Question Bought a new hard drive, but opened my computer to find there's only 1 SATA power cable.

Mantha065

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Feb 5, 2016
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I've just about used up all the space on my hard drive, so I figured I'd buy another and have two (I already have an external hard drive that I use for backing up files). I got the hard drive a day ago, and today when I opened the case to my computer, I quickly found the SATA connection cables, but there was only one blue power cable, which was obviously already plugged into the original hard drive. I tried plugging in the connection cable anyway just for giggles, but of course when I started it up the computer didn't recognize any new hard drive, so...I'm stuck with a $40 paperweight until I figure out how to make it usable.

Can one simply go online and buy another power cable? I thought I saw a second slot next to where the blue power cable was plugged into the motherboard, so I'm hoping it's that easy, but I've never had this problem before so I don't know what I'm doing.

My computer is a Dell Inspiron 5680 with the stock power supply, motherboard, SSD and hard drive. The only non-stock thing is the new hard drive. When I bought the hard drive I used the Amazon tool to see if that drive would be compatible with my computer and it told me it was, but I guess that tool isn't very well made if this is what it meant by "compatible with your computer."
 

13thmonkey

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the data cable plugs into the mobo, the power cable plugs into the power supply. you'll normally only ever have enough data cables for the drives you have installed. You need to check the cables on your power supply for a spare sata power plug (buy a sata power splitter if there are no spares) , and buy a sata data cable.
 

Mantha065

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I haven't opened my computer yet since I posted this (it's a hassle to clear off my very-cluttered desk, heft it onto the ground and back up, etc), but like I said, the SATA data cables are fine, I've got three of them, but the cable plugged into the original drive's power slot was a blue cable with a head that didn't look like anything else inside. I also recall seeing at least one SATA cable split into two, but it looked like it was for a graphics card.
I'll open it later on and compare the cable to the ones you suggested, popatim, thanks. If all goes well I'll mark the thread as solved.
 

oblivioncth

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Sep 5, 2012
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I thought I saw a second slot next to where the blue power cable was plugged into the motherboard, so I'm hoping it's that easy, but I've never had this problem before so I don't know what I'm doing.
This is making it sound like you may be confusing the SATA power and data cables, unless the newer Inspirons pass the drive power through the motherboard first in some proprietary fashion, but I don't think this is the case. Or this was just a typo. Overall, pictures would help.

The service manual for your machine is here: https://topics-cdn.dell.com/pdf/inspiron-5680-gaming-desktop_service-manual_en-us.pdf

I see no signs of the drives being powered in any weird way. The power for the drive comes directly from the Powersupply itself, while the data connection goes between your new drive and the motherboard. The power connector is the longer one of the two that has black, red, and yellow wires coming out of it, while the data cable is just a simple enclosed cable that is mostly flat.

If you look at the service manual, namely page 119, you'll see that you should have two unoccupied SATA data ports next to the 2 that are used up (if you have the configuration that came with an SSD and a Hard Drive, if you only have 1 you'll have 3 open ports) that I highlighted in red here:



My guess is that this is your issue and what you were referring to. You certainly have the port needed for the new hard drive but no cable, as it is unlikely that your PC came with extra. So, you will need to procure one like this: https://www.amazon.com/Monoprice-18-Inch-Cable-Locking-90-Degree/dp/B009GUXU52/

If in addition, you also actually don't have a free power connector on the PSU (certainly possible with a pre-built) you can simply by a "Y" power cable to add another one. As long as you don't exceed the max power your PSU is rated for or put dozens of devices behind one original cable, using these is perfectly fine:

https://www.amazon.com/Cable-Matters-Power-Y-Splitter-Inches/dp/B00V6QA65G/8-3
 
Do NOT use what appears to be a modular SATA power cable from any other PSU, as you will fry your drive in short order if the pinout on the PSU connection side of the PSU is different, which is quite common, much to the expensive lessons learned of many...
 

popatim

Titan
Moderator
I haven't opened my computer yet since I posted this (it's a hassle to clear off my very-cluttered desk, heft it onto the ground and back up, etc), but like I said, the SATA data cables are fine, I've got three of them, but the cable plugged into the original drive's power slot was a blue cable with a head that didn't look like anything else inside. I also recall seeing at least one SATA cable split into two, but it looked like it was for a graphics card.
I'll open it later on and compare the cable to the ones you suggested, popatim, thanks. If all goes well I'll mark the thread as solved.
The wide ones are the power cables. These come from the power supply and often you can see the individual wires in them.
The little ones are the data and connect to ports on the motherboard.
 

hang-the-9

Titan
Moderator
snip ---

Can one simply go online and buy another power cable? I thought I saw a second slot next to where the blue power cable was plugged into the motherboard, so I'm hoping it's that easy, but I've never had this problem before so I don't know what I'm doing.

My computer is a Dell Inspiron 5680 with the stock power supply, motherboard, SSD and hard drive. The only non-stock thing is the new hard drive. When I bought the hard drive I used the Amazon tool to see if that drive would be compatible with my computer and it told me it was, but I guess that tool isn't very well made if this is what it meant by "compatible with your computer."
If you are looking at the motherboard, that is not the power cable , SATA power cables from the power supply go directly to the drive. Those are just SATA data cables.

Compatible with your computer meaning it will fit in the case and it has the right ports to run it. Which it will. That tool does not know you want it as a secondary drive or what connections you may or may not have. Most compatibility checks are done with the idea of replacing not adding.
 

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