In this article, I’ll explain what front panel connectors are, their different types, their pinout, and their usage.
Front Panel Connectors, aka “Front Panel headers,” are connectors located on the front of your motherboard that allow you to connect your computer’s case switches and indicators to the motherboard. Most front panel connectors use the same standard pinout, but a few use their own. In this case, you’ll have to refer to your motherboard manual or use the trial-and-error method.
What are front power connectors?
As already mentioned, “Front panel connectors” are the section of connectors that connect your motherboard to the case. They consist of pin power connectors like the power button, the reset button, and the LED indicators of your computer’s case.
There are 5 functionalities that each motherboard system panel connector provides:
- Power Switch Pins: Two pins on your front panel header that are connected to your computer’s case cables and make its power button work. These are called “PWRSW” or “PWBTN.”
- Power LED Pins: Three pins that connect to your case’s power LED light and make it work to indicate if your computer is on or off. These pins are often called “PLED.”
- Reset Switch Pins: Two pins that connect to your computer’s case reset button and make it work. These pins are called “RSTSW.”
- HDD LED Pins: Two pins that connect to your computer’s case hard disk LED light to show if your hard disks are active or not by blinking the light on and off. These pins are called “HDLED.”
- Case Speaker Pins: Four pins that connect to your computer’s case speakers to beep when something happens on your computer. They are called “SPKR.”
This doesn’t mean that a motherboard will have only these pins on your front panel header, but they are the most common.
Related Article: How To Connect The Power Button To The Motherboard
How to find the front panel connectors of your motherboard?
Finding the motherboard front panel connectors, aka system panel header controls on your motherboard, is a very easy task, and there are two ways to find them:
1. Look At Your Motherboard’s Manual
The first way is to simply look at your motherboard manual for the front panel connector label and find the corresponding header on your motherboard.
2. Look At Your Motherboard And Read The Labels
The second short and easy method is to look at your motherboard’s layout and find the pins on the front of the motherboard labeled as “F_PANEL” or something similar.
How to find which pins of your Front panel connector are used for what?
Finding which pins of your front panel connector are for power, reset, etc., is actually very easy. Just like you did to locate your front panel connectors, you can use either your motherboard’s manual or the labeling on the motherboard itself. The labeling on your motherboard will look like this:
As you can see in the image above, the pins are clearly labeled with their acronyms, and there’s no room for mistakes. If you find it difficult to understand the acronyms for the pins, don’t worry; read your motherboard manual, and you will be fine.
Front Panel Power Case Cables
Now that you know what front panel connectors your motherboard uses and how to find them, the only thing left is to find the proper power case cables and connect them.
At this point, I need to make something very clear. Your computer case might be missing the speaker cable or have an extra cable for an extra led or something else. This is totally normal, and you should check your case manual for information about this. In this article, I am talking about the basic cables that are the most common.
So, take a look at the photo below; this is what the case’s basic cables look like (the ones I am talking about).
As you can see, there is clear labeling on the plastic connector, which makes connecting the cables very simple.
And this brings us to the next section.
Related Article: How To Test Motherboard Without CPU? [Solved]
How to connect the case’s cables to the correct pins?
Now that you have seen all the photos and read all the information above, you can connect the case’s basic cables to the correct pins.
Check the labeling of the motherboard or the pin-out list the motherboard’s manual provides. Find out which pins are for power, reset, etc. and connect the appropriate cables according to their labeling.
The only tricky part is to put the right charge of the cables to the right charge on the pin when you connect them.
In simple words:
Every cable of your case has a “+” and a “-,” and every pin on your motherboard also has a “+” and a “-.” When you connect this cable, you should connect it, so the “+” goes to “+” and “-” to “-.”
But don’t worry, even if you mess things up, it won’t damage your computer. Your motherboard simply won’t start if you connect the power cables wrong, which can be fixed by changing the connections.
Actually, this is a very common mistake newbies make the first time they try to connect a power cable.
Bonus Tip 1! How to Jumpstart your motherboard
I am sure you have seen movies where they connect one (or more) cables to jumpstart a car, right?
This is actually something you can do with your motherboard if your power button doesn’t work.
All you have to do is to take a flat screwdriver and touch the two power switch pins with the screwdriver.
That’s it! Your motherboard will power up.
Bonus tip 2! What do the beeping sounds of your motherboard mean?
The beeping sounds of your motherboard are really important. If your motherboard is beeping you have to understand that it is trying to tell you something.
There are many beep codes that tell you different things, but we are going to cover the most common ones.
- 1 beep: 1 beep means that there is a problem with your RAM.
- 4 beeps: 4 beeps mean that there is a problem with your motherboard
- 5 beeps: 5 beeps mean that there is a problem with your processor.
- 6 beeps: 6 beeps mean that there is a problem with your keyboard.
- 8 beeps: 8 beeps mean that there is a problem with your GPU.
This is everything you need to know about the front panel connectors and how to connect your case cables right.
It is a lot of information and maybe a bit complicated for a beginner, but don’t worry! If you have any questions, let me know in the comments below. I will answer all your questions as soon as possible.
Thank you very much for reading this article, and stay tuned for more!
Nick Ryley is a computer architect and the owner of The Pc Geekz.
His love for playing games got him interested in computers in the first place. He wanted to be able to build a gaming PC that could run all the latest games at max settings, and this has him pursuing a major in computer architecture!
He started this blog to help people out and answer some of the most common questions about computer building