Getting To Know The AUA-3121: Up Close And Personal
The DuoConnect features a USB 2.0 controller designed by NEC and a 1394 Firewire controller designed by TI. This might give the card a slight performance advantage over other cards that don't use these recognized controller chips. Both the NEC and TI chips have been used in a variety of designs, so the compatibility and performance of the card were what you would expect from cards with these controller chips.
A close-up look at Adaptec AUA-3121 reveals an NEC USB 2.0 controller and a TI 1394 Firewire controller. This was the most stable and reliable choice, and it clearly gives Adaptec an advantage over other companies in the same market space.
The AUA-3121 offers a good selection of both internal and external connections. The back bracket of the AUA-3121 PCI card offers three USB 2.0 ports and two 1394 Firewire connections. The space between the ports was more than adequate, and we didn't find any problems with having devices plugged into all five external ports on the bracket.
The bracket of the Adaptec AUA-3121 offers five ports: three USB 2.0 and two 1394 Firewire ports. The position and space between the ports was excellent and didn't create any problems when devices were connected to all five ports.
The DuoConnect's internal configuration offers one internal USB 2.0 connect, along with a 1394 Firewire connection. These two connections are coupled with a four-pin mini-Molex power connector. This power connector is able to supply up to 18 watts (12VDC at 1.5A) of power, a critical function for supplying adequate power to the bus-powered USB and Firewire devices. Many problems can arise if your USB and Firewire connections cannot provide sufficient power to the devices on the ports. Adaptec has wisely addressed this problem with the addition of this power connector.
The board of the Adaptec AUA-3121 offers USB 2.0 and Firewire ports that are located internally on the card itself. These ports offer the ability to add internal USB and Firewire devices. The addition of the power connector makes certain that the card is able to supply all the power necessary to the bus power devices connected to the card.
Although it is not obvious at first, these internal connectors can make the connections to front mounted ports very easy and accessible. No longer will you have to run cables from the front of your computer and then pass them through the back of your computer to plug them in. While this is not an earth-shattering advancement, it does help minimize the cable management nightmare that most of us have griped about at one time or another.
Quick & Easy Installation
The DuoConnect would lose a lot of its luster if the installation of the card caused a lot of headaches. We wanted to find out how easy (or difficult) it is to install the DuoConnect, so we installed it in our test system in the following configuration.