How to Connect a SATA Hard Drive to a Motherboard (in a Laptop)

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How to Connect a SATA Hard Drive to a Motherboard

There are many reasons why you might want to connect a SATA hard drive to a laptop motherboard. It’s one of the more straightforward upgrades you can make to your laptop. That is, if you’re not afraid of cracking it open and getting your hands dirty. But don’t be hero. If you’re at all intimidated by working on your laptop’s internals, we fully recommend sending it to a professional to do this for you. Especially if the laptop is still under warranty. Ready to learn how to connect a SATA hard drive to a laptop motherboard? Here are two methods you can try to achieve your goal in almost no time. Let’s dive in!

Method 1: Use a SATA-to-USB Connector

This is probably one of the easiest ways to build a connection between your desktop’s SATA drive and your laptop. SATA-to-USB adaptors are available in a huge selection of models on the market, so ordering one via Amazon should be a piece of cake.

Then, all you’ll have to do is sit in front of your desk. Set your laptop on it. Get your SATA hard drive and get to work.

Remember that your hard drive will require a power source so that you can access the files on it from your laptop. If the hard drive was originally part of your old desktop, you could easily use the old power source to make it work.

If this isn’t the case, don’t worry. There’s always the option to fit your hard drive into an external SATA enclosure to get it powered. However, you might not need a SATA-to-USB connector at all in this scenario because the enclosure already supports USB 3.0 connectivity.

Now that your SATA hard drive is all ready, you can connect it to your laptop via the USB adaptor. After fixing the connector into the USB 3.0 port, it’s time to power your SATA hard drive.

In a few seconds, you should get a notification on your laptop that a new device was installed. You’ll then get access to the data on the drive, and you can finally copy files to your laptop’s built-in SSD drive, use the extra space for storage, etc.

Method 2: Get Yourself an External SATA Enclosure Case

To keep yourself from obsessing over finding the right power source for your hard drive (or just because it’s really simple). Buying a SATA enclosure case can be a better idea.

An external SATA case is also found on most hardware stores as well as online stores, so it’s a breeze to come by. Plus, some cases are compatible with SSDs (solid-state drives) and MHDs (mechanical hard drives), which can be quite helpful if you have several types of hard drives that you want to connect to.

Best of all, most SATA enclosure cases can fit 2.5” and 3.5” SATA hard drives.

Here, all you’ll need to do is put your SATA hard drive inside the enclosure. Use the USB cable that comes with it to connect to your laptop, and voila!

The coolest thing about this method is that the external hard drive enclosure will protect your drive against scratches. Therefore, it can be a better option than the previous method if you intend to use your SATA drive frequently and not just for a one-time transfer of files.

Do Laptops Have SATA Ports?

That would definitely make your job much easier. But laptops, unfortunately, don’t have SATA ports. Usually, a laptop’s motherboard connects to a SATA drive using integrated cables. So, there’s no need for a SATA port.

This is why it’s a bit challenging to connect a SATA hard drive to your laptop motherboard. But as we’ve learned, you can always do it via an external enclosure or USB connector.

Is It Easier to Connect a SATA Hard Drive to a PC’s Motherboard?

Yes. That’s because a computer’s motherboard has several SATA ports, unlike that of a laptop. Therefore, the process can be quite straightforward in comparison.

Here, all you’ll have to do is locate the SATA ports on your motherboard and plug in the new SATA drive using the right SATA cables. Don’t forget to connect the power cable to the hard drive to make it work.

How Does a SATA Drive Compare to SSD and MHD Drives?

A lot of users confuse these three hard drive types with each other. It happens often, especially if there’s no good reason for you to be up to date with the world of electronics and technology.

In this section, we’ll compare the three types of hard drives to help you expand your knowledge.

SATA Hard Drives

SATA hard drives are usually the most affordable out of the bunch, not to mention the fact that they can give you the most amount of storage space.

A SATA drive offers 500GB all the way to 16TB of storage. This makes it a great option for college students, office workers, and anyone else who needs plenty of storage.

But, since this type of drive includes moving parts, it’s prone to shock from sudden movement. Another con to a SATA drive is that its reading and writing rates are slower than those of an SSD or MHD.


MHDs are a type of hard drive that has been around since the 1950s. In fact, the design looks like that of an old-fashioned vinyl record player.

Even though they generally last longer than SATA drives and SSDs. They tend to face a lot of problems due to all their moving parts. If you don’t take proper care of them, MHDs can easily malfunction.

And let’s not forget to mention that this is the slowest type of computer storage.


Solid State Drives aren’t equipped with any moving components, which means you can read/write on them more often without any significant issues. This is why we consider them to be the best choice for a laptop’s internal storage.

Not just that, SSDs also have faster speeds than SATA drives and MHDs. And even the lowest-performing models can keep up with the speed of SATA drives.

However, SSDs aren’t as spacious as SATA drives, and they’re more expensive.

How Can You Connect an SSD to a Laptop’s Motherboard?

Thankfully, since most laptops already have internal SSD storage, it’s a bit easier to replace your pre-existing SSD with another one. You’ll just need to know your way around your laptop’s inner components, which is pretty simple using the help of the user’s manual.

First off, make sure that the laptop is shut down. As an extra safety precaution, you’ll want to remove the power cable and the battery. If you’re not certain about the right way to take out the battery, you can refer to the owner’s manual (which you can often find online).

Before you proceed, it’s important to ground yourself by touching a metal surface, ensure that the metal surface is unpainted. This should help protect the drive from potential static damage.

Then, open the laptop’s case and locate the storage bay. Again, you can reference the user’s manual to point you in the right direction.

Carefully remove the laptop’s built-in SSD making a note of any attached adapters, screws, brackets, and the like. Then, fit the new SSD and reattach everything that was connected to the old SSD.

After that, ensure that your new SSD fits snugly and plug it into the laptop.

Now you’re almost done, just reassemble your laptop and power it up to access the new drive.

How Can You Connect an MHD to a Laptop’s Motherboard?

While not as simple as it is with SSDs, MHDs are still able to connect to your laptop’s motherboard. You’ll just need to purchase an HDD to USB adapter like you would with a SATA hard drive.

Another good option is to invest in an external enclosure that supports MHDs. Then, fit your hard drive into the unit. Close the cover. Plug in the power adapter. And connect the entire thing to your laptop.

A notification will appear on your display letting you know that an external drive was installed. Now, you can access any file on the MHD or transfer any documents from your laptop to this extra storage space. Feels good to have more room for all your family photos doesn’t it!