Yesterday I reviewed the Buffalo USB 3.0 PCI Express card which proved to be an extremely capable card, so I wondered if the laptop version would perform similarly. Notebooks, more than motherboards, need USB 3.0 upgrades since even current high-end notebooks come with 1 or 2 USB 3.0 ports. Any entry level or mid-range notebook available in the market right now doesn’t come with any USB 3.0 ports.
The unfortunate thing is that not many laptops come with an ExpressCard adapter in the first place, so upgrading to USB 3.0 maybe even more difficult than you think. This first hurdle out of the way, the only other thing left is to face the fact that that USB 3.0 ports will be extending out of your laptop’s side by a good inch and a half. If you can live with that, then high speed transfers are yours to be enjoyed.
For testing the Buffalo USB 3.0 ExpressCard, I used the recently reviewed MSI CX620 3D which came with a convenient ExpressCard adapter. For comparisons I have used the speeds from USB 3.0 ports from the Gigabyte P67A-UD7 motherboard. I’ve used the Buffalo DriveStation Axis 1TB external HDD to test out the USB 3.0 speeds.
Those are pretty decent speeds all things considered. Yes, that’s still slower than the desktop variant, but you have to consider that the Buffalo USB 3.0 ExpressCard is based on ExpressCard 1.0, which has a maximum bandwidth of 2.5 Gbit/s, half of what USB 3.0 is capable of. Realistically ExpressCard 2.0s will not be flooding the market until later this year, which basically means that as of now the Buffalo USB 3.0 ExpressCard is the closest you can come to USB 3.0 speeds.
The Buffalo USB 3.0 ExpressCard retails for about the same price as their USB 3.0 PCI Express card. In both cases these adapters are an upgrade for your existing system should you have a USB 3.0 hard drive and want to utilize its full potential.