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  1. #1
    2 Star Lounger Diogones's Avatar
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    USB 3.0 Controller Question

    I have a WD My Book Essential 3TB external USB hard drive, and it has 3.0 USB capability. My own computer only has 2.0 controllers on it, according to the motherboard specs. However, I noticed that the drive had, in addition to the WD Firmware software on it, a NEC Electronics USB 3.0 Host Controller Driver on it. Does this drive enable 3.0 speeds on my computer, or merely install a driver for 3.0 USB, assuming I had a 3.0 USB hub?

    If the latter is true, is there a PCI to USB 3.0 card I could use, besides a PCI-e card? The reason I ask is that I do not have any free PCI-e cards on my motherboard, but I do have regular PCI slots available.
    "Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent." - Issac Asimov, from his novel "Foundation"

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    You need a controller on your PC to use the drive with full 3.0 speeds, no way around that. I think all adapters I have seen have a PCI Express interface, but try google, maybe you can find one with a PCI interface.

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    Here's one at Amazon, the PCI bus is not as fast as a 1xPCIe bus but it should still be more than adequate for a mechanical drive.

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    2 Star Lounger Diogones's Avatar
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    Thanks both of you for the prompt and helpful replies! Great find Infinicore; that could just do the trick for me! However, new information has come to light. After consulting my motherboard user manual, it appears that I do in fact have two PCI-e 2.0 slots, but they are x8 and x16. Will they still work with the smaller x1 PCI-e USB 3.0 card?
    "Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent." - Issac Asimov, from his novel "Foundation"

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    5 Star Lounger chowur's Avatar
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    Here is another site;http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...oller+&x=0&y=0
    The best of luck on what ever you decide.
    Problems cannot be solved by the same level of thinking that created them. -Albert Einsten

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    Everything I've heard indicates a 1x will work fine in a larger PCIe slot...not the other way 'round though!

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    WS Lounge VIP Browni's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Infinicore View Post
    Everything I've heard indicates a 1x will work fine in a larger PCIe slot...not the other way 'round though!
    Yep, I agree with that.

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    2 Star Lounger Diogones's Avatar
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    Thank you for the link chowur; now I have a bigger problem: so many choices! Thank you for confirming the x1 compatibility issue Infinicore and Browni. I think I just need to pick a card and be good to go! One final question: if I do go with a regular PCI card, rather than a PCI-e, will it be slower in terms of transfer speeds with the USB 3.0 ports, just because it isn't the faster technology?
    "Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent." - Issac Asimov, from his novel "Foundation"

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    Well you might expect to get upwards of 300 MB/s transfer speed with USB 3 (let's figure you get half at most of the rated speed). A 1xPCIe is capable of handling speeds up to 500 MB/s or so while a PCI slot is only rated at about 133 MB/s I think.

    So a mechanical drive put on either is going to be the limiting factor at 80 or 100 MB/s transfer speed or so. However, if you put a fast SSD on the PCI slot card, the SSD will be limited by the 133 MB/s transfer speed, but the SSD will not be limited by the 500 MB/s bandwidth of the PCIe slot (most likely....for now ).

    So if you're planning on putting SSDs on those ports, go with the PCIe card.

  10. #10
    2 Star Lounger Diogones's Avatar
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    Thank you for crunching the numbers, Infinicore. Right, I understand that PCI is slower, so that would explain why it would be a better choice with this. I do actually have an SSD, but I don't know if I would use it too much with the USB 3.0 port, as I always try to minimize writes to the drive.

    The 3.0 USB card is actually going to be used in backups, because I recently got a 3TB external hard drive (see first post) that has the 3.0 connection, so would that be the bottleneck for the USB PCI card at around 80 to 100 MB/s?
    "Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent." - Issac Asimov, from his novel "Foundation"

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    I don't know what the read rate of a 3TB drive would be exactly...the areal density must be quite, well, dense!!

    I've seen some reports on a Hitachi Deskstar 3TB (probably similar to the rest) testing sustained read speeds return about 115 MB/s with "real world" file copy tests at around 60 MB/s, which is pretty much what I get (50-56 MB/s) whenever I copy from a mechanical drive and I know the transport bus is not the limiting factor like USB 2 would be.

    So on paper it doesn't look like the PCI slot will limit performance in this case. Never know though, might be something quirky about PCI slots that I/we don't know about.

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    2 Star Lounger Diogones's Avatar
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    Understood, thanks for the clarification Infinicore. I found a PCI-e card that was really cheap, cheaper even than a regular PCI card, so I've gone with that, and I'm just waiting for it to arrive. Do you know of any benchmark software I could use to test the transfer speed? Then I can report back and see if your numbers correlate with mine.
    "Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent." - Issac Asimov, from his novel "Foundation"

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    I don't use any, just go by what TeraCopy is reporting as it copies large data sets to and fro, but there's CrystalDiskMark I know of and for SSDs, AS SSD.

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