Computers, Laptops & Tablets Apple 23 23 people found this article helpful Which SATA Interface Do Macs Use? by Tom Nelson Writer Tom Nelson is an engineer, programmer, network manager, and computer network and systems designer who has written for Other World Computing,and others. our editorial process Facebook Twitter Tom Nelson Updated on January 19, 2020 Apple Macs iPad Tweet Share Email Serial Advanced Technology Attachment has been the hard drive interface method of choice for Macintosh computers since the G5. SATA replaces the older ATA hard drive interface. Hard drives that use the SATA interface have distinct advantages over ones that don't. The SATA interface provides faster transfer rates, thinner and more flexible cabling, and easier plug-and-play connections. Most SATA-based hard drives don't have any jumpers that need to be set. They also don't create a master/slave relationship between drives, as other methods did. Each hard drive operates on its own independent SATA channel. mikroman6 / Getty Images There are currently six versions of SATA: SATA Version Speed Notes SATA 1 and 1.5 1.5 Gbits/s SATA 2 3 Gbits/s SATA 3 6 Gbits/s SATA 1.5, SATA 2 and SATA 3 devices are interchangeable. You can connect a SATA 1.5 hard drive to a SATA 3 interface, and the drive will work just fine, although only at the slower 1.5 Gbits/s speed. The reverse is also true. If you connect a SATA 3 hard drive to a SATA 1.5 interface it will work, but only at the reduced speed of the SATA 1.5 interface. SATA interfaces are primarily used on drives and removable media drives, such as CD and DVD writers. SATA Versions Used in Recent Macs Apple has used various types of interfaces between Mac’s processors and its storage system. SATA made its Mac debut on the 2004 iMac G5 and is still in use on the iMac and Mac mini. Apple is moving to direct PCIe interfaces in order to support faster Flash-based storage, so the days of the Mac using SATA are likely numbered. If you're wondering which SATA interface your Mac uses, you can use the table below to find out. SATA iMac Mac mini Mac Pro MacBook Air MacBook MacBook Pro SATA 1.5 iMac G5 20-inch 2004iMac G5 17-inch 2005iMac 2006 Mac mini 2006 - 2007 MacBook Air 2008 -2009 MacBook 2006 - 2007 MacBook Pro 2006 - 2007 SATA 2 iMac 2007 - 2010 Mac mini 2009 - 2010 Mac Pro 2006 - 2012 MacBook Air 2010 MacBook 2008 - 2010 MacBook Pro 2008 - 2010 SATA 3 iMac 2011 and newer Mac mini 2011 and newer MacBook Air 2011 and newer MacBook Pro 2011 and newer SATA Interface Used SATA and External Enclosures SATA is also used in many external drive enclosures, allowing you to easily connect a standard hard drive or a SATA-based SSD to your Mac, using either USB 3 or Thunderbolt connectivity. Since no Mac is factory-equipped with an eSATA (external SATA) port, these drive enclosures operate as a USB to SATA converter, or Thunderbolt to SATA converter. When purchasing an external drive enclosure, make sure it supports SATA 3 (6 GB/s), and is the correct physical size to hold a desktop hard drive (3.5 inches), a laptop hard drive (2.5 inches), or an SSD that is commonly available in the same laptop size (2.5 inches). More from Lifewire How You Can Upgrade Your Mac's Drive PCIe vs. SATA SSDs Increase Storage With an External Drive for Your Mac What Is SATA Express? Build Your Own External Hard Drive How the M.2 SSD Will Make Your PC Even Faster What Is External SATA (eSATA)? What Is a Serial ATA (SATA) Cable? Reviving a Hard Drive for Use With Your Mac The 9 Best SATA Hard Drives of 2020 How to Install an SSD in Your Laptop WD Black 4TB Performance Hard Drive Review 5 Types of External Drives for Your Mac What Is a PCIe SSD? The 7 Best SSDs for MacBook Pro in 2020 What Is a Hard Disk Drive?