PCI-E USB 3.0 card

Do not ever buy a PCI Express x1 USB3.0 card. Not a single x1 card can allow a USB3.0 transfer faster than the older USB2.0 standard. So what is the point of buying a USB3.0 card? There isn't one.

Allow me to explain this in depth.

PCI-E allows 250 MB/s per lane (x1). USB 3.0 allows 5 Gbit/s or 625MB/s.

THEREFORE, x1 PCI-E to USB 3.0 cards are complete BS, because x1 supports half the peak speed of a single USB 3.0 port. And these cards often come with several USB ports.

FURTHERMORE, the USB 3.0 standard allows a higher current draw for every USB 3.0 device. A PCI-E card with several USB 3.0 ports MUST have a dedicated power connector for you to connect the computer power supply to, in order to provide adequate amount of power to each port. Otherwise, devices connected to the card will fail when even one of them requests full current from the card.

PCI-E USB3.0 card speed review


Notice that this particular card is x1 (the narrow right-side part of the connector on the bottom of the card), which is not good. This card does have a power supply connector (white, right top).


The ONLY card which you can buy to achieve USB 3.0 speeds in an older computer is one with x4 (four lanes). These have wider connectors on the bottom, but are much more expensive at $60 and up. These more expensive card are the only ones which will bring USB 3.0 speeds to your computer.

For an x4 card, the total transfer bandwidth up to 2GB/s (16Gb/s). Each USB 3.0 port is 5Gb/s peak, therefore such a card can support three USB 3.0 devices if enough power is supplied to the card with a power supply cable.

PCI-E USB3.0 card x4


My suggestion is to buy a newer computer with USB 3.0 and lots of other goodies built-in if you really need USB 3.0 speeds on a constant basis (for external hard drives, for example).

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Page last modified 28-Apr-12 23:15:26 EDT
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