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I have a HP Compaq de5700 Small Form Factor desktop computer, and I am looking to upgrade it's hard drive. When I open up the box, it clearly has available SATA connectors on the motherboard, but no indication as to which SATA version (1, 2, or 3). The hard drive I am considering is a SATA 3. My concern is that if the motherboard also supports SATA 3 and I use an old SATA cable (v1 or v2), might there be problems? This is a bare drive, so I don't expect that a cable will come with it, and I have not been able to find the manual for this machine. Thanks.

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up vote 11 down vote accepted

Yes. There is no difference in the cables. They have not changed with SATA revisions.

When the Serial ATA International Organization (SATA-IO) began design of the SATA Revision 3.0 specification, the designers wanted to double the interface data rate while enhancing support for multimedia applications − without introducing major changes that could adversely affect cost, increase design complexity, or reduce the quality and performance of the SATA interface. Key to meeting this goal is maintaining backward compatibility with SATA 3Gb/s connectors and cabling.

Source (pdf): http://www.serialata.org/documents/SATA-6-Gbs-The-Path-from-3gbs-to-6gbs.pdf

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We were discussing this on chat - I did a little digging and both maxiumum PC and puget systems did benchmarks on various cables.

Maximum PC had a more interesting variety of cables and found they worked identically, even when used beyond the specified distance. Puget system tried it with a typical set of cables and found there's little difference.

Empirically, if its a to spec, non damaged cable, it should work fine even with sata 3. Modern cables are probably made to higher tolerances and should work alright. I'd go with 'sata 3' cables if I had them but for most purposes, It looks like it dosen't matter.

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+1 I miss hanging out in chat!!! Very interesting and I didn't realise... I think I will still continue to use the SATA 3 cable "as it is there" in the box (and, it would look better if people look in their machines!), but nice to know it actually technically doesn't matter. –  William Hilsum Dec 17 '12 at 4:11
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