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What Does Pinout Mean?

A pinout is a reference to the pins or contacts that connect an electrical device or connector. It describes the functions of transmitted signals and the circuit input/output (I/O) requirements. Each individual pin in a chip, connector or singular wire is defined in text, a table or a diagram.


A pin is typically a male connector, but in the definition of a pinout gender does not apply. There are also connectors that have only female sockets, which have documentation for contact to function.

Electrical connectors need to be specifically documented. Pinouts are an imperative reference when testing or constructing adapters, connectors or cables. Every connector must be properly mated to a connector that has the same function. This is to prevent dissimilar functions from interconnecting, which may result in damage to or failure of a component.

Techopedia Explains Pinout

A pinout is a documentation of each pin that connects to a connector or component. A pinout generally has descriptions in a diagram or table, which specifically indicates whether it is the back-side or front-side view, or if it is the mating face of the connector. Pinout standards are commonly provided by the device or connector manufacturer. Most manufacturers use open standards that are regulated. Some pinouts, however, are specified through a third party because the manufacturer did not make detailed documentation.

Most connectors have data, ground and voltage pins. Depending on the connector, some also have a clock signal, horizontal sync, vertical sync, video display controller (VDC) and other features. There are various types of pinouts such as:

  • PS/2 pinout: Has six pins, each of which is used for a specific purpose, although pins two and six are not used.
  • ATX power supply pinout: Has 20 pins, each of which is color coded with VDC and other descriptions
  • VGA pinout: Has 15 pins, most of which are color coded and show impedance/level
  • Digital Visual Interface (DVI): Has 24 pins that describe transition minimized differential signaling data, dual link, single link and other pins
  • Universal Serial Bus (USB) pinout: Has four color-coded pins: pin 1, +5V; pin 2, –Data; pin 3, +Data; and pin 4, ground. These are found on all most modern PCs

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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert
Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.