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Difference between SATA and IDE

SATA or IDE…the terms may as well be Greek for anyone on less than a full on technophile level, and even those with some experience with computers will likely be unable to tell you just what they are, only that one of them is "newer" and/or "faster". While both types of drive systems do actually have their performance differences, there is a lot more to them than that, as this comparison article aims to show you.


Cables, Connectors And Jumpers

SATA cables are comprised of only 7 pins, while IDE cables are comprised of 40 pins. SATA cables are also longer than IDE ribbon cables, with some reaching up to 1m. This makes them more suitable for use in larger computer housings. IDE cables are quite a bit shorter at only 45cm on average, and it also may be used to connect two hard drives to the motherboard. In contrast, SATA cables are required to connect only one hard drive. IDE requires more from the user in terms of setting jumpers, especially since they are often used to connect more than one device. With SATA on the other hand, only one cable is in use at all times, negating the need for jumper adjustments. This makes SATA easier to install for inexperienced computer users.


IDE offers pretty impressive data transfer rates at 5MB/sec to 133MB/Sec. SATA boosts this significantly however by offering data transfer rates of 150MB/sec.  SATA II ups this even further with a 300MB/sec data transfer rate.

Ease Of Install/Risks

Installing IDE and SATA drives are both relatively easy tasks, although there are a number of considerations to keep in mind. For one thing, IDE uses large PATA cables that are not only a bit awkward to work with in the confined space of a computer case, but they may also get in the way of fans and certain other components, possibly resulting in overheating. At the very least, this may cause your fans to work much harder, increasing the noise that your computer emits. In the worse case scenario, certain components of your computer may even be damaged. Making things even more challenging is the fact that PATA cables are often a lot shorter than SATA cables, making it harder to position them where they won't cause any issues. The need to set jumpers also adds a bit more difficulty to the proceedings. In contrast, SATA hard drive is a comparative cakewalk, with the only steps required being the installation of the drive and connecting the cables, after which BIOS will be used to detect the drive. Setting jumpers aren't usually even necessary in most cases, although you may need to install extra drivers for the SATA controller in order to get the full performance benefits of SATA technology.



  • Is usually easier to install than IDE
  • Requires only one cable
  • Offers a maximum data transfer rate of 133MB/sec, and even higher with SATA II
  • Uses a longer cable


  • More complicated install process
  • Requires the setting of jumpers
  • Restricted to shorter cables that may potentially cause heating issues

Which cables are longer?
  • SATA
  • IDE

Discuss It: comments 1

  • Guest
  • MajorTom wrote on November 2010

i think this is much better reviews between SATA and IDE drives i've ever found...

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