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John Calvert
31-07-2012, 02:37 PM
Hi All

I'm very happy with my current laptop, but would like add USB capability in the form of an Expresscard device with USB 3.0 ports (most I've seen have two), mainly for faster access to external drives.

However ... there's a problem. The reviews I find on-line seem to be for brands not sold in NZ, and conversely, the (few) I can find for sale in NZ don't seem to have any independent reviews - not that I could find anyway.

I think it's important to see some reviews because compatibility and performance are important and unfortunately so many suppliers are economical with the truth. For instance, some manufacturers claim full USB 3.0 through-put, others say this is impossible due to limitations of the Expresscard interface. The reviews I've seen suggest that something much better than USB 2.0 is achievable, but still much less than an integrated USB 3.0 port.

Obviously I want the best one I can find (fastest, most reliable, most compatible).

So, does anyone have one of these and how's it working for you? Or does anyone know a good source of reviews for items sold in NZ? (obviously PC World, but to date I don't think they've done these cards).

Zara Baxter
31-07-2012, 02:59 PM
Hi John,

It's true that we haven't reviewed any USB 3.0 ExpressCard devices. As almost all new laptops are shipping with USB 3.0 ports, it's unlikely that we will as part of our regular reviews in future. However, you've got a good point: we might look at such cards in the laptop section of 'DIY upgrade guide' in October's magazine.

Right now, our understanding is the same as yours: under the original ExpressCard standard, you wouldn't be able to achieve full USB 3.0 speed. The maximum ExpressCard bandwidth over its PCI interface is 2.5Gbit/sec, whilst USB 3.0 offers up to 5.0Gbit/sec. Still, in theory, you could certainly beat USB 2.0 speed (<0.5Gbit/sec). By how much will likely depend on the specific card.

If your laptop has the newer ExpressCard 2.0 expansion slot, it will have the 5.0Gbit/sec bandwidth required of USB 3.0. However, laptops with ExpressCard 2.0 will probably already have USB 3.0 ports. We're guessing you have a laptop with the original 2.5Gbit/sec PCI-based ExpressCard slot.

Unfortunately we can't be of much help with specific models right now, but hopefully the information above clarifies things a bit.

John Calvert
31-07-2012, 09:58 PM
Thanks Zara

I think I'll wait till a clearer view can be obtained, maybe with the help of October's issue. At the moment I don't feel confident about buying a "Kamakuza" brand card without any strong indication of its performance or reliability.