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Vantec USB 3.0 PCI-e Host Card w/ NexStar 3 SuperSpeed Enclosure

By: Chris Ramseyer | Enclosures/Externals in Storage | Posted: Feb 12, 2010 4:46 am
TweakTown Rating: 85%Manufacturer: Vantec

Test System


Motherboard: ASUS P6T7 WS SuperCoputer (Supplied by ASUS)
Processors: Intel 975 EE (Supplied by AVADirect)
Memory: Corsair Dominator 1600 MHz Triple Channel Kit
Graphics Card: Leadtek Quadro FX1700 (Supplied by Leadtek)
Enclosure: Lian Li V2000
Cooling: Noctua NH-U12P SE2 (Supplied by Noctua)
SAS Controller: LSI MegaRAID SAS 9260-8i (Supplied by LSI)
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate X64


You can read more about TweakTown's Storage Product Testing Workstation and the procedures followed to test products in this article.


Not all reviews go as smooth as we would like to see, but sometimes what should take no more than a couple of hours turns into a weekend long affair. We were all set to test the NexStar 3 enclosure against the Buffalo DriveStation HD-HXU3 that we previously reviewed using the same controller, but the HD-HXU3 passed away on the first test. After taking the HD-HXU3 apart, we learned that the drive was fine but the USB 3.0 electronics were no longer operating as they should be.


The next phase of testing had us trying to run an Indilinx controlled solid state drive in the NexStar 3 on the Vantec supplied USB 3.0 controller card, but that too led us down a path of sorrow. In Cameron's review of the Sharkoon QuickPort he stumbled upon an issue with a used Intel X25-M and the NEC USB 3.0 controller chip. At the time it was written off as an issue with a used drive (TRIM was not supported on his first generation X25-M), but we are quickly learning that the issue rests elsewhere. I first started testing with a previously tested drive and after finding that the combination wouldn't work, tried a new, fresh out of package drive.


In Cameron's testing he was able to complete all of his tests, but the write speeds would drop to near 0 readings. My testing confirmed his write test scores with solid state drives used over USB 3.0, but I was not able to finish any extensive write test without the NexStar 3 dropping off of the system. This is clearly not an issue that plagues just the Vantec NexStar 3, but at this time looks to be a compatibility issue with early USB 3.0 hardware. We will investigate this further in the future.


To find something to test Vantec's new USB 3.0 products against, we had to dig deep into the storage room. When we emerged it was either one of two USB 3.0 motherboards, or the ASUS U3S6 USB 3.0 / SATA 6G controller card. Since the ASUS card was already used for a price comparison, we thought it would be a good time to show how the two USB 3.0 cards performed against each other. I would have really liked to have used another USB 3.0 enclosure to test with as well, but the DriveStation was the only other one we had on hand and as you have already read, it didn't survive past 50 hours of use.


Our last hurdle was finding a drive to use for all of the tests. Our stack of Seagate 7200.11's were being used to test a new high capacity NAS server so we quickly decided on the new Seagate Barracuda XT 2TB drive that has been hanging round the office for weeks unused. To get a fresh start, we tested the Barracuda XT on the P6T7 WS SuperComputer's native Intel SATA II port and used that for our baseline performance.


Ideally we are hoping to see USB 3.0 enclosures running at the same speeds as drives attached to native SATA 3G motherboard ports. How close it gets remains to be seen, but we are going to find out today.


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