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What Is SATA Cable And What Is It Used For?

With several applications and uses, SATA cables are very practical in attaching various drives to the motherboard of your PC. There are numerous options when looking for SATA cables and they cater to several different applications. The different generations of these cables offer different speeds and vary a great deal.

Due to the increased versatility, the SATA cables are quite different but telling them apart might be challenging even when you are dealing with them on a daily basis. Through this guide, we will take you through the various kinds and make it easier to understand the operations and uses of each type.

What is a SATA Cable?

SATA or Serial Advanced Technology Attachment cables are unique kinds of cables that are generally used to connect several kinds of storage drives, like solid-state drives, hard drives and its types, and optical drives to the computer’s motherboard. This technology has been around since the 2000s and was presented as a replacement for their older PATA cables.

They offer greater speed than the earlier alternative and can be attached or detached from the computer while it is still running via the hot-swapping process.

Types of SATA Cables

The SATA cables are available in several kinds and the major kinds are discussed in the following section.

1. Standard SATA Cable

They are traditional and standard SATA cables which are more commonly referred to as SATA-SATA. They are available in various lengths and are suitable for several different applications.

2. Micro SATA

These are the perfect SATA cable which is specially designed to attach the mSATA SSDs to the computer’s motherboard.

3. e-SATA

External SATA or e-SATA is that kind of cable that makes it more manageable for the user to attach the external hard drive to the motherboard of the computer via the e-SATA connection port. So, this SATA cable is used to connect an external part of any device.

4. Low Profile SATA

These SATA cables are useful for all kinds of PC builds that feature hefty GPUs that might obstruct the SATA ports. They are a perfect fit below the extended GPUs without the need to twist the SATA cable.

Other Types of SATA Cables

There are other kinds of SATA cables that are available which are discussed in the next section.

5. SATA to USB

The SATA to USB cables are very practical in attaching the SSD drives to the motherboard through a USB port. These cables are enabled to extend the storage capacity of the computer or facilitate the data transfer process. These are also to access the internal storage devices easily and separate them from the external drives. Further, they are especially helpful when trying to recover files from faulty PCs or laptops.

6. SATA Bracket

These SATA cables work especially well when you need to expand the connection and want your PC motherboard to work as a dual port. They also help to make the motherboard compatible with the eSATA hard drives.

7. SATA Power

They are referred to as the power interface cables. Generally, these SATA cables are used to attach the power adaptors, splitters and extensions for the data cables and the SATA power.

8. SATA Bridge

They are primarily the SATA interface that bridges the motherboard and the connected devices. These might attach ATA devices to the PCl cards or SATA motherboards.


They are advanced SATA cables with new specifications and are compatible with PCl Express(PCle) and SATA storage devices.

In the following table, we have summarised the several types of SATA cables.

Name Definition Uses and Applications
Standard SATA They are available in different lengths and are the standard form All SATA applications.
Micro SATA They are SATA data cables. Backup and internal drive applications.
e-SATA These are available in lengths from 0.5m to 2m External drive connected to the motherboard.
Low Profile SATA They are the thinnest SATA cables with low-profile connectors. Graphics card
SATA to USB They are designed to extend the storage of the PC. To attach the SSD drives to the motherboard.
SATA Bracket e-SATA expansion brackets with dual-port connectivity. Compatibility between e-SATA drives and computer outputs.
SATA Power SATA interface power cable Connecting splitters, extensions and power adaptors for SATA power and data cables.
SATA Bridge It acts as the bridge between the connected devices Connecting SATA drives to the PCl cards or SATA motherboards.
SATA EXPRESS New and advanced SATA cables Compatible with both PCle and SATA storage devices.

PATA Cable vs SATA Cable

SATA cables are the newer, improved and advanced version of PATA cables and are almost successful in completely replacing them. For starters, the SATA cables are cost-efficient and low in power consumption when compared to the PATA cables. We have elaborated on the differences between the two in the following section.

1. Data Transfer Speed

The speed of data transfer of the PATA cables is much lower due to the multitasking feature during the data transferring process. So this makes them much slower compared to the SATA power cables. Also, the SATA cables enable large files, pictures, and programs to load faster and allow smoother games with improved data transfer.

2. Drive Support

Most of the motherboards choosen in the computer have only two PATA connections while having four to six SATA connections. This feature enables the user to connect more SATA drives simultaneously compared to the PATA drives.

3. Cable Management

To keep the system tidy, the SATA cables are more manageable due to the thinner build than the PATA cables. The thin nature makes it easy to control and manage. The SATA cables are also longer with an average length of 1 metre while the maximum length of PATA cables is 45 centimetres or 18 inches.

Install a SATA Cable for HDD Applications

The task of installing a SATA cable might not be very complicated but you need to ensure that the installation is carried out correctly and safely. The particular way of installing the SATA cable will depend on the dedicated purpose of the SATA cable.

Now, if you intend to substitute an HDD, remember that the process might not need you to disconnect the SATA cable from the computer’s motherboard. So, only one end of the SATA cable needs to be disconnected which was attached to the HDD. Then, the older HDD needs to be replaced with the new HDD.

Alternatively, if you want to connect a SATA cable for added storage to the system, there is no need to change the settings of the current hard drives. You can refer to the following steps to install an extra connection.

  • You need to insert the hard drive into an empty slot of the PC case. Ideally, you should keep a space between the new and the existing hard drives to ensure adequate airflow.
  • Now, make sure that all the SATA cable ports are accessible easily after which you can secure the position of the drive.
  • Without impeding the existing connection, secure the new connection by connecting one end to the hard drive and the other end to the motherboard.
  • The primary hard drive must be connected to the lowest SATA port of the motherboard, generally SATA 1 or SATA 0.
  • After securing all the connections, you need to close the PC casing. then, power up the system when it is safe.
  • It may require reinstalling the operating system or formatting the new hard drive, based on the application’s specifications.

Installing a SATA cable is different from other data connections. They need low insertion force for connection and a latch to stop the accidental disconnection.

Uses of SATA Cables

There are majorly two kinds of SATA cables, namely the SATA power cables and the SATA data cables. We have discussed both of them in detail below.

  • SATA Power Cables: These kinds of SATA cables feature a connector having 15 pins that are developed to supply power. On the connector, there are 3 pins which work together in parallel connection to conduct the power with different voltages. The SATA power cables also have thin-round wires that can go to the connector.
  • SATA Data Cables: SATA data cables are used majorly for data transfer. It features a connector having 7 pins and is used to connect the hard disk and the motherboard. They are usually smaller and thinner than the power cables and often have an angled connector, making them suitable to be connected to storage devices in difficult situations.

SATA Cables Data Transfer Speed

SATA cables are available in several versions and are categorised as generations. Different generations offer different specifications and are ranked at different speeds.

Both the bandwidth and the data transfer rate have enhanced with each update.

  • SATA-I: This is the 1st generation interface and functions with a maximum bandwidth of 150 MB/sec and at a transfer rate of 1.5 GB/sec.
  • SATA-II: This is the 2nd generation interface operates at the maximum bandwidth of 300 MB/sec and has a transfer speed of 3 GB/sec.
  • SATA-III: This is the 3rd generation interface with a maximum bandwidth of 600 MB/sec and a 6 GB/sec transfer rate.
Standard Bandwidth Data Transfer Speed
SATA I 1.5 GB/ sec 150 MB/ sec
SATA II 3 GB/ sec 300 MB/ sec
SATA III 6 GB/ sec 600 MB/ sec


1. Are SATA cables necessary?

Ans: The SATA cables are necessary if you want to attach a SATA 2.5” SSD, SATA 2.5” HDD, or SATA 3.5” HDD or any optical to the desktop PC. In the case of laptops, you do not need the SATA cables as they have built-in SATA power connectors and SATA data.

2. Do you need a SATA cable for SSD?

Ans: It depends on the kind of SSD that you are using or need to plug into the PC. If you use a 2.5” SATA SSD, you will need SATA power cables and SATA DATA. while if you are using M.2 SATA SSD, you will not have SATA power cables.

3. Which SATA cable generation is used nowadays?

Ans: Most modern devices use the SATA III interface. Now, there are three versions of the SATA III interface, which are 3.1, 3.2 and 3.3. This interface has superior transfer speed and is rather fast.

4. How to connect multiple SATA power connectors to a system?

Ans: You can use extra power connectors for more drives to be attached to your system. There are two ways to do so. Firstly, you can use a SATA power splitter cable. Or you can also use a SATA to Molex adaptor cable for the same.

5. How to add additional SATA ports to your system?

Ans: If you are unhappy with the number of SATA ports in your system, you can get the SATA PCle cards or the SATA hub port multiplier to increase the number of SATA ports. Or you can also go for  SAS SATA Expansion Card.

Final Word

Through this guide, we have tried to inform you all about the SATA cables. Along with the different kinds of SATA cables, you also get to know how they are more advanced than the PATA cables and how they have successfully replaced those cables. You also learn how to install the SATA cable for an existing HDD connection or a new one.

We have also discussed the different generations of SATA cables and how they vary. We hope to have covered all areas to give you a basic idea about these cables. However, if you still have any doubts regarding the SATA cables, you can write your questions in the comments section below.

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