How to Identify SATA 1 2 3 on Your Motherboard and Drive?

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SATA is one of the primary interfaces for installing storage drives and in some instances the version of the SATA interface does matter when installing a drive (particularly with SATA SSDs). In this write up I will talk comprehensively about how to identify SATA 1 2 3 version on your motherboard and on your hard drive.

Basically, there are three ways to identify what the SATA version of your motherboard or the hard drive is. Firstly, you can check its specsheet; for this method you need to know the make and model of the motherboard and the hard drive.

Alternatively, you can perform physical inspection of the components. Finally, you can identify the SATA version via using certain third party software.

I will talk about these methods in depth below. At the same time, I will talk briefly about the SATA interface, the nomenclature used in identifying the different SATA version and why the SATA version matters.

What is the SATA Interface in Brief?

SATA, or Serial ATA, is one of two primary interfaces (the other one being PCIe) for adding essential components to your PC.

While PCIe is used for various high speed devices, the SATA interface is primarily used for adding storage devices which include:

  • Hard Disk Drives
  • SATA Solid State Drives
  • Optical Drives i.e CD/DVD/Blu-Ray Drives

SATA ports can easily be identified on any given motherboard. A typical motherboard can easily feature between 4-6 SATA Ports.

Which is Faster SATA or PCIe
SATA Ports have an L shape connector. A typical motherboard has several of them located in close proximity to each other.

Also Read: What Does SATA Cable Look Like?

SATA Versions and Nomenclature Used in Identifying Different SATA Versions

SATA has different versions. The latest SATA version is 3. With each newer version, SATA interface doubles its throughput rate (transfer speed). As such:

  • SATA 1 has a throughput rate of 1.5 Gbps or 187.5 MB/s
  • SATA 2 has a throughput rate of 3.0 Gbps or 375 MB/s.
  • SATA 3 has a throughput rate of 6.0 Gbps or 750 MB/s.

It should be noted, however, that different spec sheets use different naming conventions for SATA interface such that:

  • SATA 1 can be labelled as SATA 1.5G, SATA 1.5 Gbps or SATA 150
  • SATA 2 can be labelled as SATA 3G, SATA 3 Gbps or SATA 300
  • SATA 3 can be labelled as SATA 6G, SATA 6 Gbps, or SATA 600

Also, it is worth noting here that Gbps (Gigabits per second) is NOT the same as the GB/s (Giga Byte per second). There are 8 bits in a byte. Hence 6 Gbps = 0.75 GB/s.

How to Identify SATA 1 2 3 on Your Motherboard?

With the basics of SATA and its versions in mind, let us identify what SATA version your motherboard conforms to.

There are three easy ways to identify this:

  1. Physically Reading the Labels on the Motherboard
  2. Checking Out the Specsheet of the Motherboard
  3. Using Third Party Software

1. Physically Reading the Labels on the Motherboard

If you are on a desktop, then one of the easiest way to identify the SATA version of your ports is to physically check the labels on them.

On most motherboards the SATA ports are clearly labelled with their version as well as their system identification number.

First you need to identify where the SATA ports are located. Again, they look like L shape connectors often found in a cluster.

motherboard sata ports 2
SATA Ports on GA-P67A-UD3-B3

Next, read what their labels indicate:

SATA port labels
SATA ports labels can identify the version

Here you can see that there are two sets of SATA ports identified by their color code as well as by their labels

  • Blue SATA Ports: correspond to SATA 2. Their labels have “SATA2” clearly highlighted.
  • White SATA Ports: correspond to SATA 3. Their labels have “SATA3” clearly highlighted.

So in short this motherboard has 4 x SATA 2 ports and 2 x SATA 3 ports. Ideally, I would occupy the SATA 3 slots first due to their faster transfer rates.

This method of identifying SATA version may not be feasible for laptops though as they are a bit more difficult to disassemble compared to desktops.

SATA Ports Can Conform to Different SATA Versions on The Same Motherboards

One characteristic that can be seen on the motherboard shown above is that you can find SATA ports conforming to different version on the same motherboard, particularly if it is old.

In this case, the motherboards will have ports color coded to highlight which version each conforms to.

2. Checking Out the Specsheet of the Motherboard

If you know the make and model of your motherboard, then it should be quite simple to identify what version of the SATA your board conforms to.

sata ports motherboard specifications
GA-P67A-UD3-B3 specsheet for SATA ports

Take for instance the specsheet of the motherboard I have in hand.

Here you can see that the motherboard offers:

  • 2 x SATA 6 Gb/s (SATA 3 connectors)
  • 4 x SATA 3 Gb/s (SATA 2 connectors)

As simple as that.

3. Using Third Party Software

The last and another relatively simple method is to use third party software.

This method is great if you are on a laptop and you do not know the model number of your motherboard.

There are two popular free third party software that I would recommend:

Identifying Using Crystal Disk Info

Once you have downloaded and installed Cyrstal Disk Info, Run it which should open a Window similar to the one shown below:

How to Identify SATA 1 2 3
Crystal Disk Info Main Window

While the software shows very useful details regarding your hard disk including its make, model and specs, what we are interested is in the field labelled as “Transfer Mode”.

Here you can see that the transfer mode for the single disk I have is SATA 600 which is just another name for SATA 3.

Hence this helps in conforming that the SATA interface of my PC conforms to version 3.0.

Identifying Using HWInfo

Another popular software that can help you identify not just the SATA version of your board, but also give you comprehensive details regarding your PC hardware is HWInfo.

Once you have downloaded the software, run it which should open a few Windows including one similar to the Window shown below:

Hwinfo SATA interface label
HWInfo Main Window

Here, look for the section labelled as “Drives” and then look for the field marked as “Interface“. This should help you identify the version of your SATA interface.

Mine reads SATA 6 Gb/s, which is another name for SATA 3.

Again, if you want to figure out whether your motherboard supports SATA 3 or not, but want to go with the least invasive method, then using third party software is the best way.

A Typical Spinning Hard Drive DOES NOT Saturate the SATA 3 Interface. 

Just because the SATA 3 interface works at 6 Gbps (750 MB/s) Does Not mean that the connected hard disk drive will also have a transfer speed of 750 MB/s! 

A typical hard disk drive has a max transfer rate of 200 MB/s at best. As such a typical hard disk drive can barely saturate the SATA 2 interface, let alone the SATA 3 interface.

How to Identify SATA Version of Your Hard Drive?

Other than reading the specsheet, the best way, and my recommended way to check the SATA version of your Hard Drive is to use the popular free software HWInfo that I talked about earlier.

With the software installed, run it. The software would open a few Windows, including one similar to the Window shown below:

hwinfo sata drive controller
Identify Drive Controller in HWInfo

Here on the Left Hand Menu, navigate to Drives -> SATA/ATAPI Drives -> Select Your Drive.

If you have multiple drives, you would have more drives to choose from. I only have one drive installed hence it only shows a single drive in the drop down menu on the left.

Once the Drive is selected, then on the Right Hand side you should be able to see its corresponding details including the Controller the Drive uses.

The Description of the “Drive Controller” would identify the SATA version of the Drive. The description for my drive reads Serial ATA 6Gbps, which is the same as SATA 3. 

Again, as mentioned earlier, just because the drive has a SATA 3 controller and connects to a SATA 3 ports, DOES NOT mean that it would operate at a transfer speed of 750 MB/s!

Also Read: Can You Use a Laptop Hard Drive in a Desktop?

When Does the Version of the SATA Port Matter?

The only time the version of the SATA interface can significantly matter for a commercial PC is when installing a SATA SSD.

SATA SSD
SATA SSDs connect to SATA ports unlike NVMe SSDs that connect to the PCIe interface. SATA SSDs come in either 2.5″ form factor or in M.2 form factor. 

A SATA 3 SSD, for instance, MUST go into a SATA 3 port in order to provide the best performance.

A SATA 3 SSD has a typical transfer rate of 550 MB/s. If you were to install this in a SATA 2 port, then its transfer speed will be halved!

I have explained this topic in detail here: Does it Matter Which SATA Ports You Use?

Also Read:

Final Words

In short, there are several ways on how to identify SATA 1 2 3 on your system. For instance, if you have just recently bought a computer (a brand new one) then there are high chances that it would have SATA 3 ports.

But basically, unless you want to install SATA SSDs, it does not really matter much whether you connect your hard disk drive, or the optical drive, to SATA 2 or SATA 3 ports.

Unfortunately though, with NVMe (PCIe based) SSDs operating at multiple folds faster transfer rate compared to SATA SSDs, the SATA SSDs have lost their purpose and so has the need for faster SATA interface.

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Author:

Atif Qazi
Atif Qazi is the founder of PCGuide101. He is a digital nomad who loves everything PC. He is a PC builder, tech enthusiast, engineer, and a lover of single player lore-rich RPG games.

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