Quantcast Sabrent SATA II ExpressCard Review

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  1. #1
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    Default Sabrent SATA II ExpressCard Review

    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.

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    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:

    BrandSABRENT
    ModelSATA-EXC2
    TypeSATAII ExpressCard
    Data Rates3.0Gbps
    Other PortsTwo SATA2 Shielding & Durable Ports (eSATA)
    InterfaceExpressCard slot
    Operating Systems SupportedMicrosoft 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%

    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%

     

    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%

    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%

    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%

     

    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%

    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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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Sabrent SATA II ExpressCard Review

    Excellent review, Matt!

    You're quite correct about SATA II being overkill for currently available drive mechanisms... The highest sustained transfer speed you're going to see from a 3.5" 7200rpm drive is ~780-800Mb/s, depending on capacity.
    Fear my amazing powers of procrastination!

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Sabrent SATA II ExpressCard Review

    where is power source for external drives? can you take picture of drives connected to your laptop?
    Acer Aspire One AO756 (my "Millennium Falcon")
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  4. #4
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    Default Re: Sabrent SATA II ExpressCard Review

    Great review!!! And you just had to have this review while I silently wait for my SIIG SATAII Raid Expresscard to fly all the way from US to Singapore (Where I stay)......

    It's going to be a long long wait....

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Sabrent SATA II ExpressCard Review

    Yeah I looked at the SIIG one but the Sabrent one was easier to get a hold of at the time. I use a AC/DC adaptor that supplies up to 2A and has a molex head on it. I got it with the USB>IDE cable I baught off ebay.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Sabrent SATA II ExpressCard Review

    I had the idea to use a FireWire 800 ExpressCard to connect a RAID-0 FireWire 800 enclosure containing two Raptor 10K HDDs. The brandwidth would amount to approximately 100MB/sec. To be honest, even though peak and sustained transfer rates of the two drives would saturate the bandwidth it is not likely to be a problem in real world use.

    I will be running multiple virtual machines for study purposes and I wanted a disk subsystem which would provide effective performance for the heavy multi-tasking requirements of virtual machines. However, further investigation revealed that a two drive RAID-0 array would not provide any significant benefit in this scenario. This is because much of the benefits of sustained throughput afforded by a RAID solution are lost in the small read and write multi-tasking scenario of virtual machines. The bulk of disk activity is not sustained throughput, but is instead head repositioning and actuator movement, which is one area that RAID does not provide any real improvement.

    So, looking at the SATA ExpressCard solution, it would seem that two independent drives will provide good performance. For $50 this product looks like a good solution. Well done.

    If I were building a new high performance desktop system, I would not likely use my drives in a single array, but would instead have a single drive for OS, a single drive for the pagefile, another drive for applications, and another drive (or two) for data storage.

    In the same vein, Windows Vista will use Ready Boost to provide significant performance gains in OS operation. It does this by avoiding the HDD for numerous small concurrent I/Os and instead write to flash memory. A fast hard drive with a large cache can provide around 600 simultaneous I/Os per second, compared to flash memory which can provide up to 5,000 or more. These I/Os are about 4kb in size. RAID-0 would provide no benefit in this scenario.
    Last edited by gxtoast; 27th October 2006 at 09:10 AM.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Sabrent SATA II ExpressCard Review

    [

    If I were building a new high performance desktop system, I would not likely use my drives in a single array, but would instead have a single drive for OS, a single drive for the pagefile, another drive for applications, and another drive (or two) for data storage.



    this is very true and gives significant long term high performance ... compearing to a single drive.. i have experienced this myself , but 3+ drives are not atractive for consumer rather a pro who wants DIY soulution and knows what he is doing , 10out of 10 for mentioning this mate !

    review is great too

 

 

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