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SilverStone SST-EC03 USB 3.0 PCI-E Card E-mail
Reviews - Featured Reviews: Accessories
Written by Marc Fructman   
Sunday, 27 November 2011
Table of Contents: Page Index
SilverStone SST-EC03 USB 3.0 PCI-E Card
Closer Look: EC03 Exterior
Closer Look: Interior
Testing and Results
ATTO Disk Benchmark
CrystalDiskMark 3.0 Tests
Everest Disk Benchmark
Final Thoughts and Conclusion

SilverStone EC03 USB-3.0 Expansion Card Review

Manufacturer: SilverStone Technology
Product Name: SuperSpeed USB 3.0 PCI-Express Expansion Card
Model Number: SST-EC03 / RL-EC03B
Price As Tested: $32.50 (Amazon)

Full Disclosure: The product sample used in this article has been provided by SilverStone Technology.

Getting access to the gigabytes of data on your external storage devices is excruciatingly slow as it trickles thru the USB 2.0 port, or at least, that's how it feels these days as storage devices store more data and USB 2.0 just can't get the job done fast enough. USB 3.0 at least for now is the answer for external access. The EC03 card from SilverStone installs into a single lane PCI-E gen 2.0 slot and gives you two internal USB 3.0 ports. SilverStone also provides a 3.5” I/O bay and the necessary cabling to bring the ports to the front of your case. Most motherboards do not have USB 3.0 ports and even when they do most motherboards rarely provide more than two USB 3.0 ports usually hardwired to the back panel I/O. The benefits of USB 3.0 over 2.0 are substantial, with an approximate 10 fold increase in speed. If you have been wanting USB 3.0 capability but don't want to swap motherboards then the EC03 can upgrade your system at a reasonable cost.

SilverStone was founded in 2003, and has a very long list of products that it has manufactured, from mice and fans to computer cases and power supplies. SilverStone's philosophy is to ensure that their “expertise is delivered to all products with consistency, in response to user's needs and with maximum user satisfaction.” SilverStone has its headquarters in Taiwan, and branch offices in the USA, and Germany.

SilverStone_SST_EC03_004.jpg


The concept is simple, open the case, install the EC03, and drivers then via 5Gbit/s USB 3.0 super speed interface you get access to your data. So how fast is it? Benchmark Reviews takes the EC03 thru the paces, let's take a look.

SilverStone SST-EC03 Features

  • Unique USB 3.0 dual port internal connector

  • PCI Express gen2.0 with single lane(x1) throughput 5Gbit/s

  • Support simultaneous operation of multiple USB 3.0/2.0/1.1 devices

  • Expands 2 external USB 3.0 super speed ports on the system

  • Support 5Vdc/3600mA (supply upto 4x standard power current)

  • Build in power connector to receiving extra power from system (sic)

SilverStone EC03 Specifications

Model No.

SST-EC03

Form Factor

Single Lane (x1) PCIe gen 2.0

USB 3.0 Controller

NEC uPD720200

Power Requirement

5Vdc via peripheral 4pin power connector

USB Ports

Dual port USB 3.0 support (one internal connector)

Transfer Speed

USB 3.0 (5Gbit/s), USB2.0 (480Mbit/s), USB 1.1 12Mbit/s

Enclosure Interface

USB 3.0 (Max. 5Gbps) compatible with USB 2.0

USB bus power output

5Vdc/900mA

Drive Support

Windows XP, Vista, 7 (32bit/64bit)

*Features and specifications per SilverStone product manual on website, and box literature.



 

Comments 

 
# I'm glad I didn't waitWhyNotV2 2011-12-05 03:48
While the SilverStone USB 3.0 doesn't seem terrible, I'm glad I became a semi-early adopter and bought the SIIG 4-port USB 3.0 kit. It's worked very well for me this past year that I've had it and definitely isn't flimsy. The only issues I had with it was my original installation in that I forgot to plug the power in and it took me a few minutes to figure it out. The price I the SIIG was high (I got mine "on sale" for $54.95), but again, 4 ports (not that I've used more than 1 at a time), sturdier and 2 size bay compatibility.

I may pick up the Silverstone 3.0 for my wife's computer for the price...or wait :)
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# PCIe x1 slotkatnrica 2011-12-05 10:20
This article says:
"The EC03 card from SilverStone installs into a single lane PCI-E gen 2.0 slot..."

How many motherboards built before 2010 even have a "Gen2, 5.0Gbps" x1 PCIe slot? All (or nearly all) only have a Gen1 (2.5Gbps) x1 PCIe slot. Yes, the graphics x16 slot is Gen2 on a vast majority of motherboards, but not the x1 slots.
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# RE: PCIe x1 slotOlin Coles 2011-12-05 10:26
Before 2010? How about before 2007, which is when PCI-E 2.0 slots were all over the market and a standard for motherboards? I think you might be remembering the dates incorrectly. I remember Intel X38 motherboards having PCI-E 2.0 lanes back in early 2007.
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# RE: RE: PCIe x1 slotkatnrica 2011-12-05 10:46
Olin -- you are correct! I looked at the product briefs of the X38 and the P45 chipsets; yes both of those support multiple x1 lanes (6) at 500MB/s, which clearly means they are Gen2 capable. Sorry about that - I should have looked at these datasheets before I posted my question ;-)
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# RE: SilverStone SST-EC03 USB 3.0 PCI-E CardMugsy 2011-12-05 14:03
I'm wondering if there isn't a "technical" reason why most boards and adapters are limited to just TWO usb 3.0 ports and not more? ("WhyNot" above is the first report I've heard of a 4-port adapter, and it's pricey.) Even this particular adapter, while providing room for two more ports, requires a SECOND card to add them. That suggests one needs beefier hardware to support more than two usb 3.0 ports at once.

This also raises serious questions about an inability to use "hubs", "daisy-chaining" or other ways of expanding the number of ports when you run out.

Or... to paraphrase what Bill Gates once said about the PC: "640K should be enough for anybody"... or in this case, "two usb 3.0 ports should be enough for anybody"?
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# RE: RE: SilverStone SST-EC03 USB 3.0 PCI-E CardMack 2011-12-05 17:56
Intel has been lacking native support for USB 3.0. on their motherboards.
That seems to be a lot of the reason why these boards seem to only carry 2 onboard USB ports, as they are 3rd party solutions.
Intel's new 7X series chipsets do support USB 3.0.

A single PCI Express 2.0 ?lane? can provide 500MB/s in one direction (1000MB/s in both directions).
So, having a 4 port USB 3.0 solution that is plugged in to a single PCI-E slot, is not going to give you full bandwidth for each port. There's just not enough available bandwidth. That is why it might be better for engineers to spec a x4 PCI slot for 4 port USB 3.0
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# RE: RE: RE: SilverStone SST-EC03 USB 3.0 PCI-E CardMack 2011-12-05 17:59
Sorry typo, x4 PCI-E slot... would cover the necessary bandwidth.
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# RE: RE: RE: SilverStone SST-EC03 USB 3.0 PCI-E CardDavid Ramsey 2011-12-05 18:01
Everybody lacks native USB 3.0; not a single Intel or AMD chipset supports it. Anything that has USB 3.0 now relies on NEC or Renesas controller chips.

Dunno what AMD's excuse is. Intel said Light Peak, aka Thunderbolt, would obviate the need for it, but their latest X79 chipset doesn't have that, either.
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# Nice clean lookMax Power - usb3pcicard.com 2012-02-27 08:03
I like these kits because the usb 3 ports are located at the front of the pc. The cables aren't too obstructive inside the case either.
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