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How Many SATA Cables Do I Need?

Do you want to power up the crucial hardware parts in your computer to their maximum capacity? You can do this by using SATA cables. How many SATA cables are really needed? This majorly depends on the number of storage devices you wish to run on your computer. For instance, if your computer only has a hard drive and a CD ROM, you would need only two SATA cables. Read on to know more about SATA cables and their requirement specifications in detail.

What are SATA Cables?

Sata cableSATA cables, or “Serial Advanced Technology Attachment” cables, are primarily used to connect the many storage devices in a computer to the motherboard. You would need SATA cables to connect storage devices such as:

  1. Hard drives
  2. Optical drives
  3. Solid state memory drives.

SATA cables are an advanced version of PATA (Parallel Advanced Technology Attachment) cables introduced in the early 2000s. PATA cables are sparsely in use these days since they are way slower in functionality than SATA cables.

How Many SATA Cables are Needed?

From the above information, it must be clear to you now that the number of SATA cables you use depends on your computer’s number of drives. How many SATA cables you need also depends on the SATA cables you use. There are mainly two types of SATA cables:

1. SATA Power Cables

A SATA power cable is an assembly with rounded thin wires. It comes with the PSU (Power Supply Unit) connected at one end while the other needs to be connected to the storage drive. This power cable comes with 15 pins which help in generating power of different voltages.

Generally, the SATA power cables come with split ends. These serial SATA power connectors can allow you to power more than a single storage drive with just one power cable. SATA power cable comes with three connectors for power.

2. SATA Data Cables

SATA data cables are solely for transferring data. It is a pack of 7 pins that connects the computer’s motherboard and hard disk.

The SATA data cables generally come with the computer’s motherboard. About 2 to 3 SATA data cables are connected to the motherboard, and you can get more data cables if and when needed.

3. SATA Power Cables Vs SATA Data Cables

As the name suggests, SATA power cables are used for power transfer, while SATA data cables are used for data transfer. The SATA data cables have a much thinner appearance than the more rounded SATA power cables. Due to its angled connector, SATA data cables are much easier to connect storage devices. The SATA data cables cannot have multiple ends like the SATA power cable and can, therefore, not be used to connect multiple storage devices.

4. SATA Cable Versions

There are mainly three versions of SATA cables, and each of them varies in speed and specifications.

1. SATA 1.0

Interface: First generation

Operational Speed: 1.5 Gb/s

Maximum Bandwidth Throughput: 150 MB/s

2. SATA 2.0

Interface: Second generation

Operational Speed: 3 Gb/s

Maximum Bandwidth Throughput: 300 MB/s

3. SATA 3.0

Interface: Third generation

Operational Speed: 6 Gb/s

Maximum Bandwidth Throughput: 600 MB/s

Storage Devices That Need SATA Cables

The three major storage devices that need SATA cables are given below:

1. HDD/Hard Disk Drives

These are the most common storage drives that come with a SATA interface. Hard disk drives are the traditional storage devices on your computer, sometimes called spinning storage drives. In such a drive, the data is written using rotating plates. All hard disk drives, irrespective of the computer, need a SATA cable for data transfer.

2. Optical Drives/CD Drives/DVD Drives

Optical drives use SATA data cables to perform their main function of reading the data on CDs or DVDs and then transferring it to the computer. All generations of optical drives, whether Blu-Ray or traditional CD drives have a SATA interface.

3. SATA SSD/SATA Solid State Drives

SATA SSDs are a much more advanced version of the traditional HDDs. They are comparatively more compact and offer better performance as well. A SATA SSD has a maximum speed of about 500 MB/s, whereas an HDD has a maximum speed of only 200 MB/s. There are three types of SSDs,

  1. NVMeSSD
  2. SATA Drives
  3. M.2 SSD

However, out of the above three types of SSD, only the first one connects to a SATA interface, while the other two connect to a PCIe slot.

Can I Add More SATA Ports to My Computer?

If the motherboard on your PC has limited SATA ports and you wish to add more SATA ports, you can do it by opting for either of these three options.

1. SATA PCIe Cards

This is recommended for adding more SATA ports to your computer. SATA PCIe cards come in varying sizes and multiple SATA ports. Around 2-8 SATA ports can be found easily on these cards. To know the bandwidth of this expansion card, you need to be aware of the PCIe lanes being utilized by the expansion card.

2. SATA Hub Port Multiplier

If you are looking for a cheaper way to add SATA ports to your computer and do not mind compromising on the performance quality, you can choose the SATA hub port multiplier. This device makes use of a single SATA port and goes on to multiply it to several more. Due to their performance and compatibility issues, users generally do not prefer this option.

3. SAS SATA Expansion Card

With excellent upstream and downstream bandwidth, SAS SATA expansion cards are the most preferred devices by professionals when adding additional SATA ports to their computers. They also offer hardware RAID controllers and are highly recommended for enterprise use.

Uses of SATA Cables

  • The main use of a SATA cable is to establish a connection between storage devices and a computer’s motherboard. Since the rate at which the data is transferred via SATA cables is very high, these cables are very much preferred.
  • SATA cables can also connect multiple hard drives on a computer. You can easily specify which hard drive would be the primary and which would be secondary.
  • If you wish to connect ATA and ATAPI devices with SATA ports like CD-ROMs to the computer’s motherboard, you can do that with the help of SATA cables.

SATA Cables – FAQs

1. Do I need more than one SATA cable?

Ans: The number of SATA cables you need depends on the storage devices you want to connect to your computer. One SATA cable will connect a single storage device to the computer’s motherboard. For instance, you will need two SATA cables to connect two storage devices to your computer.

2. What are the two SATA cables for?

Ans: As the name signifies, a SATA power cable transfers power, while the SATA data cable is used to transfer data.

3. How many SATA cables come with a motherboard?

Ans: Generally, a typical computer motherboard comes with 2 SATA cables.

4. Which SATA cable to use for SSD?

Ans: You would need a SATA power cable and a SATA data cable for SSD. You can use any SATA data cable for SSD since that will not impact the data transfer speed.

5. What is the difference between SATA 1, SATA 2, and SATA 3 cables?

Ans: SATA 1.0, SATA 2.0, and SATA 3.0 are the three versions/generations of SATA cables. The difference lies in their speeds which are 5 Gb/s and 150 MB/s, 3 Gb/s and 300 MB/s, 6 Gb/s and 600 MB/s, respectively.


The transfer of data between storage devices and computers is made possible with the help of SATA cables. Although the computers have limited SATA ports, you can easily increase this number. The number of SATA cables you need depends on how many SATA drives you wish to connect to your computer.

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