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There was a time when laptops came packed with all sorts of ports. Apple led the charge on removing ports, dropping all but a single USB-C port when it introduced the 12-inch MacBook in 2023. The MacBook Pro followed suit, with only a handful of USB-C ports, while eventually even many Windows laptops followed the trend.

Even if your computer has plenty of ports, it can be annoying having to plug in several cables or dongles whenever you sit down to do some work. Companies like OWC provide feature-packed ports, but what if portability is key for you? That’s where the OWC USB-C Travel Dock comes in handy.

This is a sponsored article and was made possible by OWC. The actual contents and opinions are the sole views of the author who maintains editorial independence, even when a post is sponsored.

Who Is the OWC USB-C Travel Dock For?

While it has the word “travel” right in the name, this dock isn’t just for travelers. Whether you need extra ports, an SD card reader, or just want to consolidate your cables, this dock will come in handy. Whereas more fully-featured docks have more options, this is easier to carry and takes up less space on your desk.

This will come in extra handy if you travel for business. The OWC USB-C Travel Dock is easy to toss in your bag, and the small size makes hooking it up to your laptop on a hotel room desk easy.


When it comes to connectivity, the OWC USB-C Travel Dock gives you exactly what you’ll most likely need and not much more. You get two USB 3.1 ports, a single HDMI port, an SD card slot, and a single USB-C port.

The dock also includes its own attached USB-C cable to connect to your laptop. Older versions of the dock just left the cable hanging as a sort of “tail.” In a nice improvement, the dock now includes built-in cable management on the bottom of the device, keeping the cable neatly tucked in.

The dock offers up to 100 watts of power pass-through, up from 60 watts in the previous version. This means that with the right setup, you can plug one cable into your laptop and have your monitor, keyboard, mouse, and power connected immediately.

How to Use the OWC USB-C Travel Dock

Using the OWC USB-C Travel Dock is incredibly simple. Plug it into your laptop and plug in whatever peripherals you wish to use with it. The dock works with Windows, macOS, and Linux computers, as well as devices running Android or ChromeOS. No matter what operating system you use, there is no initial setup process.

You can use the USB-C port on the dock in two ways. If you have a laptop like a MacBook Air or MacBook Pro with a USB-C power supply, you can plug the power supply into the dock, and it will power your laptop. On the other hand, the dock can also use bus power, so if you power your laptop in another way, the dock essentially frees up the USB-C port you plug it into.


The amount of features packed into such a relatively small dock are impressive. Especially when you consider the price, it’s difficult to look at the OWC USB-C Travel Dock and come away with any serious complaints.

One thing worth mentioning is the built-in USB-C cable. This is short by necessity, as otherwise the dock wouldn’t be as easy to carry around. The problem is that this short length means the cable may not reach your USB-C port if you keep your laptop on a stand or if you’re using a device like a Microsoft Surface Pro 7 where the port is somewhat higher on the device.

The dock will still work, but it will dangle from the port. This is mainly an aesthetic issue but could potentially put pressure on the port or cable. In my case, I simply placed the dock on another piece of hardware to get it to the height I needed, so this is only a minor issue. As I mentioned above, this tradeoff is worth it for the easy portability.

I personally would have traded one of the USB 3.1 ports for another USB-C port, but this is a matter of preference. You can always use a USB Type A to USB-C cable to connect USB-C peripherals.

Final Thoughts

If you frequently travel with a laptop, a dock like this is a no-brainer. Even if you don’t travel, the OWC USB-C Travel Dock, with an MSRP of $54.99, is a great way to add functionality to your laptop. Compared to an item like Apple’s USB-C Digital AV Multiport Adapter, the Travel Dock is absolutely feature-packed, plus it costs less.

While OWC’s products are known and loved by Mac users, this isn’t only for owners of Apple computers. If you have a Windows laptop like the more recent Microsoft Surface Pro models with USB-C, this will be just as handy. Just toss it in your bag, and you’ll have it handy whenever you need it.

Kris Wouk

Kris Wouk is a writer, musician, and whatever it’s called when someone makes videos for the web.

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Usb Ports Are Not Working In Windows 11/10

In this article, we will talk about what you should do if USB ports are not working on your PC. USB ports on a computer allow users to connect different USB devices, like printers, keyboards, mice, etc. If the USB ports stop working, you will not be able to use any USB device. USB ports may stop working due to hardware and software issues.

USB ports are not working in Windows 11/10

A USB port stops working if it is faulty or if its drivers are outdated or corrupted. Sometimes, the latest Windows Update causes issues on a computer. In addition to the hardware and software issues, a USB port may also stop working if you quickly and repeatedly insert and remove a USB device. This article provides some helpful suggestions that you can follow if your USB ports are not working.

Power Cycle your computer

Check the power output of USB ports

Run Hardware and Devices Troubleshooter

Disable Fast Startup

Scan for Hardware Changes in the Device Manager

Roll Back, or reinstall USB Controllers

Change the Power Management settings

Uninstall and reinstall the USB Root Hub

Update your chipset driver

Disable the Selective Suspend feature of Windows

Uninstall the recent Windows Update

Restore your system

Perform an In-place Upgrade

Let’s see all these fixes in detail.

1] Power Cycle your computer

The first step that you should do is to power cycle your computer. The following steps will help you with that:

Turn off your PC.

Remove all the power cords. If you have a laptop, remove its battery after turning it off, and then remove all power cords.

Wait for a few minutes.

Laptop users can now insert the battery again.

Reconnect all the power cords.

Turn on your computer.

Now, check if the issue is fixed.

2] Check the power output of USB ports

Most USB ports supply 5V of electricity with a maximum current of 0.5 A. If your USB ports are working, they supply power output. If a USB port is not supplying power, it may be damaged. Check the power output of your USB ports to know if they are damaged or not.

If your USB ports are not supplying power, you need to take your computer to the service center.

3] Run Hardware and Devices Troubleshooter

The Hardware and Devices Troubleshooter helps Windows users fix hardware-related issues (if possible). In the previous step, if you find that your USB ports are not supplying power, run Hardware and Devices Troubleshooter before taking your laptop or desktop computer to the service center.

Fix: Generic USB Hub missing or not showing in Windows

4] Disable Fast Startup

Fast Startup allows your computer to start faster than a normal startup. The Fast Startup does not completely shut down your computer. During the Fast Startup, the kernel session is not closed. Instead, it is hibernated. Windows does this by saving the kernel session and the device drivers (system information) to the hibernate file (hiberfil.sys). Due to this, sometimes, Fast Startup causes issues on a Windows computer. Check if the Fast Startup is enabled. If yes, disable it and restart your computer.

There are the following 4 ways to disable Fast Startup. You can use any of these methods.

The Control Panel

Command Prompt

Group Policy Editor (does not work on Windows 11/10 Home edition)

Registry Editor

5] Scan for Hardware Changes in the Device Manager

Some users have reported that the USB ports of their systems were delivering power but there was no connection. If this is the case with you, scan for hardware changes in the Device Manager. It will help.

Follow the steps written below:

Open the Device Manager.

The above action will help broken devices work again. Now, check if the issue is fixed.

Read: How to enable or disable CD/DVD ROM Drives, USB Drives or Ports in Windows

6] Roll Back, or reinstall USB Controllers

A USB Controller manages the communication between a USB device and a computer. If the USB Controller gets corrupted, the USB ports may stop working. If the issue still persists, we suggest you roll back or reinstall the USB Controller driver.

Installing Windows Update also updates the device drivers (if an update for the same is available). If the issue started occurring after a Windows Update, it is possible that the USB Controller driver was also updated along with the Windows Update. In this case, the Roll Back option will be available in the Device Manager. Follow the steps below:

Open the Device Manager.

Expand the Universal Serial Bus controllers branch.

7] Change the Power Management settings

If you are still facing the problem, changing the Power Management settings of the USB Root HUB and USB Controllers will fix the issue. The steps for the same are written below:

Open the Device Manager.

Expand the Universal Serial Bus Controllers node.

Open the properties of USB Host Controllers and go to the Power Management tab.

Uncheck the “Allow the computer to turn off this device to save power” option.

Disable this option for all USB Controllers and USB Root Hubs in the Device Manager. When this option is enabled, Windows disables the USB devices after some time of inactivity to save power. When you use that device, Windows activates that USB device again. Sometimes, Windows fails to activate the device connected to a particular USB port due to which, it seems that the USB port has stopped working.

Read: USB-C not working, charging or recognized on Windows

8] Uninstall and reinstall the USB Root Hub 9] Update your chipset driver

A chipset driver tells Windows how to communicate with the motherboard and small subsystems on it. One possible cause of this issue is the corrupted chipset driver. Update your chipset driver and see if it helps.

10] Disable Selective Suspend

Selective Suspend is a property by which Windows forces the connected USB device(s) to enter into a low power state. This happens when there is no bus activity on a particular USB port detected for some time. When you use your USB device, it starts working again. The purpose of Selective Suspend is to save power. If the above fixes did not resolve your issue, you need to disable the Selective Suspend feature. This action will affect all the USB host controllers and all the USB devices. After disabling Selective Suspend, all the USB devices continue to use power. Moreover, the “Allow the computer to turn off this device to save power” checkbox may be greyed out under the Power Management tab.

To disable Selective Suspend, you have to modify your Registry. Be careful while modifying the Registry, as any mistake can lead to serious errors in your system. Therefore, follow the steps explained below carefully and make sure that you modify or change the right registry key.

Before you proceed, we recommend you create a System Restore Point and backup your Registry.


Read: Free USB Repair Tools for Windows 11/10 PC.

11] Uninstall the recent Windows Update

If your system’s USB ports stopped working after installing a Windows Update, you can uninstall that update. Windows 10 users can uninstall Windows Update via the Control Panel. After Windows 11 2023 Update, it is not possible to uninstall the Windows Updates via the Control Panel. Hence, you have to use the Settings app for this purpose.

12] Restore your system

You can use the System Restore tool to take your system to the state before the issue started occurring. But this is only possible if a Restore Point was created. When you run the System Restore tool to restore your system, Windows shows you all the restore points created on your device along with the date. You can select any of these restore points. In your case, you have to select that restore point that was created before the issue started occurring.

13] Perform an In-place Upgrade

In-place Upgrade is the process of installing the Windows operating system over the existing Windows OS without uninstalling it. Using the In-place Upgrade, you can repair your system. Though an In-place Upgrade does not erase data, it will be good if you back up your data.

Read: USB 3.0 External Hard Drive not recognized in Windows.

How do I get Windows 11 to recognize my USB device?

If Windows 11 is not recognizing your USB device, the first thing that you should do is restart your computer and see if it helps. In addition, the other things that you can do to get your USB ports to work again are running Hardware and Devices Troubleshooter, disabling Fast Startup, rolling back or reinstalling the USB Controllers, updating the chipset driver, disabling the Selective Suspend feature, etc. In this article, we have explained some working solutions to fix this problem.

Why do my USB ports suddenly stop working?

Quickly and repeatedly inserting and removing a USB device can make a USB port unresponsive. When a USB port is in this state, it doesn’t recognize the connected USB device due to which the USB device does not work. Other causes of this issue are the Selective Suspend feature of Windows, corrupted or outdated USB and chipset drivers, corrupted system files, damaged hardware, etc. Refer to the solutions explained in this article to know how to fix this problem.

I hope the solutions provided in this post helped you fix the issue.

Read next: Fix Generic USB Hub missing or not showing in Windows.

Nvidia High Definition Audio Has No Sound? Try These 7 Fixes

Nvidia High Definition Audio Has no Sound? Try These 7 Fixes A comprehensive guide to get things running in no time




Despite using ultra-performing hardware, many users reported no sound on Nvidia High Definition Audio Device.

It’s usually the driver to blame, but many found misconfigured device selection and BIOS settings to be the underlying cause.

To fix the problem, update the driver, revert to a previous version of the OS, or reconfigure the BIOS settings, amongst other solutions here.



To fix Windows PC system issues, you will need a dedicated tool

Fortect is a tool that does not simply cleans up your PC, but has a repository with several millions of Windows System files stored in their initial version. When your PC encounters a problem, Fortect will fix it for you, by replacing bad files with fresh versions. To fix your current PC issue, here are the steps you need to take:

Download Fortect and install it on your PC.

Start the tool’s scanning process to look for corrupt files that are the source of your problem

Fortect has been downloaded by


readers this month.

Although uncommon, sound issues are one of the worst you can encounter on a PC, and solving this is often time-consuming. And several users reported no sound on the Nvidia High Definition Audio, which is what we will be fixing today.

In this case, one common issue is users completely lose system sound after installing NVIDIA GPU drivers. For others, the audio device, for instance, headphones, was not recognized.

So, let’s find out why Nvidia audio is not working and its most effective solutions.

Why is my high definition audio not working?

Here are some of the reasons why Nvidia Sound is not working on your PC:

Outdated, corrupt, or incompatible drivers installed: Issues with the driver are usually the most common reason behind the problem.

A bug in the installed version of the driver: Oftentimes, users encounter the problem after updating the driver when there’s a bug in the current version.

Two sound cards running into conflicts: If you have multiple sound cards, there are chances that these might conflict with each other.

Misconfigured BIOS settings: Many users found the BIOS settings responsible for the issue.

Speaking of the issue, the solutions below should also help in the following cases:

Nvidia HDMI audio not working – This is a relatively common problem encountered by many users eager to enjoy Nvidia with their home theater receiver. If you’re one of them, you should be able to fix it by using one of our solutions.

No sound Nvidia High Definition audio – This also happens when using HDMI to stream audio and video to other displays. Faulty drivers and a potentially disabled onboard sound device in BIOS are often the culprits.

No sound after Geforce update – Many users reported that their sound was gone after updating their Geforce drivers or after installing a Geforce graphics card.

No sound after installing graphics card Windows 10 – According to users, this error can sometimes appear after installing a new graphics card. This is most likely caused by incompatible drivers.

Nvidia video card no sound – Users reported that their sound is completely missing while using Nvidia graphics. To fix the issue, you might have to reinstall both your Nvidia and audio drivers.

How do I fix Nvidia high definition audio?

Before we head to the slightly complex solutions, let’s try a few quick checks and see if it helps.

Reconnect the audio device you are facing issues with.

Restart the computer.

Update to the latest version of the OS.

If these don’t work, the following methods would:

The first thing you must do is check if there’s an updated version available and install it. If you can’t find one on the computer, head to the manufacturer’s official website and download it to update the audio driver manually.

5. Choose Let me pick from a list of available drivers on my computer.

Expert tip:

8. After the update is complete, restart the computer for the changes to come into effect.

Now, you can verify if the NVIDIA High Definition Audio Driver starts working.

Try a third-party tool if the previous method doesn’t fix the issue. Downloading drivers manually is a process that carries the risk of getting the wrong driver installed, which may lead to severe malfunctions.

Here’s how to do it:

Download and install the Outbyte Driver Updater app.

Launch the software.

Wait for the app to detect all incompatible drivers.

Afterward, it will show you a list of the drivers found to select the ones to Update or Ignore.

Restart your PC to ensure the applied changes.

Outbyte Driver Updater

Use this software and solve all driver-related issues from your PC.

Free trial Download now

Disclaimer: You may need to upgrade the app from the free version to perform specific actions.

2. Roll back to a previous Windows build

If the no sound problem on Nvidia High Definition Audio Device started after an update, you might revert to the previous build within ten days of updating.

In case the Get started button is greyed out, you can always manually uninstall Windows updates.

3. Check the BIOS settings

If the previous methods didn’t work, you can reconfigure the BIOS settings and disable the other sound cards in case there’s more than one.

Also, remember that you don’t necessarily have to disable the others. For example, if another sound card does the job, disable Nvidia High Definition Audio Device to fix the no sound problem.

4. Run the built-in troubleshooter

Users sometimes manage to fix things by simply running the built-in troubleshooter. If you still have no sound from Nvidia High Definition Audio, head to the following method.

5. Change the audio output device

Once you set your speakers as the default playback device, the issue should be resolved entirely.

6. Perform a clean installation of Nvidia drivers

Many users reported that sound was missing after installing Nvidia drivers. However, you can fix that problem simply by performing a clean installation of your drivers. Several users said this solution worked for them, so feel free to try it out.

7. Scan for hardware changes

If Nvidia High Definition Audio delivers no sound after sleep, scanning for hardware changes should do the trick. First, though, this is a workaround suggested by users with this problem. The above solutions should help eliminate the underlying cause.

We expect the issue to be resolved and the audio device to work seamlessly.

Also, find out the best audio enhancer tools for Windows.

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Owc Launches Ssd Upgrades For Mid

Other World Computing (OWC) has announced on Tuesday a major new step forward in upgrading the flash storage of your 2013 or later MacBook Air or MacBook Pro with Retina display.

Now available are the OWC Aura solid state drives (SSD), which come in flavors of 480GB and 1TB. These storage drive upgrades are direct PCI-e drop-ins for any of the supported computers.

OWC SSD upgrade for 2013 and later MacBook Air/Pro

Update: We previously reported that Bootcamp would not work on these drives, and at the time of this writing, that was true. OWC has, however, launched a new driver for its aftermarket SSD upgrades in May that allows Bootcamp to be used on any of the company’s aftermarket drives for Mac computers.

OWC’s new Aura SSD upgrades for 2013 and later Mac notebooks are plug-and-play with no modification to your computer being necessary. They can be inserted right into the PCI-e slot on your Mac’s logic board. You will, of course, need to format the drive for your needs and then install OS X on it for it to be used just like the SSD that’s in your Mac right now.

No special software will be needed to use these drives either. They’re carefully engineered to work with your Mac, so no TRIM-enabling software will be necessary. If any issues should occur while using the drives, they are covered under OWC’s three-year warranty.

More features of the Aura SSD include:

•  Tier-1 Flash – Aura SSDs use only top-rated flash for amazing performance and dependability.

•  Superior Error Correction – Three-level error correction with low-density parity checks provides significantly improved reliability, and RAID-like protection for your data.

•  Cell-Level Data Refresh – Aura’s powerful embedded processor monitors and re-writes data blocks as needed to maintain correct charge at the cell level, improving the integrity of your data and extending the life of your drive.

•  Global Wear-Leveling – A global wear-leveling algorithm helps evenly distribute data across your SSD cells, extending the life of your drive by preventing any section of flash from getting worn out prematurely.

All of OWC’s upgrade kits include all the tools you’ll need to upgrade your storage, so there’s never any hassle if you’re a do-it-yourself-er and would like to tackle an upgrade project on your own. Of course, when you’re tampering with your Mac’s internals, we can’t stress enough how important it is to use an anti-static wrist strap to prevent unwanted static discharge from damaging your Mac’s logic board and other components. Doing so will also void your Apple warranty, so this is something to keep in mind.

When you remove your factory solid state drive from your Mac, you can then re-purpose it as an external solid state drive using one of OWC’s external SSD cases that support 355MB/s transfer speed, so no storage is ever wasted, but you’ll always know you’re making the most of your internal storage.

Unfortunately, this storage upgrade will not work in the new MacBook with Retina Display. It will only work with 2013 and later MacBook Airs and MacBook Pros with Retina display.

Availability and pricing

The OWC upgrade kits are available with and without installation tools. Those that opt for the upgrade kits will also get the Envoy Pro external enclosure for housing your factory Mac SSD as an external drive.

OWC Aura SSD Upgrade Kits – All tools and Envoy Pro enclosure included:

•  1TB – $719.99 (MSRP); $649.00 (Introductory Price)

OWC Aura SSD Only:

•  1TB – $649.99 (MSRP); $597.99 (Introductory Price)

Although they’re a little pricey at a first glance, the upgrades are significantly cheaper than upgrades from Apple. A 1TB drive upgrade through Apple is $800, and that doesn’t include any tools or an external drive case. OWC’s price for just the 1TB drive is $650, but for $720, you’ll also get all the tools you need, as well as the external drive case, which is still less expensive than Apple’s $800 price tag.

Orders placed through OWC for these Aura SSD upgrades will start shipping in March.

Motherboard Audio Ports – A Complete Guide

If you recently got a new pair of headphones or speakers, you’re likely searching for the correct audio ports on your computer. While it is possible to directly connect them to a monitor, using the integrated ones on the motherboard would be the best option.

Well, there are different types of audio interfaces, and modern circuit boards can have six or more embedded in them. However, this depends on the model, and you may even find comparatively fewer ones on yours. Likewise, a laptop motherboard mostly comes with just one audio port, which can work as both input and output.

Since different audio devices require different connections, it’s essential that you have proper knowledge about these interfaces. In this article, you will learn about all the audio ports found on a motherboard, along with their location and color.

Basically, an audio interface allows the connection and communication of any audio device with a computer. Although the number differs on every motherboard, most modern ones adopt the PC System Design Guide and come with five or six ports.

Before we dive into the details of specific ports, the table below includes everything that should help you distinguish different audio ports on a motherboard. 

Audio PortsColorSignalCableFunctionMic-InPinkAnalog3.5 mm audio jackTo plug-in microphoneLine-OutGreenAnalog3.5 or 6.35 mm audio jackTo connect audio output devicesLine-InLight BlueAnalog3.5 mm audio jackTo connect amplifiers, CD/DVD players, etc.CS-OutOrange or LimeAnalog3.5 mm audio jackTo connect subwoofers or central speakers in a surround systemRS-OutBlackAnalog3.5 mm audio jackTo connect rear speakers in a surround systemSS-OutWhite/Silver/GreyAnalog3.5 mm audio jackTo connect side speakers in a surround systemS/PDIF-OutDigitalDigital optical cableDirect connection of digital audio devicesCoaxial-OutDigitalCoaxial cableDirect connection of digital audio devices with greater bandwidthUSB1.0 and (white), 3.0 (blue), 3.1 (teal blue)DigitalUSB 1.x, 2.0, 3.x, 4 Direct connection of USB audio devices (no need for input or output port)HDMIDigitalHDMI 1.x,2.0, 2.1Direct connection of HDMI speakers (requires HDMI ARC)DisplayPortDigitalDisplayPort 1.x, 2.0, 2.1Direct connection of DisplayPort audio devices (no need for input or output port)Different Motherboard Audio Ports

Moving on, the location of audio ports on most motherboards remains identical. Well, they are all grouped together on the back I/O panel.

Audio Port Location in Motherboard

However, you may also notice audio ports on the front panel of a PC casing. But you need to note that they are not embedded in your motherboard. Instead, they require a connection with the audio headers, which we’ll save to discuss some other day.

Like any other computer port, the audio interface is primarily categorized into two – input and output. While the former fetches audio signals into the computer (for example, the input of your voice using a microphone), the latter sends an audio signal out of the PC (for example, sound coming from a speaker).

Indeed, choosing the correct port is quite essential. This is because if you do not connect your audio devices to the right port, you may experience problems like the speaker not working, the computer not detecting the microphone, etc.

However, this case doesn’t apply to those motherboards (mainly laptops) with only one dedicated audio interface that can function as both ports. Once you connect the peripheral, the necessary driver is automatically installed and performs as required.

Well, most motherboard manufacturers use standard colors to distinguish the input from output ports. Nonetheless, some do not apply this to their models and instead have just the black ones. Therefore, icons or labels are the best way to identify the interface.

Regarding the same, this section includes everything you should know about the different types of motherboard audio ports, along with their colors and labels.

Mic-In Port in Motherboard

Microphone-In or Mic-in is the dedicated input audio port for plugging microphones. This port is present in almost every motherboard and is generally recognized by its pink color. To connect a microphone to the motherboard, you require a 3.5 mm audio jack, which usually comes attached to the audio device. 

Usually, the Mic-In ports come with a pictogram of a mic or, in some models, labeled as MIC. Hence, even if yours doesn’t have this audio interface, you should recognize it without any fuss.

Moreover, you will likely not find the pink port on your laptop’s motherboard. Instead, it has one audio interface that can take in both input (microphone) and output (headphone/speaker).

Line-Out Port in Motherboard

The Line-Out, also recognized as the Headphone-Out or Audio-Out, is an output port that transfers a PC’s audio to speakers and headphones. Usually, it is recognized by its green color and also with a headphone or outgoing sound wave icon. In some motherboards, it may also be labeled “AUX”.

Well, this type of port is suitable for a 2.0-channel system, meaning you can connect any stereo device (headphones or speakers). To connect these audio peripherals, all you need is a 3.5 mm audio cable. 

Interestingly, a few motherboards are equipped with a 6.35 mm, drawing more power to the headphones. Thus, a 6.35 mm audio cable provides comparatively lower resistance and capacitance to support high-end audio equipment.

Line-In Port in Motherboard

Another primary port that comes embedded in most motherboards is the Line-In port. If you’re trying to get audio input signals from an external audio device to record, play, or modify their sound, this should be the one you’re looking for.

Basically, you can connect any audio input peripheral here, like amplifiers, CD/DVD players, MIDI instruments, and many more. In fact, plugging in a microphone will also make it work completely fine. However, we recommend using the above-mentioned Mic-In port for this device as the amplification is much better there.

Moving on, the Line-In port is light blue in color, and you may also recognize this by an incoming sound wave icon beneath it. However, such a port is absent on laptop motherboards, and you’ll need regular audio ports to connect the input audio devices.

CS-Out Port in Motherboard

Center Speaker-Out, or simply CS-Out, is an audio output port found in high-end motherboards that support the connection of surround sound systems. Well, they are orange or lime-colored and can be recognized by the label “c/sub” or a pictogram of a speaker.

To be precise, this is the dedicated interface for connecting a subwoofer, center/front speaker, or soundbar to your TV or even computer. Hence, these devices provide extra bass to your sound system and are perfect for music lovers.

RS-Out Port in Motherboard

Rear Speaker-Out or RS-Out is the audio output port for the speakers behind you or the back of the center speakers. Like the CS-Out, you can use this for connecting surround sound systems.

Moreover, identification of the port is also easy, like the other audio interfaces. All you have to look for is the black port. But in those motherboards that do not follow the color standards, you should check the label “rear” accompanied by a speaker symbol.

SS-Out Port in Motherboard

Another audio output port on the motherboard dedicated to the surrounding sound system is the Side Speakers-Out or SS-Out. In fact, the presence of this interface allows for the setting up a 7.1 audio channel system.

Furthermore, SS-Out can be of different colors – white, silver, or grey. But if your motherboard has no colors in the audio ports, you can check the label that indicates “side” and a speaker icon.

S/PDIF-Out Port in Motherboard

Until now, we’ve only covered the audio ports that work on analog signals. Now, let’s focus on the interface that outputs digital signals, the S/PDIF-Out (Sony/Philips Digital Interconnect Format), which is present in most modern motherboards.

Unlike the regular ones, these optical ports are square-shaped and may even illuminate lights out of them. Moreover, they require digital optical cables for transmitting digital signals from a PC to an audio output device.

Depending on the model, you may find different types of optical ports on a motherboard. These can be identified using the labels “Digital Audio Out”, “TOSLINK”, “S/PDIF”, etc.

Coaxial-Out Port in Motherboard

Coaxial-Out is another digital output port on a motherboard. Basically, it works very similarly to the S/PDIF-Out port, and the only difference is that it requires a copper or RCA cable to establish a connection with your speaker.

Apart from just the dedicated audio ports, you can also use other motherboard ports that can carry audio and digital signals. These include USB, HDMI, and DisplayPort.

Indeed, USB headphones are getting popular these days, and they even have a microphone attached. In such a case, you do not have to look for dedicated input or audio port; you can simply connect the device to a USB port. 

Likewise, HDMI speakers have also gained popularity in the past few years. Thus, if you’re looking to connect such a device to your motherboard, the correct port you should look for is the HDMI ARC. Unfortunately, this port might be absent on some models.

Connecting your speakers and headphones (open-back or close-back) to the appropriate port isn’t as challenging as one might think. If you already have stereo headphones, you can directly plug the device into the dedicated headphone out port on the motherboard.

Likewise, if you’re trying to connect a home theatre system to your PC, you can use either the optical/coaxial or the standard 3.5 mm ports. In the case of the latter one, you can utilize all the Line-Out, CS-Out, RS-Out, and SS-Out ports.

Suppose you have a 7.1-channel setup (two rear speakers, two front speakers, two side speakers, and a subwoofer). Here, you need to connect the front speakers to the Line-Out, the rear speakers to RS-Out, the side speakers to SS-Out, and the subwoofer or central speakers to CS-Out. You can follow a similar technique to connect 3.1, 5.1, or 6.1 surround systems to the motherboard ports.

Note: The ‘.1’ after each speaker system refers to the inclusion of a subwoofer, which itself is not a speaker but still holds great value in the surround system.

Review: Owc Mercury Elite Pro Mini Dual

One of the reasons I like Macs is that their useful life tends to be significantly longer than that of a typical Windows machine. This is especially true of the pre-Retina MacBook Pro models, where it’s trivial to upgrade both the RAM and the drive.

I’d previously swapped out the 750GB hard drive and optical drive that came with my late-2011 MacBook Pro 17 for two 1TB hard drives. Along with a RAM upgrade, that gave me a 16GB RAM, 2TB hard drive machine. The plan was to use the machine in that form for a year or two, then do a further upgrade to SSDs once 1TB models arrived and fell to a halfway sensible price.

When that finally happened, and I did the upgrade, that gave me two 1TB hard drives surplus to requirements. I could have placed each into its own external drive caddy, but one 2TB drive is more useful than two 1TB ones, so I decided instead to try out OWC’s Mercury Elite Pro mini. This is an external enclosure for two 2.5-inch drives, which supports both USB 3 and Firewire 800, drawing power from either source – making it a portable drive without the need for external power … 

Installing drives into the enclosure is trivial even for non-technical types, thanks to the extremely comprehensive instruction booklet with clear, step-by-step photos. If you can use a screwdriver, your skill-set is complete.

Undoing two Philips screws on the backplate allows you to slide out the innards.

Inside, OWC supplies the eight Philips screws you need to secure the two drives in the caddy. Remove these, and the silica gel packet, and you can then slot in the two drives. Simply place each one loose in the caddy, line up the SATA connection with the slots and push firmly into place.

You do have to press down a little more firmly on the right-hand drive, which sits on top of a clip holding two cables, but it’s a simple, 10-second job.

Once the drives are in place, flip the unit upside-down and insert the four screws which attach each drive.

The instructions suggest you hold the unit in your hand to press the drives flat against the bottom-plate while doing this, which is easy to do.

Once secured, you need to set three DIP switches to tell the unit which mode you want. There’s a choice of RAID 0, RAID 1 and Span. I chose RAID 0. This makes both drives look to OS X like a single drive, with data spread across the two. It does, though, mean that a failure of either drive will result in loss of data. This isn’t a great concern to me, as it will be used as a media drive, so everything on it could be re-downloaded if needed.

If you want internal backup, RAID 1 gives you the full capacity of one of the drives, and mirrors all the data to the second one. Finally, if you are using two drives with different capacities, Span mode acts like RAID 0 in that it makes it appear to OS X as a single drive, writing data to one until that drive is full and then writing further data to the second one.

That done, slide the caddy back into the enclosure and re-attach the back-plate using the two screws you removed earlier.

That’s it: no cables to attach, only a total of ten screws. Connect to USB (newer Macs with USB 3 ports) or Firewire (older Macs), slide the power switch on and you’re up-and-running. Both cables are supplied, and both power the drive from the port.

With the job complete, you have a stylish-looking drive that matches the quality of any ready-made drive out there and is an excellent match for a Mac.

There are two Firewire 800 ports, so you can daisy-chain them if desired, though you will need external power to do that. OWC offers an optional power supply for this use.

In use, two blue LEDs light up to confirm both drives are operating.

With RAID 0, I was seeing both read and write speeds in the 60-70MB/s range on Firewire, which is on a par with what I’d expect from a single external drive.

At $89.99, it’s not the cheapest solution out there, but I do think it’s a decent value for what you get. It’s a very stylish design, very solid build – and the built-in RAID gives you the convenience of combining the capacity of two drives into one. It’s available direct from OWC, with free shipping.

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