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USB 3.0 specification was released in year 2008 but end products are only being shipped since Jan 2010; either in a small quantity or for showcase purpose. Most of the new laptops and desktops are being shipped with USB 3.0 but no worries if you are still having old machince as Aten IC320U is a PCIe card that allows you to enjoy the blazing speed; 10x faster than USB 2.0 without emptying your pocket.
For more than two decades, ATEN has earned a sterling reputation for delivering the finest KVM (keyboard/video/mouse) and remote connectivity solutions to manage servers and other network devices. Today we stand as the largest KVM manufacturer in the world.
ATEN has developed over the years a broad range of solutions to meet the needs of key market niches, including small - and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) and enterprise organizations through its ALTUSEN line of KVM products.
• Adds 2 downstream ports on your system
• Fully complies with USB 3.0 specifications
• Conforms to PCI Express Base Specification 2.0
• Backwards compatible with USB 1.1 and 2.0 devices
• USB-IF certified
Package & Contents
Aten IC320U comes with a pretty big packaging box and thanks to the thick quality foams for giving additional protection to the PCIe card. Accessories that come along with Aten IC320U are user's manual, driver CD and a half-height PCI bracket.
User's manual provides basic setup guide for newbie but the driver CD is required since most of the OS do not preloaded with the required driver. A half-height PCI bracket is provided so that Aten IC320U can be fitted into mini or HTPC chassis by replacing the full-height PCI bracket.
A Closer Look on Aten IC320U
Since USB 3.0 technology is still pretty new in the market, let us briefly go through it here. It has been almost ten years after USB 2.0 was released and speed is one of the major factors why you should upgrade it to USB 3.0; approximate 10x faster than previous USB 2.0 with 4800Mbps vs 480Mbps.
The layer and design of USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 are almost identical so that USB 3.0 is backward compatible. However in reality USB 3.0 connector comes with 9 pins instead of 4 pins in USB 2.0. Besides that a blue connector is used for USB 3.0 device for differencing them easily.
USB 3.0 PCIe card is not a common device and we believe most of us are not even aware about its existence. The purpose of Aten IC320U is to provide an option to the end user for enjoying 4.8Gbps while not emptying their pocket to get a brand new compatible motherboard for such upgrading.
Aten IC320U provides two USB 3.0 ports which are sufficient since most of the accessories do not really need such SuperSpeed. USB flash drive and external storage are the exceptional which would really benefit with such blazing speed. The half-height PCI bracket can be replaced easily by unfastening two screws.
Aten IC320U is a PCIe x1 card but the motherboard should compliance with PCI-E 2.0 or above for keeping up the USB 3.0 transfer speed. Mininum voltage required for USB 3.0 device has been reduced from 4.4V to 4.0V but a Molex connector is available on Aten IC320U to ensure its reliability.
NEC is the world's first USB 3.0 host controller which supports two USB ports with LS (low-speed), FS (full-speed), HS (high-speed) and SS (super-speed); that means backward compatible. This NEC USB 3.0 host controller (0720200F1) is one of the favorite choices by many USB 3.0 device vendors.
Installation, Testing & Performance
Setup for Aten IC320U is pretty simple but the motherboard must have a PCIe slo (x1, x4, x16) and should be compliance with PCI-Express 2.0 or above. Our motherboard has two PCIe x 16 and one PCIe x 1 but they are sitting with each other very closely so it leaves us no choice but placing the Aten IC320U right beside our giant graphic card. Driver installation is the next step once the hardware setup is completed; just select the driver (IC320U) from the provided driver CD and install it. After that then the Aten IC320U is ready to show you the blazing speed of USB 3.0.
Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo E8300 @ 2.83GHz
Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-EP45-DS3/Gigabyte G31M-ES2L
Heatsink: Noctua NH-D14
Memory: Kingston HyperX 4GB DDR2 8500
Hard Drive: 250GB 7200RPM 8MB Seagate
Graphic Card: Galaxy GeForce GTX260+
PCIe: Aten IC320U USB 3.0
Casing: In Win Maelstorm
PSU: Aerocool V12XT-800
Optical Drive: HLDS DVD RW +/-
Controller: Aerocool Touch 2000
Monitor: Dell 22" Wide Screen LCD
Speaker: Edifier R501
Mouse: SteelSeries Ikari Laser
Mouse Pad: SteelSeries QcK+
HeadSet: SteelSeries 3H
Router: TRENDnet TEW-639GR
Operating System: Window XP Pro SP2/Win 7 HP
Ambient Temperature: 27 Degree Celsius
We have tested the Aten IC320U with both of our USB 3.0 flash drives and the results are as good as we tested it on system with USB 3.0 ports; no lagging at all. This is not really surprised us as it is expected since as long as the motherboard is equipped with PCI-Express 2.0 (5.0Gbps) then there should not be any problem to achieve the SuperSpeed performance. Anyway besides the performance, we found no reliable issue on Aten IC320U as well and large file data transferring is no longer a nightmare.
If you are looking for an alternative way to enjoy the SuperSpeed of USB 3.0 but without emptying your pocket for spending few more hundreds on a new motherboard then Aten IC320U should able to solve your problem instantly. Aten IC320U is a USB 3.0 PCIe card which provides two USB 3.0 ports with 5.0Gbps SuperSpeed. 55USD for such PCIe card is not really cheap but it is still much cheaper for you get a brand new motherboard or maybe processor and memory as well.
+ Provides 2 x USB 3.0 ports
+ 5.0Gbps SuperSpeed
+ Half-Height PCI Bracket
+ Simple setup
+ Backward compatible
- Could be cheaper
Thanks to Aten for providing this sample for us to review.
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