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I've bought a new hard drive for my system, and my motherboard (an ASUS M2A VM HDMI) appears to have two black and two red SATA ports, with the existing hard drive and DVD drive plugged into the red ones. Motherboard details and picture here.

I'm having a fair bit of difficulty in getting a clear answer from the internet what, if anything, these colours mean, and if they have any impact on how I should configure the existing and new drive. From my research, it appears there can also be blue ports.

So, super user, what do these colours (black, red, blue) of the SATA ports on motherboards mean?

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Photo, or it didn't happen. – random Sep 7 '09 at 5:44
Or model of the motherboard. Mine has two different colors, I believe purple and orange, for the two different RAID controllers. I don't think the actual color means anything as far as standardization across all motherboard makers. – Bratch Sep 7 '09 at 5:51
There's a photo of a board at that has all three. – David Dean Sep 7 '09 at 5:52
I've added a link to my mobo (with picture) above. – David Dean Sep 7 '09 at 5:58
Link doesn't work - give us the model name direct. Asus P5xxxx? – caliban Sep 7 '09 at 6:10
up vote 13 down vote accepted

It really depends on your motherboard - there is no standardization as to what colors mean for SATA ports on different motherboards. You will have to refer to the manual that came with your motherboard for clearer identification.

Commonly, SATA ports on a motherboard that has different colors can be categorized as such:

  1. Primary SATA controller ports
  2. RAID-capable SATA controller ports
  3. Secondary SATA controller ports

Usually, the color that has the most ports are the Primary SATA controller ports (usually black). The color that has even number of ports (usually 2) are RAID-capable (if your motherboard supports it, and I've seen yellow and red), and the secondary SATA controller ports are usually red in color.

Some manufacturers might even color ports just to help user ID what ports to use for an eSATA bracket.

Hope this helps. If you were to tell us your motherboard model, we could probably ID them for you.

EDIT : Found the port layout schematics for your M2A-VM.

You only have 4 SATA ports on your M2A-VM. 2 are marked black, 2 are marked red. There are no distinction in utility for all 4 ports, black SATA ports are ports 1 & 2, and red SATA ports are ports 3 & 4. Just go in serial starting from port 1. It does not affect anything at all.

Link to your motherboard manual here (PDF link).

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Just took a quick glance at a Gigabyte motherboard sitting on the shelf next to me - PURPLE ports. You are right, mate. This color nonsense is getting ridiculous. – caliban Sep 7 '09 at 6:09

From what I've seen, if more than one port is coloured, it denotes the RAID ports.

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Looking at my board--two different colors. Like colored ports are on the same controller. This can be useful information as it will be impossible to make a RAID group using different color ports.

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