Are you confused by SATA ports? Here is a simple guide that should help clear up some common misunderstandings about SATA and how these ports work. But if you learn how they work, you’ll be able to make sense of the seemingly confusing world of SATA ports.
What is SATA?
Serial ATA (SATA) is a serial interface used to connect storage devices to pcs via the motherboard. Whether you are building your custom computer or upgrading your current system, understanding your computer and, more importantly, your motherboard SATA ports. Moreover, they can be an important part of ensuring compatibility with all the devices you want to use.
What are SATA Ports?
SATA ports are likely the most versatile as far as standard computer ports go. They are used for hard drive connections and for CD drives, DVD drives, and even some solid-state drives.
What Does a SATA Port Look Like?
A SATA port is typically a rectangular-shaped tiny port measuring 15 centimeters long and 0.4 centimeters high. You can easily recognize this port on the motherboard due to its 7-pin L-shaped connector.
What Does a SATA Cable Look Like?
A serial ATA cable is a thin ribbon-like cable with a 7-pin connector at both ends. One end of the cable is plugged into the motherboard, whereas the other end goes into a storage device.
Latest SATA Versions & Their Color Codes:
The latest Serial ATA ports found on the motherboards are of 3 versions
- SATA 1: The data transfer speed of SATA 1 ports is 1.5 gigabytes per second.
- SATA 2: The data transfer speed of SATA 2 ports is 3.0 gigabytes per second.
- SATA 3: The data transfer speed of SATA 2 ports is 6.0 gigabytes per second.
These ports come in different versions and colors depending on the motherboard. The motherboard with a single slot SATA port usually is uncolored. On the other hand, motherboards with multi-slot SATA interfaces have specific colors where blue indicates SATA 3 ports.
If your motherboard comes with a SATA 3 port, then you can load the compatible storage device in it. Additionally, you can benefit from the fastest speed of this latest generation SATA port and the high-end capabilities of your motherboard.
SATA 2 ports are colored red or black based on the motherboard, and these ports are half of the speed that SATA 3 ports can offer. Almost all the latest motherboards feature SATA 3 ports, so SATA 2 ports can be found on the older motherboard models.
Labeling Of SATA Ports
The motherboards typically indicate the fastest speed that these ports support. According to the above information, the SATA 3 port is capable of 6 GB/sec and is labeled the same on your motherboard, and SATA 2 and SATA 3 can deliver speeds of 3 GB/sec and 1.5 GB/sec, respectively. If you are a beginner and trying to work on your motherboard on your own, being able to identify the ports is very helpful.
SATA Connector Types
When it comes to serial ATA (SATA), you will run into three types of connectors: SATA power, data, and slimline. The following descriptions outline each type of connector:
SATA Power Connector
This 15-pin connector supplies power to Serial ATA devices like optical and hard drives. The connectors are keyed differently than the standard 4-pin Molex connectors, so you do not swap them. The pins are also spaced farther apart so that 4-pin Molex connectors would fit in their place.
SATA Data Connector
It is a 7-pin connector you can use for data transfer between the motherboard and a hard drive or optical drive. These connectors are keyed differently so that they cannot be plugged in backward or swapped with other cables.
Slimline SATA Power or Data Connector
These are new thin versions of the former SATA power and data connectors designed for small form factor systems like laptops, tablets, and ultrabooks. They are keyed differently.
Do You Have to Use SATA Ports in Order?
There is no technical reason to use SATA ports in order, although some motherboards will list the ports starting from zero. If you are eager about performance, you can use the lowest port, which offers the optimal data transfer rate. For example, if you are going to use a SATA III device, it is best to use one of the SATA III ports because the device added to the slower port will run slower.
How to Connect 2 Hard Drives to 1 SATA Port?
If you use a powered SATA adapter, you can do it. With a SATA cable and port combination, you can connect up to two hard drives. To do this, you will need to connect both of the hard drives’ SATA power connectors to your PSU. Once this is done, connect both SATA data connectors on each hard drive to a single SATA port on the motherboard.
How to Expand SATA Ports?
If you have to add more SATA ports, you need to utilize a SATA expander. Amazingly, it is a simple device that takes one SATA port and expands it into multiple ones. The disadvantage of a SATA expander is that you can not connect the SATA cable to it directly. Rather than that, you have to use a special cable that has connectors for power and data at both ends.
How to Find SATA Ports on The Motherboard?
Most motherboards will have one of two types of SATA connectors:
SATA: These are the flat connectors that look like a group of small rectangles. They can connect up to 6Gbps and are used with serial ATA hard drives and optical drives.
eSATA: These ports are larger than SATA ports and can connect up to 3Gbps. You can use them to connect external hard drives.
Wrapping it up
SATA ports are not too complex, but you should know a few things about them. If you are looking to buy a computer with multiple ports, it is important to know what makes them easier to use than its older counterparts. With so many terms and numbers floating around when it comes to data transfer, it is easy to get confused. We hope that this knowledge before making any decision will come in handy.