First time pc build : SATA-2 versus SATA-3 connection conundrum
December 6, 2013 4:19 PM   Subscribe

What drives can/can't be connected (and in what order) to SATA-2 and SATA-3 motherboard ports?

Popping my pc build cherry over last few days has been enlightening & rewarding (& everyone should do it at least once!)
Specs: ASRock B75M R2.0 motherboard// i5-3570 [cpu/mobo transferred from last pc] // Antec TP 650W gold-rate PSU // 120GB Samsung SSD 830 series // 1TB WD HDD // LG optical drive // Asus Xonar DGX soundcard // MSI Radeon 1GB HD-7790 GPU // 8GB RAM |||| Windows 7

So last night I got the beast finished enough that it booted. The SSD / HDD / DVD drives were all on the SATA-2 ports in order from port-0 to port-2 (ie. SSD on port-0 as it's the OS) {I didn't specifically check that the HDD & DVD were working as I didn't have a kb handy so couldn't log in}

Today, I'm thinking that I really should put the SSD & HDD onto the SATA-3 connections to take advantage of the 6GB/s transfer rate and connect the DVD to the SATA-2 port. There are 3 SATA-3 ports and I thought it best to keep one free in case I get another SSD or HDD.

So is this the right way to proceed or it doesn't matter too much or.. ? Do the drives have to be connected in order?? Does the motherboard favour SATA-2 over SATA-3 or similar, necessitating a BIOS change?? (this is now getting a bit beyond my very modest talents)
(I ask that as I might end up with an optical drive - BluRay player.. which may or may not fully replace the DVD burner)
posted by peacay to Computers & Internet (5 answers total)
Best answer: The drives can be in any order; if none of them have a bootable OS, the install disk in the DVD drive will boot. Usually. You may have to mess with the boot order in BIOS, but that's trivial.

Put 'em all on the SATA-3 connections. No reason not to. The SSD will no doubt like that better. The spinny drive may or may not be able to use the higher throughput, depending on how you use it.

If you get another drive later, you can swap the ports around. I'm pretty sure my boot drive has been connected to at least half of the six ports on my mobo at one time or another for ease of cable routing.
posted by notsnot at 4:28 PM on December 6, 2013

Response by poster: Cheers. I think I reached a point in the process where I'd read a couple too many forum debates and watched more instructional videos than was necessary such that it all started to seem contradictory & illogical.

Ah yes... ease of cabling -- (for completeness sake: the very nicely constructed Fractal Design Define R4 mid-tower with air filters & noise damping lining) -- that's actually how/why I ended up putting all three drives on the SATA-2 ports last night: it routed most easily that way.

Okiedokie... I'll go changeover & boot up.
posted by peacay at 4:45 PM on December 6, 2013

Response by poster: Sweet! Thanks a lot.
posted by peacay at 4:53 PM on December 6, 2013

Please note that you should not expect "6GB/s" from SATA-3. This is ambiguous notation at best. SATA-3 is 6 Gbit/sec, which works out to something a little more than 600MBytes/sec. Current consumer spinny rust is capable of around 150MBytes/sec for large 5400/5900RPM drives, which will not stress SATA-2, so attaching to SATA-2 ports is perfectly acceptable. This is not dependent on "how you use it" but is rather a side effect of even the fastest conventional HDD drives out there today peaking out a little above 200MBytes/sec. There is no harm in attaching hard drives to SATA-3 ports, of course, but shuffling them around later can sometimes cause problems.

There is some debate whether a SSHD hybrid drive would benefit from SATA-3, and the smart money would be to put them on SATA-3 if available. SSD, of course, is best put on the fastest SATA level supported by the SSD.
posted by jgreco at 7:05 AM on December 7, 2013

Response by poster: Yeah.. it's like bandwidth specs ...... it's often not the raw descriptive - potential - number(s) advertised, it's the comparative difference to earlier tech that has more practical meaning.
I did end up leaving the HDD on the SATA 2.0; again, just to leave one of the SATA-3 ports free for an upgrade. Everything is humming away nicely.
posted by peacay at 7:56 AM on December 8, 2013

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