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I'm looking at refurb PC towers to use as a network drive unit. I plan a small SSD for the operating system, and two 4Gb WD Reds for data storage.

Old refurbished PCs currently on the market like Optiplex 3010, 7010, or HP ElitDesk's, often have three or four total drive bays, but one or two are originally meant to be optical drive bays. For example, the Optiplex 7010 and 3010 Technical Guidebook specs the bays as 2 Optical Bays w/maximum 2 optical drives supported and 2 Internal Hard Drive Bays w/ maximum 2 HDDs supported.

But in all cases, the mobo's have 3 or 4 SATA connectors and its not specified whether they're intended for HDDs or Optical Drives. A SATA port is a SATA port, right? So I expect the answer will be that it makes no difference, you can plug either type of drive into any SATA port and who cares what physical space the unit is in - but best to check first.

Other than the physical attachment - and I see there are caddies available for this - are there any other issues with using an optical bay and its corresponding SATA port for an HDD?

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You can put a hard drive in an optical bay, and the SATA interface will allow things to work, but not all SATA ports are equal - very often the optical drive will use a slower SATA1 connection which can reduce performance.

(As per comments it looks like your ports are all SATA 2, so this is not an issue, but if it were...) It follows that if not all your SATA interfaces are the same speed and you have a combination of SSD's and hard drives [which will fit in that position] you would be better off using the slower SATA1 interface for hdd and using the higher speed ports for the SSD.

  • Thank you for pointing out the important aspect of the SATA port speeds, and for going the extra mile to check. Although, looking at the link, I see, under "Interface" for the mid-tower, # of SATA 2.0 ports is 4, that is, all of them. I think the next section, Removable Storage > Optical Drive, where it says SATA 1.5Gb/s is referring to the optical drive itself. No? – Jim_1234 Jul 7 '19 at 23:57
  • On revisiting, yes, that looks to be the case. – davidgo Jul 8 '19 at 0:14
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SATA connections can be used for any SATA device.

Yes, the optical drive bays can also be used for housing internal HDD (or other) with several different caddies available in the markets at the time of this writing.

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