I am usually reluctant or apprehensive to try devices for my PC that are not branded by major names. However, my laptop (Dell) only has 2 USB ports, I wanted to add ports, and I decided to go for USB3.0.
I have previously and successfully used an alternative device Buffalo USB 3.0 Interface Express Card
and although it works fine, it is not particularly convenient as it needs to be removed when you want to take a laptop anywhere, and it could be accidentally knocked when installed.
I like the fact that this one fits almost flush to the profile of the laptop.
1. Before buying this Startech device, I had bought : Neewer 54mm 2-Port USB 3.0 ExpressCard Express Card Adapter
, and although it "worked" as a pair of USB3.0 ports, it caused my laptop to hang every time I tried to shut-down or start-up (I have detailed my problems in a review of that product).
2. The Startech device was significantly more expensive than the other card, but Startech is a name that I know and has a reasonable reputation.
3. This card comes well packed in a box, and with clear instructions and a disc with a single driver (Renesas) - but I did not actually need the disc. One point - the disc is a mini-disc, and so if you do need to use it, you need a CD/DVD drive that will accept a mini-disc.
4. I inserted the card into my laptop, and windows installed it and found the required driver (I am assuming it was from a previous installation of the "Bufffalo" card - most of these devices seem to use the Renesas driver and firmware.
5. Once it was installed, I checked that it recognised my USB hard drive - all OK. I then restarted the laptop, and everything shut down and restarted again with no freeze/hang or other problem.
6. Just as a quick test, I tried copying a folder 21.3GB, 46 files, from a WD Passport USB3.0 drive to my laptop hard disc, and back again. I tried via my new USB3 sockets on this card, and also via one of the original USB2 ports on my laptop. It is obviously not a rigorous speed-test, but I feel it is a good indicator. The copy took times as follows:
USB3: 8 minutes 20 seconds
USB2: 17 minutes 25 seconds.
6. So far I have not needed to use the power cable, and I will try not to use it unless I find that really have to , as it will clearly tie up one of my USB2 ports. It would be ideal if they made the power cable with a "pass-thru" plug, so that the power could go to this card, but the socket would still be available for other devices (I have a Cool-Pad that used this sort of power-cable and plug - photo attached)
7. The two USB sockets are spaced nicely apart - so there is no danger of two USB plugs impeding each other. This can happen with some USB hubs or adapters with sockets too close together. The power input socket is in between the two USB sockets, but everything is nicely spaced out.
8. The only "negatives" that I have found so far:
- Standard USB sockets usually have small spring-clips (two at top, 2 at bottom and 1 each side) that help to hold the inserted USB plug in place. Because this device is so slim, there is nothing here. The USB plug merely stays in place with friction against the contacts. This makes it possible to dislodge the plug when in use (particularly if you are moving your laptop around). You just need to be aware that the plug is not as firmly located as you might be used to, eg with the main USB sockets on your laptop.
- the card itself is a VERY tight fit, and if you want to remove it ,it is not particularly easy. Because the card fits almost flush with the outside of the laptop, there is nothing to take hold of to pull it out (and no eject mechanism on my laptop).
The instructions received with the card say that if you push it in it will "pop-out" - it does not. It is tightly and firmly in place, but that is probably not a bad thing.(34mm express cards DO "click" into place and release if you push them in again, they "spring" out).
If you do need to remove the card - it CAN be done by inserting 2 USB plugs into the card, squeeze them together and "wiggle" and get the card out.
I have added some photos to the images to show it installed.
9. I am VERY happy with this card, and although it was not the cheapest on the market, it works! Now not only do I have 2 additional USB ports, I have USB3.0.
I would definitely recommend this particular card to others.