Are PSU cables universal? [Everything You Need to Know]

Written By Steven Arends

It’s been a few days that you have wanted to change the PSU cables of your PC, and you have been reading up a lot lately, which is getting frustrating. I can feel you.

So, you are wondering:

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Are PSU cables universal?

No, PSU cables are not universal. The PSU side of a PSU is not standardized. Since the Non-modular PSU cables are directly attached to the PSU, you can’t change them. Whereas, Modular and Semi-modular PSU cables aren’t universal as the cables at the PSU end are detachable.

I have spent a lot of time researching this as a computer geek, so I can assure you that your frustration will end here.

Read this post till the end to get a definitive answer and clear all your confusion.

Check out our separate post on PSU tier list.

Types of Power Supply

If you are wondering if the PSU cables are universal, then a question about the types of PSUs, PSU cables, or how exactly a PSU works may pop up in your head. If that’s where your mind stumbled, then wait no more. The section below will answer those questions.

What is a PSU?

Power Supply Unit, in short PSU, provides your motherboard and all the necessary PC components with power. Power outlets on our walls provide Alternating Current (AC), whereas our computers can only operate in Direct Current (DC), so PSUs convert AC into DC.

As you can tell, PSU is one of the essential parts of your computer, which is why you should take it seriously. PSU is powering up every single electrical component on your PC, and you might end up frying your PC if you don’t put enough thought and money into it.

What are the types of PSU?

There are three types of PSU: Non-modular, Semi-modular, and Modular. Non-modular comes with all the cables directly attached to the PSU, Semi-Modular with one or two attached cables, and Modular with fully detachable cables.

Semi-modular has some of the necessary cables built-in with the option of inserting more power cables if needed. It creates a bridge between Non-modular and Modular PSUs.

Modular PSU comes with detachable cables where the user will have complete freedom to choose what cable(s) they want to use, including how the cables look. Although, they must use the cables which come with the PSU.

Modular PSUs are for the people who are concerned with cable management, aesthetics, and future upgrades.

You may also ask:

So what exactly is a PSU cable?

The cable that connects your PSU to the motherboard and other components in your CPU is the PSU cable.

You can also check out our separate blog on psu overheating.

What cable does a PSU use?

Generally, you need four different types of cables for your PC to work: 20/24-pin ATX power cable, 4/8 pin CPU cable, SATA cable, and PCIe/VGA cable. The answer to this is very general because different users can have unusual numbers of cables needed.

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The purpose of the ATX power cable, as the name suggests, is to power your entire motherboard, including fans and lights. It is a 24-pin or 20 pins + 4 pin cable.

CPU cable is usually 4-pin or 8-pin, depending on your machine’s motherboard socket and processor’s pin requirement. Hence, this cable powers your motherboard’s socket and processor.

SATA power cable is used to power your drives: HDD, SSD, and Optical drives.

PCIe/ VGA cable is used to power your graphics card and sometimes your sound card too.

In older PSUs/PCs, there is another type of cable called Molex cable. This cable is used to power the fans and lights of your PC. It is not needed in modern computers anymore.

If you don’t know about your PSU then check out what power supply you are using.

Are PSU cables interchangeable?

In general, PSU cables are not interchangeable. You can only do that if the PSU cables belong to the same model, but it’s always best not to take that risk. The voltage on the cable pin-ins and pin-outs can be different from your PSU, which might damage your computer.

If you want to use a cable that doesn’t come with the same model, you must do a continuity test using a multimeter. You can do this by matching the voltage on the pin-ins with pin-outs because the pin positions aren’t standardized.

One fun evening, I was helping my friend set up his brand new PSU, and suddenly my friend asked me if I could mix and match PSU cables. That fun evening became a sad one in a blink of an eye because I didn’t know the answer to that.

I got home, chugged a cup of coffee, and started researching it.

Also read why to use a PSU shroud for cleaning up the internal look of your PC.

Can you mix and match PSU cables?

PSU cables should not be mixed and matched. The pin layout or wattage on the cables can be different from your PSU, which may lead to the death of your PC. You can only mix and match if the PSU cables belong to the same model, but it’s still a risky move.

But you have bought a PSU from a higher-tier brand like Corsair, and you are wondering if they are at least interchangeable since you have spent a hefty amount of price on it.

So you ask:

Are Corsair PSU cables interchangeable?

It depends on the compatibility of the cable. Corsair’s website has a compatibility table that shows what type of cable is compatible with what model. The compatibility is so limited that a 24-pin ATX cable from one model can be compatible with another model, but its PCIe/SATA cable could be incompatible.

Also, check out if modular PSUs come with cables or not.

Are Modular PSU cables universal?

No, they aren’t. Modular PSU cables are detachable, so the cable pins and wattage must match the pin positions and wattage of the specific PSU brand/model. The PSU end of a PSU is proprietary and not standardized. Hence, it varies from brand to brand, model to model.

You may ask:

Why are PSU cables not standardized?

The PSU manufacturers want to differentiate themselves. They are selling a product that should be able to use the cables it includes. It seems like a hassle for the manufacturers to agree on a standard cable as the production cost of these cables is very low.

You may also ask:

Do all the PSUs have the same cables?

No, all PSUs don’t have the same cables. The PSU side of the cables are not the same

but are different in different brands, models, and even versions.

Can you use cables from different PSUs?

In general, no. You can only use cables from different PSUs if the cable and the PSU belong to the same model of the same brand, or else it will fry your computer’s components like motherboard, HDD/SSD, etc.

If you get a third-party PSU cable or a cable from a different PSU, you must do a continuity test to match the pin-ins with pin-outs. It’s a somewhat complicated process, and it is better to avoid the risk entirely.

Thermaltake and Corsair are both high-tier brands which is why you are wondering if you can use your Corsair PSU cables on your newly bought Thermaltake’s PSU.

Can I use Corsair PSU cables on Thermaltake PSU?

No, you can’t use Corsair PSU cables on Thermaltake PSU as they are incompatible. It is very rare for PSUs from different brands to have the same pin setup. Using Corsair PSU cables on any other Thermaltake may cause irreversible damage to your PC.

Can you use old PSU cables with the new PSU?

No. the PSU cable layout on the PSU side differs from brand to brand, model to model, and version to version. You can get a new PSU of the same brand as your old one and still end up frying your computer just by using the old cables.

Sometimes, the same series but newer version of PSU can have a different pin layout. You have to make sure the current cables are wired the same way and are compatible with your new PSU.

Unless you are 100% certain that they have the same pin layout, do not use the old PSU cables. Even a maybe means no.

I would advise you to use the new cables that came with your new PSU.

Can I replace my PSU cable?

You can only replace your PSU cable if you get that from the same manufacturer you bought your PSU. However, the cost of a set of cables will almost be similar, even more sometimes, to buying a brand new PSU.

You can get some custom-made cables from online customized cable stores like cablemod etc. There you can select your PSU brand, model, motherboard, and the graphics card you use to get your desired cables.

Nonetheless, this will cost you a lot of money depending on what cables you need, like ATX, PCI-E, SATA, etc. The more you need, the more expensive it is. Heck, you can just get a new PSU with that money.

Moreover, it is best to buy a new PSU rather than changing the cables since a slight mistake can burn your computer’s part. Better safe than sorry.

You may ask:

Can I change the PSU power cable?

Yes, you can. As long as the cable is of the same voltage and ampere as your PSU and the power cable’s pins fit perfectly, then there is nothing to worry about.

Where to Buy PSU Cables?

The best place to buy PSU cables is from the same manufacturer store where you bought your PSU. Online stores like Cablemod and icemodz are good online stores to customize PSU cables based on your PSU brand/model.

Final Thoughts

The question of whether or not the PSU cables are universal is only applicable when your PSU is modular or semi-modular.

It is always best not to use any cable you find online/shops or mix-match the cables as it can fry up your PC’s components since the PSU cables aren’t universal. It is wise to play it safe(est) when it comes to PSU, as it is one of the most sensitive parts of a computer.

For more tech-related content, keep your eyes on our website.

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