PC System Design Guide

PC System Design Guide

The PC System Design Guide (also known as the PC 97, PC 98, PC 99, or PC 2001 specification) is a series of hardware design requirements and recommendations for IBM PC compatible personal computers, compiled by Microsoft and Intel Corporation during 1997–2001. They were aimed to help manufacturers provide hardware that makes best use of the capabilities of the Microsoft Windows operating system, and to simplify setup and use of such computers.

Every part of a standard computer and the most common kinds of peripheral devices are defined with specific requirements. Systems and devices that meet the specification should be automatically recognized and configured by the operating system.



Four versions of the PC System Design Guide were released. Within each version, a distinction was made between the requirements of a Consumer PC, Office PC and an Entertainment PC.

Version Date
PC 97 February 9, 1998
PC 98 December 31, 1998
PC 99 July 14, 1999
PC 2001 November 2, 2000

PC 97

Initial version.

  • Introduced color code for PS/2 keyboard (purple) and mouse (green) connectors (see below)

PC 98

Aimed at systems to be used with Windows 98 or Windows 2000. Required:

  • 200 MHz Pentium processor with MMX technology (or equivalent performance)
  • 256 KB L2 cache
  • 32 MB RAM (recommended: 64 MB of 66 MHz DRAM)
  • ACPI 1.0 (including power button behavior)
  • Fast BIOS power-up (limited RAM test, no floppy test, minimal startup display, etc.)
  • BIOS Y2K compliance
  • PXE preboot environment

PC 99


  • 300 MHz CPU
  • 64 MB RAM
  • USB
  • comprehensive color coding scheme for ports and connectors (see below)

Strongly discouraged:

PC 2001

Final version. First to require IO-APICs to be enabled on desktop systems. Places a greatly increased emphasis on legacy-reduced and legacy-free systems. Some "legacy" items such as ISA expansion slots and device dependence on MS-DOS are forbidden entirely, while others are merely strongly discouraged.[1]

Color-coding scheme for connectors and ports

The perhaps most end-user visible and lasting impact of PC 99 was that it introduced a color code for the various standard types of plugs and connectors used on PCs.[2] As many of the connectors look very similar, particularly to a novice PC user, this made it far easier for people to connect peripherals to the correct ports on a PC. This color code was gradually adopted by almost all PC and motherboard manufacturers. Some of the color codes have also been widely adopted by peripheral manufacturers.

Color Function Connector on PC
Mouse and keyboard
  Green PS/2 mouse / pointing device 6-pin mini-DIN female
  Purple PS/2 keyboard 6 pin mini-DIN female
General input/output
  Black USB USB Type A female
  White USB 2.0 USB 2.0 Type A female
  Sky blue USB 3.0 SuperSpeed USB 3.0 SuperSpeed Type A female
  Grey Firewire / IEEE 1394 6 pin FireWire 400
  Burgundy Parallel port 25 pin D female
  Teal or turquoise Serial port 9 pin D male
  Blue Analog monitor 15-pin VGA female
  White Digital monitor DVI female
  Yellow S-Video 4 pin mini-DIN
  Yellow Composite video RCA jack
  Pink Analog microphone audio input (mono or stereo). 3.5 mm TRS
  Light blue Analog line level audio input. 3.5 mm TRS
  Lime green Analog line level audio output for the main stereo signal (front speakers or headphones). 3.5 mm TRS
  Black Analog line level audio output for the surround speakers (rear speakers). 3.5 mm TRS
  Silver Analog line level audio output for 'side speakers'. 3.5 mm TRS
  Orange Center speaker / Subwoofer 3.5 mm TRS
  Gold Game port / MIDI 15 pin D female


  1. ^ http://www.freeopenbook.com/pc-hardware-nutshell-3/pchardnut3-chp-1-sect-1.html
  2. ^ PC 99 System Design Guide, Intel Corporation and Microsoft Corporation, 14 July 1999. Chapter 3: PC 99 basic requirements (PC 99 System Design Guide (Self-extracting .exe archive). Requirement 3.18.3: Systems use a color-coding scheme for connectors and ports. Accessed 2009-02-05

See also

External links

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