Difference between SATA (II) 3Gbs & SATA (III) 6gbps CABLES? [solved]

UPDATE #2: I now have a definitive answer to this question (whether you need new cables for 6GB/s SATA)… see below.

UPDATE #1: make sure to checkout the first comment to this post, as John posted some great additional info!

Q. Hello, I just got a super fast new Intel 510 SSD drive (and I have a C300 too). I’ve got a bunch of old SATA cables (back when SATA I/II 1.5 gbs 3 gbs was the max) and now I’m wondering if I need a special cable to take advantage of the 6 gbps speeds?!

A. Great question! You are in luck, your old SATA cables will be just fine! As long as they are good quality cables, there will be 0% speed difference, or in other words, “absolutely no difference in performance.” :-) You do not need specially labeled SATA 6GB/s cables.

Specifically, here are the only differences I am aware of in the cable standard for the various SATA versions: some require a locking mechanism and some may have additional shielding (see comment #1 below).. However, older cables with friction fit WILL work just fine. We even have confirmation of cable compatability from the Serial ATA International Organization:

UPDATE #2 FINALLY A DEFINITIVE ANSWER:

Q9. Does SATA 6Gb/s require different connectors and cables to support the higher transfer speed?

A9. The same cables and connectors used for current SATA 1.5 and SATA 3.0 Gb/s implementations can be used to connect SATA 6Gb/s devices, although SATA-IO recommends quality components be selected to ensure data integrity and robust operation at the faster SATA 6Gb/s transfer rate. Keeping the existing SATA connector form factor enables SATA 6Gb/s to be designed into the same cost-conscious hardware architectures while minimizing infrastructure changes.

Source: SATA International Organization, SATA Revision 3.0 Specification [PDF]

Cool, now what we all knew from experience is now clearly stated in that PDF!

More supporting info below:

A quick guide to SATA 6Gbps - Pocket-lint

A quick guide to SATA 6Gbps – Pocket-linthttp://www.pocket-lint.com/news/23188/pocket-lint-quick-guide-sata-6gbpsExisting cables today will still be able to be used in the future with SATA 6Gbps, with no additions needed as it’s running from the exact same connectors. This removes the headache and additional learning curve, which often puts some people off with new technology.

Is a sata III cable different than a sata II cable? – Yahoo! Answershttp://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20101013125624AAP08xbAll SATA cables use the same electrical connector and wiring.

SATA 6.0 Gbps (they don’t like the SATA 3 term) mandates a locking connector at each end of the cable. Plain old SATA 3.0 cables will work just fine, as long as they don’t wiggle loose, however.

SATA 6 Gbps Cable, Straight to Straight W/ Metal Latch, UV Blue, Backward Compatible 3 Gbps and 1.5 Gbps

SATA 6 Gbps Cable, Straight to Straight W/ Metal Latch, UV Blue, Backward Compatible 3 Gbps and 1.5 Gbpshttp://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16812123110Cons: A little deceptive that these are listed as SATA 6gbps cables. Any cable will do, you don’t need a special cable for the new interface. The change is all in the…

Serial ATA - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Serial ATA – Wikipedia, the free encyclopediahttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serial_ATA#Cables.2C_connectors.2C_and_portsThe SATA standard defines a data cable with seven conductors (3 grounds and 4 active data lines in two pairs) and 8 mm wide wafer connectors on each end. SATA cables can have lengths up to 1 metre (3.3 ft), and connect one motherboard socket to one hard drive.

Conclusion

Internal SATA cables are backwards/forward compatible between SATA I,II, and III devices at speeds up to 1.5gbs/3.0Gbs/6Gbs depending on your drives and controllers.

So, whatever your HD or SSD, all internal good quality SATA cables will be good to go and will NOT negatively affect your performance/speeds.

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12 comments

  • SATA (original) cables are the “vanilla” connectors without locking mechanisms, or only one locking mechanism
    SATA 3GB/s cables where the first to require the locking mechanisms on both ends.
    SATA 6GB/s cables have the transmit and receive data-pairs independently shielded. On ASUS supplied cables you can tell by the indent running down the middle of the cable (Gigabyte supplied cables don’t have this, they are just a little thicker than their old 3GB/s cables). That said, unless you have an exceptionally long cable, or noisy case, regular 3GB/s cables should work fine for 6GB/s drives/controllers.

    • J.D.

      Thanks for the great info and tips John! I will eventually update the post accordingly. I am also glad you mentioned the thickness/length/noise issues re: cabling, as that can obviously be a BIG issue (i.e. the Apple products that had very thin SATA cables and suffered for it, or a buddy of mine that had LONG sata cables and ended up having some issues with low quality cables…)

  • Hi J.D.

    I cringed about your use of the word “should.” I’d much prefer you’d let someone who knows for certain answer this question. I was hoping to read, “…absolutly no difference in performance.”

    I searched for an answer because Asus MOBO includes two sets of cables one set has printed on the cable “…6.0…” Why?

    Kerry

  • J.D.

    Howdy Kerry,
    Thanks for your comment. I have updated my post with a definitive answer for you directly from the Serial ATA International Organization.. There will be no performance difference between the cables. As for potential physical differences, that has been addressed by John Havlik in comment #1.

    Best regards and I hope this helps,
    -JD

  • Hi J.D.

    Much appreciation for your quick and positive followup. I like the answer.

    With aloha, Kerry

  • mike

    Jeeee, it’s all about shielding.

  • Harry Hill

    When you say ‘no difference’. Looking at an A to B SATA cable 6.0 I notice that there is a difference and the female is also different.
    Why?

    • Hi Harry,
      Thank you for your comment.

      I am not sure what you mean by A to B, can you elaborate please? Any description of the differences would be helpful, or a photo would be particularly phenomenal for this discussoin.

      As for differences in cables, there are definitely differences in cable styles (colors, thickness, flexibility) and connector locking (some have pressure fit, others have a metal locking mechanism etc.), however, all normal internal SATA cables should be able to plugin into a SATA port and operate correctly.

      Specifically, the ‘no difference’ I was referring to is as quoted: “absolutely no difference in performance.”

      So, SATA cables may look differently and lock differently but they should perform equivalently (barring some of the odd proprietary setups like Apple uses in some of their products)

      Best regards,
      -JD

      PS if we’re talking about eSATA or other external SATA connections then they do vary as well…

  • Harry Hill

    A ‘B’ connector-usually to an external drive-looks like a HOUSE.
    A SATA 6.0 ‘B’ Connector looks like a small second story added to the house.Any difference in xfer speed? Most say no and some say
    yes. Why make a different end corrector on the B-SATA 6.0?

  • Harry,

    I think you are confusing USB3.0 with SATA6GB/s. These are two completly different standards.

    On the topic of USB:

    USB 1.0/1.1/2.0 all have the same pinout and connectors. Better shielding is only needed for longer runs, otherwise any of these can be used for the higher grades in the range (they will either work or they won’t).

    USB 3.0 adds extra conductors to the original USB pinout. The USB 3.0 A connector has two rows of pins in the substrate. The USB 3.0 B connector consists of a second squre sitting on top of the original USB 1.x/2.0 B connector (the house layout you described). USB 3.0 cables carry the original USB 1.x/2.0 lines plus two additional power/gound pairs, and a pair of transmit and recieve lines (8 extra conductors). Using a USB 2.0 cable to bridge between two USB3.0 devices will cause them to run in only USB 2.0 mode.

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