Do I have SATA 2 or 3?

Determining whether your computer uses the older SATA 2 interface or the newer SATA 3 interface for its internal storage drives is an important question when looking to upgrade or replace a hard disk or solid state drive. The SATA interface generation dictates the maximum theoretical transfer speeds the drive can reach. This article will examine how to identify if you have SATA 2 or SATA 3 and the differences between the two versions.

Quick Overview of SATA 2 vs SATA 3

SATA stands for Serial Advanced Technology Attachment and refers to the interfaces and protocols used to connect storage devices like hard drives and SSDs to a computer’s motherboard. SATA interfaces provide a serial connection that supports hot swapping. There have been several iterations of the SATA standard:

  • SATA 1.0 – Released in 2003, transfer speeds up to 150MB/s
  • SATA 2.0/SATA II – Released in 2004, transfer speeds up to 300MB/s
  • SATA 3.0/SATA III – Released in 2009, transfer speeds up to 600MB/s

For the purposes of this article, we will focus on the differences between SATA 2 and SATA 3, the two most common versions found in computers today.


  • Officially known as SATA Revision 2.0
  • Introduced in 2004
  • Transfer speeds up to 300MB/s
  • Used by most hard drives until recently


  • Officially known as SATA Revision 3.0
  • Introduced in 2009
  • Transfer speeds up to 600MB/s
  • Used by newer solid state drives and some modern hard drives

The increased transfer rate of SATA 3 allows for much faster performance, especially for solid state drives. When purchasing a new drive, it’s important to know if your system supports SATA 3 to take full advantage of the speed. Older SATA 2 drives will still work in SATA 3 ports, but will be limited to SATA 2 maximum speeds.

How to Check if You Have SATA 2 or SATA 3

There are a few straightforward ways to determine which version of SATA your PC is using. Here are the methods to check if you have SATA 2 or SATA 3:

1. Check Your Motherboard Documentation

The easiest way is to simply look up the specifications of your computer’s motherboard. The manufacturer’s documentation, website, or box should state what SATA revision is supported. For example, it might say something like “Supports up to 6 SATA 3 Gb/s ports” (SATA 2) or “Supports up to 6 SATA 6 Gb/s ports” (SATA 3).

2. Check in the BIOS

If you can’t find the info from your motherboard model, you can reboot your computer and check what the BIOS says:
– Enter the system BIOS on startup by pressing the BIOS key, which is usually F2, F10, or Delete.
– Navigate to the storage configuration section, often called “Integrated Peripherals” or something similar.

– Look for the SATA or HDD settings. This should indicate a version or speed, like SATA 3Gb/s or SATA 6Gb/s.

3. Check in Windows

You can also identify your SATA version from within Windows:

– Go to the Start Menu and type “dxdiag” and hit Enter.
– Click “Save All Information” and save dxdiag.txt to your desktop.
– Open dxdiag.txt in Notepad and look for the line “SATA Type”.

This should say something like “SATA Type: SATA 3G” for SATA 2 or “SATA Type: SATA 6G” for SATA 3.

4. Check Disk Benchmark

As another confirmation, you can benchmark one of your drives and compare the speeds:

  • On Windows, use CrystalDiskMark or AS SSD Benchmark
  • On Mac, use BlackMagic Disk Speed Test

Run a benchmark on your drive. SATA 2 support will show maximum speeds around 300MB/s, while SATA 3 will show closer to 500MB/s or higher.

Why You Should Upgrade from SATA 2 to SATA 3

If you’ve determined your system only supports the older SATA 2 standard, you may be wondering if it’s worthwhile upgrading your motherboard or computer. Here are some key reasons why upgrading to SATA 3 may benefit your system:

Faster Transfer Speeds

The main motivation for upgrading to SATA 3 is the increased transfer bandwidth it provides – up to 600MB/s, double that of SATA 2. This results in significantly faster load times when booting your OS, launching programs, or working with large files.

Better SSD Performance

Solid state drives are able to saturate the SATA 3 bandwidth, achieving read/write speeds beyond 500MB/s. If you have an SSD on a SATA 2 connection, it will be limited to SATA 2 maximum throughput around 300MB/s, cutting speed significantly.

Multi-Tasking and Future Proofing

SATA 3 provides enough bandwidth that drives connected won’t bottleneck system performance during demanding multitasking. Upgrading to SATA 3 now will future proof your system for newer, faster drives down the road.

Tips for Upgrading from SATA 2 to SATA 3

If you’ve decided upgrading from SATA 2 to SATA 3 is worthwhile for your uses, here are some tips on how to upgrade:

1. Get a New Motherboard

The only way to fully upgrade to SATA 3 is to get a new motherboard that supports it. Look for a board with the Intel or AMD chipset that fits your CPU socket and has 6Gbps SATA ports.

2. Use a SATA 3 PCIe Card

A cheaper alternative is getting a SATA 3 PCI Express adapter card. This allows you to add 2-4 SATA 3 ports by installing the card in an open PCIe slot, without replacing the whole motherboard.

3. Replace Storage Drives

To take advantage of SATA 3 speeds, replace existing spinning hard drives and SATA 2 SSDs with new drives that support SATA 3. Look for drives with 550MB/s+ read/write speeds.

4. Fresh OS Install Recommended

Doing a fresh OS install on a SATA 3 SSD will allow your boot drive to fully benefit from the increased bandwidth. This ensures the OS and applications can access the SATA 3 transfer speeds.

Example SATA 2 vs SATA 3 Benchmarks

To demonstrate the difference upgrading from SATA 2 to SATA 3 can provide, here are some benchmark examples from popular SSD drives:

SSD Model SATA 2 Speed SATA 3 Speed
Samsung 870 EVO 285 MB/s read
260 MB/s write
560 MB/s read
530 MB/s write
WD Blue SN570 289 MB/s read
260 MB/s write
505 MB/s read
486 MB/s write
Crucial MX500 287 MB/s read
260 MB/s write
560 MB/s read
510 MB/s write

As you can see, upgrading from SATA 2 to SATA 3 roughly doubles the performance of these SSDs, allowing them to achieve their maximum rated speeds.


Determining if your computer currently uses the SATA 2 or SATA 3 standard for its storage drives is straightforward once you know where to check the specifications. For most systems still running SATA 2, upgrading to a SATA 3 supported motherboard and drive is recommended to take advantage of faster interface speeds, especially for solid state storage.

When shopping for new SSDs or hard drives, be sure to verify not only the drive’s SATA version, but also that your computer’s motherboard supports that SATA spec to achieve the advertised speeds. Refer to the tips in this guide for information on how to fully upgrade your system from SATA 2 to SATA 3.

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