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That's a question I was asking myself the first time I saw such a weird C5 plug. That was a while ago, but I came across it again and haven't found an answer yet.

The only thing I could find out is that C5 is with 2.5A and C13 with 10A. But I guess it would technically be no problem building an AC adapter (e.g. for laptops) in which you plug the far more common C13 connector.

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+1 for telling me what that connector is really called (C13 I mean). Everyone I've talked to just calls it a "modular power" connector... – Billy ONeal Nov 15 '11 at 2:54

There is a significant difference between the connectors. It is the current handling ability.

Basically, the C5 connector enables manufacturers to make smaller, lighter weight, less expensive power cables, because the C5 connector should never be used in a situation where overall current draw is greater than 2.5A.

A cable with a C13 connector that could fail/melt when subjected to a current draw of >2.5A would leave the manufacturer vulnerable to liability lawsuits. However, a similar cable would be fine with a C5 connector.

In the end, the C5 connector is not as common as the C13, so in situation where the minor cost saving of the C5 cable is mitigated by the lack of volume, the C13 connector is used, which is why you see it on laptops.

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There isn't really any difference and comes down to choice of the manufacturer and nothing more than that.

I have seen many laptops and some do have C13 adapters, I have looked at various specification but have not been able to find any logic behind the decision.

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