USB 3.0 for Starters: An Analysis

Conclusion: Noticeable Speed Increase

The results of these tests are not surprising, but rather in line with what we have previously reported regarding USB 3.0. Some of the more important articles include a detailed comparison of different USB 3.0 drives, and an analysis of bottlenecks that may arise when using SATA 6 Gb/s and USB 3.0 on modern systems. This much is clear: USB 3.0 in itself is much faster than USB 2.0 or FireWire and will not bottleneck pretty much any modern hard drive.

USB 3.0 hard drives cost more than USB 2.0 models, but the speed increase makes the cost worthwhile even for occasional use. All you need is a USB 3.0 controller for the PC, which costs between $15 $30.

USB 3.0 increasing the speed of external or portable storage devices compared to USB 2.0 may have little relevance for occasional users. Some people will not care whether a backup takes an hour or 20 minutes. But if you want to save some time, or have already used a system with USB 3.0, you will never look back. The time required to copy double digit gigabyte numbers of data is reduced to a third compared to USB 2.0.

Generally speaking, the performance increase is smaller for smaller files, but anyone who handles photos, music files or even video material should jump on the USB 3.0 train as quickly as possible. The most important reasons are the performance and time savings, but the easy upgrade of existing systems is a good reason as well. Virtually every AMD and Intel machine since 2006 is almost certainly equipped with PCI Express ports for installing a USB 3.0 controller card.

Create a new thread in the UK Article comments forum about this subject
This thread is closed for comments
Comment from the forums
    Your comment
  • shennan19
    Nice article but not really surprising results. Would love to see a round up of the usb 3 caddies out there that take 3.5 and 2.5 harddrives - im trying to find one to turn an old 3.5 internal barracuda drive into an external drive but customer reviews all seem conflicting.
  • oatmeal25
    Thanks for the read. Only thing I would have liked to have seen is internal sata 3 & 6 (drive to drive), esata, Wireless G, Wireless N, Gigabit network, and 1394 options for comparison.
  • jwoollis
    Since USB2 has a bandwidth limit of 480Mbps translating into a limit of 60MB/s but typical real world performance of around 35MB/s is it not conceivable that since most drives inside USB2 caddies are capable of at least 50MB/s regardless of actual USB2 performance, would it not be reasonable to expect a modest performance boost from a USB2 drive connected directly or indirectly to a USB3 controller?
    Any CPU overhead should not impact a relatively slow USB2 device running on a USB3 controller?
  • steve6375
    What about testing different controller cards + drivers. This can make a difference?