What Cables Do I Need for SSD?

Whether you actually need cables at all and what cables do you need for SSD depends upon what kind of SSD you have.

A SATA SSD with the 2.5″ form factor requires a SATA Data cable and a SATA Power cable. The M.2 SATA SSD and the M.2 NVMe SSDs DO NOT require any cables.

Essentially. there are two types of Solid State Drives: SATA SSDs and NVMe SSD. The former uses the SATA interface whereas the latter uses the PCIe interface.

In addition to that, there are two popular form factors for the SSDs: 2.5″ and M.2. 

Therefore, the type of SSD and its form factor you have determines whether you need power and data cables or not.

In the following text I will further explore the question “What cables do I need for SSD?” by particularly looking at their types.

What Cables Do I Need for SSD?

Again that depends upon what SSD you have.

When you take the different interfaces and form factors into consideration, then there are essentially three types of SSDs out there:

  1. SATA 2.5″ SSD
  2. SATA M.2 SSD
  3. NVMe M.2 SSD

Let us explore each of the SSD below:

1. SATA 2.5″ SSD – Requires SATA DATA and SATA Power Cable

SATA SSDs with the 2.5″ form factor use the SATA interface in order to the connect to the PC.

The most current version of the SATA interface is SATA 3 and it can reach theoretical speeds of upto 6 Gpbs or 750 MBps (Mega BYTES per second).

SATA SSD
SATA SSDs connect to SATA ports unlike NVMe SSDs that connect to the PCIe interface

Practically though, a typical SATA 3 SSD can reach read and write speeds of about 550 MB/s. This is about 2-3 times faster than an average HDD. An HDD can reach speeds of about 200 MB/s at best.

Note that, this type of SSD has the same form factor (size) as the 2.5″ HDD that is found in laptops.

In order to connect this SSD to your motherboard you need two cables:

  1. SATA DATA Cable
  2. SATA Power Cable
SATA port labels
SATA ports on a motherboard. You need a free SATA port in order to connect a SATA 2.5″ SSD.

In addition to the cables, you obviously need to have a free SATA port on your motherboard too.

SATA DATA Cable for 2.5″ SATA SSD

wsata-data-cable

A SATA DATA cable has identical ends. It connects to the SATA port on the motherboard on one end and to the 2.5″ SSD on the other end.

A couple of SATA DATA cables are often provided with the motherboard.

Also Read: Do Motherboards Come with Cables?

SATA Power Cable for 2.5″ SATA SSD

Sata Power Cables
SATA power cable

A 2.5″ SATA SSD also requires power in order to run. This is supplied through the 15 pin SATA power cable as shown above.

The SATA Power cable is provided with the Power Supply Unit (PSU). This cable would have one end connected to the PSU and the other to the 2.5″ SATA SSD.

Also Read: What Does SATA Cable Look Like?

2. SATA M.2 SSD – Does NOT Require Any Cable

A SATA SSD based around the M.2 form factor looks like a stick as shown below:

What are SATA Ports Used For
Samsung Evo 860 SATA SSD with M.2 form factor with B+M Key. (More on Keys Below)

This type of SATA SSD only requires a free M.2 slot on your motherboard.

It does NOT require any data or power cable.

An M.2 SSD receives the power it needs to run from the motherboard itself and since it attaches to the port physically, it does not require a data cable.

An M.2 SATA SSD also typically runs at about 550 MB/s transfer speeds; similar to those achieved by the 2.5″ SATA SSD.

Also Read: Does SSD Need Power?

A Note on SATA Version and SSD Speeds

A Note on SATA Version and SSD Speeds

It is important that you connect the 2.5″ SATA SSD to the latest SATA 3 port in order to get the best speeds.

Each newer SATA version typically doubles the transfer speed compared to the previous generation.

As such:

  • SATA 1 has transfer speed of 1.5 Gbps or 187.5 MB/s
  • SATA 2 has transfer speed of 3.0 Gbps or 375 MB/s
  • SATA 3 has transfer speed of 6.0 Gbps or 750 MB/s

If you were to plug your 2.5″ SATA SSD in an older SATA 2 port, then its overall transfer speed will technically be halved.

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

3. NVMe M.2 SSD – Does NOT Require Any Cable

Similar to the SATA M.2 SSD above, an NVMe SSD also does NOT require any cable.

samsung 980 pro
Samsung 980 Pro. PCIe 4.0 NVMe SSD

An NVMe SSD also requires only a compatible M.2 slot on the motherboard.

An NVMe SSD, unlike the SATA SSDs, uses the PCIe interface which is countless times faster than SATA.

As such, NVMe SSDs are currently the fastest kind of drives you can install on your PC. They are also the most expensive but well worth the cost.

The speed of an NVMe SSD differs from PCIe generation to generation. For instance, a PCIe 3.0 NVMe SSDs can typically achieve speeds of about 3500 MB/s. The newer PCIe 4.0 NVMe SSDs can typically reach speeds of about 5500 MB/s. Compare this to 550 MB/s achieved by SATA SSDs and 200 MB/s achieved by your average HDDs.

You do need to have an M.2 supporting the latest PCIe version if you want to installed the newer gen NVMe SSDs on your motherboard.

Some more relevant information on NVMe SSDs:

Also Read:

Identifying M.2 SATA SSD vs M.2 NVMe SSD Through Their Keys

Identifying M.2 SATA SSD vs M.2 NVMe SSD Through Their Keys

Since NVMe and M.2 SATA SSDs use the same M.2 profile, you can differentiate between them by looking at the socket Key.

m2 sata key
(Left) M.2 NVMe SSD uses the M Key; (Right) M.2 SATA SSD uses B+M Key. Source: atpinc.com
  • M Key is used by NVMe SSDs
  • B+M Key is used by SATA SSDs

Which Components Come with What Cables

If you are confused as to where to find the required cables and particularly want to know which components come with what cable(s), then the following table should help:

Cable
Component it Comes With
SATA Data Cables
Motherboard (Often 2 provided)
SATA Power Cables
Power Supply Unit
PCIe Power Cables
Power Supply Unit
Motherboard and CPU Power Cables
Power Supply Unit
Main Power Cable
Power Supply Unit
Video Output Cables
Monitor
Front Panel Jumper Cables
PC Case
Front USB Cables
PC Case
Front Audio Cables
PC Case

Also Read:

Final Words

So to summarize and reiterate, the answer to the question “What cables do I need for SSD?” essentially depends upon what kind of SSD you have.

SATA SSDs using the 2.5″ form factor require a SATA Data and SATA Power cable.

The SSDs using the M.2 form factor such as the M.2 SATA SSD and the M.2 NVMe SSDs, DO NOT require any cables.

Also Read: What Does SSD Look Like?

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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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