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SilverStone SST-EC03 USB 3.0 PCI-E Card E-mail
Reviews - Featured Reviews: Accessories
Written by Marc Fructman   
Monday, 28 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

Testing Methodology

Prior to each benchmark the ADATA S511 is zero filled, and the benchmark is run. If the software requires an active partition then this will be performed. A minimal Windows 7 environment is run to ensure repeatability. At least 3 runs are performed for each test.

The ADATA N004 Nobility is a working drive with 60% data on it. This SSD is interesting because it ships with both SATA II and USB 3.0 on it.

  • Case: Thermaltake Armor MX VH8000
  • Motherboard: EVGA SR-2 Dual Xeon
  • System Memory: 16 GB ECC RAM
  • Processor: Dual Intel E5620 CPU @ 2.4 Ghz
  • Video: ATI Radeon 4850
  • Highpoint RocketRAID 2720SGL
  • Primary Drive: ADATA S511 120GB SSD x 4 in RAID 10
  • Test Drive: ADATA S511 120 GB SSD (single drive)
  • Test Drive: ADATA N004 60GB, approximately 60% used.
  • Monitor (Primary): Hanns·G HZ281HPB WideScreen LCD 27.5"
    • Connection: supplied DVI to HDMI
  • Monitor (Secondary) Acer AL2216W 22"
    • Connection: DVI
  • Operating System: Win 7, 64-bit
  • SilverStone SST-EC03 USB 3.0 dual port PCI Express Card
  • SilverStone TS07 USB 3.0 Enclosure

*Special note: The onboard SATA III of the EVGA SR-2 is powered by the Marvel 9128 Chipset. Please see this article which provides significant detail as to the nature of the problem.

For this reason, a Highpoint RocketRAID 2720SGL was used to test baseline speeds of the ADATA S511.

Testing and Results

The card, bay, and drivers were installed into PCI-E slot #6 on the SR-2 motherboard. A SilverStone TS07 enclosure was used with an ADATA S511 120 GB SSD. An ATTO benchmark was used just to get a baseline idea of transfer speeds. And this is where there were some issues. This card behaved rather oddly depending on the slot that was used. ATTO was showing much lower than expected bandwidth for my first choice slot #6. Everest failed to run at all. PCI Express should not have a problem with data sharing, and the EVGA SR2 has a minimum of x8 lanes for each of the 7 PCI-E slots. Nevertheless, moving from slot #6 to slot #3 or slot #4 made a significant difference in bandwidth speeds, and there was no further problems when using these slots. I suspect this issue was due to an IRQ sharing conflict.

For this review we will be using the ADATA S511 120GB SSD and N004 Nobility 64GB SSD / flash drive. The ADATA S511 is reviewed here by Benchmark Reviews. We see that claimed speeds are 550MB/s read and 510MB/s write.

The ADATA N004 Nobility is somewhat unique in that it is a flash drive that has both SATA II, and USB 3.0 interfaces built in. According to the manufactures specification it is capable of 230MB/s Seq. Read, and 130MB/s Seq Write on the SATA II interface. For USB 3.0, it claims 180MB/s Seq Read and 150 MB/s Seq Write.

Additionally, we will be using the SilverStone TS07 USB enclosure as reviewed here.



# 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 - 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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