SERIAL & PARALLEL 2020

The MSI X470 Gaming Plus has both serial and parallel port headers. This motherboard is back in use as the X570-A PRO is still not back from an RMA. USB to RS-232 and USB to parallel cables are readily available.

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USB ports were introduced on consumer motherboards circa 1996. The goal of USB was to supercede the old RS-232 serial port and the IEEE 1284 parallel port. USB also superseded PS/2. Firewire is architecturally different which USB was unable t o fully superseded. PCIe Firewire cards are low cost and support is available in Windows 10 as there remains a lot of Firewire equipment in use.

While the studio has three socket AM4 motherboards, many are still using socket AM3 motherboards and a few are still with the AM2 platform. Even the B350 ATX motherboards are available with some PCI slots which caters to the person with legacy hardware needs. While low cost some cannot afford PCIe cards especially in smaller economies.

USB printer cables initially were expensive but the cost fell rapidly. Today printers are now wireless network appliances. Network protocols by Apple and Microsoft made wireless multifunction printers possible.

PCI and PCI Express cards for RS-232 and IEEE 1284 are readily available at very low cost. Given a header is needed for motherboard ports, the card eliminates the worry about the proper motherboard support. The combination card is available in several permutations. Cable and bracket assembly can be expensive enough that the card is less costly due to availability and shipping costs..

Today USB has largely overtaken the obsolete ports. Still, motherboards in the last 3 years still have serial and parallel ports headers on them. Some motherboards even have old style PCI slots. Internal USB 2.0 ports tend to be in short supply for Wi-Fi cards and high-end power supplies. Front panel card reader boxes also use USB 2.0. The old HAF 932 has 2 USB 2.0 connector cables in addition to IEEE 1394 and audio.

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Ethernet with USB 3.0 combination card
  • Corsair HX1000i
  • Intel AX200 Wi-Fi with Bluetooth 5
  • Front panel card reader
  • HAF 932 front USB 2.0 (2 cables needed)

Part of the problem is that the chipsets do not offer enough USB 2.0 ports for users. Internal USB hubs are available to compensate but the lack of ports is still a problem. Ideally 4-6 USB 2.0 headers would handle the more extreme needs. At present there are no PCI Express cards with internal USB 2.0 headers.

The USB 3.0 header above has a cable to connect it to a distant slot. Slot 1 is now absent having been taken by the M.2 card and CPU coolers. There is often a PCIe x1 slot available below the video card. This can be routed to slot 1 and four additional USB 3.0 ports become available at the unused bracket.

The X470 and X570 both have dual 19-pin USB 3.x connectors which support front panel cables. USB 3.0 front panel boxes are low cost when more font panel support is needed.

The peripheral cards show all will work with PCI Express 1.1 or above. The USB 3.0 cards and the SATA card perform much better with a PCI Express 2.0 slot. AMD AM4 platforms support PCI Express 3.0 and the X570 bumps that to PCI Express 4.0.