Before you install a SATA hard drive, be sure you have the right cables and slots available on your motherboard. Here's what you need to know.
Ready to upgrade your hard drive and found you're dealing with a SATA connector? SATA drives are easy to set up, support hot swapping, and the interface is reasonably fast. We'll show you everything you need to know about installing a SATA drive, and how to connect the power and data cable.
What Are SATA Drives
Serial ATA (SATA) connectors remain a common interface between the drive and the motherboard. The image above shows a 2.5" SATA hard drive from Fujitsu with the data port on the left and the power port on the right. On older SATA drives, you might also see a 4-pin Molex power connector. You'll find SATA interfaces in both hard drisk drives (HDDs) and solid state drives (SSDs).
SATA drives were introduced to replace IDE and Enhanced IDE (Parallel ATA) drives. SATA removes the master-slave relationship between parallel hard drives, with each drive connecting to the motherboard using its own SATA adapter.
As well as a specific port, SATA offers substantial improvements in data transfer rates. The original SATA specification transfers data at speeds up to 150 MB/s. The latest revision, SATA 3.5, transfers data at speeds up to 1,969 MB/s (1.969 GB/s), enables active drive temperature monitoring, and better integrates with industry I/O standards. While the latest SATA iteration isn't in use for consumer drives, the technology does eventually filter into those products.
Should You Get a SATA or PCI Express SSD?
Solid State Drives sales have rapidly increased throughout the past few years, from around 39 million units in 2012 to an estimated 360 million in 2021. With SSDs, you can choose between two types of connectors: SATA and PCI Express (PCIe). Wondering which one is right for you? And do you need an SSD at all?
Consider your use case: If you need a large amount of storage at an affordable price and don't plan on using it as an everyday drive running your operating system, i.e. it doesn't need to be ultra-fast, then a regular HDD drive is the right choice. In that case, you'll want a connection compatible with your motherboard, most likely SATA connector. If you're looking for the fastest possible drive and neither price nor storage capacity are an issue, consider an SSD and check whether your computer has a PCIe slot.