In this article, I am going to talk about how to recognize a SATA cable and its different types.
SATA cables are used to connect storage devices such as hard disk drives, optical disc drives, and solid-state drives to the motherboard.
While the newer SSDs use M.2 connectors, SATA cables are still used to connect the older storage devices. There are different types of SATA cables, but don’t worry because we will cover everything in this article.
So let’s start talking about what SATA cables are and how to recognize them.
So, What does a SATA cable look like?
The first thing that you have to know is that there are two SATA cables, the data cable and the power cable.
1. SATA data cable
The SATA data cable is the cable that is used to transfer data between the storage device and the motherboard.
The SATA data cable is a flat, 7-pin on each side thin cable that looks like the one in the picture above. The connectors are L-shaped, with the plug being held in place by a plastic clip. They come in different colors; the most common colors are red and blue. Also, some of them have 90-degree angled connectors for better cable management.
Finally, they come with the motherboard, so you won’t have to buy them separately unless you are looking to replace the cable for some reason.
2. SATA power cable
As its name implies, this cable is used to provide power for the storage device. It is a 15-pin cable with the power connector being held in place by a plastic clip.
This cable is part of the PSU and comes along with it. If your PSU doesn’t come with one, you will have to buy it separately.
Related Article: What Is A PCIe Cable And What It Is Used For
What are the different types of SATA cables?
All this time, we have been talking about the SATA-SATA cable, but as already mentioned, there are other types of SATA interface cables as well.
I am not going to get into the technical details about the different types of cables and how they work, but you can check the table below for more information.
|SATA Cable Type||Use|
|SATA SATA||Standard SATA cables we talk about in this article.|
|e-SATA||e-SATA cables are used to connect external SATA Devices to your PC.|
|Micro SATA||Micro SATA Cables are used in laptops to connect your HDD devices.|
|Low Profile SATA||Low Profile SATA cables are ultra-thin cables used to connect your GPUs.|
|SATA Power Cable||These are the SATA power cables we talk about in this article.|
|SATA Bridge||SATA bridges are used to connect ATA devices to SATA slots.|
|SATA Brackets||SATA Brackets are used to convert SATA SATA to e-SATA|
what are SATA cables used for?
As already mentioned, SATA cables are used to transfer data and power between the motherboard and the storage device.
They are not the fastest cables out there, but they offer a good balance between performance and price. Faster technologies such as NVMe are starting to replace SATA, but for now, they are still the most common type of storage device.
What kind of devices requires data cables?
I already touched on this subject when talking about the different types of SATA cables, but let’s clarify it.
The devices that require a SATA data cable are:
- Hard Drives
- Optical Devices
- Solid State Drives
So, if you need to connect an HDD to the motherboard, then the SATA data cable is what you are looking for.
However, SSDs come with either an mSATA or M.2 connector, and they don’t use SATA cables as they need faster data transfer speeds.
Related Article: What Cables Do I Need For SSD?
Where to plug in the SATA cable on the motherboard?
Now that we have talked about what SATA cables look like, it’s time to talk about how to plug them into the motherboard.
The SATA data cables are plugged into the SATA ports on the motherboard; they are usually clustered together next to the PCI slots.
Of course, not all motherboards are the same, so look at your motherboard’s manual for more information. If you don’t have the manual, you can physically examine the motherboard and look for ports with the SATA labeling; it will be something “SATA2_0”.
This brings us to the next thing you should know: not all SATA connectors on your motherboard are the same. Some of them might be SATA 2 (3.0Gb/s) ports, while others SATA 3 (6.0Gb/s) ports.
This is something you can find out pretty easily by reading the label on your motherboard. I told you that the label would be something like “SATA2_0”. The number 2 after SATA stands for the generation of the port, while the number 0 is the actual port number. The ports are also color-coded, which makes it even easier to find them.
But if you still don’t feel comfortable figuring out the difference between SATA 3 and 2 by inspecting your motherboard, you can always check the manual.
Related Article: Do Motherboards Come With SATA Cables?
Are there different cables for SATA 2 and SATA 3?
Because I talked about the different generations of SATA ports, some of you might be wondering if there are different cables for SATA 2 and SATA 3.
The answer is no, there is only one cable, and that’s the SATA cable. The generation of the port represents the speed of the connection, not the type of cable.
Related Article: How To Identify SATA 1 2 3? [Solved]
How to connect the SATA cables to your device?
After you have found the SATA ports on your motherboard, it is time to connect your SATA device.
You can either start with the data or power cable, but I am going to start with the data cable.
Take the data cable, plug one end into the device, and the other into the SATA port. As both ends are identical, there is no wrong way to plug it in.
It is pretty straightforward, and there is not much I can add here to make it sound more complicated than it actually is.
The only thing you should keep in mind is to use the fastest SATA port available on your motherboard. This means that if you have both a SATA 2 and a SATA 3 port, use SATA 3.
The next step is to connect the SATA power connector to your device.
The power cable is part of the PSU, so find it and connect it to the SATA power connector on your device.
You will find this cable pretty easily because it has a very distinctive look.
Related Article: How To Connect Power Supply To Motherboard In Easy Steps
SATA Cable FAQ
How do I identify a SATA power cable?
A SATA power cable is a 15-pin cable that has 5 cables connecting on a flat connector. It is easy to identify because it has a very distinct look.
Where is the SATA cable in a PC?
The SATA data cable comes with the motherboard, and the SATA power cable is part of the PSU.
What are PATA cables?
PATA cables are made to connect devices with PATA connectors, which were commonly used before SATA cables came out. They are usually labeled “IDE,” meaning they can be connected directly to IDE devices without additional adapters. Nowadays, PATA cables are no longer used, so you don’t have to worry about them.
Now you not only know what a SATA cable looks like, but you also know how to plug it into your devices and motherboard.
While there are different types of SATA cables and ports, they are all very easy to use, and you just have to connect one end of the cable to your device, then plug the other end into any available SATA port on your motherboard.
Since this tutorial is all about finding out what a SATA cable looks like, I hope it was informative enough for you.
Please feel free to post any questions; I will gladly answer them.
Nick Ryley, is a computer architect and the owner of The Pc Geekz.
His love to play games got him interested in computers in the first place. He wanted to be able to build a gaming PC that could run all the latest games at max settings and this has him pursuing a major in computer architecture!
He started this blog to help people out and answer some of the most common questions about computer building