Agree with Al, SATA cables are pretty standard. The come different colors, with straight or both left or right 90 degree angled connectors, some with clips to keep them in place, and lengths from 6" to 40" (3.3 Ft). The standard wire size is 26 gauge.
Are good for 6 Gb/s.
Have seen a 6 inch SATA data cable with thinner wire, but they should still be good at such short distances.
We all psychologically think the heavier better quality covering makes for a better cable, and they do "look better", but here we just want electrons to get from one end to the other. And they all have 3 grounds, and two sets of data lines in them for a total of 7.
I have encountered one SATA cable that just plain didn't work, and another cable that was strangely unreliable (but just one of each, so this kind of thing is not common).
The unreliable cable was much worse than the one that didn't work -- I had it in my desktop for about a year, and a few times a month the drive on it would just stop responding. Replaced the drive, thinking it was possibly dying, and the new drive did exactly the same thing. Replaced the cable, and it hasn't happened since.
Symptoms of a bad SATA cable: for me it manifested as ATA command timeouts. It was never corrupted data, or the drive acting as if it had bad sectors -- *but* the drive's internal SMART log did log the errors as failures while accessing sector 0, which was misleading at first (until I realized that it wasn't a failure to *read* from sector 0, just that that's the sector the drive heads happened to be on when the error occurred). The drive randomly disappearing from the OS could also be a bad SATA cable (or just a loose one ).
Very good point. We all run into a bad cable during our travels. A bad one is, as you said, easier because it just doesn't work. The intermittant ones are buggers. I remember years ago troubleshooting an Win-98 machine with an ASUS MB, that every 3 months, would on boot up, stop at the setup screen as it didn't see the boot drive. It was set up with a SATA HDD with the system & boot partition, and an IDE as a secondary drive. When it reset, it looked by default for the IDE drive first, the one without the OS. After a lot of head scratching, I replaced the IDE cable (Master SATA & DVD) and never had a problem after that.
It is a good point to always keep an extra SATA data cable, IDE cable, USB cable, etc in the toolbox, so if there is any question, you can swap out a "suspect" part. And if it doesn't help, swap it back in!