So, you’re probably wondering what a SATA port looks like on a motherboard which is an ocean of small hardware parts transistors, slots, and what not?
SATA port is a small peculiar shape port with edges and comes with an L-shaped connector inside. It’s pretty small in size and measures 1.5 cm x 0.4 cm. Generally, you’ll find multiple SATA ports clustered together in a motherboard.
But for detailed information in this regard, let’s dive in.
What Does a SATA Port Look Like?
Are you wondering what does a SATA port looks like on a motherboard?
Well, they’re pretty small ports generally found together in a motherboard. Each individual SATA port measure 1.5 cm x 0.4 cm in dimensions.
The SATA ports on a motherboard usually have the same color. But not always…
Sometimes, they also have different colors which refer to different SATA generations. The generations of SATA ports decide how fast and compatible they are. So, it’s important to consider them when installing a SATA drive — to get the best performance.
Another point to note down is there are two main SATA ports — the regular SATA data ports and the SATA power ports (or power connectors).
We’ll explore the difference between SATA power, the color-coding of SATA ports according to their generations, etc, below.
Explanation of SATA Ports With Infographic
The detailed infographic below explains:
- What does a SATA port look like?
- SATA versions and color-coding.
- How many SATA ports do computers usually have?
- SATA labeling.
- eSATA and SATA.
But, keep on reading for more in-depth information.
What is SATA Interface?
SATA refers to Serial Advanced Technology Attachment — it’s an interface that is designed to transfer data between your computer and storage drives.
It has been the default interface for most computers and hard disk drives.
The upgrade to the standard hard disk drives was SSD drives. SSD drives came in different versions. One of them also used the SATA interface but the others use PCIe express slot.
What Are SATA Ports on a Motherboard For?
SATA ports on a motherboard are used to form a connection between the storage drives on a computer and the computer. Such a connection is important for data transfer between computer parts and hard drives — to process data and perform operations.
Now, there are different types of storage drives that require a SATA interface. Below are the common ones:
- Optical drives in CD/DVD — all their versions use SATA interface
- HDDs — hard disk drives — they also use SATA interface for data transfer
- SATA SSDs —solid-state drives — they’re smaller in size compared to HDDs but also use a SATA interface
Also, to eliminate your confusion, there are storage drives that don’t use SATA interface — like:
- NVMe SSD drives — they’re a modern type of SSD drives and go into the PCIe slots on your motherboard rather than SATA slots on the motherboard
- SD card readers/ USB flash drives/ Portable hard disks — these are also storage drives used in computers but they don’t require SATA — instead, they’re connected to your computer simply by USB or thunderbolt ports
What Are Different Versions of SATA?
SATA ports come in different versions. The first SATA port came out back in 2003, as mentioned before and they have been improving ever since.
Below is a breakdown of common SATA generations:
|Introduced in (year)||Theoretical transfer speed|
|SATA 1||2003 (Revised version)||0.1875 GB/s or 187.5 MB/s|
|SATA 2||2004 (Revised version)||0.375 GB/s or 375 MB/s|
|SATA 3||2008 (Revised version)||0.700 GB/s or 700 MB/s|
Source: Digital Trends
What Does the Color Coding of SATA Ports Mean?
If you’ve wondered why some of the SATA ports on the motherboard are of different colors than the others, well, it’s because of differences in their versions. We also call it color coding.
Note: If you think that there’s a certain color that refers to a certain SATA version, you’re wrong. The indication of colors of SATA ports varies depending upon the motherboard.
Below is an example of color grading of SATA ports on a motherboard:
So, Which SATA Port Should You Use?
As a rule of thumb, you want the maximum speed out of your hard drive. So, which SATA port should you connect it into?
For Regular HDDs
Well, an average 7200 RPM HDD can deliver a maximum performance of 80-160 MB/s. With that in mind, the SATA 2 and SATA 3 are the ideal ports to connect a regular HDD to.
For Fast HDDs
If your HDD is the world’s fastest one — that reaches the speed of 524 MB/s maximum — you might want to use SATA 3 port for maximum performance.
And, if you’ve got a SATA SSD — that comes with a peak performance of around 550 MB/s, SATA 3 is again the best way to go.
For Optical Drives
Being an old-school technology, optical drives only have an average transfer rate of 150 KB/s which is pretty low. So, for an optical drive, you can get away with as low as standard SATA or SATA 1.
Below is a table summarizing this section:
|Regular HDD||Fast HDD||Regular SSD||Regular Optical Drive|
|Average Transfer Speed||80-160 MB/s||524 MB/s||550 MB/s||150 KB/s|
|Recommended SATA Version||SATA 2 or SATA 3||SATA 3||SATA 3||SATA 1 or SATA 2|
Classifying the Difference Between SATA Power Port and SATA Data Port
SATA power and data ports are different. When we generally talk about SATA ports, these are the SATA data ports.
On the other hand, the SATA power ports or power connectors are also there. As the names suggest, they’re used to provide electric power to your SATA drives.
Hint: The SATA drives are connected to your computer through two cables — a power cable for electricity and a data cable for data transfer
What Does the SATA Power Port Connector Look Like?
In case you’re unable to distinguish between the SATA power ports & cables and SATA data ports & cables, you should take a close look at the SATA power port connector below:
If you compare it to the SATA data cable, it’s longer and comes with a 15-pin connector.
Also, you should know that the SATA power connectors arrive from the power supply. Their one end usually comes from the power supply and breaks down into multiple power outputs to power up your SATA drives.
Such a power connector cable is called a Split SATA power cable:
So, What is eSATA?
SATA and eSATA aren’t like mail and email or commerce and eCommerce, they’re pretty different.
You can call eSATA ports to be a very old version of USB ports. It was introduced in 2004 and was placed outside the computer, just like USB ports. It is used to connect external devices to the computer.
Interesting fact: eSATA has been very popular during its reign but as soon as USB 3.0 came into the market, eSATA got outdated and was eventually eliminated from CPU cases.
How Many SATA Cables Do I Need? — Learn how many SATA cables you might need for your needs.
How Many SATA Ports Do I Have? — Explore how many SATA ports you have on your motherboard.
What Are Motherboard Standoffs? — Learn what motherboard standoffs are.
Does Motherboard Matter for Gaming? — Learn whether your motherboard affects gaming performance or not.
What does a SATA port look like? Below are the summarized answers:
- A SATA port comes in a peculiar design along with walls for the stability of adapters/connectors. It contains an L-shaped connector at the inside for connection.
- SATA interface came out back in 2003 and is used to transfer data between computer and storage devices like HDDs, SSDs, and optical drives.
- SATA ports have different versions coming with different speeds — ranging from SATA 1 to SATA 3.