EXTREME Overclocking
Home | Reviews | EOC Forums | File Downloads | RealTime Pricing Engine | Free Magazines | Folding Stats Contact Us

3.5"/ 5.25" USB 2.0 External Drive Enclosure
& USB 2.0 5-Port PCI Card

Date Reviewed: May 30, 2002
Reviewed By:
Jason Rabel
Price: ~$80 Enclosure & ~$30 Card
Company: Extreme PC Gear

USB 2.0 - New & Improved:

Most people have heard of USB 2.0 by now, it's not exactly a brand new standard, however manufacturers are slowly adopting and integrating USB 2.0 into new products. Some devices, such as a mouse or scanner, wouldn't exactly benefit from the greater bandwidth of USB 2.0 so there is no need to change them. However other devices such as external storage and digital cameras / camcorders team up quite well with USB 2.0. Firewire (aka IEEE-1394) has long since been the champion of high-speed for external devices (if we don't consider SCSI) screaming along at 400Mb/s. However with USB 2.0 they one-upped firewire by coming in at 480Mb/s (and still maintaining backwards compatibility at 12Mb/s & 1.5Mb/s).

 

External Devices At Near Internal Speeds:

One device that has been plagued with the USB bottleneck in the past was external hard drives / CD-ROM/RWs. Today's motherboards & internal IDE hard drives max out with the ATA-133 standard which gives a theoretical peak bandwidth of 133MB/s (Megabytes) transfer. USB 2.0 peak transfer speed is rated for 480Mb/s (Megabits) which translates to 60MB/s (Megabytes), about half of the bandwidth the hard drive is supposedly capable of. That may sound bad at first, but remember that the previous USB maxed out at 12Mb/s = 1.5MB/s (Ouch!), and also the ATA-133 standard really hasn't proven any significant performance gain over ATA-100 with today's hard drives so that closes in the gap a little more.

CD-ROM/RW/DVD drives typically use ATA-33 as their highest transfer speed, which is 33MB/s. Since USB 2.0 has double that bandwidth, these devices should be able to perform identical when connected to an internal IDE channel, or connected externally via USB 2.0.

 

External Devices First Hand:

Now that we have a little background on expected internal vs. external speeds, it's time to take a look at it first hand. Extreme PC Gear was kind enough to send a USB 2.0 combo they have, which includes a USB 2.0 compatible 3.5"/5.25" External Enclosure, and a USB 2.0 PCI card based on the NEC chipset (which I will talk more about why the NEC chipset is such a big deal later).


The external enclosure is able to fit a variety of devices. It says it will work with CD-ROM, CD-R, CD-RW, DVD-ROM, DVD-RAM, & 3.5" Hard Drives. Essentially anything that uses a standard IDE interface from what I gather.


In the box is the enclosure, which is a nice neutral silver color. The two strips next to the enclosure are for clamping it together once you put the device in. A matching silver braded USB 2.0 cable, screws, manual, and CD-ROM are also included.


Removing the cover reveals the simple setup inside. The front bezel can be removed if you are installing a device such as a CD-ROM. There is a single 4-pin power connector, IDE connector, and audio connector. There are also a variety of holes in the bottom of the enclosure to fit 3.5" & 5.25" devices. Under the front bezel is a LED which is wired into the PCB in the back to show drive activity. The whole enclosure appears to be shielded to minimize interference with any other sensitive electronic devices you might have nearby.


As you can see on the back on the enclosure, there is a standard power connector (the power cable is included, I forgot to include it in the previous picture). The exhaust fan is very functional (I put my hand behind it a few times while it was running and the air coming out was quite warm). Right above the fan is the audio connector (so you can have a regular audio out if you are going to use a CD-ROM or similar device). Lastly there is the standard mini USB port on the right. While it doesn't say USB 2.0 anywhere around the port, the top of the enclosure has a big seal that says USB 2.0.

Mounting a 3.5" IDE hard drive was a very simple and straight-forward process, I did find the IDE cable was a tight fit, if they gave just 1/4" more length it would of been much nicer, however I can see why they had to keep it short for using 5.25" devices because of the lack of room in the enclosure.


Once the drive was all hooked up, the top cover was replaced and those two strips get put on the sides to keep it all together.

 

Continue On To Page 2 -->

 

 

Sponsored Links
Most Downloaded Files
Recently Added Files
CPU-Z 1.4912/12/08
Compare Prices On Top Brands!
Search:
For:

Intel Processors
Core i7/i5 - Nehalem
975 Extreme  960  950  920
870  860  750  670  661  660

Core 2 Quad - Yorkfield
Q9650  Q9550  Q9400  Q9300  Q8300  Q8200

Core 2 Duo - Wolfdale
E8600  E8500  E8400  E8200  E7300  E7200

AMD Processors
Phenom II X4
965 Black  955 Black  945  925

Phenom II X2
555  550

Athlon II X4
630  620

Athlon II X3
435  425

Athlon II X2
250  245

Video Cards
nVidia GeForce GTX 200 Series
GTX 295  GTX 285  GTX 280  GTX 260

nVidia GeForce 9 Series
9800 GX2  9800 GTX+  9800 GTX  9800 GT  9600 GT  9600 GSO

ATI Radeon HD 4000 Series
4870 X2  4870  4850  4830  4670  4650

Search By Brand
ASUS  BFG  Diamond  eVGA  Gigabyte  HIS  MSI  Palit  PowerColor  PNY  Sapphire  Visiontek  XFX

PC Memory
DDR3  DDR2  DDR

Motherboards
ASUS  Biostar  DFI  ECS  eVGA  Foxconn  Gigabyte  Intel  MSI  Shuttle  Supermicro  Tyan  XFX

Hard Drives
Seagate  Maxtor  Samsung  Fujitsu  Western Digital

  Technology Magazines FREE to Qualified Professionals.
eWeek MagazineeWeek is the essential technology information source for builders of e-business. Focuses on e-commerce, communications and Internet-based architecture. Oracle MagazineOracle Magazine contains technology-strategy articles, sample code, tips, Oracle and partner news, how-to articles for developers and DBAs, and more. Dr. Dobb's JournalDr. Dobb's Journal enables programmers to write the most efficient and sophisticated programs and help in daily programming quandaries. InformationWeekInformationWeek is the only newsweekly you'll need to stay on top of the latest developments in information technology.
  Other Popular Titles: PC Magazine, BusinessWeek, Baseline, Business Solutions, Software Magazine, InfoStor, Security Source , TelevisionWeek, more...
Copyright 2000-2014 EXTREME Overclocking. All rights reserved.
Disclaimer of Liability - Privacy Policy
Secret Forum