StarTech – 2-Port ExpressCard SuperSpeed USB 3.0 Adapter review

High-speed connection for your notebook's ExpressCard slot
Photo of StarTech – 2-Port ExpressCard SuperSpeed USB 3.0 Adapter
£26.17 inc, VAT

Unless you have a very new notebook, the chances are it doesn’t have USB 3.0 ports. Well, as you can guess from its mouthful of a name, the 2-Port ExpressCard SuperSpeed USB 3.0 Adapter is just the thing to bring your old laptop up to date.

The adapter card uses the notebook’s ExpressCard card slot – an expansion slot that most of the time stays filled with the manufacturer’s plastic blanking plate, simply because there’s nothing useful to put in it. Not any longer!

Fast or what?!
USB 3.0 supports transfer rates of up to 5Gbit/s, compared to the 480Mbit/s of USB 2.0, and the meagre 12Mbit/s provided by the original USB 1.1 interface. It’s also backwards-compatible, and ideal if you want to quickly back up large files from your notebook to an external hard drive.

When tested with an USB 3.0 external hard drive using HD Tach, the Startech helped the disk to a Burst rate of 109.7MB/s, with an Average Read of 65.4MB/s – as compared to the figures using USB 2.0 which gave a Burst Rate of 34.6MB/s and an Average Read speed of 29.3MB/s.

Installation
The Startech fits both 34mm and 54mm ExpressCard slots, but the two stacked USB 3.0 ports make it protrude a little, so you’ll have be careful not to accidentally knock the card about. The ports themselves are controlled by a native NEC PCI Express controller chip.

Setup is simple: just push the card into your notebook’s ExpressCard slot, load the software and off you go. Well, that’s the theory – in our case, the driver CD (which has drivers for all StarTech card products on it) didn’t want to autoplay – and when we explored the driver folder on the disc, the one for the adapter wasn’t readily seen. Unfortunately the USB 3.0 card isn’t listed as that; instead, it’s listed by its NEC controller. So if you run into the same problem, the thing to look out for is the folder marked NEC uPD720200.

Company: StarTech

Contact: 0800 7827 8324


Verdict
At last, something useful to occupy the ExpressCard slot in your notebook - and better still, it won't break the bank!