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FAQ - The physical differences between PATA and SATA laptop hard drives.

There are two different drives that are compatible with laptops and notebooks.  These drives come in a small outline format commonly referred to as 2.5 inch drives (as compared to the larger 3.5 inch drives available for desktops).  This smaller format is required due to the compact size of portable computers and the limited amount of space available for hardware.  2.5 inch drives are available with either PATA or SATA connectors.  When replacing your laptop's hard drive, you need to know which drive will be compatible.

PATA drives (pictured above left) are the older format of compact hard drives.  The connection/interface has a parallel connector made up of two rows of pins.  The top row has 22 pins and the bottom row has 21.  One pin on the bottom row is omitted in order to "key" the connector.  This means that any reciprocal connector will only be able to fit one way.

SATA drives (pictured above right) are a new format of drive for laptops and notebooks.  For this type of drive, serial connectors are used.  This type of connector will look like two "L" shaped connectors as seen in the below image.

The above picture shows both types of hard drive and their pin connectors.  These are OEM drives without any caddy or pin adapters attached.  Almost all laptops and notebooks require a caddy and pin adapter.  The caddy is a tray the fits around the hard drive and helps the drive install into the laptop (pictured below left).  It also may serve as a portion of the bottom of the laptop, when the hard drive is installed the back side of the caddy will create a flush surface on the bottom of the laptop.  The pin adapter is a piece that fits over the pins on the hard drive to make a compatible connection required by the laptop (pictured below right). 


Please note that we only provide the OEM drives.  Any required caddy or pin adapter can be harvested from the original drive or purchased from your computer's manufacturer.