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HP Desktop PCs - About SATA hard drives and controller modes

Serial Advanced Technology Attachment, also known as Serial ATA or SATA, enables mass storage devices, such as hard drives and optical drives, to communicate with the system board using a high-speed serial cable over two pairs of conductors.

SATA connections on a hard drive

SATA connections on a hard drive


Power cable


SATA data cable

SATA connector cables

SATA connector cables

SATA ports on the system board

SATA ports on the system board

Select the correct SATA port

Connect your hard drives to the correct SATA ports to ensure that your computer functions correctly.

To install a single SATA HDD into your computer, connect it to the lowest-numbered port (such as SATA0 or SATA1) on the system board. Then connect the optical drive to one of the other ports.

To install multiple HDDs and install the operating system on only one drive, use the lowest numbered port on the system board (such as SATA0 or SATA1) for the drive with the operating system. Then use the next lowest numbered port for the second drive, and so on.

To install multiple hard drives with RAID mode to increase storage space or create a backup drive, connect one of the drives to the lowest numbered port (such as SATA0 or SATA1). Then connect the remaining drives to ports on the same controller.

SATA controller modes

Serial ATA (SATA) controller modes determine how the hard drive communicates with the computer. You can set a SATA hard drive to function in one of three controller modes: IDE, AHCI, or RAID. Enabling RAID mode also enables the AHCI features.


HP recommends setting the SATA controller mode before installing the operating system. Changing the mode after installing the operating system can prevent the system from starting.

Set the controller mode in the BIOS

Use the following steps to access the BIOS to set the SATA controller mode for a hard drive.

  1. Turn off the computer and wait five seconds.

  2. Turn on the computer.

  3. Immediately press the f10 key repeatedly, about once every second, until the BIOS Setup Utility is displayed.

  4. In the BIOS Setup Utility, use the right arrow key to select the Storage tab.

  5. Use the down arrow key to select Storage Options, and then press enter.

  6. Select the controller mode next to SATA Emulation, and then press f10 to accept the change.

    Selection controller mode in SATA Emulation

Troubleshoot SATA controller mode problems

Download HP PC Hardware Diagnostics UEFI to resolve any error message that is displayed when you set up the SATA controller modes.

  1. Download the latest version of HP PC Hardware Diagnostics UEFI from the HP Hardware Diagnostics website.

  2. Turn off the computer and wait five seconds.

  3. Turn on the computer.

  4. Immediately press the esc key repeatedly, about once every second, until the Startup menu is displayed. Then press f2 to launch HP PC Hardware Diagnostics UEFI.

  5. Click Component Tests, select Storage, and then select Quick Test.

  6. Click Run once.

    The Quick Test begins.

  7. If the computer has more than one hard drive, select the drive to test. To test all the hard drives, select Test All Hard Drives.

    When the test is complete, the screen displays the results. Test results are also available in the Test Logs on the main menu.

  8. If the hard drive passes the Quick Test, but there is still a problem with the hard drive, run the Extensive Test. This test includes the SMART Check, Short DST, Optimized DST, and Long DST. To run these tests individually, select them from the Hard Drive Tests menu.

  9. If the hard drive fails a test, click Troubleshoot.

  10. Follow the on-screen instructions to attempt to resolve the problem. If the problem is not resolved, click Yes to contact HP Support.

  11. Scan the QR Code, or write down or copy the failure ID (24-digit code) and product ID for when you contact HP Customer Support. The information is also available in Test Logs on the main menu.

  12. If your computer is online, click NEXT to go to the HP Customer Support website.