Sabrent SATA II ExpressCard Review

by Reads (10,553)

My notebook needs massive amounts of fast storage for the video editing I do. My choices were pretty simple, network attached storage from my Home Theatre PC (HTPC), buying a Network Attached Storage (NAS) drive, or a USB/Firewire enclosure hard drive. I tend to have most of my USB ports full when doing video editing and the IDE to USB cable I had never gave very good results and wasn’t compatible with any of my SATA Drives. My notebook only has 10/100 Ethernet and I didn’t really want to be tied to my desktop to do any video editing. So after looking at a few PCMCIA cards I found the Sabrent SATA II ExpressCard which provided far more bandwidth that a traditional PCMCIA card allowing for 2 full speed eSATA II ports, this runs through the PCI-Express bus at 2.5Gbps.

 

I had a few choices in ExpressCard SATA II modules but I chose the Sabrent for the following reasons

  • 2 Ports
  • Price
  • Uses expressCard/34

Here are the modules features:

Brand SABRENT
Model SATA-EXC2
Type SATAII ExpressCard
Data Rates 3.0Gbps
Other Ports Two SATA2 Shielding & Durable Ports (eSATA)
Interface ExpressCard slot
Operating Systems Supported Microsoft Windows NT/2000/2003/XP
Features
  • 48 bits LBA can Break Capacity-Limit to Support HDD larger than 137GB
  • Supports 1-lane 2.5Gbps ExpressCard/34
  • Compliant with PCI Express Specification, revision 1.0a
  • Hot-plug capability
  • Fully compliant with Serial ATA 1.0 specifications
  • Supports two independent Serial ATA channels
  • Independent Link, Transport, and data FIFO
  • Independent command fetch, scatter/gather, and command execution
  • Supports Legacy Command Queuing (LCQ)
  • Supports Native Command Queuing (NCQ)
  • Supports Non-zero offsets NCQ
  • Supports Out of order data delivery NCQ
  • Supports FIS-based switching with Port Multipliers
  • 31 Commands and Scatter/Gather Tables per Port
  • Two LEDs indicate for HDD access

As my notebook only has an ExpressCard/34 type slot (smaller variety than the ExpressCard 54 standard) I couldn’t go with any of the earlier models, some of the models support RAID but I didn’t see a need for that, so it looked like I had my card.

I live outside of the U.S. so a friend living there placed the order at NewEgg.com for me and then forwarded the shipment. It came in just a small simple box with a mini CD for the drivers. It was easily enough to install, Windows XP recognized the right driver to install as soon as I inserted the device into the ExpressCard port. Upon trying to use the SATA cables I quickly found out that eSATA has its own type of cable and port, so I had to go and buy 2 cables at $5 each for 50cm.


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As soon as you plug the module in Windows recognizes it and installs the correct driver from the CD. It uses a variance on your typical silicon Image driver. After that you just plug in the drives and AutoPlay pops up asking what you would like to do with your new media. Both drives just appear under My Computer like any other hard drive.


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Benchmarks

I ran a few benchmarks on the hard drives on both my notebook using the Sabrent eSATA II module and on my desktop just using its built-in SATA II ports. I also did some video conversion, but there was little speed increase mainly because the conversions I do are more CPU intensive than HD intensive.

Anyway, here are the HD Tune results! The first set benchmark the HD one at a time while the second set are run at the same time and the third set are the drives run on the desktop.

Each drive benchmarked separately

HD Tune: ST3320620AS Benchmark

  • Transfer Rate Minimum: 36.8 MB/sec
  • Transfer Rate Maximum: 75.1 MB/sec
  • Transfer Rate Average: 62.0 MB/sec
  • Access Time: 13.5 ms
  • Burst Rate: 86.8 MB/sec
  • CPU Usage: 5.4%

sabrent

HD Tune: WDC WD1600JS-00MHB0 Benchmark

  • Transfer Rate Minimum: 35.1 MB/sec
  • Transfer Rate Maximum: 63.9 MB/sec
  • Transfer Rate Average: 54.6 MB/sec
  • Access Time: 13.3 ms
  • Burst Rate: 89.7 MB/sec
  • CPU Usage: 5.4%

sabrent

 

Both Drives benchmarked at the same time

HD Tune: WDC WD1600JS-00MHB0 Benchmark

  • Transfer Rate Minimum: 37.7 MB/sec
  • Transfer Rate Maximum: 60.8 MB/sec
  • Transfer Rate Average: 53.3 MB/sec
  • Access Time: 13.3 ms
  • Burst Rate: 89.7 MB/sec
  • CPU Usage: 10.3%

sabrent

HD Tune: ST3320620AS Benchmark

  • Transfer Rate Minimum: 35.7 MB/sec
  • Transfer Rate Maximum: 74.1 MB/sec
  • Transfer Rate Average: 58.6 MB/sec
  • Access Time: 13.4 ms
  • Burst Rate: 86.7 MB/sec
  • CPU Usage: 10.5%

sabrent

Drives benchmarked on the desktop

HD Tune: WDC WD1600JS-00MHB0 Benchmark

  • Transfer Rate Minimum: 37.7 MB/sec
  • Transfer Rate Maximum: 63.9 MB/sec
  • Transfer Rate Average: 54.7 MB/sec
  • Access Time: 13.3 ms
  • Burst Rate: 87.3 MB/sec
  • CPU Usage: 10.0%

sabrent 

HD Tune: ST3320620AS Benchmark

  • Transfer Rate Minimum: 36.8 MB/sec
  • Transfer Rate Maximum: 75.1 MB/sec
  • Transfer Rate Average: 62.1 MB/sec
  • Access Time: 13.6 ms
  • Burst Rate: 91.7 MB/sec
  • CPU Usage: 12.6%

sabrent

Conclusion

As you can see from the benchmarks, the hard drives perform nearly identically on the module as they do on the desktop. They also only suffer a very mild performance hit when both are being accessed at the same time, which was my biggest concern, as you are running 2 3Gbps lanes over a device that only supports 2.5Gbps. I suppose it’s because current hard drives really can’t utilize this bandwidth.

I would definitely recommend the Sabrent ExpressCad II module as it solved all of my problems and was very affordably priced at around $50.


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