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Is it possible under Windows 7 to check whether a particular disk is recognized by Windows as SATA or ATA?

I've installed Windows 7 on an old HP laptop with SATA drive. Laptop's hdd in Device Manager appeared as

Hitachi HTS541612J9SA00 ATA

This hdd is the SATA drive and the chipset in the laptop definitely supports SATA. I've turned on 'Write-caching policy' and completely forget about all that staff.

Then, a friend of mine told me, that for specific Intel chipsets it is necessary to install an HP-provided SATA driver, otherwise Windows would not be able to connect the disk in SATA mode.

So I've downloaded the SATA driver for Vista from HP site (Windows 7 for that laptop officially isn't supported) and manually updated Intel SATA AHCI Controller in Device Manager with that driver.

And that's what happened:

  • After the reboot, Windows displayed a popup window saying it has found a 'new' Hitachi hdd.

  • In Device Manager the hdd appeared as

    Hitachi HTS541612J9SA00

(notice the missing ATA suffix.)

But I'm not able to turn on 'Write-caching policy' now, because Windows says:

Windows could not change the write-caching setting for the device.
Your device might not support this feature or changing this setting.

And the main thing: I do not see any difference in the hdd speed (I've checked it with CrystalDiskMark before and after the driver 'update').

In BIOS there is a SATA native mode setting and it is set to Enable.

So again, is it possible under Windows 7 to check whether a particular disk is recognized by Windows as SATA or ATA?

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

Here are two ways you can determine if it's in AHCI (native) mode.

  1. Open up the Device Manager, click the View menu and select "Devices by connection". Navigate through the device tree, usually the AHCI controller is attached directly to the PCI bus. The controller device should have AHCI in the name and your drive should be attached to it.

  2. Download AS SSD Benchmark, it is small and you don't need to install anything. Intended to benchmark SSD drives, it will also tell you the controller the drive is connected to if you hover over the third line of the device detail (msahci in the pic below).

Screenshot

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HWiNFO does what you want, and more. Free, available in standalone/portable version.

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AFAIK, the connection mode of SATA is not drive-specific but only controller-specific, so having the native mode enabled (or AHCI mode selected instead of IDE/PATA compatibility/emulation mode) in BIOS/UEFI setting should be all you need to do.

As for the driver, I don't think you should try to use a driver that is for Vista while you're with Windows 7. Even if it (apparently) works, it's probably old and sub-optimal.

Usually the standard AHCI driver provided Microsoft is good enough, especially for Intel SATA controllers. That's one of the main point of AHCI: "The Advanced Host Controller Interface (AHCI) is a technical standard defined by Intel that specifies the operation of Serial ATA (SATA) host bus adapters in a non-implementation-specific manner." -- Wikipedia on AHCI

If you're still worried that the Microsoft driver is sub-optimal, you can get driver from the download center of Intel. There are basically two drivers available from Intel for their modern desktop chipset: one from the Chipset Device Software (e.g. https://downloadcenter.intel.com/download/20775/), the other is the Intel RST driver (e.g. https://downloadcenter.intel.com/download/25165/). Don't ask me which one is better though.

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Although the RST driver is also called the RAID driver, but AFAIK it can be perfectly used even when you selected AHCI mode instead of RAID mode in BIOS/UEFI setting. Btw, I think Intel recommended that we should select RAID mode, if it's available, instead of AHCI mode, even when we aren't really going to set up any Intel RAID. I am not sure what's the rationale or if it's really a good idea though. Personally I simply stick with AHCI mode and the Microsoft standard driver. – Tom Yan Feb 7 at 14:28

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