Does my M/B have a limit to the HDD size it will support?

Hi. I need a new Hard Drive for one of my PCs - this one's a bit long in the tooth now, though I have made various upgrades over the years. The M/B is an Asus A7N8X and the old HDD is a MAXTOR 6L060J3 (P-ATA, not SATA of course, which latter the M/B does not support). I want to replace the second HDD (same Maxtor) with a 500GB drive - a Western Digital WD5000AAKB seems most likely. I am not sure whether the old Maxtor is ATA-133 or ATA-100: I assume ATA-133, as I can't see any reference to a Maxtor 6L060J3 ATA-100 on the internet. The proposed WD drive is ATA-100.

My question is this. Am I safe in assuming that my Asus A7N8X will support the WD 500GB drive? I read somewhere that "ATA-100 controllers can normally only support hard drives up to around 137GB, whereas ATA-133 can support sizes that are 100,000 times larger (144PB)". If my Maxtor drive is ATA-133 (how do I tell?) then a 500GB drive should be no problem. But if the M/B only has ATA-100 controllers (again, how do I find out? The Asus manual doesn't say) then I'm not going to be able to add a 500GB drive (am I??). Or is the information about this limitation wrong?

I'm a bit worried as I already had to return one (generic) 500GB drive I tried - it would only ever run in PIO mode. That wasn't due to an issue related to any of the above, was it?


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  1. You will be fine with the 500 drive as long as its an ATA-100 and not SATA as you said.
    ATA-100 controllers operated at 100MB/s speeds - ATA-133 were at 133 MB/s speeds. No difference on size of drive supported.
    The 137 GB limit was a problem with Windows XP pre-service pack 1. After that there were no problems with large drives.

    I am running an ATA-100 250GB drive on an old Athlon 1.4 running a VIA KT266 chipset. It works just fine as a second drive. Only have problems booting from it due to the bios.

    If you had problems with PIO mode then it was probably a cable issue or you just needed to change the setting in the OS to use DMA or it was a bad drive from the start.
  2. OK, thanks, I'll go ahead and buy the WD drive then.

    The PIO issue was, I think, the drive: I bought new cables, switched the Primary & secondary IDE connections, used a script to force DMA, and a host of other things over the space of a month, before returning the drive. And my old maxtor never had any issues like that - so, hopefully, the new HDD will be fine too. But I am not lucky - I do seem to have to return an awfully high percentage of faulty hardware I buy!

    BTW, how do I find out what ATA the M/B supports and what ATA spec a hard drive is? Do I have to rely on manufacturers' blurb?

  3. 2 x UltraDMA 133/100/66/33

    It will do all of them so no worries. WD ATA drives will be 100. They never made a 133 as far as I know.
  4. OK, thanks. I ordered the WD disc..

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