Adaptec – 19160 Ultra160 SCSI controller review

160MB/sec SCSI card
Photo of Adaptec – 19160 Ultra160 SCSI controller
£154.99 + VAT

Think of SCSI and the name ‘Adaptec’ springs immediately to mind. The company has been involved with SCSI controllers from day one, and produces one of the largest range of adapters and associated equipment.

With many SCSI hard drives now (at least technically) capable of working at speeds of up to 160MB per second, Adaptec has seen the need for a budget controller that will work at these speeds, but which will still have backward compatibility with the earlier SCSI specifications. Hence this 19160 controller card, which is designed for high-end Windows desktops and entry-level workstations.

The card has three connectors. You can connect any of the old style UltraSCSI cables that are common to older hard disks, using the 50-way internal ribbon connection. Or you can use the latest Ultra160 hard drives, on the separate 68-way internal connector. Or you can connect external devices, such as removable hard drives and scanners, via the 50-way high-density external connector on the backplate. Or, indeed, any combination of the three, making this a highly flexible solution.

This card effectively gives you an extra bus and the ability to connect up to 15 devices, and it incorporates Adaptec’s latest SpeedFlex technology, which is supposed to maintain high performance from your Ultra160 SCSI drives while running slower external desktop peripherals from the same card.

Adaptec supplies its EasySCSI software with the card, which includes a range of drivers to enable the PCI card to work under Windows 9x, NT4, 2000 and also DOS. There’s also a comprehensive set of manuals, and tucked away at each end of the box is a selection of cables for both types of internal connection.

Interestingly, the new Ultra160 cables use a terminator at the end of the cable, so you don’t have to remember which drive has been set up with termination. Many Ultra160 hard drives now use a separate rear connection adapter that has all the drive select and power connections built in. So, if you need to install a new drive you don’t need to set it up again; just plug it in and you’re up and running.

Company: Adaptec

Contact: 01276 854500


Verdict
If you're in the market to upgrade your existing equipment or planning to install some new Ultra160 hard drives, then this is an economical solution. It will give you full compatibility with older equipment and Adaptec's new Speedflex technology should prevent such old kit from dragging down the performance of the Ultra160 drives. However, if you're planning to set up a server you may need to look elsewhere, perhaps at one of Adaptec's dedicated RAID controller cards; these are more expensive but support redundancy and drive mirroring.