USB 3.0 is here to stay folks. It leapfrogged eSATA and is reay to hold off SATA 3 for a little while at least. However, unless you want to fork out for a brand new motherboard, you’re out of luck if you want to take advantage of this new speedy platform. However one way to go is to grab yourself an add-in card like this one from Silverstone, the EC03 which also comes with a front panel 3.5″ connector.
- USB 3.0 front I/O bay included
- Supports standard USB 3.0 internal connector
- PCI Express gen 2.0 with single lane(x1) throughput 5Gbit/s
- Supports simultaneous operation of multiple USB 3.0/2.0/1.1 devices
- Offers up to two external USB 3.0 super speed ports
- Support 5V bus power from computer’s power supply
- Build in power connector to receiving extra power from system
Box and Bundle
5 Gbit/s a second, tut tut, SATA 3 is laughing.
You get the PCIe 1x card of course, but Silvertone also give you a front panel drive bay, a pass through cable, driver CD, installation screws and a small instruction leaflet.
Installing the EC03 is nice and simple; just plug it in. Ok there’s a software installation step, but after that it’s ready to roll.
Now this is an add in card without any rear ports, so you have to use the included pass through cable to connect up your 3.5″ front panel. Installing that will be easy or difficult depending on your case though most will have no difficulties.
To test the EC03 PCIe card I used our resident USB 3.0 device, the Kingston HyperX Max 3.0 and Sisoft Sandra Lite. For comparison purposes, I also ran the benchmak using the last USB 3.0 card we tested, the Startech USB 3.0.
CPU: Q9450 @ 3.2GHZ
Motherboard: Asus P5QL Pro
GPU: Sapphire 5770 1GB
RAM: 4GB Super Talent @ 800MHZ
[easychart type=”horizbar” title=”Silverstone EC03 Performance (MB/s)” groupnames=”64kb, 1MB, 16MB, 265MB” valuenames=”Read, Write” group1values=”57.7,20.25″ group2values=”114.88,83″ group3values=”130.65,103.55″ group4values=”134.54,106.58″ ]
Startech USB 3.0
[easychart type=”horizbar” title=”Startech USB 3.0″ groupnames=”64kb, 1MB, 16MB, 265MB” valuenames=”Read, Write” group1values=”57″ group2values=”109.77″ group3values=”132.43″ ]
With comparable performance as the Startech device, the pass through Silverstone EC03 certainly seems like a worthy purchase, especially considering the front panel connectivity options. Also, this is the only PCIe USB 3.0 card available at the moment that supports an internal header allowing for front panel connection.
The only downside of note is that it doesn’t have any rear connectors of its own so we wern’t able to find out if the cabling causes any drop in performance.
Front panel connectors
No rear panel connector options