.

  • Mini 1394: This special version of the IEEE 1394 connector is designed specifically for digital video and for connecting digital cameras.

  • IEEE 1394 (FireWire): This is another type of versatile connector, similar to USB.

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