PC Gear Lab

Do Motherboards Come with Cables?

Many questions can go through your mind when considering a new motherboard.

They are mostly to do with whether or not the motherboard will be a good fit for you. You may also be stuck wondering whether your board will be compatible with the rest of your components.

Once you get the board and are sure that everything is fine, a new set of questions may unveil themselves, regarding whether or not you have the right parts for the build you want to carry out.

Most importantly, do motherboards come with cables so that you can connect all your peripherals together, if so then what kind?

Simply put, yes motherboard do come with cables and particularly SATA cables for connecting storage and other peripherals.

In this article, we will try to clarify the answer to this question further.

Also Read: 7 reasons when to upgrade motherboard

Do Motherboards Come with Cables?

As mentioned earlier, you will get the necessary SATA cables in order to connect to internal storage or optical drives.

However, you must note that you may not get the same amount of SATA cables as your motherboard can support.

For example, if your motherboard has 6 SATA slots, the package may come with only 3 or 4 SATA cables.

This is just to make sure that you can connect to necessary peripherals on the get go.

You do not get power cables, video output cables or USB cables with a motherboard.

Motherboard Package

Do Motherboards Come with Cables
A motherboard box contains more than just the board itself

You are bound to get more than the mainboard itself in the packaging. Many board manufacturers have taken it upon themselves to put in some few extra things when shipping the motherboard to help users, both professional and new builders alike, to get started.

Here are some of the things that you can expect out of the box when getting a new motherboard.

Also Read: Why is a motherboard important

1. The Board Itself

This is undisputedly the most important part of the package. The motherboard itself will be shipped to you.

However, depending upon the make and model of your motherboard, you may receive a plethora of different accessories

The list may include

  1. Fan bracket kit
  2. An SLI or Corssfire Connector for multiple graphics card
  3. RGB Light Strips
  4. Antenna for onboard Wifi
  5. Stickers etc

2. The I/O Shield

Input output shield
Motherboard Specific I/O Shield

This is a thin metallic plate found with all motherboard packages. It is used as the cover for the I/O ports of the motherboard.

These components usually ship with the motherboard themselves because they are board-specific and will more accurately match the placement of the I/O ports on the board thus allowing easy access.

They serve several purposes. First, they help keep the electromagnetic radiation that is generated by some of the computer’s electronic components inside the case. These are usually weak and a thin metal plate can easily block them.

They also protect the inner components of the computer against things like dust and serve as an aesthetic cover as opposed to having a hole through which you can see into the case of your PC.

3. Cables

Motherboard do come with cables. These cables are essential for motherboard expansion.

There are two very popular cable standards in use today. The first one is the Serial Advanced Technology Attachment (SATA) cable and there’s also a Parallel Advanced Technology Attachment (PATA) cable commonly known as IDE.

SATA is the newer implementation of the IDE cable and it came after the PATA cable.

Generally, the most common cable found with motherboard is the SATA cable. This cable is the most important for connecting the motherboard to peripherals like an HDD.

However, legacy motherboard may still find themselves using IDE cables.

Let us discuss IDE and SATA cables here.

IDE Cable

What is an IDE cable
These legacy large ribbon like cables where the IDE or PATA cables used for connecting motherboard to peripherals

An IDE (Integrated Drive Electronics) cable is used to connect the motherboard to the computer’s internal storage device.

There was a legacy 34-pin cable that was used to connect the motherboard to the floppy drive.

There was also a 40-pin IDE ribbon cable that was used to connect the motherboard with the hard drive or even the CD drive in some systems. 

IDE Cable Uses

IDE Cable
Single IDE cable had multiple connectors. However, they were large and cumbersome.

A big advantage of using IDE cables is that a single cable can be used to connect the motherboard to different kinds of hardware. You can connect the motherboard on one end and have both a hard drive and an optic drive connected on the other end.

This is made possible because an IDE cable has three open points of connection, allowing the simultaneous use of multiple hardware components.

Identifying the IDE Cable

Cable IDE
IDE Cable with highlight along the edges.

Often, the IDE cable will come with a red stripe that will be visibly marked along one edge. Not only does the stripe help identify the cable, but it also marks the position of the first pin. This helps you infer the correct way to connect it to your board.

Performance

A typical IDE cable can deliver speeds that range from 33 MB/s and can step up depending on the cable to 66, 100 and even 133 MB/s.

Of course, for applications where speed is a factor, this performance can be very limiting.

SATA Cable

Sata cables

Most motherboards nowadays come with SATA cables since they use SATA protocols.

Not only is the SATA protocol much faster than IDE, it is also much slimmer.

It was first released in 2001 and is a smaller cable solution for users who would like to keep things neat and tidy in their PCs. Compared to IDE ribbon cables, SATA cables are smaller and easier to route, especially in small form factor motherboard cases where space is a factor.

SATA Cable Uses

Just like the IDE cable, SATA cables are also used to connect the motherboard to various hardware devices, especially storage devices.

There’s also an eSATA (External SATA) implementation of the SATA cable which offers the provision for connecting to external drives.

Identifying SATA Cables

SATA cables can be easily identified by their appearance. They are flat and thin and have seven pins on either end.

Often, one of the ends may be bent at a 90-degree angle which helps in cable management.

You will plug one of the ends on this cable to its allocated slot on the motherboard and the other end will go into your selected SATA compatible storage device.

SATA Cable Performance

A SATA cable is capable of delivering data at a speed of atleast 1.5 GB/s. This is much higher than the speeds supported by IDE cables.

At these high speeds, you get better performance as storage starts becoming less of a bottleneck to your computer.

The latest version of the SATA standard is SATA III.

Depending on the version, the following are the speeds you can get.

  1. SATA I: 1.5 GB/s
  2. SATA II: 3.0 GB/s
  3. SATA III: 6.0 GB/s

SATA Disadvantages

Despite being the popular standard in use today, SATA cables are limited in several ways. They do not distribute power to the drives, meaning that the drive will require an external power source.

In addition to that, you also have a maximum cable length of 2 meters. Beyond this, data transfer may be affected.

Conclusion

Many users will agree that getting a motherboard and not having to purchase any additional components to wire it up is a great plus.

So do motherboards come with cables? The simplest answer is yes. They do come with necessary cables as well as other other components like standoff and adapters etc for connecting to peripherals.
. However, you should not be expecting to find power cables, video output cables or USB cables in the package.

However, you will be delighted to know that when you purchase other components such as the power supply, or a monitor, they too will come with the necessary cables.

For example, a power supply unit comes with all the necessary power cables and power connectors. Similarly, a monitor comes with the necessary video output cable such as HDMI or VGA.

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