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What Is a PS/2 Port and Why Do Some Computers Still Have Them?

Modern gaming PCs are equipped with many large modern connectors. We have USB-C ports, DisplayPort/HDMI ports, and … PS/2 ports? This legacy connector looks like it was in the 80s or 90s, and in fact, it probably is. However, many modern systems and motherboards, even gaming systems with the latest AMD Ryzen / Intel Core chips, seem to insist on digging this old connector out of its grave. And even if it doesn’t make sense to you, or to a lot of people, there are reasons why it exists.


Why do some modern PCs even include this old port?

What is a PS/2 Port?

Before we examine why these ports still exist today, we must first understand where they came from.

It was 1987. IBM used to have a wall in the PC market in recent years, but thanks to the rise of the IBM PC clone that could use IBM’s software and hardware, that market dominance quickly disappeared. In an attempt to get it back, IBM also wanted to make sure the clones could not be merged too quickly and could create a line of machines with a proprietary expansion bus and operating system, called this Personal System/2, or PS/2 (no, not PlayStation 2).

IBM’s aspirations to regain its former glory were not fulfilled with the PS/2, but the lineup left a lasting legacy, as computing innovations such as the 3.5-inch floppy disk and the VGA video standard actually starting with PS/2. . It also gave birth to the PS/2 port.

The PS/2 port replaces the DIN keyboard connector and the DE-9 mouse connector, and this allows a simpler way to connect the mouse and keyboard to the PC. While it was first introduced with its namesake PC lineup, it will continue to be used on non-IBM computers as well, becoming standard before USB is finally replaced as the preferred port for peripherals.

In the past, computers usually had at least two PS/2 ports — one for the keyboard, and one for the mouse. It can also be color-coded, with the keyboard port painted blue and the mouse port painted turquoise/green. Most systems including PS / 2 ports these days come with a PS / 2 port where you can plug in a mouse or a keyboard, or use a splitter to connect the two ( in the same way as with a color scheme). Some will still opt for a full set of two ports.

Why are PS/2 Ports Still a Thing?

Now that we’re pretty familiar with the PS / 2 ports, it’s time to talk about the elephant in the room. If this port was introduced in 1987, as widespread in the 90s and early 2000s, and has lost everything in the lives of most people, why do some motherboards still include one?

The ASUS ROG Maximus Z690 Apex, a + $ 800 motherboard with support for 12th Gen Intel Alder Lake chips, DDR5 RAM, and PCIe 5.0 connectivity, especially includes a complete set of two color-coded PS /2 ports. It has to be good for something, right?

PS / 2 has usually been replaced by USB for a few years, but there are some differences in the way the two standards work that make some people swear by PS / 2 ports up to a third. decade of the 21st century.

The way USB peripherals work is that the computer constantly checks them multiple times per second (a process known as polling) to see if they are idle, active, or doing something. PS / 2 peripherals, on the other hand, can take the lead in that, as they are able to send an interrupt to the CPU every time they have something to do. When you move your mouse or click an object, your mouse communicates directly with your CPU to register the action, rather than waiting to be detected by the computer. This means, in most cases, there is less latency than the same USB peripheral because it is not voting but is actively interacting with your computer.

They also have other advantages. In the case of keyboards, the PS / 2 opens up the possibility of true N-key rollover, meaning you can press any keys you want, and they will all register. If you reboot your BIOS, there will be a time when your USB peripherals will not be recognized, while you will not have that issue with PS / 2 peripherals because they are all the same.

These advantages, or rather technical differences, have led some pro gamers to keep their PS/2 peripherals. While most of the differences I mentioned earlier may be almost invisible to most people (we’re only talking about milliseconds here), having low latency can benefit some people in terms of competition. games and sports. Even if this is justified, though, it’s another story – it’s generally accepted that you’re probably better off buying a better gaming mouse than holding your old mouse on the ball from 1999.

We won’t judge you if you want to use your Model M keyboard, though.

Should I Use PS/2 Peripherals, Then?

No, you don’t have to. Well, maybe not. There’s a reason why USB was developed, after all.

We haven’t discussed the disadvantages of the PS/2, but they are many. For one, unlike USB, it’s not a hot-swappable port-if you unplug your mouse or keyboard from a running system, you’ll need to reboot for it to work again, and moreover, you can damage it. The port itself is also easily fragile, and you can easily pinch the pins inside a PS / 2 connector if you’re not careful with it.

Unless your specific use case absolutely calls for the use of PS/2, there is no reason to use it. You might think that your ball mouse and your old keyboard might be ready for a non -ironic comeback, but it’s better to leave the past behind.

There Is A Demand, But It Is Probably Unreasonable For Most People

We can see the reason why some motherboards still include this old port. Some people swear by them and refuse to do the USB transfer because they feel that, for their specific use case, the PS / 2 is superior. There’s a market out there, and while it’s a minority, it’s a very strong one. And while for some scenarios that may be true, for most people, USB peripherals are the best option.

Hopefully, now you know the difference.

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