Q & A – Building your own PC

February 12th, 2010 in .How To Guides .Technology Features
Gogo Ubari
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Q. It’s been a long time since I last built my own PC and, after reading motherboard reviews, I see that SATA seems to be taking over from IDE as the preferred way to connect hard drives — what are the advantages of this new (at least to me) interface?

A. SATA is short for Serial Advanced Technology Attachment and it’s a step up from the PATA (Parallel Advanced Technology Attachment) that all PC motherboards used at one time.

The advantage of SATA is that it provides much faster datatransfer rates than PATA — theoretically, up to 3Gbit/s. This figure is the maximum bandwidth of the interface, however, and the actual transfer speed that you’ll get from a SATA hard drive will be lower. This is only a limitation of current hard-drive technology, however — and SATA drives are getting faster all the time.

The other big benefit of SATA is that the cables are much more manageable. They’re very narrow and can be up to 1m long, whereas PATA leads can’t stretch much beyond 45cm. Smaller sockets also mean that more SATA ports can fit onto a motherboard. Few motherboards have more than four PATA sockets, but the ASUS Maximus III Formula, for example, has six SATA sockets for connecting external SATA drives.

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