EXTREME Overclocking
Home | Reviews | EOC Forums | File Downloads | RealTime Pricing Engine | 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 -->



Most Downloaded Files
Recently Added Files
Compare Prices On Top Brands!

Intel Processors
Core i7 - Haswell
i7-4770K  i7-4771  i7-4790  i7-4770  i7-4790S  i7-4770S

Core i5 - Haswell
i5-4670K  i5-4690  i5-4690S  i5-4590S  i5-4570  i5-4460  i5-4590  i5-4440S  i5-4430  i5-4440

Core i3 - Haswell
i3-4340  i3-4370  i3-4350  i3-4360  i3-4330  i3-4130T  i3-4160  i3-4130  i3-4150

AMD Processors
Vishera 8-Core AM3+
FX-9590  FX-9370  FX-8370  FX-8370E  FX-8350  FX-8320  FX-8320E

Vishera 6-Core AM3+
FX-6350  FX-6300

Kaveri 4-Core FM2+
A10-7850K  A10-7800  A10-7700K  A8-7600

Video Cards
nVidia GeForce GTX 900 Series
GTX 980  GTX 970  GTX 960

nVidia GeForce GTX 700 Series
GTX 780  GTX 760  GTX 750

AMD Radeon R9 Series
290X  290  285  280X  280  270X  270

AMD Radeon R7 Series
265  260X  250X  250  240

Search By Brand
ASUS  Diamond  eVGA  Gigabyte  MSI  PowerColor  PNY  Sapphire  Visiontek  XFX  Zotac

PC Memory

ASUS  ASRock  Biostar  ECS  eVGA  Foxconn  Gigabyte  Intel  MSI  Shuttle  Supermicro  Tyan 

Hard Drives & SSDs
Corsair  Crucial  Fujitsu  HGST  Intel  OCZ  Samsung  Sandisk  Seagate  Western Digital

Copyright ©2000-2016 EXTREME Overclocking. All rights reserved.
Disclaimer of Liability - Privacy Policy