PSU (power supply unit) is the only power source through which a computer system can gain power for its hardware or devices. Power supplies vary from PC to PC as different computers have different motherboards with different socket pinouts, voltage polarity, power consumption, etc.
Even the socket locks on PSU power cables have certain places depending on the connector size. This article will explain the importance of a PSU in a PC and the different types of computer power supply units. Let’s start by answering the main question to clear your concept.
Are PSU Power Cables Interchangeable?
Three types of power supply units (PSUs) are modular, non-modular, and semi-modular. You cannot interchange the power cables of non-modular power supplies. However, the power cables of other types of PSUs are replaceable because they are detachable. But you need to take care of the voltage polarity.
It can be hazardous to interchange a PSU power cable unless you know what power cable you need. The reason behind this is the configuration of the pinouts of the PSU power cables. If you accidentally connect the wrong cable, then not only can your motherboard fry, but your PSU can also be damaged.
The PSU power cable is the one that connects the power supply to the motherboard of your PC. Hence, it is the primary power source of your motherboard and the devices attached to it with data cables, such as SSDs, HDDs, keyboards, mouse, etc. GPU, CPU, and RAMs also get power from this power supply cable.
The semi-modular PSUs have one or two cables with standard connectors attached to them, while you can connect other types of power cables to the remaining cords. At the same time, the modular power supplies have all power cables replaceable, and you can easily do this by detaching them.
Hence, these two power supply units are more flexible as you can customize them. These PSUs also come with power cables. But if you have a new motherboard, you can count the number of pins on it first, then get that connector for your PSU. Such PSUs are built for future upgrades in your PC.
- Right PSU
The right PSU power cables with suitable connectors matter a lot. That is because every type of PSU power cable is designed for a specific computer motherboard. They have a particular voltage polarity, power rating, and PIN. Even the lock has its place. Using the wrong power cables can fry the mobo.
- Same manufacturer
We will never recommend you use a PSU power cable from another power supply because the power supplies differ from manufacturer to manufacturer. That is a hazardous task, and it can cost you your hardware, SSD, HDD, or other precious hardware. You can try if the PSU company and model are the same.
- Polarity Test
You can perform a continuity or polarity test if you have a multimeter. In this test, you can measure the volts on the pins of the PSU power cables. Drawing a diagram would be much better. Usually, you can judge that only by looking at the wires of the power cables, as some are yellow while some are black.
After this test, if even a single wire is different, we recommend you use a PSU power connector. That is because either it will have the wrong polarity or a lousy voltage intensity. Either way, you can lose your computer and its power supply unit (PSU).
What Cable Does a PSU Use?
There are different types of cables that your PSU uses. It uses only one cable to power itself from the power source. In contrast, the other types of cables are for powering your computer system’s hardware. Each PSU cable is a power cable with a specific connector to attach to particular hardware.
This hardware includes the motherboard, SSDs, HDDs, RAMs, CPU, GPU, etc., installed in your PC. The PSU cable is usually a long black cable outside the PC case. This cable usually has three pins to connect to the power supply. The other side of this cable is plugged into the AC outlet.
The other cables that a PSU uses are inside the PC case. The one with the most significant power connector is connected to the motherboard. Thus, it is the main power supply for the CPU, RAMs, and other data cables connected to SSDs or HDDs. With this PSU power cable, you can even switch on your computer system.
The second larger PSU power cable(s) power up your PC’s graphics card or GPU. It varies with the graphics card, such as 4-pin, 6-pin, 8-pin, 12-pin, two 8-pin, etc. Your computer does not start and gives you an error message on a blank screen until you connect these PSU power cables.
In the end, we have MOLEX and AMP PSU power cables. Usually, the older computer power supplies with IDE devices had them. Nowadays, we have SATA power cables because nearly all storage devices have a SATA power connection. These devices include solid-state drives (SSDs), DVD drives, or combo drives.
Can You Mix And Match PSU Cables?
You should keep the PSU power cables the same because this is risky. The power cables are directly connected to the motherboard, and there is no intelligent circuit in between to pop an error message about the mismatch. You can only experience this when the mixing goes wrong and the hardware fires.
The main reason behind this is that there is no standard for computer power supplies in terms of power. Hence, when you mix and match the cables wrongly, you can burn out the hardware installed in your PC, such as SSD, RAMs, CPU, etc. People have regretted it after mixing and matching the cables.
The reason for not standardizing the PSU power is that manufacturers want to distinguish between their PSUs. They might do this to protect themselves from copyright problems. More technical people use DMM (digital multimeter) to properly mix and match the PSU power cables.
Are Modular PSU Cables Universal?
Modular power supply units are also known as fully-modular PSUs. They are called so because you can detach their cables to replace them with other cords. The cables of modular PSUs are not universal. That is because every different company has its own method of manufacturing these power supply units.
There is not a single standard for modular power supplies; this is what they come with power cables sometimes. These power cables have the correct polarity for specific computer hardware because the manufacturers have arranged the wires in their connectors. A mismatched line can cause you to lose your hardware.
Some people try to mix and match the PSU power cables, often damaging their computers by burning out some of the hardware. Hence, we will never recommend you mix and match the power cables because they have a particular arrangement of voltage polarity on their pins or wires.
Can You Use Cable from Different PSUs?
You cannot use the cable from different PSUs because each power cable has its polarity and pin arrangement. Using a PSU power cable from a separate power supply can burn out your hardware and damage the PSU itself. Hence, we will not recommend you conduct this experiment.
However, if you have the same model of PSU manufactured by the same company, you can use the power cable from that power supply unit. In this way, it is a massive possibility that both power cords will be the same, and it will not be risky for your computer system and its hardware.
Firstly, you should get the same power cable for your hardware. Secondly, if you need to switch on your computer, you must do a continuity test to ensure that the line you are interchanging or replacing with another cable is the same. You should not use it if a single pin or wire mismatches.
Suppose someone claims that they tried using a cable from a different power supply, and it worked. In that case, it was a coincidence that the two manufacturers had the same voltage polarity for their PSU power cord. Hence, we recommend you use the PSU power cables that come with PSU.
It is also possible that the other supply belonged to the same manufacturer with a different model. And this is why using the power cable from another PSU worked adequately. But doing this was a risky task. Thus, using cables from another PSU harms your computer motherboard, SSD, HDD, and other hardware.
Moreover, you can only use PSU power cables from the same manufacturer because of their pin arrangement and polarity match. This way, you will never damage the hardware installed on your PC.
Using cables from different power supply units is not recommended. Every PSU manufacturer has its arrangement of voltage polarity on their pins and wires. It means that connecting the power cables from two different PSUs can cause severe damage to your computer hardware.
Hey, I’m Hammad. I write for this website to help you with the IT advice about PC, RAM, CPU, Motherboard, PSU, and other PC components.
I will provide detailed guides with images, and explain step by step so you can understand the process. Check all my articles here.