Knowing the number of SATA ports on your motherboard lets you know how many internal hard drives you can connect to your computer.
There are usually about four to eight SATA ports on a standard motherboard.
However, the actual number depends on how big the motherboard is and what chipset it uses.
To answer your question, we’ve gathered everything you need to know about SATA ports, from how they look to how you could tell the difference between their multiple versions.
Keep reading to discover five different ways to find out how many SATA ports your computer has.
How Many SATA Ports Do I Have?
It’s vital to know the number of SATA ports your computer has to see what you can do with them.
The following are five ways to find out:
1. Count Manually
The first thing that comes to mind when looking for the SATA port count is to open the computer case, locate the SATA ports, and count them manually.
Keep in mind that, before opening up the case, you need to shut the computer down and unplug it from all power sources.
If you need to remove the motherboard entirely, be sure to take precautions to handle the process successfully.
Once you take the board out, follow the guidelines mentioned above to help you identify the SATA ports correctly.
These ports usually come in different colors, based on the generation or the board type.
They also have labels under them, so they’re not hard to identify.
2. Use The Manufacturer’s Website
Getting information on your SATA ports is quite easy if you know the board’s model name and number.
Look for the manufacturer’s website and search the model to open the product’s full information page.
This document includes a detailed description of the board, including how many ports it has.
There is also information on how each port performs and where it’s located.
All these companies have sections on their websites dedicated to their motherboards, where you can download the latest software and learn about upgrades.
You can also refer to the motherboard’s user manual if you still have the packaging.
Tip: To find out your motherboard’s model on Windows 10, click on the Windows icon and open the search bar.
Then, type “System Information” in the box.
Once the information window is open, look for the System Model row.
You can also open Command Prompt on Windows and type this command “wmic baseboard get product, Manufacturer” to find out your motherboard model.
3. Use Third-Party Tools
There are third-party tools that can read the status of your device and let you know whether or not the SATA slots on your motherboard are in use.
The advantage of this approach is that you don’t have to open your case on your own, are a laptop user, or can’t find the answer from searching the board model.
There’s one downside with these apps: they only give limited details on your computer’s hardware.
However, there are still some free apps that provide useful data about your driver status along with their speed rate (e.g., HWiNFO or CPU-z).
The problem with these tools is that they’re often scary for the average user and come with cluttered interfaces.
If you’re looking for an easy-to-use tool with an organized UI that gives you all the information you need, we recommend Speccy.
It provides a host of information about your motherboard, including how many SATA ports you have available.
It’s free to use and has a pro version, which offers more comprehensive reporting and advanced insights.
4. Check The BIOS
The BIOS, or Basic Input/Output System, is the processor software responsible for booting your PC when you turn it on.
Now, how do you get to your device’s BIOS?
Well, it depends on the manufacturer.
There are various hotkeys offered by different manufacturers that allow users to access the BIOS.
Look it up for your computer and press the key.
Once you’re in the BIOS screen, search for SATA ports information, which is placed under the drives section.
You should be able to find the SATA information there.
Note: Keep in mind that these settings aren’t meant for beginners, so if you’re unsure about your actions, don’t tweak these settings and stop navigating through the BIOS.
Unfortunately, this method has its limitations as well.
You can’t identify the version of the SATA ports using this approach, just the number.
As mentioned earlier in the article, SATA ports come in three variations with different speed limitations, so
it’s important to know which version you have.
5. Ask A Technician
If you know a professional, don’t hesitate to ask them your question.
You could take your computer to them or simply send a picture of your motherboard, as they can easily spot the SATA ports and tell you how many you have.
If you don’t know anyone, you can consult technicians online on question/answer forums by sending pictures of your computer.
How To Identify SATA Ports On A Motherboard
To count your SATA ports, you need to identify them first.
Here are some of the ways you can identify SATA ports on a motherboard:
1. Physically Check And Read The Labels
As we said before, the tags are written under the ports on the motherboard as well as their identification number.
To locate the SATA ports, you simply need to look for the L-shaped ports.
2. Search Your Motherboard’s Name And Model
Using your motherboard’s name and model, you can easily find out what version it is and how many SATA ports it contains.
To do that, search the name of the model, go to the manufacturer’s website, then the SATA section.
3. Use A Software Tool
If you don’t know the model number of your motherboard or you’re using a laptop, you can download one of the third-party software below to identify [e.g., Crystal Disk Info, HWInfo, System Information for Windows (SIW)].
Before deciding on how many ports you want, you need to sort out your priorities to see how many you actually need.
To install a hard drive or an optical drive, you need a SATA port.
There’s a limited number of SATA ports on most motherboards, but for an average user, two or three SATA ports should be more than enough.
However, in some scenarios, you may need more ports.
For example, if you’re building a NAS PC or a computer to collect data, you may want to use as many SATA ports as possible.
Here are the number of SATA ports you need based on your user type:
1. Regular User
A motherboard with two SATA ports is enough for a typical user with their computer set for daily tasks such as surfing the internet, some light work, and word processing.
One slot can be allocated for the standard hard drive and one for an optical drive.
For regular home or workplace use, two SATA ports would be pretty sufficient.
However, most current motherboards, even the basic ones featuring entry-level chipsets like the Intel H series or the AMD A-series chipset will have at least four SATA ports.
2. Intermediate User
An intermediate user would be defined as someone who does slightly heavier tasks like editing with professional software or playing games.
And for those, the computer requires a larger space capacity and a faster transfer rate for their primary drivers.
In this case, you need two hard drives for storing data, one for the SSD drive (as the primary boot drive), and maybe an optical drive.
However, you won’t need a massive SSD since the two archival hard drives can handle the bulk of the larger files.
The SSD’s primary role is to hold the OS and the “hot data” or the project you’re working on.
The recommendation for an intermediate user is to have at least four SATA ports for current use or further expansion.
3. Professional User
A professional user is someone who wants to archive massive amounts of data using multiple hard drives as backups.
To set up a NAS (Network-Attached Storage) or RAID drive for mirroring and backing up professional data, you need to have as many ports on your motherboard as you possibly can.
We recommend having at least six SATA ports if this is the case.
A usual NAS PC can have up to eight SATA ports or even more.
Note: A RAID setup combines multiple storage drives to create a single workable storage system.
This can increase storage efficiency and prevent drive failure by including backup drives.
In conclusion, having three or more ports is always a safe bet.
One port could be used for an SSD, one for a hard drive, and one for optical drives.
However, it’s not a bad idea to have a spare for future needs.
What Is A SATA Port?
Short for Serial Advanced Technology Attachment, SATA is a bus interface for connecting secondary storage devices to your computer.
These storage devices can be SSDs, HDDs, or optical drives.
SATA ports are placed on your computer’s motherboard, which has about four or eight of them (usually an even number).
These ports generally look like L-shaped connectors.
This prevents them from being plugged in the wrong way.
SATA ports are more advanced in development than the previously used PATAs (Parallel Advanced Technology Attachment), which were first introduced in 1986.
They had a ribbon cable that could support two devices at the same time.
The PATA cable could transfer 16 bits at a time and had a maximum length of 18 inches (0.45 m).
Although it wasn’t too short, it could be tricky to plug and unplug different devices into the cable because computers have a lot of internal parts that could get in the way.
However, since the release of SATA connectors in the year 2000, they have become the dominant interface used, replacing PATAs.
With the cable length increased to one meter, a faster transfer rate, and other benefits like the cable supporting hot swapping, it was no surprise that the new and improved connectors would outsell PATAs as soon as they came out.
Note: Hot swapping is the ability to plug/unplug devices into your computer without having to shut down/restart it.
Different Models Of SATA Ports
There are different kinds of SATA.
Modern SATA ports come in three different generations: SATA 1, SATA 2, and SATA 3.
Over the years, these interfaces have improved considerably, and the newest one, SATA 3, is by far the fastest, delivering six gigabits per second (Gb/s).
Because these SATA ports are sometimes labeled as their speed rate (Gb/s), it’s essential to know each one’s transfer speed.
Here is a transfer rate comparison between different generations of SATA:
- SATA 1: 1.5 Gbps (Also known as SATA 150, because it transfers 150MBs per second)
- SATA 2: 3.0 Gbps (Aka SATA 300)
- SATA 3: 6.0 Gbps (or SATA 600)
Note: Remember that Gbps (Gigabits per second) and GB/s (Gigabytes per second) aren’t the same.
There are eight bits in a byte, so the byte is the larger measurement.
Some models were introduced later.
For example, eSATA (external SATA) connects external hard drives to systems.
And mSATA (mini-SATA), is a small version of SATA that can store data like operating systems, applications, and others.
Note that to use the mSATA, you need to get a specific connector for the host system.
Can I Add More SATA Ports?
What happens when the ports you have aren’t enough for you?
Can you add more SATA ports to a motherboard?
The short answer is yes, you can.
There are a few ways to do so, which we’ll list below.
1. Use A SATA Expansion Card
A SATA expansion card is a device made for multiplying one SATA port into several.
All you need to do is plug it in one of the ports as a host.
This is also one of the cheapest ways of expanding your number of ports, so if you’re on a budget, you could give this a try.
This method, however, has a performance problem.
Since the device uses only one SATA port as a host, it can’t share bandwidth effectively across the entire device, which could cause some bottlenecks.
Therefore, this device isn’t recommended.
2. Use A SATA PCIe Card
This is a regular user’s go-to method.
These SATA expansion cards are available in a range of sizes and come with a variety of ports.
SATA PCIe cards typically have two to eight ports.
Before buying an expansion card, you should consider factors such as the PCIe version, transfer rate, and the PCIe lanes.
Here’s a video that shows you how to connect additional SATA ports to your motherboard:
Frequently Asked Questions About SATA Ports
1. What Motherboard Has The Most SATA Ports?
Onda’s storage monster has 32 SATA ports in a single motherboard.
The B250 D32-D3 and B250 D32-D3 IPFS motherboards feature up to 32 SATA ports each.
These models cost around 3,299 yuan, which is roughly $466.80.
2. Can SATA Ports Die?
SATA cables can fail for various reasons, whether mechanical, thermal, or electrical.
The cable itself can also degrade since it’s constantly being plugged and unplugged.
Sometimes the pins on the connector get damaged, and the cable becomes unusable.
3. Do All Motherboards Have SATA Ports?
Older motherboards don’t feature SATA ports, but if your motherboard was manufactured in the past 15 years, it most likely has at least two SATA ports.
Many motherboards today come with a minimum of four SATA ports.