Simply put there is no limitation to how many SATA drives you can connect to your PC.
The answer to the question “how many SATA drives can I connect?” is that it depends upon what motherboard you have.
Basically, the amount of SATA drives you can connect to your PC depends largely upon how many SATA ports you have on your motherboard.
So if you have a motherboard with 4 x SATA ports, then you can connect a maximum of 4 x SATA drives to your PC. If you have a motherboard with 6 SATA ports, then you can connect 6 x SATA drives.
If you run out of SATA ports on your motherboard, then you can add more ports to your motherboard through the use of devices such as PCIe SATA expansion cards.
So How Many SATA Drives Can I Connect?
As mentioned earlier, the amount of SATA drives you can connect to your PC depends upon how many SATA ports you have on your PC.
Every motherboard comes with a set of SATA ports. They are generally arranged in an array of 4-6 ports.
In rare instances, some motherboards can also come with upto 8 SATA ports.
Therefore, in order to figure out how many SATA drives you can attach to your PC, you can either physically count how many SATA ports you have on your motherboard, OR you can look at your motherboard’s specsheet.
Also Read: What Does a SATA Port Look Like?
Figuring Out the Number of SATA Ports Using the Specsheet
One of the easiest ways to figure out how many SATA drives you can connect to your PC is by checking the specsheet of the motherboard.
You are particularly looking for the number of SATA ports on it.
Take for instance the ASUS Tuf Gaming B550-Plus motherboard below:
You can see from the specsheet here that this motherboard has a total of 6 SATA ports. Hence you can connect a maximum of 6 x SATA drives to this motherboard.
It should be noted that there are different version of the SATA port as well.
- SATA 6 Gb/s corresponds to SATA v3.
- SATA 3 Gb/s corresponds to SATA v2
There are Caveats; SATA Ports Share Bandwidth with Other Ports
A very important point to note is that often SATA ports SHARE their bandwidth with M.2 slots on the same motherboard.
M.2 slots are smaller ports that are used to connect M.2 SATA or M.2 NVMe SSDs.
Take for instance the same motherboard above. This motherboard has similar caveats as you can see below:
So basically, one of the SATA ports on ASUS Tuf Gaming B550-Plus i.e the SATA 6G_56 port (5th SATA Ports) shares its bandwidth with one of the M.2 slots i.e the M2_2 slot.
Hence if you popular the M2_2 slot with an SSD drive, the SATA 6G_56 slot will be disabled.
As such, in this case you will be only be limited to installing 5 SATA drives despite this motherboard having 6 SATA ports.
What if You Run Out SATA Ports?
Often times people who like to archive data, particularly those in the audio and editing industry, require a huge amount of data storage.
Which means that they often run out of space which calls for adding more SATA drives.
But since each SATA port can take only one SATA hard drive, how would you add more drives if you run out of SATA ports on your motherboard?
Basically, in order to add more SATA ports to your motherboard, you will need to add expansion cards.
I have a written a detailed article on how to add more SATA ports to motherboard, but essentially you will need an expansion device.
- SATA Hub Port Multiplier
- SATA PCIe Cards
- SAS SATA Expansion Card
Each of these methods have their pros and cons.
For instance, SATA hub port multiplier is cheap and can split one SATA ports into many. However, unfortunately, this device does NOT increase the downstream bandwidth. All the split SATA ports have the maximum combined data rate of the host port.
Image: 1 to 5 SATA Port Multiplier
Similarly, you can opt for PCIe SATA expansion cards such the one below:
This is the most recommended method for many. It is easy to install and quite straight forward. You can get a SATA expansion card with 2-8 ports, depending upon how many PCIe lanes it uses.
Finally, the most advanced and expensive of the cards is the SAS-SATA devices.
Image: LSI’s PCIe v3.0 x8 SAS SATA Controller
These are often used for professional purposes and for NAS builds.
Can You Split SATA Data Cable?
Often people assume that they can split a SATA Data cable to connect multiple SATA drives to a single SATA port.
However, that is not possible. SATA cables cannot be split.
Read in Detail: Can You Split SATA Cable?
What is the Maximum Number of SATA Drives You Can Have on a System?
There is no set number. The number of SATA drives you can have on your system depends upon how many SATA ports you have on your PC in total.
Also Read: How Many Hard Drives Can a PC Have?
Can You Connect Multiple Drives to One SATA Port?
Generally, no, you cannot connect multiple drives to one SATA port.
However, you can use a device like a SATA hub port multiplier to split one SATA port into many.
However, do note that these are sometimes unreliable and they DIVIDE the total speed of each connected drive by the number of drives connected.
So if you have 2 drives connected to a single hub port multiplier, each drive will work at half its potential.
So in short, the answer to the question “how many SATA drives can I connect?” is that it depends upon how many SATA ports you have.
Amount of SATA Drives You Can Connect = Amount of SATA Ports on your PC