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  1. Member sohaibrazzaq's Avatar
    Join Date: Mar 2005
    Location: 127.0.0.1
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    I am planning to upgrade my PC next week. My main purpose for upgrading is availability of USB 3.0 and SATA 6Gbit ports. Otherwise my core i7 920 is serving me extremely well and its very stable.

    Now to make long story short, after doing extensive research about what I am getting I have finally decided on components later to find out that USB 3.0 connectors are different and my CM HAF 932 case doesn't have 1. Since I can't afford another $200 right now to buy a CM HAF X casing just for USB 3.0 ports I am instead looking for a usb 3.0 expansion card which can fit on either a 3.5 or 5.25 inch drive bay.

    I have seen there are two types of different cards available, one that is plugged into PCIE and utilize pcie x1 lane and the other that goes directly into 20pin connector. I want to ask which one is better? My guess is that PCIE is for older motherboards that don't have native usb 3.0 support and 20pin for motherboards that have usb 3.0 support. The motherboard I am planning to buy is Asus Maximus VI Hero and it does have 1 free available 20pin connector so I take it I am better off buying that one instead of a pcie card?

    Is there any speed difference between the two? Can these cheap cards give the same speed as native support from casing/motherboard?
    Here's a one that I am planning to buy, its cheap and seems to get the job done:
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B006TAEH7W/ref=ox_sc_sfl_title_1?ie=UTF8&psc=1&smid=A294P4X9EWVXLJ
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  2. Originally Posted by sohaibrazzaq View Post
    I have seen there are two types of different cards available, one that is plugged into PCIE and utilize pcie x1 lane and the other that goes directly into 20pin connector. I want to ask which one is better?
    I'm not exactly sure what you mean. The 20 pin connector is a standard for connecting front panel USB3 to the USB3 "header" on a MB or USB3 PCIe expansion card. If you want to connect a USB3 PCIe card to a USB3 front panel, you'll need a card which also has the 20 pin connector.
    I think these days PCIe USB3 cards often come with two standard USB3 ports and a 20 pin connector, or just four standard USB3 ports. If you connect a front panel to the 20 pin connector, you get a total of four USB3 ports, but one way they're all on the card (rear of the case) while the other way there's two front and two rear.

    The USB3 drive bay/front panel thingies aren't really anything but a USB3 extension cable. One which happens to have a USB3 20 pin header on one end and two USB ports on the other. There's no electronics in them. Well... some have other things on them as well as USB3 ports, such as a card reader, and they have electronics in them, but when there's only two USB3 ports..... no electronics required.
    Sometimes PCIe cards are sold bundled with a USB3 front panel drive bay mount like the one you linked to. Some MB manufacturers included them with USB3 motherboards, given in the early days very few cases had USB3 front panels "built in". Maybe they don't bother any more.

    My USB3 PCIe card is fairly old (they're cheaper these days) and only has two "rear" USB3 ports. No 20 pin connector.

    Keep in mind the spec for USB3 can provide more power down the USB cable than USB2, so if you think you're going to be using a USB3 device which requires the power USB3 can deliver (one which doesn't have it's own power supply), buy a card with a 4 pin molex power connector on it (or maybe SATA these days) so you can connect a cable from your PSU to the card. That way the card can provide the full USB3 power (whatever it is, I can't remember).

    What are you connecting that'd benefit from 6gig SATA ports? I can't imagine it'd be worth replacing a motherboard simply to go from 3gig SATA to 6gig.

    Originally Posted by sohaibrazzaq View Post
    Is there any speed difference between the two? Can these cheap cards give the same speed as native support from casing/motherboard?
    You should get the same speed from a PCIe USB3 card as from onboard USB3.
    Last edited by hello_hello; 9th Feb 2014 at 10:03.
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  3. Member
    Join Date: Nov 2005
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    I agree with hello_hello...why not just get a pciE usb 3 card. With the options below you could do a cheap pciE usb 3 card with a 20pin connector and if you have to have front access to usb 3, get the usb 3 front panel and run the cable/power to it to the usb 3 pciE card. You'd have usb 3 inthe fromt and back.

    USB 3 PCIe Expansion card

    USB 3 front panel

    I have a rosewill rc-505 expansion card I used in an old PC and it worked fine.
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  4. Member sohaibrazzaq's Avatar
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    Thanks both of you for all the info. About upgrading, well my PC is over 4 years old, build it in Q4 2009 so I think its time for an upgrade. I am planning to install 2 SSD's, one for OS and another one just for my games and I have read they get substantial speed increase from the newer SATA III ports. Also the new processor which I am planning to buy is about 2 times faster then my current i7 920.

    I have couple of 2TB external USB 3.0 WD HDD's which have no external power. Do you think the above card which I listed in my OP will have problem providing enough juice as It doesn't have any option for providing any other power then just hooking it directly into mobo via the 20pin connector? With my new motherboard I will have usb 3.0 ports on the back so I just need to take care of front I/O panel as that's the one which I mostly use for plug n play devices.
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  5. aBigMeanie aedipuss's Avatar
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    unless i was upgrading the cpu i wouldn't go for a new motherboard either. a pcie usb card and a usb3 hub would bring the ports to the front.
    --
    "a lot of people are better dead" - prisoner KSC2-303
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  6. aBigMeanie aedipuss's Avatar
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    coolermaster made a haf932 "advanced" with usb3 on the front panel. you might be able to buy that part from them. or the hafx panel might fit.
    --
    "a lot of people are better dead" - prisoner KSC2-303
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  7. Member sohaibrazzaq's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by aedipuss View Post
    unless i was upgrading the cpu i wouldn't go for a new motherboard either. a pcie usb card and a usb3 hub would bring the ports to the front.
    ofcourse I am upgrading my cpu. I am getting new Mobo/CPU/Ram/Cooler, so my current upgrade list is as follow:
    Asus Maximus VI Hero
    Intel Core i7 4770k
    16GB Corsair Vengeance
    CM Cpu Cooler Hyper 212 Evo

    Since my case is over 5 years old its out of any warranty I guess, I don't know if that panel is sold separately. I will have to check CM forums for that, thanks for the heads up.
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  8. Member
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    Originally Posted by sohaibrazzaq View Post
    Thanks both of you for all the info. About upgrading, well my PC is over 4 years old, build it in Q4 2009 so I think its time for an upgrade. I am planning to install 2 SSD's, one for OS and another one just for my games and I have read they get substantial speed increase from the newer SATA III ports. Also the new processor which I am planning to buy is about 2 times faster then my current i7 920.

    I have couple of 2TB external USB 3.0 WD HDD's which have no external power. Do you think the above card which I listed in my OP will have problem providing enough juice as It doesn't have any option for providing any other power then just hooking it directly into mobo via the 20pin connector? With my new motherboard I will have usb 3.0 ports on the back so I just need to take care of front I/O panel as that's the one which I mostly use for plug n play devices.
    With regard to SSDs, I want to warn you that studies have shown that the bigger the drive, the longer it lasts. If you buy anything smaller than 128 GB, you may not be very happy with its longevity. Note too that SSDs give you no warning at all when they are about to fail, so they will go from working to completely dead when they die. If your game SSD requires a lot of writing to the SSD, this will cause it to wear out sooner. SSDs do best with about half or more of their space unused and not writing to them constantly is a very good idea (ie. move Windows paging space off of them). Once an SSD dies, you should consider EVERYTHING on the drive to be completely lost. It's not at all like hard disks where they may have problems and be unbootable but most or all of the contents are still recoverable.

    I don't personally ever recommend using 2 TB and above drives without their own power supplies. All the manufacturers, like WD, are infamous for shipping drives in cases without power. It's cheap enough for you to buy external cases with power. Newegg sells them if you can't find them locally.
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  9. Mod Neophyte Super Moderator redwudz's Avatar
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    I believe USB 2 and USB 1 have a power capability of 500MA per port. USB 3 doubles that to about 1000MA or one amp using special cables. I still wouldn't run a full size hard drive off that. Much better to have a external power supply. Also if USB 3 supplies that to say, four ports, that's a fair amount of power to be pulling off your 5V bus though your motherboard.

    And I do have a couple of external USB 3 HDDs, but they have their own PS. My MB came with two backplane USB 3 ports and I added a PCI slot adapter that plugs into my MB for two more. I didn't use a 3.5 front adapter as my SSD is in that slot. I use USB 3 for speed, not a power supply.
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  10. Member sohaibrazzaq's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by jman98 View Post

    With regard to SSDs, I want to warn you that studies have shown that the bigger the drive, the longer it lasts. If you buy anything smaller than 128 GB, you may not be very happy with its longevity. Note too that SSDs give you no warning at all when they are about to fail, so they will go from working to completely dead when they die. If your game SSD requires a lot of writing to the SSD, this will cause it to wear out sooner. SSDs do best with about half or more of their space unused and not writing to them constantly is a very good idea (ie. move Windows paging space off of them). Once an SSD dies, you should consider EVERYTHING on the drive to be completely lost. It's not at all like hard disks where they may have problems and be unbootable but most or all of the contents are still recoverable.

    I don't personally ever recommend using 2 TB and above drives without their own power supplies. All the manufacturers, like WD, are infamous for shipping drives in cases without power. It's cheap enough for you to buy external cases with power. Newegg sells them if you can't find them locally.
    I was planning to buy a Crucial 64 GB for OS and another 256 GB for games that I play most. Losing these won't be a problem (as long as they are covered in warranty ) since I have about 8 TB of internal hdd space where I will be storing all the data. These are just for games and OS which I have backups or I can re download them from my steam library easily. Am I to assume that SSDs have higher fail rate over normal hdd's? I think I would just get a single 128 GB ssd for the time being and install my games on my older 1tb WD caviar black.

    I have a total of 5 WD external HDD's. 3 of them are older 1TB My Book essential that requires an external power supply and later I bought 2 My Passport Ultra 2tb just because they didn't need any external power. I got tired of plugging something out to insert the power adapter, my 2tb externals are over 1 year old and they have been working fine so far but I haven't had a chance of using them with usb 3 port so far. Here's what I have:
    http://www.wdc.com/en/products/products.aspx?id=1000

    Its still in warranty so I take it if I open the enclosure that would void the warranty right? Better leave it running as is at least until warranty expires.
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  11. Most (probably all) external hard drives which don't require their own power supply are "compact" dives. They're 2.5" laptop size drives, not 3.5" desktop size.
    If the hard drive works fine when powered by USB2, it shouldn't have a problem with USB3. Plus drive manufacturers aren't silly. If a drive requires more power than a single USB port can deliver, it'll come with one of those cables which have two USB plugs on one end.

    A drive's capacity and it's power consumption aren't quite directly related. More so the number of platters and rotation speed. Typical for 3.5" drives is 7200rpm. For 2.5" drives 5400rpm would be more common. The more platters a drive has the more power they need. As the amount of data which can be put onto a single platter has increased, the number required has changed for a particular capacity. These days they're up to about 1TB per platter for 3.5" drives, yet I have a 2TB drive here with five of them.

    I looked it up to refresh my memory. A single USB2 port is supposed to supply 500mA at 5v, or 2.5w. For USB3 it's 900mA at 5v, or 4.5w

    If you want external storage without having to fuss over individual cables for every drive, but don't require quite as convenient portability, internal drives in docks are the way to go. They come in USB or eSATA varieties, or some have both types. USB3 is now pretty common. The first one Google found for me.
    These days, you can even buy PC cases with a drive dock built into the top.
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  12. Mod Neophyte Super Moderator redwudz's Avatar
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    I wouldn't recommend a ~60GB SSD for a boot drive, especially with a newer OS like W7 or W8. They use up a fair amount of space. And you also have a OS page file that is usually the same size as your installed RAM. If you run a SSD at near capacity, it will fail much quicker and run a fair amount slower. I use a 128GB SSD and that seems about right at more than 60% free space. I also moved my 16GB page file to a secondary internal drive to save a bit of extra room. From your computer details, you seem to have 12GB RAM, so that would be your default page file size. That would be a fair chunk out of a 60GB SSD.

    A SSD has to reserve some extra space to move files around to even out the wear on the individual drive cells. Without sufficient room, it tends to overuse some cells and will take longer to juggle data around. I haven't had any problems with SSD failures, but I did retire my original 60GB SSD because of slow operation. I have two 128GB SSDs now, (OCZ Vertex 4s) and I'm happy with them.
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  13. I have two computers with USB3 ports on the front panel, and have found that some external USB3 drives just don't like running off the front ports. They're fine with the rear ports or USB3 powered hubs. I assume the problem is the long internal cable leading to the motherboard USB3 connector.
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  14. Member
    Join Date: Dec 2005
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    Originally Posted by Constant Gardener View Post
    I have two computers with USB3 ports on the front panel, and have found that some external USB3 drives just don't like running off the front ports. They're fine with the rear ports or USB3 powered hubs. I assume the problem is the long internal cable leading to the motherboard USB3 connector.
    Same here.
    I have a PCI card with two rear outputs and an extension cable to two more on the front.
    The rear connectors work the same as the USB 3 on the motherboard;the front connectors fail writing large (over 500 MB) files to some USB 3 flash drives (Lexar 32 GB fails, SanDisk 64GB Extreme works).
    Oddly, the front connectors work fine with HDD's.
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  15. Member sohaibrazzaq's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by redwudz View Post
    I wouldn't recommend a ~60GB SSD for a boot drive, especially with a newer OS like W7 or W8. They use up a fair amount of space. And you also have a OS page file that is usually the same size as your installed RAM. If you run a SSD at near capacity, it will fail much quicker and run a fair amount slower. I use a 128GB SSD and that seems about right at more than 60% free space. I also moved my 16GB page file to a secondary internal drive to save a bit of extra room. From your computer details, you seem to have 12GB RAM, so that would be your default page file size. That would be a fair chunk out of a 60GB SSD.

    A SSD has to reserve some extra space to move files around to even out the wear on the individual drive cells. Without sufficient room, it tends to overuse some cells and will take longer to juggle data around. I haven't had any problems with SSD failures, but I did retire my original 60GB SSD because of slow operation. I have two 128GB SSDs now, (OCZ Vertex 4s) and I'm happy with them.
    I have ordered a 128gb crucial SSD off newegg, hopefully it will arrive tomorrow. 12GB is my current RAM, it will be 16GB when I finish building my i7 4770K but I will limit the pagefile to 2048/2048 min/max. That should be enough for any old applications that force to write on pagefile.
    I am looking on my current Windows 7 installation drive which is 2 and half years old install, its 133GB/465GB full. Hmm guess I will need more smart managing with ssd to keep it ~60-70GB mark.

    Also I have got the Anker USB 3.0 front panel installed on my HAF 932 but waiting on my my new motherboard before I can test it. Hopefully I will have everything tomorrow finally.
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