Of course, for storage we need drives. To connect these drives (Hard drives, Solid State drives, or even CD drives) to a computer we need SATA ports. So you may be wondering, how many SATA ports do I need?
Basically, that will depend on the computer you’re building. Two SATA ports would be sufficient if you want to connect two hard drives or alternatively one optical drive plus one harddrive. Each drive connects to a single SATA port. If you need to connect more hard drives, you will need a higher number of SATA ports.
Many radical changes took place in the last few decades in the field of computing. First, computers got a lot faster and much smaller, and secondly, memory also increased in both speed and capacity.
With memory, we mean the permanent storage for your files on a computer. Barely two decades ago, 20 GB on a computer would be too much space to even imagine filling, but now, that is just about the size of some Blu-ray films.
This only goes to show that people’s storage needs have increased and the amounts of data produced have skyrocketed as well. Therefore, for most multimedia buffs, a single drive is never sufficient. Hence, to connect multiple drives, you will need more SATA ports.
Also Read: How Many SATA Ports Do I Have?
SATA Ports on the Motherboard
If you want to add a drive to your computer, you will need an interface that is composed of the right port as well as a controller to handle your device.
This ensures that data is transmitted effectively with minimal losses or errors. SATA is one such interface and it’s used to connect SSDs, HDDs, and CD drives to your motherboard.
Aside from the fact that they are the de facto standard for connecting drives to the motherboard, SATA ports can also be configured to accommodate several different devices on a motherboard; and to illustrate this, there’s a motherboard that has 32 SATA ports.
Be that as it may, most users will probably never need these many drives. You can have as many as you need but sometimes having a little extra will not be beneficial.
How Many SATA Ports do I Need?
While building a PC or considering upgrades, most users wonder how many SATA ports would be enough for their needs.
This is a great question because messing up here and getting a board with fewer slots than you need will force you to spend a little extra money on some adapters with extra ports, and you don’t want it to go that far.
Here’s how you can determine how many SATA ports you need.
Also Read: LGA vs BGA Sockets
For a Regular User
Here we assume a regular user has their desktop set for some of the most basic tasks like browsing the internet and doing some light work like typing documents.
A casual user will probably need a single CD drive through which they can copy and retrieve documents from disks.
That is already one SATA port because as mentioned, SATA is used for CD drives.
I addition to that, you can have an extra slot for the main hard drive that will house the OS, your programs as well as your files.
Once you have these two, you’ll be good to go. An example of a motherboard with two SATA ports is the DH61HO from Intel.
The Moderate-Capacity Moderate-Speed Regular User
Another class of users is those who need high capacity storage on their system as well as moderately high speeds, particularly higher than those which an HDD can provide.
If this is the case, you can have some room for an SSD, a hard drive, and even get to use a CD drive.
This is one of the best configurations. With a SATA SSD, you not only get to save some money but also get to see some remarkable improvements over the speeds of an HDD.
Additionally, you wouldn’t need a really large SSD. One that can hold your OS and some programs whose starting times you want to reduce will be great.
For this kind of setup, you will need at least three SATA ports.
Multi Drive Users
In this next category of users, we have people who want to leverage their SATA ports for more than two drives. This can be as a measure to improve the storage capacity of the computers or to create a personal media server.
Users who need to use multiple drive bays will often want some of the hard drives to be used as backups in case one or more of the hard drives that they have installed fails.
Say you want to have two hard drives for your files, one SSD to host your OS, a CD Drive, and maybe one more internal drive for a backup of your most important files; then you would be better off going for a motherboard with at least 5 SATA ports.
One with six ports like the Asus Prime B450M-A is a great pick, and with the one extra slot, you’re free to add an extra drive if you’d like.
Choose Your Drives
Knowing which drives you’re going to want to install in your computer will help you determine the number of SATA slots you need.
So the best way to go about this is to consider the work you do. If you constantly have data stored on multiple drives then add up the drives you typically use.
Once you do, think about whether or not you’ll need the disk drive and if it’s necessary, add it to the count.
Once you have the general number, then you’re good to go.
Fewer SATA Slots
What happens when you find that the SATA slots on your motherboard are no longer enough? If somewhere down the line you realize that you need extra HDDs or SSDs and you have run out of slots, you can purchase a port multiplier card.
You can find these components cheaply and some can even plug into an empty M.2 slot on your motherboard. Others go directly into a full-sized PCIe slot like the X1. Because PCIe is much faster than SATA, you barely get a performance hit unless you’re using too many slots on a multiplier card that’s connected to a lower-performance PCIe slot.
Port multiplier cards are quite handy for adding the number of usable SATA ports on your motherboard.
Benefits of Many SATA Ports
The SATA controller allows you to install several SATA devices and use them concurrently in your device.
With several SATA slots, you will be hardly limited by the number of devices you can plug into the device. Instead, you will have the freedom to ramp up your storage capabilities as far as your motherboard can support.
This is especially beneficial for users who do a lot of media work and need a lot of storage on their workstations.
If you have several usable SATA slots, you can add drives once space runs out and keep working from the same computer.
When determining how many SATA ports do I need, pay attention to your needs first so that you don’t end up purchasing a board with more SATA ports than you need or one with fewer slots.
While there’s no big deal with having more than enough SATA ports, having fewer can be costly. So, to be on the safe side, ensure you take your needs into account.
A safe bet is to always go with three or more ports. One can be for an SSD for fast boot times, an HDD for data storage, and an optical disk drive.