Followers of PC Perspective have likely seen a pair of stories previewing the upcoming performance and features of USB 3.1. First we got our hands on the MSI X99A Gaming 9 ACK motherboard and were able to run through our very first hands-on testing with USB 3.1 hardware. The motherboard had built-in USB 3.1 support and a device that was configured with a RAID-0 of Intel SSD 730 Series drives.
We followed that up with a look at the ASUS USB 3.1 implementation that included a PCIe add-on card and a dual-drive mSATA device also in RAID-0. This configuration was interesting because we can theoretically install this $40 product into any system with a free PCI Express slot.
Performance was astounding for incredibly early implementations, reaching as high as 835 MB/s!
In that last article I theorized that it would be some time before we got our hands on retail USB 3.1 hardware but it appears I wasn't giving the industry enough credit. ASUS passed us a list of incoming devices along with release schedules. There are 27 devices scheduled to be released before the end of April and ~35 by the middle of the year.
It's a daunting table to look at, so be prepared!
The product categories are mostly dominated by the likes of the a USB 3.1 to 2.5-in adapter; that would be useful but you aren't going to top out the performance of the USB 3.1 with a single 2.5-in SATA device. Iomaster has one listed as a "USB 3.1 to MSATA & M2 SSD enclosure" which could be more interesting - does it accept PCI Express M.2 SSDs?
Minerva Innovation has a couple of interesting options, all listed with pairs of mSATA or M.2 ports, two with Type-C connections. What we don't know based on this data is if it supports PCIe M.2 SSDs or SATA only and if it supports RAID-0.
A couple more list dual SATA ports which might indicate that we are going to see multiple hard drives / SSDs over a single USB 3.1 connection but without RAID support. That could be another way to utilize the bandwidth of USB 3.1 in a similar way to how we planned to use Thunderbolt daisy chaining.
We don't have pricing yet, but I don't think USB 3.1 accessories will be significantly more expensive than what USB 3.0 devices sell for. So, does this list of accessories make you more excited to upgrade your system for USB 3.1?
Subject: General Tech, Motherboards, Storage | February 11, 2015 - 09:59 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: usb 3.1, usb, msi, asmedia
USB 3.0, for storage, is fast. If you are using an external, spindle-based hard drive, it will perform basically as fast as an internal sibling would. Apart from my two SSDs, I do not even have an internal drive anymore. You can safely install games to external hard drives now.
But with USB 3.1, the spec doubled to 10 Gbps, which matches the first generation Thunderbolt connector. A couple of weeks ago, Tom's Hardware put it to the test with an ASMedia USB3.1 to SATA 6 Gbps developer board. Sure enough, when you are raiding a pair of Intel 730 SSDs, you can achieve over 700 MB/s read/write in CrystalDiskMark.
About the most interesting part of Tom's Hardware testing is their CPU usage benchmark. While USB 3.0 on Intel's controller choked a CPU thread, USB 3.1 on ASMedia's controller did not even reach half of a thread's maximum (the CPU in question is a Core i7-5930K Haswell-E at 3.5 GHz).
So until we get flash drives that are constrained by USB 3.0's fairly high ceiling, we might be able to have reduced CPU usage.
Subject: Storage | February 5, 2015 - 02:57 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: usb, team group, M131, Micro USB
Team Group M131 Smart Dual Drive is so named because it can plug into both full sized USB and with the additional connector it can connect to Micro USB ports as well. It's tiny size at 44 x 16.6 mm and 6.6g makes it easy to carry around, the largest size of 32GB may feel cramped for a PC but seems appropriate for use with a smartphone. It is not the fastest USB drive out there but eTeknix saw it for sale at £7.19 so you are not paying extra for the convenience of the drive. Check out their review here.
"The limited storage in mobile devices can be a real problem just as the fact that a touchscreen rarely is the optimal input device. Both these things might be a thing of the past if you invest in a Team Group M131 Smart Dual Drive with OTG support that. I’m taking a closer look at 16GB model of just this drive today."
Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:
- Kingston DataTraveler microDuo 3.0 OTG 64GB USB Flash Drive Review @ NikKTech
- Patriot Memory Supersonic Boost XT 64GB USB 3.0 Flash Drive Review @ Madshrimps
- Kingston Class 10 UHS-I SDXC Card (256 GB) @ TechARP
- Thecus N4310 4-Bay NAS @ eTeknix
- Asustor AS5104T @ Legion Hardware
- Silverstone DS380 NAS Chassis @ eTeknix
- OCZ Challenge update: All 5 ARC 100 SSD’s hit 300TB mark @ Kitguru
Subject: General Tech | August 30, 2014 - 11:44 AM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: usb, Portable Audio, headphones, Headphone Amp, DAC, D/A Converter, Cirrus Logic
Creative has added a new member to their portable Sound Blaster "E" series lineup with the E5.
This new multi-function DAC and headphone amp features a reference-grade D/A converter chip from Cirrus Logic, the CS4398, which supports up to 24-bit/192kHz PCM audio (and technically DSD 2.8MHz/5.6MHz, though this does not seem to be implemented here). In addition to the realistic analog reproduction possible from a high quality chip like the CS4398, the Sound Blaster E5 provides amplification via a Texas Instruments TI6120A2, which Creative says gives the E5 a "best-in-class 600 ohm headphone amplifier".
Another aspect of the E5 that sets it apart from the previous E1 and E3 models is the inclusion of optical digital input/output, to go along with USB and dual 3.5mm headphone jacks. The two 3.5mm jacks can simultaniously drive two pairs of headphones, and on the back of the unit there are additional 3.5mm jacks for microphone input, line input/output, and these double as optical input/output via mini TOSLINK. (This might be geared for portable use, but would serve as a fine external sound solution for desktops as well!)
The input stage of the E5 uses another Cirrus Logic chip, the CS5361, enabling high quality recording options from various sources at up to same 24-bit/192kHz. While supporting external microphones (as well as line/optical input) the E5 also has "built-in beamforming CrystalVoice microphones for audio recording and calls". And while the E5 is employing Creative's SBX sound processing chip, this DSP can be switched off with a button on the side of the device - a welcome option for serious music listening from high-resolution source material.
The Sound Blaster E5 also supports digital input from iPhone and "select" Android phones (listed compatible devices include the Samsung Galaxy S4/S5, Galaxy Note 2/3, and Nexus 5/7). For portable use the E5 has a built-in rechargeable 3200mAh lithium polymer battery, which Creative says will provide up to 8 hours of playback per charge.
The Sound Blaster E5 will be available in October for $199 at Creative's online store (and likely various other retail outlets).
Subject: General Tech | August 26, 2014 - 05:22 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: usb, peripherals, input, gaming mouse, gaming keyboard, controller
The Tech Report delves into their favourite peripherals available on the market in this article, covering displays, keyboards, mice and all the other goodies you can attach to your PC. The brand new G-SYNC 1440p monitor from ASUS of course makes an appearance but there is much more covered than just your display. A half dozen wired keyboards and three wireless ones made the grade along with a similar number of mice and even controllers are ranked to give you an informed choice about the current market. They even delve into external audio and storage options so if you have a few unused USB ports head on over and see if you can't find something to fill them.
"In this second edition of the peripheral staff picks, we've reworked the display section with the latest 4K and G-Sync monitors in mind. We've also updated the other sections to account for price fluctuations, changes in product availability, and findings from our latest round of reviews. The result should be, we hope, a more informative and up-to-date resource for your back-to-school shopping needs."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Roccat Kone Pure Military Edition @ HardwareHeaven
- Roccat Kone Pure and Roccat Sense 2mm Camo Charge @ Kitguru
- GAMDIAS HADES Extension Mouse @ HardwareHeaven
- Logitech G402 Hyperion Fury Gaming Mouse Review @ Legit Reviews
- Genius F-1000 Arcade Stick for PC/PS3 Review @ Modders-Inc
- ROCCAT Ryos MK Pro Mechanical Keyboard @ Benchmark Reviews
- i-Rocks K10 USB Gaming keyboard @ Kitguru
- Tesoro Lobera Supreme Full Color Illumination Mechanical Gaming Keyboard Review @ NikKTech
Subject: Storage | June 24, 2014 - 07:43 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: usb, flash drive, obsolete
A high capacity USB flash drive used to be the definition of great swag, a company could put whatever tools, media or programs on a promotional USB drive but what really counted was the size. As 128GB and larger drives started to become more common and more reasonably priced may got in the habit of dumping all their optical media to be replaced by a handful of flash drives, some bootable and some not. Take the Patriot SuperSonic Rage XT 128GB up for review at NikTech, for $80 you get 128GB of storage that can hit 200MB/s random or linear reads and is rather durable. There is nothing wrong with the drive until you realize you can pick up a 128GB Crucial MX100 and an eSATA cable for the same price or double your storage for an extra $30. Those SSDs are roughly twice as fast and every bit as rugged, so why pick up that flash drive in the first place?
"Storage capacity needs increase on a daily basis and with them so does demand and thus in the end those two result in more competition between companies and lower prices (at least most of the time). Think about it, just two years ago i was running around carrying an 16GB USB flash drive with my keychain while now i have attached a permanent 32GB one which i sometimes replace with an 128GB one if i need to carry way too much data with me."
Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:
- Patriot Supersonic Phoenix Flash Drive (256GB) @ SSD Review
- Crucial MX100 256GB & 512GB SSD Review @ Legit Reviews
- Corsair Force LX 256GB SSD Review @ Legit Reviews
- Intel DC P3700 800GB NVMe SSD Review @ Hardware Canucks
- Thecus N2310 NAS Review – Home Networking Made Easy @ The SSD Review
- Thecus N4560 4-Bay NAS @ eTeknix
- Zalman ZM-VE300 External Hard Drive Enclosure Review @HiTech Legion
Subject: General Tech | March 13, 2014 - 02:31 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: usb, charger, DIY
Over at Hack a Day is a guide on how to convert your old chargers for devices you no longer use into a useful charger with a USB plug. They will need to be of the 5V variety and provide at least 500 mA in order to be useful with today's gadgets with 1A being preferable; don't go so high you are at risk of killing your device though. Apple fanatics will have to do the usual modifications to convince their iThing to accept a charge but most other devices won't care if the charger is home made or not, they just want the USB. Do try not to set yourself or any of your possessions on fire by not testing your charger thoroughly before leaving it unattended.
"If you’re like us, you probably have a box (or more) of wall warts lurking in a closet or on a shelf somewhere. Depending on how long you’ve been collecting cell phones, that box is likely overflowing with 5V chargers: all with different connectors."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- BB10's 'dated' crypto lets snoops squeeze the juice from your BlackBerry – researcher @ The Register
- Replicant OS Developers Find Backdoor In Samsung Galaxy Devices @ Slashdot
- Hackers can steal Whatsapp conversations due to Android security flaw @ The Inquirer
- How to Use the Super Fast i3 Tiling Window Manager on Linux @ Linux.com
- Seven Great Moments in World Wide Web History @ The Inquirer
- How to shop wisely for the IT department of the future @ The Tech Report
- Projector on a smartphone? There's a chip for that @ The Register
- Make an HD Projector for Next to Nothing! @ Hack a Day
- Win a Powerful ASUS R9 290 Graphics Card @ Kitguru
Subject: Storage, Shows and Expos | January 8, 2014 - 02:20 AM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: usb, On-The-Go, Flash Voyager GO, flash, corsair, CES 2014, CES
Earlier today, Corsair announced the Flash Voyager GO combination micro USB (OTG spec) / USB 3.0 (standard connector) drive. Being the storage nut that I am, I got a closer look while the rest of the PCPer gang were checking out the new cases, keyboards, and power supplies. Here are some more detailed pics for your viewing pleasure:
Connected to an Android smart phone:
Connected to a laptop:
Yes, you're seeing things correctly. The 'back' end opposite the micro-USB port is actually another USB port supporting USB 3.0 speeds.
Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!
Subject: General Tech | December 4, 2013 - 12:39 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: usb, obvious, reversible
Backwards compatibility is a big issue for PC users who do not want to have to constantly upgrade everything from connectors to add-in cards every time they do a small upgrade. That compatibility comes with a cost, many devices which should have been allowed to die long ago still live on. It is possible that one such abomination may be going away in the near future, the trapezoidal USB plug that only connects in one orientation. The USB Type-C connector will be square, similar in size to the current USB 2.0 Micro-B plug found on non-fruit based cellphones and most importantly it will not have a specific orientation required to connect. Hopefully Slashdot isn't discussing something too good to be true.
"Extreme bandwidth is nice, intelligent power management is cool... but folks should be spilling into the streets in thankful praise that the next generation miniature USB connector will fit either way. All told — just how many intricate miracle devices have been scrapped in their prime — because a tiny USB port was mangled? For millennia untold chimpanzees and people have been poking termite mounds with round sticks. I for one am glad to see round stick technology make its way into consumer electronics. Death to the trapezoid, bring back the rectangle!"
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Toshiba tweaks SSD model: She's flashy, but she's not dense ENOUGH @ The Register
- PC market staging a RECOVERY. (Only joking, it's through the floor) @ The Register
- NAND flash suppliers to cut production to stabilize chip prices @ DigiTimes
- Creating Bootable Windows XP, 7 & 8 Flash Drive Installers @ Techgage
- A Collective Pitch Quadcopter @ Hack a Day
Subject: General Tech, Mobile | December 3, 2013 - 10:32 AM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: video, usb, charger, anker
In my eternal goal to find the perfect USB charging solution for my varied use cases, I came across a 5-port unit from a company called Anker that is as close as I have found thus far. My needs are pretty concrete: lots of ports, high power to those ports and the ability to sit on a desk or table. The Anker E150 5V/5A 5-port wall charger is pretty close.
Though ideally I would like to see more than 5 ports, this capacity seems to be reasonable for most people with the standard allotment of electronics. As the name suggests, the Anker unit maxes out at 5A of output TOTAL for all 5 ports, though each port is rated at different amperage. The two ports labeled iPad will output up to 2.1A, the rest vary a bit.
Obviously the total amp output of those ports goes PAST the 5A maximum of the unit, so expect charging to slow down if you have all ports populated. I also wish that Anker would just label the outputs with their respective amperage rather than attempting to get product SEO with the current naming scheme.
Even better, the Anker E150 5V/5A 5-port wall charger can be picked up at Amazon for an impulse purchase price of $19!
Check out my full video overview below!!