Vantec SuperSpeed USB 3.0 PCI-e Host Card

The USB, or Universal Serial Bus, standard is currently the most popularly used external interface for computer systems.  It is used as an interface for devices ranging from input devices like mice and keyboards, to storage devices.  It's only natural and inevitable that an integral technology like USB would advance with a new version.  Being an industry standard for external connectivity, its new version should be backwards compatible with old versions, but it still should be a progression forward.  That's what USB 3.0 is today.  While the connectors used and the data signal are backwards compatible, USB 3.0 is a huge step forward in terms of performance.  While this means little for low bandwidth hardware like input devices, it's important for storage devices like external hard drives and flash drives.

Realistically, USB 2.0 storage devices topped out in the 30MB/s range, while eSATA and Firewire 800 left those devices in the dust.  Now with USB 3.0, the USB standard is competitive again.  Today we'll be looking at an add-in card that allows you to easily add USB 3.0 compabilities to a computer system.  The add-in card is Vantec's SuperSpeed USB 3.0 PCI-e host card (UGT PC312).  It's a PCI-e 2.0 1x card that adds two USB 3.0 ports.

The front of the card doesn't have much on it.  You can easily see the USB 3.0 ports themselves, the controller IC, and a 4-pin molex connector.  The molex connector is there to supply power for attached USB devices.  The PCI-e slot connector itself is capable of providing 12v and 3.3v, but USB is strictly a 5v affair.  Getting 5v directly from the power supply is much simpler than converting 12v or 3.3v through the PCI-e slot.