Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

New Hardware In An Old Machine

Reader Asks About The New SATA Hard Drives

Q: Paul, I enjoy reading your articles. I have a question I hope you will clear up for me. A few years ago I had a computer assembled for me, and I have pretty much filled up its hard drive so I am shopping for a new one to add as a second drive. I read (not on your site) about the new SATA drives and how fast they are. I am wondering if the new versions will work in my computer and any advice you have for installing it. I took your advice and looked inside, and I have a Asus A7N8 motherboard. Thanx.

A: Dear Reader,a7n8
The quite new hard drive technology – called SATA III – is indeed quite fast, with a transfer rate of 6 Gbps.
And, yes, indeed your ASUS motherboard has SATA ports.
And, yes, adding a second hard drive is an easy and relatively inexpensive “upgrade” which will give you more storage room.

But (why, in life, does there always seem to be a “but”?) there are a couple of factors to consider. One, by “a few years” you really mean several years and you must remember Moore’s Law and that tech doesn’t age like you and I — your motherboard is several “generations” old (in reality a Great grandpa, or even a Great-great grandpa). It can only transfer (read and write) at the original SATA speed of 150 MBps.

Due to “backwards compatibility” you can install a SATA II, or even a SATA III drive, which will – indeed – give you more room for music/movies/games etc., but you will not gain any performance benefits (they will transfer at 150 MBps) unless you also upgrade your transfer path (aka your “port”) which is typically done by adding an “expansion card”.
(The method is the same as I describe here: Add Firewire 800 To Your PC– Fast Video Transfer).

I looked it up, and it seems that ASUS will be shipping the first such card any day now, and it will retail for around $30 (see Asus’ Awesome USB 3.0, SATA 6Gbps Card Now Shipping), and as a side benefit, the card has the new USB 3.0 ports as well.

So as I see it, it boils down to three options:
* Don’t worry about the “speed” and simply install an affordable second drive.
* Install a card and a SATA III drive.
* Think about a new PC… though, I know of no manufacturers shipping units with the new SATA III technology yet (Computer hardware technology really has come a long way since single-core CPU’s and 400 MHz DDR RAM).

Copyright 2007-2010 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.jaanix post to jaanix

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January 21, 2010 - Posted by | computers, hardware, how to, PC, performance | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

2 Comments »

  1. TechPaul,

    That is an absolutely great informative article. I need to mess around more with the hardware side of things.

    Rick

    Like

    Comment by Ramblinrick | January 22, 2010 | Reply

    • Rick,
      I thank you for the compliment, but I have to say, don’t you dare! What’s On My PC… is plenty competition enough as it is! Keep up the great work over there, but… leave a reader or two for me, OK?
      (And folks, seriously now, click the link. Rick’s site really is an undiscovered gem of the Internet.)

      Like

      Comment by techpaul | January 22, 2010 | Reply


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