SilverStone Releases ECU03 USB 3.1 Expansion Card

USB 3.1 is the newest generation and it brings quite a few improvements over the previous generation, such as the double bandwidth capabilities. The trouble with new generations of connectors is that you’ll also need to upgrade your system to use them, at least if you got an older one. Luckily you don’t need to upgrade your entire system, you can just use an expansion card. SilverStone just released the ECU03 which is such a card and it will give your system both a USB 3.1 Type A and a USB 3.1 Type C connector.

The SilverStone ECU03 offers 10 Gbps bandwidth for excellent throughput and transfer rates, especially when multiple external drives are attached simultaneously and otherwise would create bottlenecks. The ECU03 fully supports the eXtensible Host Controller Interface (XHCI) that makes it driverless for an easy installation. The expansion card also supports the USB Attached SCSI Protocol (UASP) that increases the overall throughput by handling multiple requests at the same time.

USB is by definition highly compatible and the card is naturally backward compatible with USB 3.0, 2.0, and 1.1 devices. Motherboard support is secured through the use of a PCI-Express Gen2 x2 interface that most stationary PCs will have available for use. Even small form factor (SFF) systems are supported as the card is designed to be low-profile. SilverStone also includes a low-profile expansion slot bracket with the card right out of the box.

Special Features

  • Includes SuperSpeed USB 3.1 external USB Type-C connector
  • SuperSpeed USB 3.1 with Type A and Type C ports
  • PCI-E Gen2.0 x2, throughput up to 10Gbps
  • Compliant with eXtensible Host Controller Interface (XHCI) specification Revision 1.1
  • Compliant with USB Attached SCSI Protocol Revision 1.0 (UASP)
  • Includes optional low-profile slot cover for supporting low profile cases

SilverStone TS11-C USB 3.1 Docking Station Review

Introduction


We have tested quite a few of SilverStone’s storage solutions in the past and while the new TS11-C external hard drive docking station might look like previous models, it is special as it comes with the newest technologies. In the past, we have been limited by the USB 3.0 protocol and its maximum 5Gbps transfer speeds even though we connect a 6Gbps capable drive to the docking station. SilverStone’s new TS11-C should make up for this as it uses the USB 3.1 connector for a transfer speed of up to 10Gbps.

SilverStone’s TS11-C is an external hard drive docking station that is made to accommodate either a 2.5-inch or a 3.5-inch drive at speeds up to 10Gb/s with its USB 3.1 Gen2 capability and it also features the new Type-C connector. Since USB is plug and play, as long as you have your USB drivers installed, which also means that this docking station is plug and play. You don’t need any additional drivers to get going, just plug it in, add a drive and turn it on. It is almost a given with a docking station like this, but it’s still worth highlighting that the TS11-C supports USB Attached SCSI protocol (UASP) which allows much better transfer rates in systems that support this compared to those who don’t.

The body itself is gold coloured and made of aluminium. This aids the passive unit itself to stay cool, but it also helps the inserted drive to dispose of its heat. This isn’t as much an issue when used with solid state drives, but mechanical drives need quite a bit of cooling. The cover itself is made of plastic to prevent your drives from being scratched. The top slot cover is a two-piece item that automatically folds back as you insert a drive. The small gap for 2.5-inch drives also helps with the positioning on top of the connector.

The docking station is built around an ASMedia ASM1351 chipset that provides this unit with its USB 3.1 Gen2 capability with speeds up to 10Gbps through the Type-C connector. The included USB cable uses a normal type USB connector which also makes it easy backward compatible with USB 3.0, 2.0 and 1.1. The internal SATA3 interface is also backward compatible with SATA2 and SATA1 drives, as it should be.

With an external device like this that is highly portable, you might want to take it on the road with you too in order to connect extra storage to your mobile devices such as laptops and modern smartphones. SilverStone thought of this too and added a power adapter with exchangeable plugs to be used in pretty much every place on earth no matter what plug type or voltage available.

Feature Highlights

  • USB 3.1 type-C connector with Gen2 up to 10Gb/s super speed transfer rate
  • Supports UASP (USB Attached SCSI Protocol) function for even faster performance
  • Aluminum body with tool-free and tray-less design
  • Supports all 2.5 and 3.5-inch SATA drives up to any capacity
  • Plug & play with support for hot-swapping
  • Multinational adapter socket included

Specifications

The specifications are taken directly from the manufacturers information and might as such be subject to changes in possible future revisions of the product.

Package and Accessories

The box uses the same gold colour as the device and is overall a great looking product packaging. The front shows how the docking station looks and tells you what it is.

The rear of the box contains the specifications and a few more details about the docking station and what drives it can take.

Inside the box, we find a USB 3.1 Type-C to Type-A connector, a user manual, and the multi-regional power adapter next to the docking station itself.

Sharkoon Releases USB 3.1 Docking Station and Add-In Card

There can be many reasons why you would want to add some external storage to your system and there are about as many different possibilities as there are reasons. One of the easiest ways to connect storage to your system is via a USB docking stations. Whether you have a notebook or stationary system, this allows you to connect any normal internal drive to your system externally.

Sharkoon just released a new docking station that can do this with ease and it is one that also sports the newest type of USB connection: USB 3.1 Type-C. The new docking station is literarily called what it is as it is called Sharkoon QuickPort USB 3.1 Type C. While the docking station itself features the tiny and reversible Type-C connector, it connect to any normal sized Type-A USB port on your system by the included cable.

Whether you want to use 2.5-inch or 3.5-inch SATA drives in this docking station, it’s covered and it will work just as well as you can connect the docking station or older USB ports such as normal 3.0 or 2.0. Both SATA and USB are backward compatible which allows you to connect this modern enclosure no matter what hardware you have – but you naturally won’t get the impressive 10Gbps speeds possible from the USB 3.1 or the 6Gbps from the SATA3 when you connect slower drives or use an older connection standard. But it is great to have the option.

Should you not have a system with USB 3.1 yet, then Sharkoon fittingly also introduced a new add-in card to give you just this. The new host controller features both a Type-A and a Type-C USB 3.1 connector on the rear and plugs into your normal PCI-Express x4 or bigger slots.

Both new Sharkoon items are built around ASMedia’s controllers and that is a company with a lot of experience in the field. The docking station is powered by an ASMedia ASM1351 bridge controller while the add-in card is powered by an ASMedia ASM1142 USB host controller.

Both new Sharkoon USB 3.1 devices are available now. The docking station has a suggested retail price of €39.99 while the host card is a little cheaper with a suggested retail price of €29.99.

SilverStone Releases SATA and USB 3.1 Add-In Cards

SilverStone has been on a frenzy lately, releasing a lot of new products. Among them are two new PCI-Express add-in cards that could come in very handy and add some modern features or extra functionality to your system. The two new PCI-Express cards are the ECS03 2-port Hardware RAID SATA controller and the other is the ECU04 internal USB 3.1 add-in card.

The SilverStone ECS03 is a PCIE-Express Gen.2 x2 add-in card that will give you system another two SATA3 ports. The card has an ASMedia 1062R controller that supports RAID 0, RAID 1, SPAN, and non-RAID modes. The controller supports normal SATA 6Gbps drives and it’s backwards compatible with previous SATA generations. It also supports port multiplier for those that wish to split the ports up or use it with external multi-drive enclosures. The low-profile design also makes sure that it’ll fit almost any chassis and setup.

 

The SilverStone ECU04 is a PCI-Express card that will add an internal USB 3.1 19-pin header to your system, allowing you to get speeds up to 10 Gbps. The card is compliant with both the eXtensible Host Controller Interface (XHCI) specification Revision 1.1 and the USB Attached SCSI Protocol (UASP) Revision 1.0 to give you maximum compatibility and performance. The ECU04 also comes with a low-profile slot cover for usage in SFF builds. The extra power requirements to the card will be provided through the normal SATA power connector on the card.

Thanks to the XHCI support, you won’t need any drivers for the ECU04 on operating systems that support this, and most do. Windows 7 users will need to install the provided drivers, but everyone else should have a plug and play experience.

The ECS03 comes with an MSRP of 40.15 USD and the ECU04 has an MSRP of 29.59 USD. Both cards should be available now. Does your system have enough of these ports or are you tempted by either of these new cards. Let us know in the comments.

Inateck FD1005 Top-Loading HDD Docking Station Review

Introduction


Inateck probably has the widest array of docking stations and enclosures for hard drives and solid state drives and today I’m pleased to be able to take a look at another sweet looking on. The Inateck FD1005 is a single-bay top-loading docking station for SATA hard disks that connects through USB 3.0 and supports UASP for maximum transfer speeds.

Top loading docking stations are probably the easiest to use, especially if you switch your hard drives a lot. The Inateck FD1005 allows you connect a hard disk or solid state drive to your computer by simply plugging it into the docking station and turning it on. It couldn’t get much simpler than that. When you then also get top transfer speeds on top of that, then we have something worth considering.

Creating backups of large amount of files across multiple hard disks can’t get much easier than this. The Inateck FD1005 supports the newest SATA 3 hard disks with up to 6TB capacity, so storage limitation isn’t a thing that you’ll run into either. The dedicated 12V power connection ensures that the drive always has both enough power and a general stable power supply. The power button helps you to securely unplug your drives better by powering them down before you plug them, but it also allows you to just turn it off when you don’t need it for a while, without the need to unplug everything.

The power button helps you to securely unplug your drives better by powering them down before you plug them, but it also allows you to just turn it off when you don’t need it for a while, without the need to unplug everything.

Inateck’s FD1005 is a very compact one-bay unit and as such it needs a stable footing. Mechanical hard drives aren’t light, especially not when we deal with those that are packed with full with platters. Inateck added four tiny rubber feet on the bottom to prevent it from sliding and gave it additional weight by adding a metal block inside.

And the two work great in conjunction. I tried placing the enclosure with my WD RED 6TB hard drive on a surface with an angle and it stayed right where I placed it. Running several HDD benchmarks to bring the drive into vibration didn’t change this either.

The cover has a small static opening fitting for a 2.5-inch drive while the rest of the cover folds back when a drive is inserted and springs back into place to cover and protect the opening when the drive is removed again. In the photo below, I used a DVI protective cover to keep it open while taking the photo.

Inateck used the ASMedia ASM1153E chip which is a one-chip solution with embedded USB and SATA controller, as well as its own memory. Previously I’ve mentioned that the enclosure supports up to 6TB drives, but that’s only because that’s the biggest I can test with right now. Theoretically, the only limitation for a docking station like this is the GPT limit of 18 exabyte (although Windows file system is limited to 256TB per drive), meaning that future 8 and 10TB HDDs shouldn’t be a problem either.

Thecus N5810 Pro Zero-Crash 5-Bay High-Performance NAS Review

Introduction


Thecus have created a new NAS that is something just a little bit special, if not a lot of special. It looks pretty normal on the surface, but it comes packed full of great features, plenty of storage abilities, and with connectivity options as they’re rarely seen.

The new Thecus Zero-Crash N5810 Pro isn’t your everyday NAS, it is one that comes with superior performance, unmatched security, and with built-in mini-UPS. The N5810 Pro is a 5-bay unit and this is an NAS form-factor that is increasing in popularity due to the option for an extra hot-spare, or just the extra capacity.

Let us dive right into the hardware specification, because they are worth highlighting. At the core of the unit we find an Intel Celeron J1900 quad-core SoC processor with 2GHz and the N5810 Pro comes equipped with 4GB DDR3 RAM right out the box. You don’t need to worry about having to upgrade your NAS right away with that kind of RAM, it is easily enough to run all the apps and service you want at the same time.

Where other NAS devices come with two and sometimes four LAN ports, Thecus added one extra and equipped this unit with a total of five Gigabit Ethernet ports. There is full support for all types of Link Aggregation and Fail-over, leaving the setup completely up to you. Maximum performance, redundancy, or you could even use it as an access point if you wanted to.

It has three USB 3.0 ports where one of them is located on the front for quick and easy backups. The last two are on the rear side with the rest of the connections such as two USB 2.0 ports, one HDMI port, and a Line-Out 3.5mm audio jack.

Thecus equipped the N5810 Pro with an internal 130W power supply. I really like the use of internal power supplies over the external power bricks, although the bricks are easier to replace if they should fail. Thecus also thought about that and made the PSU removable from the rear of the unit. It isn’t as easy as getting a new universal AC/DC adapter, but it’s close.

Another really awesome feature in this high-end NAS is the built-in mini-UPS with a removable battery. Again you save yourself having to get another piece of hardware and find room to place it near the NAS. You also save yourself the connecting and setting it up as everything is built-in. If the NAS should lose power, it will safely shut down without loss or corruption of your data. You can define the settings whether it should stay off or resume where it left off once the power is back.

The N5810 Pro NAS is placed on four large rubber feet that prevent any vibration from the mechanical hard drives to move onto whatever piece of furniture the NAS is placed on. They lift the unit far enough off the ground that it also has some extra air vents on the bottom that help to draw in more fresh and cold air for the system. The stickers with serial and product numbers are hidden away on the bottom if you should need those.

Security is an ever-growing issue and Thecus has this side of things handled with both their choice hardware, software and the physical build. Thecus has partnered with McAfee and bundled their Antivirus with the unit to keep the NAS save from itself. Those who prefer the private connections don’t need to worry either as the NAS fully supports VPN connections with the built-in server module.

Keeping the files safe means more than just to protect them from viruses and malware, and Thecus also has all the other sides of the story covered. The N5810 Pro supports scheduled Rsync backups and also comes bundled with Acronis True Image software for advanced one-click protection. Snapshot backup is equally supported with BTRFS support for subvolumes and easy rollback or restoration.

Those who wish to store their backup in the cloud are covered with support for DropBox, Amazon S3, and ElephantDrive. If that still isn’t enough, Thecus also supports data burn directly to CD, DVD, and Blu-ray disks with Data Burn. You can also choose to just ‘burn’ ISO files as another way of backing up your files. You can even clone entire disks with the NAS.

The five drive caddies can all be locked individually and Thecus included a total of four keys with this unit. Enough for even the most clumsy people that forget or lose them. The caddie’s base is built from steel and covered with a plastic encasing that holds the locking system and two LEDs. Thecus places padding inside the caddies to prevent damage to your drives and possible short-outs from the PCB touching the caddy. They support both 2.5-inch and 3.5-inch drives, so you’re covered no matter what drive you want to use, whether it’s small or big hard disks or even solid state drivers.

Thecus also built in a LCM display with four buttons on the front: enter, escape, up, and down. This not only allows you to view the current configuration, but also change settings. Not to worry, you’ll have to enter a password via the buttons in order to access that part.

Mobile connectivity is also supported with the T-OnTheGo and T-Dashboard apps. When I read those names I always think of Telecom first, but the T stands for Thecus in this case. You can connect from your iOS or Android device for up and downloading files, streaming media, or just to keep an eye on the device itself.

You can even turn the N5810 Pro into a direct multimedia hub for your living toom with the built-in HDMI. Connect it directly to your TV for device management, web browsing with Flash support, and also the most important function, HD video playback. No need to watch your movies on the PC monitor or have an extra HTPC running, just use your NAS. It also features a line-out connection to get the sound out to other devices if your monitor doesn’t have built-in speakers.

ASUS P9X79-E WS LGA 2011 Motherboard Gets Launched

The ASUS WorkStation (WS) series of motherboards have taken off in popularity recently as they offer consumer platforms (such as LGA 1155/2011 with Z77/X79) but with workstation features and reliability. ASUS’ latest motherboard is no exception and they have just recently announced the P9X79-E WS motherboard for the LGA 2011 socket and X79 Intel chipset.

This new motherboard from ASUS is ready to tackle Intel’s Ivy Bridge-E processors that are coming in Q3-Q4 of this year. There will probably be a BIOS update required, although the boards may just come with “unadvertised” support for Intel’s Ivy Bridge-E CPUs. This motherboard uses the X79 chipset and an SSI-CEB form factor which measures in at 305 by 267mm. The LGA 2011 socket is powered by a healthy 10 phase VRM and has a 2+2 phase memory VRM (thats 2 phase for each memory allocation either side of the CPU socket).  These eight memory sockets support up to 64GB of memory in quad channel running up to DDR3 2133MHz.

Furthermore the motherboard has seven PCI Express X16 slots and supports 4 Way Nvidia SLI or AMD CrossFireX. Storage connectivity is relatively abundant with ten SATA ports of which six are SATA III 6Gbps and four are SATA II 3Gbps. Of the SATAs everything is provided by the PCH with the exception of four SATA III ports which are provided by a Marvell AHCI/RAID controller. There are also an additional two eSATA 6Gbps ports from an ASMedia controller. There are four USB 3.0 ports on offer from ASMedia controllers and there is dual Intel Gigabit LAN too. 8 Channel HD audio, a PS/2 port, an RS232 COM header and some overclocking BIOS features top off the rest of the connectivity. Apparently pricing for this unit is USD $499.99.

Image courtesy of TechPowerUp

ASMedia Preparing USB 3.5 “10Gbps” Standard

ASMedia’s USB 3.0 controllers were a huge success in the PC market and we have seen the USB 3.0 standard take off in recent times. ASMedia were the main provider of USB 3.0 controller chips for a long time as chipset manufacturers (mainly Intel and AMD) took a while to natively integrate USB 3.0 into their chipsets. This meant that ASMedia saw strong demand for USB 3.0 as they were the main providers of third party USB 3.0 host controllers to motherboard vendors who wanted to integrate USB 3.0 support.

Now ASMedia are looking to push the USB market forward once again as they are preparing the next incarnation of the USB series according to AppleDaily.com.tw, that is USB 3.5. It is somewhat surprising that they are opting for USB 3.5 not USB 4.0 but either way this new standard effectively doubles current bandwidth (5Gbps) to 10Gbps levels. Furthermore it will continue the USB trend of delivering high power output for device charging and will retain backwards compatibility with all older USB standards.

USB 3.5 is being described as a Thunderbolt killer as it offers the same bandwidth yet will do so at a fraction of the cost. The sluggish demand for Thunderbolt has been shown as a 2 year head start has seen very little progress and even today Thunderbolt is still seen as the overpriced Apple interface thanks to its early exclusivity on the Mac platform.

What do you think of USB 3.5? Is it a good move? Or is it a bit too forward considering not everyone is even onboard with USB 3.0 yet?

Image courtesy of AppleDaily.com.tw