SATA Cable – All You Need to Know

SATA Cable
By Abhirup Ghosh Updated

What is SATA Cable?

SATA 1.0 was first released in August 2001. Short for Serial ATA (i.e., Serial Advanced Technology Attachment), SATA is an IDE (Integrated Drive Electronics) standard to connect various devices such as optical drives and hard drives to the motherboard. The term SATA cable refers to the sorts of connections and cables that follow these standards. SATA is a replacement for the PATA (abbreviation for Parallel Advanced Technology Attachment) interface used in IBM compatible computers as the IDE standard of choice for the storage device connectivity inside a computer.

SATA Cable vs. PATA Cable

SATA Cable vs. PATA Cable
Visual difference between SATA Cable and PATA Cable

Like ParallelATA, SerialATA also offers the cheaper cable costs. Moreover, SATA possesses the advantage to hot-swap devices which means you can replace the devices without turning off the whole system. Unlike SATA, you have to shut down the entire system before substituting a hard drive with PATA devices.

Note: PATA is often referred to as IDE. If you find SATA used as a contrary term of IDE, it denotes the discussion between SATA and PATA.

Here are the advantages of SATA over PATA that have made it a universal choice as the hard drive connection.


Increased Data Transfer Rate

Data transfer speed causes the main difference between PATA and SATA cable. Whereas PATA is capable of the data transferring speed of 66/100/133 MBps, SATA, on the other hand, provides 187.5 MBps to 1,969 MBps (as of revision 3.2) of speed! The fastest speeds of the latest versions of both the hard drive connections are now available. You will find that SATA’s slowest transferring speed is quicker than PATA’s fastest one! The improved speed of SATA allows users to transfer larger documents faster. Also, the faster transfer speed is equivalent to the better gaming experience, so, gamers always look up to SATA.

Cable Management and Cable Length

The length of the cable is also a defining factor why SATA is gaining more eyeballs than PATA. While the maximum length of PATA cable is 18-inches (1.5 feet), the SATA cable offers the maximum length of 3.3 feet (1 meter). With these extra inches, users get the flexibility to mount the hard drive.

Increased Airflow

Better airflow improves the overall life of a computer, and that’s what SATA cables are capable of! The thinner design of SATA cables results in increased airflow and reduced heat build-up inside a computer.

Supports More Drives

4-6 SATA connections on a computer motherboard permit multiple SATA hard drives to get connected. But a computer motherboard has only 2 PATA connections which have the capacity of supporting only 4 PATA hard drives.

SATA is widely used all over the world, but this hard drive connection also involves some flaws. Here are the disadvantages of SATA Cable over PATA.


Drivers and Support

This is one of the few drawbacks one can find for SATA over PATA. SATA hard drives require a specific device driver in the computer to recognize the drive. Nevertheless, a SATA hard drive can work as a PATA drive that abolishes the requirement for a particular driver. But this mimic functionality will cost the SATA hard drive lost some of its native functionalities!

Moreover, Windows 95 and 98 don’t support SATA hard drives. But as these two operating systems are nearly obsolete at the moment, it doesn’t turn out be a big issue.

One Drive per Cable

One SATA cable allows a single SATA hard drive to be connected. A single PATA cable, on the other hand, allows hooking up two PATA hard drives at a time. Since 4-6 SATA connections are generally available in today’s computer, this issue also doesn’t create much trouble for the users.

More about SATA cable and connectors

SATA Cable and Connectors
Know everything about the SATA Cable and connectors
  • SATA cables are 7-pin (for the data transmission) and 15-pin (power supply connection) long cables with flat and thin endings. One end of the cable connects to the storage devices like SATA hard drive, and the other end plugs into the motherboard labeled SATA.
  • Within a disk array, SATA can deliver 1500 MBps (1.5 Gbps) performance to every drive.
  • The device (Operating System) using SATA must support hot swapping as the SATA drive supports it.
  • It is backward-compatible with ATA and ATAPI devices.
  • External drives are supported by SATA through External SATA (famously known as eSATA)

What is eSATA?

eSATA Cable

eSATA is the external SATA which assists SATA to support the external drives. It supports quicker transfer speed without the bottleneck issues such as FireWire and USB, and is hot-swappable! Moreover, eSATA also supports S.M.A.R.T (Self-Monitoring Analysis and Reporting Technology) which is a disk drive technology. Despite the fantastic features and utilities, eSATA does include some cons. eSATA doesn’t distribute power through USB, so, the drives necessitate an external power source. Furthermore, eSATA cable comes with 2 meters in length which only transfers data. Due to the inability to transfer power, eSATA requires a power adapter too.

External drives attach to the eSATA connection next to the openings for USB ports, network cable, and monitor. The same internal SATA connection is made with the motherboard inside of the computer.

Note: The majority of the modern computers don’t come with preinstalled eSATA connection. Nonetheless, one can purchase the bracket at a much cheaper rate.

SATA Converter Cables

If you want to convert SATA to other connection types or a remote cable type to SATA cable, there’re various adapters available in the market. If you need to erase the drive, back up the files or browse through the data, you can easily purchase SATA to USB adapter. ‘SATA/PATA/IDE Drive to USB 2.0 Adapter Converter Cable’ is available on Amazon for purchase.

In case your power supply doesn’t offer the 15-pin cable connection, Molex Converters are a great option to power the internal SATA hard drive. Moreover, those are pretty affordable!