How to Tell the Difference Between Sata Cable Types

Written by greyson ferguson
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How to Tell the Difference Between Sata Cable Types
Identify the different SATA cable connections on the computer. (SATA power connector. Close up. Isolated on a white background. image by Andrey Khritin from

There are three main SATA cable connections used with computers. The first is a standard two-connection SATA cable, the second is a three-connection SATA cable and the third is an eSATA cable. If you are installing new hardware (either internally or externally) into your computer, you need to know the difference between the different cable connections to ensure you hook up the correct ports and cables.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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  • SATA cable

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  1. 1

    Look at the single cable with two connection plugs. This is either going to be a standard SATA cable or an eSATA cable.

  2. 2

    Inspect the connectors on the cable. If one of the connectors has four large pins on the interior, this is a standard interior SATA cable and is used with internal hard drives, DVD drives and other internal hardware.

  3. 3

    Check the size of the cable connectors. If both connections on the cable are thin and no large pins are present, this is the eSATA cable, or external SATA. The eSATA cable provides a superior data transfer speed to both USB and firewire, but few computers come with the cable connection type.

  4. 4

    Look at the three-plug SATA cable. One has the four large connection pins and the other two sides are thinner and look like a game controller plug. This is a Y splitter cable and sends the data from a hard drive or DVD drive to two different motherboards.

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