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Not All USB 3.0 Implementations Are Created Equal

Gigabyte USB 3.0 Controller (NEC PD720200)

The USB 3.0 Controller from Gigabyte is one of many aftermarket PCI Express add-on cards that allows users to cram USB 3.0 connectivity into virtually any PCI Express-enabled system.

It makes a lot of sense to operate this and similar cards in a PCIe 2.0 slot, but even implementations based on PCIe 1.1 will still be much faster than USB 2.0. We decided to run this controller only on the Asus Crosshair IV Formula, and we used the Western Digital kit (based on a different PCB design) on the Gigabyte motherboards in order to avoid too much cross-testing. In such a system, this card provides the highest possible bandwidth, but not the fastest performance, during simultaneous read and write operations. I/O performance is above average, though.