This is a complete guide to SATA ports. Everything you need to know about what they do, what they look like and how they work.
Everyone has SATA ports in their computers and motherboards. It is a staple used to connect a crucial component to your motherboard which is a mass storage device.
You can connect either a hard drive, optical drive or solid state drive to these ports.
I will show you some pictures of the ports as well so you know what you are looking for.
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What Is A SATA Port?
This is what a SATA port is.
SATA(serial AT attachment) is a computer bus interface which connected host bus adapters to storage devices like a hard drive, optical drive or solid state drive. SATA ports are used for connecting these mass storage drives to a motherboard. These ports can be found both on the back of the hard drive as well as scattered around a motherboard.
Often times these ports are 7 pin L shaped connectors and sometimes have a latch. The cables come in various lengths and speeds. Make sure you seat the plug properly in the port because you don’t want to corrupt your storage devices!
You will know when it’s plugged in by pushing it down all the way until the latch at the back of the plug is locked in place.
SATA ports are really easy to plug into. The cable is very stiff and can be plugged into the port easily. You can remove it by holding down the latch and then pulling it out.
The L shape is a lot easier to plug in and out of compared to the L shape of the motherboard power connector.
What Does A SATA Port Do
The ports are an interface that connects mass storage devices to a motherboard component. The ports transfer data such as computer files and information.
You can add more of these ports by getting a SATA PCIe card which can have up to 4 extra ones. This is a bit unnecessary though because people don’t need that many hard drives. You can just upgrade the storage amount of your drives.
These ports can die from thermal, electrical or mechanical issues. They can also become faulty if you damage the pins.
The purpose of SATA ports was to be an upgrade to PATA which is a Parallel ATA interface. It’s much faster than PATA and a lot easier to install. This takeover happened in 2004 with SATA 2 release and 2008 with SATA 3 release.
SATA 1 ports only connect to SATA 1 cables, same with 2 and 3. You can see what types of ports there are on the motherboard by looking at the text which is written next to it.
What Does A SATA Port Look Like?
SATA ports look like long and thin L shaped ports. They are often found at the back of hard drives. Don’t confuse them with the big L shaped power port on your motherboard to connect to your power supply.
On the back of your hard drive, there are 2 SATA ports. One is a port connector which is a wider one and the other is a data cable which is a shorter one.
These ports come in many different colors like red, white, blue, yellow, and black. They are often accompanied by numbers on the motherboard which read SATA2_4, SATA2_5, etc.
They can be found spread out the perimeter of your motherboard or they can be found all clustered together. Just look for the L shape in the middle.
The ones on the motherboard are often small L shaped ports.
The SATA power cables look like long and thin L-shaped plugs that have many pins. They are thin and covered with a rubber material and they do not tangle easily.
Sometimes the SATA plugs have tags around the cables.
Types of SATA Ports
You have SATA2 or SATA3 ports and they are often color coded. Blue is usually SATA2 which is an older port and slower one. White is usually SATA3 which is a faster and newer port.
- SATA 1 has a throughput rate of 187.5 MB/s or 1.5 Gbps
- SATA 2 has a throughput rate of 375 MB/s or 3.0 Gbps
- SATA 3 has a throughput rate of 750 MB/s or 6.0 Gbps
However, this depends completely on the motherboard design and model. Some mobos don’t have variants of SATA ports and they just have one color.
Most hard drives can only go up to 200MB/s anyway. Hard drives usually come with the SATA cables for you to plug into the ports. They often come with both types.
How Many SATA Ports Does a PC Have
Usually motherboards have only 4-6 SATA ports, this depends on your motherboard size. mATX motherboards are micro ATX boards and have less SATA ports. Same with mini ITX and different chipsets.
The average person only needs 2-3 SATA ports for their hard drives. Not everyone is going to be using 4-6 hard drives. Some mobo’s even have 8 ports.
SATA Port Labelling
The motherboard usually has labels on it written in white next to each port. Beside the SATA ports you should see text that says SATA#_# and it will tell you the version of each connector.
SATA 3, SATA 2, or SATA 6Gb/s are some common labels. You want to connect to the highest number and fastest speed for the best results. After the first digit, the last digit which is after the underscore is the port number on your mobo.
This lets you know which drive the BIOS is mentioning corresponding to the label.
Port 0 is recommended for your boot drive and port 1 is recommended for your secondary drive.
ESATA ports are usually used for external devices connecting at the back of your PC while SATA ports are usually used for internal devices connecting on your PC’s motherboard.
ESATA ports are rarely used anymore. It’s a very old port connector that was popular back in the USB 2.0 era. When USB 3.0 was released, ESATA ports were deemed much slower than the other options available.
SATA ports are easy to spot and they are generally found inside your computer case. They are used for many things such as connecting your hard drives to the motherboard.
SATA ports are becoming outdated by their competing PCIe based NVMe SSDs which are faster than regular hard drives and have different connectors.
SATA ports are internal connectors inside the PC for internal components and eSATA ports are external SATA ports used for external connectors outside the PC.
You will definitely need to know about SATA ports if you are building a new PC