Belkin Australia SATA II Express Card
- Faster transfer rates than USB 2.0 and FireWire, easy to install and use
- Doesn't ship with an e-SATA cable
This card is an ideal investment for users who have, or are thinking of buying, an e-SATA-based hard drive to plug into their notebook computer. It fits into a 54mm wide ExpressCard slot and is simple to install and use.
Price$ 149.95 (AUD)
Belkin's SATA II ExpressCard is an expansion device for modern notebook computers, which can add up to two e-SATA (external SATA) ports to a compatible notebook. It gives users the opportunity to connect to external hard drives at a faster rate than ever before, and this will be beneficial for power users who work with large video and image files.
The card itself has two e-SATA ports on its protruding end and will fit into any ExpressCard slot that is 54mm wide. It harnesses PCI Express technology that supplies a theoretical maximum bandwidth of 320MBps. This is more than ample for e-SATA hard drives, which themselves have a theoretical maximum of 300MBps and means that external hard drives will no longer have to be throttled by USB 2.0 (60MBps) and FireWire (50MBps) ports.
According to our tests, transferring data to and from e-SATA hard drives can be up to 12MBps faster than USB 2.0-based drives, but the biggest benefit of e-SATA drives comes from copying and moving files around on the same disc. Most USB 2.0 drives are very slow when extracting data archives or copying data from one location on the drive to another, but e-SATA drives get those jobs done fast. In fact, in our tests, we copied over 10GB of data from one location on an e-SATA drive to another, at a zippy rate of 35.64MBps. The same drive, copying the same data, but using USB 2.0, did it in a very sluggish 14.71MBps.
One thing to note is that the card doesn't ship with an e-SATA cable, and even some e-SATA-capable drives don't ship with it, so users will have to make sure that they have a proper cable when setting up.
The card's installation is fairly straightforward. We tested it on a Windows Vista-based notebook with an ExpressCard slot. We plugged in the card first, then browsed to the supplied CD so that Windows could find the drivers for it. Once installed, the card will show up as a Silicon Image controller in Device Manager and drives will be hot-pluggable -- that is, users will be able to connect and disconnect them, similar to any USB 2.0 device.
There's not much else to say about this card. It performs its intended task well and it's not overly expensive. Users equipped with an ExpressCard slot who want faster speeds from an e-SATA-capable hard drive should consider installing this card.
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